City sets GrowBoston advisory panel, awards grants for Grassroots Program

Members of the new GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture Advisory Board gather with Mayor Wu and GrowBoston Director Shani Fletcher. (Seth Daniel photos)

On Oct. 1, Mayor Michelle Wu and community gardening and farm activists from around the city gathered at the Boston Housing Authority’s Franklin Field Elderly development on Ames Street in Dorchester to celebrate the announcement of the GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture’s Advisory Board.

The mayor used the occasion to also announce $600,000 in Grassroots Program funding to support non-profit organizations in developing and renovating urban farms, community gardens, and other open spaces in Boston.

“Boston needs a food system that supports our local economy, uplifts our communities, and promotes health, racial equity, and climate justice,” said Wu. “As we continue to invest in urban agriculture, I’m thrilled to celebrate our non-profit grantees and grateful for our GrowBoston advisory board’s service to ensure that our residents and communities are connected to healthy food across the city.”

Attendees at the also celebrated the pilot round of a raised-bed garden program, with additional funding for raised beds to be distributed by the GrowBoston office in collaboration with the Office of Food Justice utilizing American Rescue Plan Act funds.

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Apolo Catala, farm manager for OASIS on Ballou, greets Mayor Wu at Franklin Field at the GrowBoston announcements on Oct. 1.

Those appointed to the advisory include:

•Apolo Catala, OASIS on Ballou Farm Manager, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation;
•Vivien Morris, Chairperson, Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition and Chairperson, Edgewater Neighborhood Association;
•Elnora Tompson, Nightingale Community Garden Coordinator;
•Danielle Andrews, The Food Project’s Boston Farms and Greenhouse Manager.

Said Morris: “As a nutritionist, gardener, and community activist, I’m so excited to see the depth at which the City of Boston is working to improve access to healthy, affordable food through the actual growing of food in Boston.

“GrowBoston’s support for community gardens, food forests, urban farms, and much more will help residents of all ages and all cultural groups live longer healthier lives.”

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Shani Fletcher, director of GrowBoston, speaks about the city’s initiatives for gardening and urban farming as Mayor Wu looks on.

Grant awards through the Grassroots Program were awarded to Boston Food Forest Coalition; Codman Academy; Boston Green Academy; and Boston Medical Center

Thabiti Brown, head of School at Codman Academy, expressed her appreciation of the grants, saying, “Once a vacant lot, the Codman Academy Healing Microforest is now a community space dedicated to environmental health and learning. Thank you to the City of Boston’s GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture and Mayor Wu for their dedication to greening our city. We are grateful for the funding and support to bring this vision to life as it yields more nature and beauty in Codman Square.”

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