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Boston bolsters urban agriculture and access to healthy food

GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture aims to increase local food production throughout the city

Article from By Morgan Rousseau

Boston officials are offering more support to urban farms and gardens to address food insecurity and reduce the carbon footprint of food access.

Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday announced the launch of GrowBoston: Office of Urban Agriculture, which the mayor said will combat food inequities and reduce climate change impacts.

“Urban agriculture, including community gardens, urban farms, food forests, and other ways of growing food in the city, can directly strengthen our local food system, mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis and ensure equitable access to healthy food in Boston,” Wu said in a press release.

“Boston has a long history of urban agriculture as well as food justice activism, and we are continuing this tradition with increased investment of public resources,” Wu said.

GrowBoston’s efforts aim to:

Develop innovative food production strategies;

Give technical assistance to city gardens and farms;

Offer food production resources to gardeners, farmers, and residents;

Coordinate with city departments to expand local urban agriculture;

Help mitigate and adapt to climate change;

Address injustices in the current food system.

While GrowBoston is focused on food production, another office is honing in on food access.

Wu also announced that the Office of Food Access is now called the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ), and is part of the Environment, Energy, and Open Space Cabinet.

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This change reflects the city’s effort to help every Boston resident access food that’s nutritious, yet affordable. City officials are taking social and racial justice into consideration as well, saying they hope to make culturally-relevant food more accessible.

According to the mayor’s office, the OFJ will focus on:

Investing in Boston’s food businesses;

Building coalitions;

Expanding Boston residents’ access to affordable nutritious and culturally-appropriate food;

Using public procurement of food;

Investing in food chain workers in Boston.

Vivien Morris, chairperson of the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, said the efforts are needed now more than ever.

“The grassroots program has been a wonderful asset to help increase the use of green spaces in Boston for local parks, community gardens, and other green spaces,” said Morris. “Now with the increased resources put into the new GrowBoston office, we look forward to the expansion of past work to allow increased support for efforts to create even more access to healthy, locally-grown food including urban farms, food forests, and much more.”

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