Governor McKee, DEM, RI General Assembly Announce 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grantees, Helping Grow Agricultural, Seafood Businesses

 

 

 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grantees at Newport Vineyards. More than 40 local farmers, fishers, specialty food producers obtained LASA grant awards, splitting more than $650,000 in funding on projects that will support the growth, development, and marketing of local farms, seafood harvesters, and food businesses. LASA grants support small businesses and increase Rhode Island’s food security.

 

“LASA grants continue to be a game-changer for Rhode Island's farmers, fishers, and aquaculturists,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I congratulate this year’s recipients and look forward to working with them to foster community resilience, promote sustainable practices and increase food security across our state.”

 

Authored by Senator V. Susan Sosnowski in 2012 and run by DEM, the LASA program helps new and existing small food businesses grow and flourish. Since the COVID pandemic, DEM has steered the program to prioritize building capacity for markets connecting local farms and fishers with food-insecure communities and supporting agriculture producers and fishers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – along with developing small food businesses. The LASA program provides grants that directly benefit and strengthen the local food system in Rhode Island by providing funding for projects that help support the growth, development, and marketing of RI Grown produce and RI Seafood. Since its enactment 12 years ago, LASA has provided more than $2 million through individual program grants up to $20,000 with no direct match required.

 

Last year the Governor and the General Assembly pledged their support to continue funding LASA, which is an important catalyst in strengthening the local food system, at historically high levels in fiscal year 2024. During this grant round, 43 grant awards totaling $662,000 were broadly distributed across many categories including agriculture, aquaculture, seafood or fishery based, and farmers markets that support these sectors. Eligible entities included Rhode Island-based, for-profit small or beginning farmers including aquaculture operators, fishers, producer groups, and non-profit organizations. Given the depth of the application pool, the evaluation of applications is a concerted effort by the LASA committee, which includes DEM staff and the RI Food Policy Council, with the goal of funding recommendations being as equitably and diversely as possible by taking score into consideration among other factors such as Environmental Justice. The final grantees awarded during this grant round reflect the purpose and value of the LASA program by fulfilling its purpose of seeking to broaden the scope and diversity of awardees.

 

“Since the food shortages and price spikes of the COVID pandemic, Rhode Islanders have been looking for food producers closer to home, so these Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grants are well timed and the awardees well positioned to meet growing consumer demand,” said Representative Terri Cortvriend (Portsmouth, Middletown). “I’m lucky to have an organic farm in my district, Garman Farm, that is receiving LASA funding. Jim and Michelle Garman believe that farming is as much about community as it is about plants. This funding will allow them to continue cultivating local food that is fresh, delicious, and safe. I am very proud to support this program.”

 

“Agriculture and seafood are extremely important economic sectors in all four of the communities I represent in the State Senate,” said Senator Louis P. DiPalma (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act helps incubate new and growing small businesses, some of which will one day become cornerstones of our communities. Supporting the production of local food also means fewer trucks on the road, which means less air pollution and better health for Rhode Islanders and our environment.”

 

“Food security means that all people, always, have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Narragansett, South Kingstown). “The Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island, which is in Wakefield in my district and obtaining a Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grant today, is addressing food security by supplying local seafood to Rhode Island public schools, especially in low-income districts. Another LASA grantee in my district, Moonstone Flower Company, is trying to solve a much different problem: deer pressure. By installing deer fencing with LASA funding, Taylor Olson soon hopes to put her company on a path toward supplying local restaurants with fresh flowers. I salute the vision and tenacity of all LASA grantees in growing their businesses and making Rhode Island a more beautiful, fair, and food-secure state.”

 

“As the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee, I am always on the lookout for legislation and programs that benefit both the environment and agriculture,” said Senator Alana M. DiMario (North Kingstown, Narragansett, New Shoreham). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act program is one of a very few that does. I have seen the power of LASA grants at work in my district where farmers, food businesses, shellfishers, and aquaculturists have gotten just the boost they needed from a LASA award. I look forward to today’s awardees using their grants to gain traction and flourish in their marketplaces.”

