PROVIDENCE – Lots of Hope, an environmental initiative to transform vacant city-owned lots in Providence into urban farms, was awarded a combined $100,000 by The Rhode Island Foundation and Florida-based Local Sustainability Matching Fund.
“Lots of Hope is an innovative new program that will help to build a more sustainable and healthy city for years to come,” Mayor Angel Taveras said in prepared remarks. “Providence has a vital environmental community committed to helping make the city more sustainable. Together, we are moving forward to transform Providence into one of the greenest cities in the nation.”
According to a release, the Lots of Hope program will enable Providence residents to access low-cost, underutilized public land, as well as technical assistance and hands-on support from Southside Community Land Trust.
The city is currently working with the land trust to identify land parcels fit for use as urban gardens. With the approval of the City Council, Providence will enter into long-term, low-cost leases with the land trust, which will in turn sublease the plots to residents and community organizations for farming.
“Fresh, affordable and locally grown food is good for Providence families, our communities and our economy,” Margaret DeVos, executive director of Southside Community Land Trust, said in prepared remarks. “Lots of Hope demonstrates Southside Community Land Trust’s 30-year commitment to healthy lifestyles, high quality of life and environmental sustainability in neighborhoods across the city. We are grateful for Mayor Taveras’ leadership in convening this partnership.”
The Lots of Hope project is designed to improve access to fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods at risk of becoming “food deserts” due to insufficient access to conventional grocery stores.
“The program will expand Providence’s portfolio of green, open space and contribute to improvements in air quality, public health and local property values,” said a release from the city of Providence.
The Lots of Hope program will also introduce a residential composting program, that will enable families in environmentally at-risk neighborhoods to reduce solid waste and create a local source of high-quality compost that supports urban food production.
“We are tremendously excited about this project,” Jennifer Pereira, a grant program officer with The Rhode Island Foundation, said in a statement. “It is a win-win-win for Providence – increasing the city’s green space and local food production; improving neighborhoods; and fostering innovative new ventures for our communities.
“The foundation is pleased to strengthen our partnership with the city of Providence’s Office of Sustainability, and we look forward to working together on this wonderful effort,” added Pereira.
Providence was one of six cities in the country to receive a grant from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund this year. The fund is a collaborative effort of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, Kendeda Fund, New York Community Trust, Summit Foundation and Surdna Foundation, and is designed to create partnerships between local governments and local, place-based foundations and to advance community-based sustainability initiatives.
Information about how interested residents can get involved with Lots of Hope will be announced this spring, according to the release.