A NEW FUTURE FOR ROLLIE’S FARM IN LOWELL

A NEW FUTURE FOR ROLLIE’S FARM IN LOWELL

LOCAL LAND TRUSTS AND FOOD JUSTICE ORGANIZATION ANNOUNCE PLANS TO PRESERVE HISTORIC LOWELL FARM

Contacts:

Jane Calvin, Executive Director – Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust
jcalvin@LowellLandTrust.org
978-934-0030
www.LowellLandTrust.org

 

Bob Wilber, Director of Land Conservation Mass Audubon
bwilber@massaudubon.org
781-925-2155
www.massaudubon.org

 

Jessica Wilson, Executive Director – Mill City Grows
jessica@MillCityGrows.org
978-455-2620
MillCityGrows.org

Lowell’s “Rollie’s Farm” slated to become a wildlife sanctuary and premiere site for urban agriculture and environmental education. 

[LOWELL, MA] – Three organizations — Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, Mass Audubon, and Mill City Grows — are working in partnership to protect a historic Lowell farm, owned by the Perron family, and known locally as Rollie’s Farm. The farm is located at 1413 and 1415 Varnum Avenue. The intent of the partnership is to create an urban wildlife sanctuary and education center dedicated to local agricultural and community-based environmental education.  

The two Varnum Avenue parcels have been operated for years as a Christmas tree farm. When acquired, the parcels, comprising ~20 acres, will be managed in perpetuity as protected conservation land, open to the public. Construction of an energy efficient green building, with office and program space for the three partner organizations, is planned on the site. 

Mass Audubon and the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust (LP&CT) will acquire these parcels which will have conservation restrictions placed on them. Both Mass Audubon and LP&CT are nationally accredited as land trusts committed to permanent land conservation and program excellence. 

Mill City Grows will establish a variety of programs on the space, including urban agriculture, community gardens, greenhouses, a food forest, farmer’s markets, and educational programming. 

“Establishing this community space will give Mill City Grows the opportunity to bring many of our food access and education programs to a single location, creating a way for people to envision and engage with all of the parts of a local food system, and intertwine them with excellent environmental education delivered by our partners. It’s a step towards greater food sovereignty for Lowell,” says Jessica Wilson, Executive Director of Mill City Grows. 

“This unique partnership provides the opportunity for community-based conservation on a larger scale, enabling us to impact more people close to home.  We’re excited to expand our programming and amplify our land conservation and environmental education programming for the greater Lowell community,” says Jane Calvin, Executive Director of the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust.

“During the pandemic, it has become obvious to us all just how important nature is for our health and well-being, as well as for addressing the threats of climate change,” said David J. O’Neill, President of Mass Audubon. “Protecting and enhancing Rollie’s Farm is especially important as we focus on providing more green space and greater access to nature in urban communities—work that can only be done with the type of deep partnerships this important project represents.”

The uplands will provide woodland trails for recreation, a scenic overlook, a nature playscape for children, and a connection to the Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsborough State Forest. These properties, combined, provide a critical corridor to the Merrimack River from the state forest. The protection of this land will provide benefits that expand beyond just the neighborhood of Pawtucketville and will benefit the city as a whole.  

 

About Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust

Since 1990, the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust (LP&CT) has provided conservation leadership in Lowell, Massachusetts. LP&CT was founded by residents with a vision to protect the natural resources upon which the city of Lowell was built. LP&CT is a nationally accredited land trust and focuses on creating community through conservation by providing programs that focus on four major areas: land protection, stewardship, environmental education, and special places. Join us for an upcoming program. Learn more at LowellLandtrust.org, or at Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.  

 

About Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon protects more than 40,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.

Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org

 

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Media Contact:
Katherine Davis
Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620

Contact:
Katherine Davis, Mill City Grows Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620
MillCityGrows.org

TAKE THE LOWELL COMMUNITY FOOD ASSESSMENT SURVEY

TAKE THE LOWELL COMMUNITY FOOD ASSESSMENT SURVEY

Mill City Grows, REACH LoWELL, and Greater Lowell Health Alliance are working together to analyze and strengthen Food Security & Healthy Food Access throughout Greater Lowell

[LOWELL, MA] – Mill City Grows, REACH LoWELL, and Greater Lowell Health Alliance have joined in partnership to create a Community Food Assessment Survey that is open to all City of Lowell residents. The ultimate goal of the Community Food Assessment is to increase Lowell residents’ access to nutritious, high-quality foods that are culturally connected and affordable. The public survey is completely confidential, and closes on September 30, 2021.

Multilingual versions of the survey can be accessed using this link and at MillCityGrows.org.

The Community Food Assessment Survey was created to gather important data on how residents shop, eat, select, and access food for themselves and their families. Survey results will help local nonprofits and city officials understand the problems related to food insecurity and how best to address, and solve, inequities within our local food system. Most importantly, residents can use the survey as a platform to demand better policies and programs to meet community food needs.

“The goal of the 2021 Lowell Community Food Assessment is to ensure that all voices in our community are heard, and that the information we have, and recommendations that come from our findings are rooted in racial equity and inclusiveness. A Steering Committee made of community members is ensuring that all of our decision making, and survey design reflects community voices,” said Ali Jacobs, Director of Programs at Mill City Grows, and Project Director for the CFA.

Mill City Grows, as a convening member of the Lowell Food Security Coalition, helped to conduct a similar survey in 2013. The resulting data showed that while residents were interested in eating more produce, they had difficulty accessing the products they wanted at affordable prices. Those findings drove the creation of Mill City Grows’ programs and partnerships throughout Lowell.

For questions about the Community Food Assessment Survey, please contact Mill City Grows Director of Programs Alison Jacobs at Ali@millcitygrows.org or call 978-455-2620.

 

About Mill City Grows

Since 2011, Mill City Grows (MCG) has worked towards food justice in Lowell, Massachusetts, using the following strategies and programs: education in and out of schools, supporting community leadership through community gardens, increasing urban agriculture through urban farming, implementing a mobile market, and empowering people to produce their own food. MCG infuses food production spaces with food education to support their belief that a community that understands how to grow, access, and prepare healthy food will have better quality of life and deeper investment in their local environment. Visit MillCityGrows.org to learn more, and follow MCG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

About REACH LoWELL

REACH LoWELL is an initiative funded by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which focuses on effective racial and ethnic approaches to community health. REACH LoWELL seeks to eliminate disparities among the Southeast Asian and Hispanic/LatinX residents of Lowell, MA, with an emphasis on those who are at high risk of uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes. REACH LoWELL strategies include culturally tailored health promotion activities, systems change to increase physical activity and access to healthier foods in the community; and increased community-wide education, with the aim of increasing knowledge of health care systems.

 

About Greater Lowell Health Alliance

The Greater Lowell Health Alliance of the Community Health Network Area 10 (GLHA) is composed of healthcare providers, business leaders, educators, civic and community leaders with a common goal to help the Greater Lowell community identify and address its health and wellness priorities. The Greater Lowell Health Alliance was founded in 2006 through collaboration of the following partner organizations: Lowell General Hospital, Saints Medical Center, UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Lowell Community Health Center, VNA of Greater Lowell, City of Lowell, and Lowell Public Schools. In 2008, the GLHA merged with the Community Health Network Area 10 (CHNA 10).

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Media Contact:
Katherine Davis
Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620

Contact:
Katherine Davis, