PROVIDENCE – To accelerate growth of Rhode Island's green economy, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with the RI Food Policy Council, has awarded $95,949 in grants to 12 local agriculture and food businesses. The awards, funded under the Local Agriculture & Seafood Act (LASA) grant program, help new and existing small businesses and food initiatives take root and prosper in Rhode Island.
"We're excited to award these grants to help farmers, fishers, and food businesses start or expand their operations in Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "LASA continues to be an important catalyst in growing a wide range of food and agricultural businesses across our state, and we look forward to celebrating the success of these outstanding initiatives."
"Each 2019 LASA grant directly benefits and strengthens the local food system in Rhode Island," said Nessa Richman, Network Director of the RI Food Policy Council. "This unique program helps us reach the ambitious but achievable goals set out in Relish Rhody, the state's 5-year food strategy."
Now in its sixth year, LASA has provided over $1.2 million – through grants up to $20,000 – to support the growth of Rhode Island's local food economy. The state's food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry 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 annually.
The 2019 LASA grant awards include:
BreenBain LLC, Foster, $5,250: To purchase materials that will be used to construct a mobile produce cooler that can be towed by a pickup truck, keeping vegetables cool and extending their shelf life.
Endless Farm, Johnston, $6,676: To build 10 energy-efficient, unheated caterpillar tunnels that will be used to produce a consistent, year-round supply of greens and herbs in a low-cost manner.
Chessawanock Island Oysters, Cranston, $16,647: To implement an innovative oyster farming project that will reduce mortality and increase product desirability using a dual grow-out system and flip-bag technology.
Sweet and Salty Farm, Little Compton, $15,000: To significantly increase production and sales of cheese and yogurt through the purchase and installation of an ice accumulator that can cool milk rapidly after pasteurization.
The Local Patch, Middletown, $3,087: To build a walk-in cooler on a small, diversified market garden that will hold harvested produce in half of a 20-foot shipping container until sale.
Warren Cider Works Company, Warren, $15,640: To increase production of unique, local hard ciders through purchase and installation of improved juice processing equipment.
Roots Farm, Tiverton, $4,725: To increase productivity though the purchase and implementation of scale-appropriate tools for seeding, transplanting, and cultivation on a small-scale, intensively planted, non-mechanized farm that will help increase productivity, and to share this work with other RI growers through on-farm workshops.
Territorium Farms, North Smithfield, $3,379: To increase production of local beer, wine, and beer-wine hybrids by installing additional trellises for additional hop and grape production for on-farm beverage production and raw product sales to local homebrewers, breweries, and vineyards.
Seaside Botanicals LLC, Foster, $600: To create locally-grown herbal products through the purchase and installation of a steam distiller for making essential oils and hydrosols from Rhode Island-grown herbs.
Stony Lane Apiary, Exeter, $3,445: To build a dedicated, free-standing honey house to process and sell honey and honeybee-related products, and to collaborate with and mentor other beekeepers.
Moonstone Mushrooms, Wakefield, $15,000: To assist a small-scale mushroom grower to increase production of gourmet culinary and medicinal mushrooms through a move to a larger facility and purchase and installation of upgraded equipment.
Quaintly Farm, Providence, $6,500: To increase the capacity and volume of produce grown by an urban farm through the purchase and installation of a walk-in cooler and storage shed, and to support the establishment of more farms owned and operated by African-American farmers in Rhode Island.
LASA is funded by the State. In 2019 State funds were supplemented with a $30,000 Senate Legislative Grant sponsored by Senator Susan Sosnowski.
DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island's green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. In addition to the above grant awards, $20,000 is directed to DEM to support the state's local seafood campaign, RI Seafood, and the promotion of local dairy products.
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.