Boston’s urban agriculture community is a diverse group of farmers and community advocates, and their needs are as varied as the types of operations they run and the populations they serve. In 2021, the City of Boston’s GrowBoston initiative received a $200,000 Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grant (UAIP) to engage community members to develop priorities and recommendations in key food security neighborhoods and strengthen the city’s urban agriculture policy.
“GrowBoston hopes to build connections in the community to strengthen both food security and climate resilience,” said GrowBoston Director Shani Fletcher.
Here are three of the operations that are working with GrowBoston:
We Grow Microgreens in Hyde Park is a for-profit urban farm with a glass greenhouse, high tunnels, and an in-ground refrigeration system. The farm grows tropical fruits including guavas and papayas and operates a nature trail for local residents. Co-founders Tim Smith and Lisa Evans produce food to sell and distribute to the community using innovative and sustainable technologies.
Elsewhere in the city, two very different nonprofits incorporate local history into their programs. The Urban Farming Institute at Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan offers youth programming, education and training. President and CEO Patricia E. Spence and her team introduce new farmers and gardeners to agriculture on one of the oldest intact agricultural properties in Massachusetts, a farmhouse built in 1806.
In Roxbury, the Winthrop Community Garden, owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations, holds garden plots for neighborhood residents on the former site of the Boston headquarters of the Black Panther Party. An art installation and signs describe the history of the Black Panthers, while local families grow food in 30 raised garden beds.
Although these programs and their counterparts throughout Boston use different business models to serve the community, they are united in their desire to provide fresh local food and education about urban agriculture to the city.
To learn more about how the UAIP grant program helps producers, visit the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants webpage.