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EPA Workshop in Biddeford, Maine June 6-7 will Help Support Community Revitalization through Local Food Enterprises

“Local Foods, Local Places” Program Enhances Economic Development

05/30/2018
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1017

BIDDEFORD, MAINE –  Technical experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a workshop in Biddeford, Maine on June 6-7, intended to revitalize downtowns, boost the local economy, improve public health, and protect the environment through local food enterprises.

The assistance, provided through "Local Foods, Local Places" (LFLP), a federal initiative that helps communities reinvest in their neighborhoods and improve quality of life as they develop the local food economy, is being offered to only 16 communities nationwide. Biddeford is the only New England community be selected this year under the program.

"America's farmers and ranchers are some of the nation's first environmentalists," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "We look forward to helping our community partners develop local food enterprises that support local farmers, improve public health, protect the environment, and grow local economies."

"EPA is very pleased to be working with Biddeford with the federal "Local Foods, Local Places" program. Helping to connect local food producers with better markets for their wares makes good economic sense, and good environmental sense," said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

Through Local Foods, Local Places, partner communities work with a team of experts to identify local assets and opportunities that can support local food enterprises, and set goals for leveraging those resources in ways that spur revitalization. They then develop an implementation plan and help identify potential resources from the participating federal agencies to support implementation. Engine, a nonprofit arts organization based in Biddeford since 2010, is the host for the workshop. A unique connection is that Engine is housed in the Marble Block Building on Main Street in downtown Biddeford. The Marble Block Redevelopment Corp. was the recipient of a $200,000 2016 EPA Brownfields Clean up grant with the goal to redevelop this property and the workshop will assist in furthering that goal.

At the Biddeford workshop, the EPA team will conduct facilitated sessions with participants to identify local foods and local place-making initiatives in Biddeford. The community meeting will include interactive discussions about opportunities to use local food initiatives to strengthen downtown Main Street, foster economic development, and promote better public health outcomes. The second day action planning sessions will highlight case studies, best practices and focus on creating a community action plan with specific implementation steps. Participants are welcome to attend both days or any part of either day. There is no charge to participate in these events. June 6 will feature a Community Meeting between 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  June 7 will have Action Planning Sessions between 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The workshop will be held at ENGINE, 128 Main St. in Biddeford.

"This technical assistance provides an opportunity to convene our community leaders – City of Biddeford, the Heart of Biddeford, Coastal Healthy Communities at University of New England, Biddeford Public Schools, and a local producer, The Farm – around the importance locally grown food can play in the creative revitalization of our historic Marble Block and the downtown," said Tammy Ackerman, Executive Director of Engine.

In 2018, LFLP is supported by EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Delta Regional Authority. Since its launch in 2014, LFLP has helped 78 communities across the country develop local food enterprises—such as farmers markets, community gardens, and cooperative grocery stores—that improve environmental, economic, and health outcomes.

The 16 communities receiving assistance today were selected from more than 75 applications.

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