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New community greenhouse raises hope
By Chris Barnett / August 22, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

A backhoe tears into a weedy lot on Providence’s Southside as work begins on a community greenhouse. Within few months, neighbors with green thumbs will begin planning their first harvest.

Funded with our $55,000 grant and a matching grant from the national Partners for Place, the structure will extend the growing season for urban farmers, foster micro-businesses, promote composting and serve Providence students.

“We invest in a statewide sustainable food system and support efforts such as the Rhode Island Food Policy Council,” says Jenny Pereira, our grant programs officer for the Environment sector. “Through Lots of Hope, we will continue to advance a healthy and resilient local food system in the Capital City, which can serve as a model for the state and beyond.”

Our partners on the pilot greenhouse include the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability and Healthy Communities Office and the Providence School Department’s Rekindling the Dream Foundation.

Low-cost leases to farmers using the greenhouse will support agriculture business development and link locally grown food with school food service purchasing. The goal is to ensure that at least 15 percent of the food that the School Department serves is locally-sourced.

The greenhouse will also provide opportunities for school garden-based curriculum integration, including a composting pilot where students can learn about local food systems and reducing solid waste.

The 3,200 square-foot, vacant lot at 433 Prairie Avenue was selected based on its potential for food production and location within walking distance of Mary Fogarty Elementary School, Robert Bailey Elementary School, a library, a senior center and a church.

The initiative builds off last year’s Lots of Hope program, which turns vacant, city-owned properties into productive urban farms and brings fresh produce to neighborhoods. The program from the Southside Community Land Trust is expanding Providence’s portfolio of green, open space and improving air quality, public health and local property values.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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