Governor McKee, DEM, RI General Assembly Announce 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grantees, Helping Grow Agricultural, Seafood Businesses

Published on Friday, March 29, 2024


PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grantees at Newport Vineyards. More than 40 local farmers, fishers, and specialty food producers obtained LASA grant awards, splitting more than $650,000 in funding on projects that will support the growth, development, and marketing of local farms, seafood harvesters, and food businesses. LASA grants support small businesses and increase Rhode Island’s food security.

“LASA grants continue to be a game-changer for Rhode Island's farmers, fishers, and aquaculturists,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I congratulate this year’s recipients and look forward to working with them to foster community resilience, promote sustainable practices, and increase food security across our state.”

Authored by Senator V. Susan Sosnowski in 2012 and run by DEM, the LASA program helps new and existing small food businesses grow and flourish. Since the COVID pandemic, DEM has steered the program to prioritize building capacity for markets connecting local farms and fishers with food-insecure communities and supporting agriculture producers and fishers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – along with developing small food businesses. The LASA program provides grants that directly benefit and strengthen the local food system in Rhode Island by providing funding for projects that help support the growth, development, and marketing of RI Grown produce and RI Seafood. Since its enactment 12 years ago, LASA has provided more than $2 million through individual program grants up to $20,000 with no direct match required.

Last year the Governor and the General Assembly pledged their support to continue funding LASA, which is an important catalyst in strengthening the local food system, at historically high levels in fiscal year 2024. During this grant round, 43 grant awards totaling $662,000 were broadly distributed across many categories including agriculture, aquaculture, seafood or fishery based, and farmers markets that support these sectors. Eligible entities included Rhode Island-based, for-profit small or beginning farmers including aquaculture operators, fishers, producer groups, and non-profit organizations. Given the depth of the application pool, the evaluation of applications is a concerted effort by the LASA committee, which includes DEM staff and the RI Food Policy Council, with the goal of funding recommendations being as equitably and diversely as possible by taking score into consideration among other factors such as Environmental Justice. The final grantees awarded during this grant round reflect the purpose and value of the LASA program by fulfilling its purpose of seeking to broaden the scope and diversity of awardees.

“Since the food shortages and price spikes of the COVID pandemic, Rhode Islanders have been looking for food producers closer to home, so these Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grants are well timed and the awardees well positioned to meet growing consumer demand,” said Representative Terri Cortvriend (Portsmouth, Middletown). “I’m lucky to have an organic farm in my district, Garman Farm, that is receiving LASA funding. Jim and Michelle Garman believe that farming is as much about community as it is about plants. This funding will allow them to continue cultivating local food that is fresh, delicious, and safe. I am very proud to support this program.”

“Agriculture and seafood are extremely important economic sectors in all four of the communities I represent in the State Senate,” said Senator Louis P. DiPalma (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act helps incubate new and growing small businesses, some of which will one day become cornerstones of our communities. Supporting the production of local food also means fewer trucks on the road, which means less air pollution and better health for Rhode Islanders and our environment.”

“Food security means that all people, always, have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Narragansett, South Kingstown). “The Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island, which is in Wakefield in my district and obtaining a Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grant today, is addressing food security by supplying local seafood to Rhode Island public schools, especially in low-income districts. Another LASA grantee in my district, Moonstone Flower Company, is trying to solve a much different problem: deer pressure. By installing deer fencing with LASA funding, Taylor Olson soon hopes to put her company on a path toward supplying local restaurants with fresh flowers. I salute the vision and tenacity of all LASA grantees in growing their businesses and making Rhode Island a more beautiful, fair, and food-secure state.”

“As the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee, I am always on the lookout for legislation and programs that benefit both the environment and agriculture,” said Senator Alana M. DiMario (North Kingstown, Narragansett, New Shoreham). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act program is one of a very few that does. I have seen the power of LASA grants at work in my district where farmers, food businesses, shellfishers, and aquaculturists have gotten just the boost they needed from a LASA award. I look forward to today’s awardees using their grants to gain traction and flourish in their marketplaces.”

