PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management is accepting applications for the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants program. The grants will assist small or beginning farmers market and promote the sale of Rhode Island grown agricultural products and local seafood.
Non-profit entities, along with small or beginning farmers are eligible to apply for the grants. The grants program is aimed at increasing the economic competitiveness of Rhode Island-grown agricultural products and local seafood.
"Rhode Islanders are eager to grow, eat and promote local food, and this grant program supports the growth of our local food sector to meet the growing demand of consumers," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "This initiative is one of many efforts taken by DEM to support local agriculture and our state's food economy."
This grants program is made possible by $100,000 in state funding that Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and the General Assembly included in the DEM budget, and an additional $130,000 in matching funds from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation. This unique and unprecedented public-private partnership will provide grants intended to directly benefit and strengthen the local food system in RI.
Grant awards will be capped at $20,000 with no direct match required. Funding will be provided up front and may be used for projects of up to two years in duration. In addition to providing grants for projects or programs, the LASA Grants Program may also provide capital grants to small or beginning Rhode Island farmers to support the growth and sustainability of Rhode Island's farming and aquaculture industries.
Priority will be given to capital projects from small or beginning farmers, or projects that directly benefit small or beginning farmers; projects that foster new collaborations between producers, fishermen/women, other Rhode Island food enterprises and organizations; and projects supporting new products or new sales channels that have clearly defined markets.
Any Rhode Island based non-profit organization, farmer, fisherman/woman, or producer group is eligible to apply. Only small and/or beginning farmers, or producer groups of small or beginning farmers, are eligible to apply for capital grants. The funds cannot be used for non-project related travel, scholarships, general operating funds, on-going capital campaigns, political or policy advocacy campaigns, or conference/workshop attendance fees.
Technical Assistance Sessions Planned in January
Three assistance sessions on the LASA Grant Program application have been planned in January. The first session will be held on Saturday, January 24, from 4-5 pm at the Kingston Free Library - Potter Hall (2605 Kingstown Road, Kingston).The second session will take place on Wednesday, January 28, from 5:30-6:30 pm at the Knight Memorial Library auditorium (275 Elmwood Ave., Providence). The last session will take place on Thursday, January 29 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hope & Main located at 691 Main Street in Warren.
For additional information or questions, please visit the LASA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the RI Food Policy Council website. Additional questions may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions submitted and responses provided will be posted publicly to the LASA FAQ webpage.
A downloadable application is available on DEM/Agriculture website at www.rigrown.ri.gov by clicking on "Grant Opportunities" on the left side of the homepage. For grant-related questions, contact Ken Ayars, chief of DEM's Division of Agriculture at 222-2781, ext. 4500.
Applications must be received via email no later than 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 and sent to LASA@dem.ri.gov in Word format. Applications may also be mailed or hand-delivered to DEM's Division of Agriculture, Room 370, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 by 4 p.m. on February 17 to be considered.
Grant proposals will be reviewed by the LASA Grants Program Advisory Committee, which will make funding recommendations to the Department. Applicants will be notified of award decisions by May 15. The Committee was established to advise and assist the Department in matters related to the Local Agriculture and Seafood Small Grants and Technical Assistance Program and to facilitate the coordination of the Program with outside resources. Regulations governing the program are posted online on DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/agric/lasa13.pdf.
DEM's Division of Agriculture oversees numerous efforts designed to maintain the viability of farming in Rhode Island, including locally-produced milk, meats and locally-harvested seafood, farmers' markets, and buy local and agri-tourism programs. The 3,327 green industry businesses in Rhode Island sustain 15,826 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion annually to our state's economy. On top of these economic benefits, agriculture also contributes to tourism, open space, quality of life, and access to local foods and horticultural products.