PROVIDENCE - As part of her continued efforts to grow Rhode Island's green economy, Governor Raimondo joined First Gentleman Andy Moffit, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and other partners today to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Agriculture "Ag" Day in Rhode Island; as part of the event, over $200,000 was awarded to 16 local farmers and food businesses as part of the Local Agriculture & Seafood Act (LASA) grant program.
"Rhode Islanders take great pride in their agricultural heritage and thriving local food scene," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "It is part of our identity as a state, and increasingly, local food and agriculture are hotbeds for innovation and entrepreneurship. Small business is the backbone of our economy in Rhode Island, and I am proud of this investment in our green industries and the many new businesses and working families supported by them. I applaud all partners involved in growing our green economy; this is a great example of how Rhode Islanders are working together to make our state stronger."
Now in its third year, the LASA grant program provides grants up to $20,000 to help strengthen Rhode Island's green economy and assist local farmers and fishermen in growing their businesses. Rhode Island's food system supports 60,000 jobs, and the state's green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy; there are 1,243 farms in Rhode Island, an increase of 44 percent from 2002, and nearly 70,000 acres of farmland.
"Local Rhode Island food is among the best in the world" said First Gentleman Andy Moffit. "By working together to foster innovation and growth, we will not only strengthen our economy but also address the public health and food security issues that plague many communities. Our focus remains on ensuring all Rhode Islanders have access to healthy, locally sourced food. Thank you to the many partners involved in helping make this vision a reality."
"There is a tremendous energy in local food and agriculture, spurred on by an increasing awareness of the many benefits of locally grown products," said DEM Director Coit. "LASA continues to be an important catalyst in growing our food-based businesses in Rhode Island, and we are thrilled to join our many partners in announcing the 2016 round of grants. We are equally thrilled to be celebrating our fifteenth Annual Ag Day in Rhode Island and inviting the public to learn more about local agriculture and experience the delicious foods and flavors our state has to offer. What an exciting day and a wonderful way to showcase this vibrant industry in our state!"
This year's LASA grant recipients include:
Southside Community Land Trust, $19,462: Improvements to Urban Edge Farm
RI Land Trust Council, $19,757: Improved farmland access, transfer
Sun Farm Oysters, LLC, $9,754: Expand access to ice for BI aquaculture farms
Albert Brandon, $2,874: Extend the season, profitability of local strawberries
Patrick McNiff/Pat's Pastured, $15,000: Increase poultry processing capacity
Zephyr Farm, $14,500: Purchase, retrofit trailer to process fruits, vegetables
Nathaniel Wood, Jenna Yu, Adam Graffunder, $7,405: Upgrade infrastructure for seed starting, crop storage
Christian Durfee, $10,000: Defray operational costs for oyster hatchery Erika Lamb, $19,706: Support "SecondsFirst" food production
RWU, $19,204: Conduct local sugar kelp research
Jon and Aden Restivo, $2,811: Install additional beehives at Legend's Creek Farm
Young Farmer Network, $19,938: Expand current programming, coalition
Pickin Rock Produce/Silas Peckham-Paul, $16,091: Purchase equipment, conduct research
Mapleville Farm, $8,300: Expand aquaponics greenhouse, support outreach
Anna Jane Kocon, $15,349: Expand harvest production of flower products
Sol Chariots Pedicab Cooperative, $9,847: Expand delivery, compost pick-up service
In partnership with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, LASA is funded by the state with generous support from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation. In addition to the above grant awards, $20,000 is directed to DEM and the Rhode Island Seafood Marketing Collaborative to support the state's local seafood campaign, RI Seafood. Local seafood is poised to spur the next wave of food-based economic growth; last year, nearly 100 million pounds of seafood arrived to a local port - with an ex-vessel value over $75 million.
As part of Ag Day festivities, local farmers, food businesses, and community groups are set up around the State House Rotunda from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today and offer free food samples and information about their work.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.