“DEM is always working to get more RI Grown food and RI Seafood on the table by supporting local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses, and the support of Governor McKee and the General Assembly for a well-funded LASA program helps achieve this,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “Today’s LASA awards will help build Rhode Island’s food security while bolstering the traction of a diverse range of local food businesses in the marketplace by harvesting and marketing fresh home-grown food to meet consumer demand.”

LASA 2024 grantees: 

401 Oyster Company Charlestown $20,000
Allen Harbor Oyster Co. Saunderstown $10,600
Aquidneck Community Table Newport $20,000
Ashawaug Farm Ashaway $18,572
Bee Happy Homestead Charlestown $5,337
Block Island Shellfish Farm New Shoreham $14,955
Breakwater Oyster Company Bristol $20,000
Center for Mediation and Collaboration RI - Land & Sea Together Warwick $20,000
Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island Wakefield $20,000
East Coast Oysters LLC Saunderstown $7,500
Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD) Tiverton $12,000
Foggy Notion Farm Johnston $4,202
Frontier Farm Westerly $9,008
Fue Khang Cranston $20,000
Garman Farm Newport $17,903
Gather Farm Johnston $10,752
Hard-Pressed Cider Company, LLC West Greenwich $14,165
High Tide Mushroom Farm Coventry $19,532
Hmong Rhode Island Association, Inc. Providence $20,000
Josephine's Farm Providence $20,000
Long Lane Farm Warren $16,077
Luckyfoot Ranch Partnership Saunderstown $20,000
Marie's Farm Coventry $20,000
Moonstone Flower Company Wakefield $12,695.3
Moorefield Oyster Farm Narragansett $20,000
Mount Hope Farm Bristol $19,080
Narragansett Indian Tribe Charlestown $15,426.2
Night Garden Portsmouth $19,963
Open fArms Retreat Cumberland $8,486
Pea Shoot Farm LLC Foster $14,900
Quononchontaug Fish Company Westerly $20,000
Rocky Rhode Oyster Co. LLC Narragansett $3,380
Saunderstown Garlic Farm Saunderstown $12,650
Seraphina's Farm Providence $20,000
Silk Tree Farm Exeter $19,280
Southern Rhode Island Conservation District Westerly $12,534.5
Sowams Cider Works Warren $9,600
Stephen Duyen Providence $20,000
SunRise Forever, Inc. Providence $20,000
Tiverton Farmers Market Tiverton $17,651
Transfarmative Project Foster $20,000
Westbay Community Action Warwick $10,000
WinterHawk Vineyards West Kingston $5,751

The 2024 grant funding priorities included:

  • Supporting the entry, growth, and/or sustainability of socially disadvantagedbeginningsmall, women, and veteran agriculture and aquaculture producers and fishers.
  • Supporting climate-smart agriculture mitigation activities and climate change related adaptations throughout the local food system.
  • Supporting the development of new marketing, promotion, sales, and/or distribution channels, including connecting local farms and fishers with Rhode Island’s food insecure communities.
  • Supporting the development of new products, including value added processing capacity.
  • Fostering new cooperatives, partnerships, and/or collaborations among Rhode Island agriculture and aquaculture producers, and fishers and supporting organizations.
  • Protecting the future availability of agricultural land for producers, including farm transition planning and implementation.
  • Assisting with on farm food safety improvements including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) Compliance.

DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. According to the recently published 2022 Census of Agriculture, which is conducted once every five years by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rhode Island has the highest percentage of beginning farmers in the country. Both the number of farms and the percentage of farmland in RI grew from 2017 to 2022 according to the census data, demonstrating the increased support for local agriculture and food throughout the state. Supporting local agriculture benefits all Rhode Islanders, ensures our future food security, enhances our environment, and celebrates the state’s unique food cultures and landscape.