Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced $35,000 in Produce Safety Improvement Grants for seven projects that help farmers and food producers implement food safety practices and comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR).
Wishing Stone Farm (Little Compton), Urban Edge Farm (Cranston), The Good Earth (Cranston), Casey Farm (Saunderstown), Quonnie Farms (Charlestown), Brandon Family Farm (South Kingstown) and Gotham Greens (Providence) were among the seven project awarded grants of $5,000.
“Rhode Island’s farms and food businesses are mainly family-owned small businesses, which are vital to our economy, food security, and well-being as a state,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement. “These grants will help our growers meet essential food-safety practices while running competitive businesses that add much value to Rhode Island consumers.”
Funding for the grants, which require a 25 percent match, is being provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program.
“We’re delighted to award the first round of grants to help Rhode Island produce growers comply with the Produce Safety Rule and meet consumer demand for safe, locally-grown produce,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a statement. “DEM is working to make the compliance requirements as least burdensome to local farmers as possible, and this grant funding will help local farmers and food producers purchase new equipment used to improve quality, efficiency, and food safety.”
DEM provided the following information on the projects;
● Brandon Family Farm, South Kingstown
Brandon Family Farm will use the grant funds to purchase a rinse conveyer machine which will be used to wash all the organic produce grown on the 30-acre farm – from greens to root crops, squash, sweet potatoes. This new equipment will greatly increase the speed and safety of the farm’s washing operation.
● Gotham Greens, Providence
The Gotham Greens greenhouse opened in late 2019 and services the New England region, from Connecticut to Maine, with fresh greens year-round. Gotham Greens will use the grant funds to lease a piece of machinery that will help clean and dry produce production floors to a higher standard.
● Quonnie Farms, Charlestown
Quonnie Farms is a family-operated, high volume direct-to-market farm stand in Charlestown. The grant will help the farm expand its diversified vegetable operation through the purchase of new cold storage units with a modern, sanitary design.
● Casey Farm, Saunderstown
Casey Farm is a historic farm in Saunderstown, RI, The grant funds will be used to upgrade the produce processing facility at the historic Casey Farm through the purchase of equipment to improve procedures for washing, drying, storing, and rotating produce to reduce the instance of foodborne illness.
● Wishing Stone Farm, Little Compton
Wishing Stone Farm will use this grant to purchase a new stainless-steel vegetable washer that can also be used for cleaning and sanitizing storage containers on the 40-acre diversified farm.
● The Good Earth, Cranston
The Good Earth will use the grant funds to purchase easy-to-clean and sanitize bins, totes, containers and packing supplies and improve hand washing stations for use by up to four new growers on the nine-acre diversified vegetable operation.
● Urban Edge Farm, Cranston
Urban Edge Farm will use the grant funds to purchase easy-to-clean and sanitize bins, totes, containers and packing supplies and improve hand washing stations for use by up to 12 new growers on the 50-acre diversified vegetable operation.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.