U.S. EPA Supports New Bedford, Mass. Efforts to Enhance Local Food Economy
New Bedford, Mass. (Oct. 21, 2021) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that New Bedford, Mass. is one of 13 communities selected nationally to participate in Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a federal partnership program that supports community-led efforts to reinvest in existing neighborhoods and improve quality of life through the development of the local food economy.
"EPA is thrilled to be able to work together with state and local partners in New Bedford supporting efforts to improve equitable access to healthy food and community gardens in the South Central Bedford Village," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator, Deb Szaro. "This kind of partnership work is so important for community revitalization and community health."
The community-led effort in New Bedford is being run by the Marion Institute, Old Bedford Village, Coastal Foodshed, and local community partners. They are focusing efforts on the South Central Bedford Village neighborhood, and propose to improve health outcomes by identifying vacant spaces and brownfield sites to develop urban gardens and food related businesses. They also hope to create a fixed or mobile farmers market stand and increase participation in school gardens during the summer to improve local food access.
A steering committee consisting of residents and stakeholders will seek to achieve three main goals for this project:
- Wellness: Use local food systems and other strategies in South Central New Bedford to improve community health outcomes, including physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
- Access: Increase access to and distribution of affordable and healthy local foods by establishing community gardens, urban agriculture, partnerships with local farmers, wet and dry food storage, and other strategies.
- Economic Revitalization: Foster private reinvestment in minority-owned businesses in South Central New Bedford by reclaiming vacant or blighted areas for food-related uses and businesses.
The Local Food Local Places steering committee will hold a South Central Bedford Village tour on Friday, October 22 from 10:00am-1:00pm EST. The walking tour will begin at the cross streets of School St. and Acushnet Avenue and will include stops at Monte Park, Serenity Gardens, Alfred J Gomes Elementary School, Dennison Memorial Community Center and Mi Antojo Mexican Restaurant. The group will see current examples of the local food system and discuss ideas to further support human health, food access, and economic opportunity in the neighborhood.
The Local Food Local Places steering committee will hold a virtual workshop taking place from November 1st to November 4th. The workshop will be held as a series of seven interconnected virtual sessions. This event will be a dynamic work session designed for participant interaction and collaboration to help create a community action plan around local food and revitalization. Community members and local stakeholders are encouraged to attend. To learn more and register for this event, visit the registration page: https://bit.ly/3Ae17Bp.
This year, LFLP is sponsored jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, with multiple federal agencies planning to participate. The 13 LFLP communities selected in 2021 were chosen from among 97 applicants. Since its launch in 2014, LFLP has helped more than 120 communities across the country develop local food enterprises, such as farmers markets, community gardens and cooperative grocery stores, using a place-based approach that improves environmental, economic, and health outcomes in downtowns and neighborhoods. The program pays special attention to overcoming economic challenges, improving equity, and tackling climate change and other factors that can hinder revitalization efforts and residents' access to more affordable healthy food.
For more information about Local Foods, Local Places, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places