Lots of Hope

The Foundation recognizes the importance of supporting innovative ways of providing fresh, local food sources in Rhode Island. There’s no greater example of this than with Providence’s own Lots of Hope Initiative.

The idea for Lots of Hope originated when a young urban farmer’s private lease was terminated and local officials stepped in to help relocate his farm to a city-owned lot. The farmer was able to convert much of the asphalt-covered property into a productive farm, thus demonstrating the potential to revitalize vacant properties into sustainable local farms.

Supported by a $50,000 grant from Florida-based Local Sustainability Matching Fund and a matching grant of $50,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation, the Lots of Hope Initiative launched in 2013 and provides Providence residents access to low-cost, underutilized public land from the city. With technical assistance and hands-on support from the Southside Community Land Trust, the initiative helps turn vacant, city-owned properties into productive urban farms thereby bringing fresh produce to local neighborhoods. It also introduced a residential composting program to encourage families to reduce solid waste by creating a high-quality compost pile for use in local farming. Additionally, the initiative expands Providence’s portfolio of green, open space and improves air quality, public health, and local property values.

The following year, the Lots of Hope initiative launched its second phase with its Lots of Hope Urban Greenhouse project. The Urban Greenhouse project is a partnership between the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability and Healthy Communities Office, the Providence School Department’s Rekindling the Dream Foundation, and the Foundation.

With a $55,000 grant from the Foundation and a matching grant from the national Partners for Place, the new greenhouse allowed the initiative to extend the growing season for urban farmers, foster micro-businesses, promote composting, and provide Providence students with healthy food. The 3,200 square foot vacant lot chosen for the greenhouse is located in the heart of the South Providence community, within walking distance of two elementary schools, a library, a senior center, and a church.

Unveiled in the summer of 2015, the greenhouse has since hosted about 5 growers, increased use of local foods in schools, generated approximately $10,000 to $15,000 in sales for the growers, and engaged 25-30 classrooms in garden-based curriculum integration, including a composting pilot where students learn about local food systems and reducing solid waste.


One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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