Southside Community Land Trust gets $600K from feds to help new farmers

CRANSTON – The Southside Community Land Trust has launched a $600,000 federally funded initiative to help beginning farmers access resources, tools and training, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., announced Tuesday.

The initiative, called Feed Rhode Island: Growing Sustainable Farms, is being funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant. It is designed to increase the number and success of limited-resource and socially disadvantaged beginning farmers in Rhode Island.

The program aims to help launch new growers on their own farms and allow urban farmers to scale up onto larger plots of land. The program is also intended to increase production and strengthen cooperative marketing.

“This federal grant will help plant the seeds for future success. It will provide beginning farmers with access to critical resources, tools, and training to ensure the next generation of Rhode Island farmers can thrive,” Reed said in a statement. “Farming is hard work and starting up a new farm from scratch can be really difficult. We’ve got to invest in Rhode Island’s agricultural sector and food economy to keep it growing. This grant directly supports beginning farmers with mentoring and hands-on training. It ensures they have access to the necessary farming, business-planning and financial-management skills to be successful.”

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The organization has received the grant each of the last three years.

“In the past three years, we have used this USDA grant to help 27 people begin farming and we have provided training, business services, and technical assistance to help strengthen farming and business practices of another 79 beginning farmers,” said Margaret DeVos, SCLT executive director.