Grassroots Funding Awards, New GrowBoston Advisory Board Announced
On Saturday, October 1, Mayor Michelle Wu joined farmers, gardeners, and residents of the Boston Housing Authority’s Franklin Field Elderly development to celebrate the announcement of the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture’s Advisory Board that will advise GrowBoston on the equitable expansion of urban agriculture throughout Boston. The Mayor also announced $600,000 in Grassroots Program funding to support non-profit organizations to develop and renovate urban farms, community gardens, and other open spaces in Boston.
“Boston needs a food system that supports our local economy, uplifts our communities, and promotes health, racial equity, and climate justice,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we continue to invest in urban agriculture, I’m thrilled to celebrate our non-profit grantees and grateful for our GrowBoston advisory board’s service to ensure that our residents and communities are connected to healthy food across the city.”
The GrowBoston announcements were made at an event celebrating the pilot round of a raised-bed garden program administered by the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ). In 2021, OFJ granted $300,000 to 5 organizations to construct raised beds for residents across Boston. Haley House, The Food Project, Round Table, Inc., Eastie Farm, and Roots, Berries and Goodies were the grantees and have been building those raised beds. Over the next three years, additional funding for raised beds will be distributed by the GrowBoston office in collaboration with the Office of Food Justice utilizing American Rescue Plan Act funds.
At the event, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture Advisory Board which is made up of environmental advocates, farmers, gardeners, and urban agriculture stakeholders. The Advisory Board members will provide critical insight based on their varied expertise and connections in the community, give GrowBoston feedback on programs, and assist with outreach to stakeholders.
- Apolo Catala, OASIS on Ballou Farm Manager, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation;
- Barbara Knecht, Principal, Strategies for Cities;
- Vivien Morris, Chairperson, Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition and Chairperson, Edgewater Neighborhood Association;
- Pete Ellis, Recover Green Roofs, LLC, Senior Project Manager;
- Elnora Tompson, Nightingale Community Garden Coordinator;
- Vidya Tikku, Vice President of Urban Outdoors for the Trustees of Reservations;
- Danielle Andrews, The Food Project’s Boston Farms and Greenhouse Manager.
“So many people are looking to join community gardens in Boston while making a point to connect with nature during the last two years. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to work with Mayor Wu to partner with our communities and to grow opportunities for increased access to healthy food and lifestyles,” said Vidya Tikku, Vice President of Urban Outdoors for the Trustees of Reservations. “GrowBoston’s vision to support existing community gardens and farms and its development of new food production resources will be essential, as will its invaluable public and private partnerships.”
“As a nutritionist, gardener, and community activist, I’m so excited to see the depth at which the City of Boston is working to improve access to healthy, affordable food through the actual growing of food in Boston,” said Vivien Morris, MS, RD,MPH, LDN. “GrowBoston’s support for community gardens, food forests, urban farms, and much more will help residents of all ages and all cultural groups live longer healthier lives.”
In addition, the Mayor announced grant awards through the Grassroots Program which supports the development of urban farms, community gardens, and other open spaces. The nine sites awarded in Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, and Back Bay will have a year to make capital improvements funded by the latest Grassroots funding round. These improvements will include new and expanded community gardens, improvements to urban farms and food forests, a new outdoor classroom, a new rooftop farm, and a community Greenway.
The non-profit Grassroots Funding grantees:
- Charlestown Sprouts
- Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation
- Boston Food Forest Coalition
- Boston Farms Community Land Trust
- Women's Lunch Place
- Codman Academy
- Boston Green Academy
- Boston Medical Center
- Whittier Street Health Center
"Once a vacant lot, the Codman Academy Healing Microforest is now a community space dedicated to environmental health and learning. Thank you to the City of Boston’s GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture and Mayor Wu for their dedication to greening our city. We are grateful for the funding and support to bring this vision to life as it yields more nature and beauty in Codman Square,” said Thabiti Brown, Head of School at Codman Academy.
In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of up to $4 million for grants to support the planning or implementation of urban agriculture and innovative food production projects. GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture was awarded $200,000 in the competitive grant process to conduct a planning process with stakeholders in four key neighborhoods, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury, which have the highest rates of food insecurity as compared to the citywide average. Through this process, community members will inform the City as to how best to expand local food production in their neighborhood. Two key partners will work with GrowBoston to facilitate the processes: the Urban Farming Institute and Metropolitan Area Planning Council.
"As a long-time grower in the City of Boston, I've seen firsthand how access to space to grow their food can change people's lives. My passion is supporting fledgling growers, and I'm thrilled to see Mayor Wu supporting the expansion of opportunities for Boston residents to get their hands dirty," said Danielle Andrews, Boston Farm Manager at The Food Project.
About the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture
In February, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture. GrowBoston is situated within the Mayor’s Office of Housing and works to increase food production throughout Boston; develop and implement innovative food production strategies; provide technical assistance to prospective and existing gardens and farms; develop food production resources for gardeners, farmers, and other residents; and coordinates with other City departments to expand citywide urban agriculture. GrowBoston also contributes to Boston’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change while addressing injustices inherent in the current food system. For more information, please visit the GrowBoston website.
About the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice
The mission of the Mayor's Office of Food Justice is to build a food system that is equitable, resilient, sustainable, and just. In pursuit of this mission, OFJ will work to expand equitable access to nutritious food with respect to affordability, physical accessibility, and cultural connectedness; support Boston’s food economy; and promote environmentally sustainable and resilient food production.