 

“DEM is always working to get more RI Grown food and RI Seafood on the table by supporting local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses, and the support of Governor McKee and the General Assembly for a well-funded LASA program helps achieve this,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “Today’s LASA awards will help build Rhode Island’s food security while bolstering the traction of a diverse range of local food businesses in the marketplace by harvesting and marketing fresh home-grown food to meet consumer demand.”



LASA 2024 grantees: 

 

NAME

CITY/TOWN

GRANT AWARD

401 Oyster Company

Charlestown

$20,000

Allen Harbor Oyster Co.

Saunderstown

$10,600

Aquidneck Community Table

Newport

$20,000

 

Ashawaug Farm

Ashaway

$18,572

Bee Happy Homestead

Charlestown

$5,337

Block Island Shellfish Farm

New Shoreham

$14,955

Breakwater Oyster Company

Bristol

$20,000

Center for Mediation and Collaboration RI - Land & Sea Together

Warwick

$20,000

Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island

Wakefield

$20,000

East Coast Oysters LLC

Saunderstown

$7,500

Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD)

Tiverton

$12,000

Foggy Notion Farm

Johnston

$4,202

Frontier Farm

Westerly

$9,008

Fue Khang

Cranston

$20,000

Garman Farm

Newport

$17,903

Gather Farm

Johnston

$10,752

Hard-Pressed Cider Company, LLC

West Greenwich

$14,165

High Tide Mushroom Farm

Coventry

$19,532

Hmong Rhode Island Association, Inc.

Providence

$20,000

Josephine's Farm

Providence

$20,000

Long Lane Farm

Warren

$16,077

Luckyfoot Ranch Partnership

Saunderstown

$20,000

Marie's Farm

Coventry

$20,000

Moonstone Flower Company

Wakefield

$12,695.3

Moorefield Oyster Farm

Narragansett

$20,000

Mount Hope Farm

Bristol

$19,080

Narragansett Indian Tribe

Charlestown

$15,426.2

Night Garden

Portsmouth

$19,963

Open fArms Retreat

Cumberland

$8,486

 
 

 

Pea Shoot Farm LLC

Foster

$14,900

Quononchontaug Fish Company

Westerly

$20,000

Rocky Rhode Oyster Co. LLC

Narragansett

$3,380

Saunderstown Garlic Farm

Saunderstown

$12,650

Seraphina's Farm

Providence

$20,000

Silk Tree Farm

Exeter

$19,280

Southern Rhode Island Conservation District

Westerly

$12,534.5

Sowams Cider Works

Warren

$9,600

Stephen Duyen

Providence

$20,000

SunRise Forever, Inc.

Providence

$20,000

Tiverton Farmers Market

Tiverton

$17,651

Transfarmative Project

Foster

$20,000

Westbay Community Action

Warwick

$10,000

WinterHawk Vineyards

West Kingston

$5,751

 

The 2024 grant funding priorities included:

 

·     Supporting the entry, growth, and/or sustainability of socially disadvantagedbeginningsmall, women, and veteran agriculture and aquaculture producers and fishers.

 

·     Supporting climate-smart agriculture mitigation activities and climate change related adaptations throughout the local food system.

 

·     Supporting the development of new marketing, promotion, sales, and/or distribution channels, including connecting local farms and fishers with Rhode Island’s food insecure communities.

 

·     Supporting the development of new products, including value added processing capacity.

 

·     Fostering new cooperatives, partnerships, and/or collaborations among Rhode Island agriculture and aquaculture producers, and fishers and supporting organizations.

 

·     Protecting the future availability of agricultural land for producers, including farm transition planning and implementation.

 

·     Assisting with on farm food safety improvements including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) Compliance.

 

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. 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. 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. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. According to the recently published 2022 Census of Agriculture, which is conducted once every five years by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rhode Island has the highest percentage of beginning farmers in the country. Both the number of farms and the percentage of farmland in RI grew from 2017 to 2022 according to the census data, demonstrating the increased support for local agriculture and food throughout the state. Supporting local agriculture benefits all Rhode Islanders, ensures our future food security, enhances our environment, and celebrates the state’s unique food cultures and landscape.

 
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