Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) on Wednesday announced $250,000 in grant awards aimed at spurring growth in the agriculture, aquaculture, and seafood sectors of the economy.
According to DEM, the grants are funded by the state through the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA), which directly benefits and strengthens the local food system by helping new and existing small businesses and food initiatives take root and prosper. Now in its seventh year, LASA has provided more than $1.4 million – through grants up to $20,000 – to support the growth of Rhode Island’s local food economy.
“The 2021 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grants prioritize projects that support the entry, growth, and sustainability of small or starting green sector businesses, with a particular focus on supporting a diversity of foods and food producers,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement. “This will help make our local food system both more resilient and inclusive, which is a win-win for Rhode Islanders.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Rhode Island economy and small agriculture and seafood businesses are the backbone of the local food system,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “The COVID pandemic has exposed that one of our weaknesses is food insecurity – too many Rhode Islanders lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The LASA grants will invest in our state’s vibrant food economy and build capacity to feed more people.”
“DEM is always working to get more home-grown food on the table and by supporting local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses, the LASA grants help achieve this,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. “Growing local and eating local, fresh, sustainable food minimizes transportation costs, reduces carbon emissions, and boosts the local economy while providing the freshest product possible to the consumer.”
The 2021 LASA grantees
African Alliance of Rhode Island, Providence, $15,175: To help establish two permanent sites for weekly farmers’ markets and provide markets at three rotating locations from June to October.
Ashawaug Farm, Ashaway, $20,000: To purchase a tractor and thus expand the farming operation’s agricultural production.
DBA Ocean State Community Seafood, Warren, $9,910: To develop tools and educational/outreach resources and initiate a presence at local festivals, farmers’ markets, and docks, to enhance local fishers’ brands, consumer connections, and profitability.
First Light Fisheries Inc., Portsmouth, $20,000: To develop marketing techniques and business channels to increase profitability of catch sales to local restaurants, small grocery stores, and the public across the state.
Hawk and Handsaw Farm LLC, Newport, $5,167: To purchase a caterpillar tunnel to expand business, extend the growing season, and provide more locally grown food to the community.
Hope’s Harvest Rhode Island, Providence, $20,000: To enable contracts to grow produce for the local emergency food system, build farmer capacity, and enhance the economic competitiveness of RI-grown agricultural products.
Movement Ground Farm, Tiverton, $10,756: To purchase essential items to increase farm viability, such as a potato digger to aid in harvest, a buckeye cultivator and tool bar for weed management, and a composting toilet to accommodate increased farm visitation.
Quaintly Farm LLC, Providence, $10,532: To update an existing high tunnel (where plants are growing right in the ground as they would in a garden) thereby establishing a longer growing season and increasing capacity of local vegetable and fruits to Communities of Color.
Revelry Greens/White Horse Farm, Portsmouth, $18,500: To initiate a farm expansion project, which will provide new tools, season extension, arborist services, and infrastructure needed to increase no-till vegetable production and establish a new, full-time family farm in Portsmouth by 2022.
Roots 2Empower, Pawtucket, $12,904: To construct a drying shed to enable the increase of value-added products such as vinaigrettes, garlic powders, and savory rubs.
Sakonnet River Oyster Company, Bristol, $10,000: To purchase a tube sorter or tumbler, which sorts oysters by size and efficiently prunes the edges of the oysters. The tumbler will help produce a higher yield of marketable oysters.
Silk Tree Farm, Exeter, $20,000: To buy a tractor and attachments to allow the farm to execute daily tasks more efficiently and safely.
Small World Farm LLC, Little Compton, $15,000: To build an agricultural utility building that will serve as a farmer’s market, enabling direct consumer sales of fresh and local produce.
Snake Den Farmers Association, Johnston, $8,607: To update a washroom to a standard of food safety that meets state and federal requirements and provide an indoor protected workspace to enable an extended harvest season.
Southside Community Land Trust, Cranston, $15,426: To provide farmers at Good Earth Farm with a designated space for crop storage and wash/pack facilities.
Swallowtail Farm and Cidery, Glocester, $7,795: To purchase a cool bot-regulated walk-in cooler for processing and storage of apple cider, honey, and vegetables.
Tiverton Farmers Market, Tiverton, $16,180: To promote growth for small agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs by providing a year-round farmers’ market to the local community.
Wellspring Apothecary, Tiverton, $2,500: To purchase a tincture press and dehydrator to assist with more efficient herb processing.
Westerly Land Trust, Westerly, $5,000: To purchase materials to construct a permanent farm stand, which will facilitate community access to local grown food and agricultural products.
Winterhawk Vineyards, West Kingstown, $6,548: To expand the capacity of the grape vine cloning operation from 50 stations to 200 stations and double output by higher-efficiency pumps, misters, and controls.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.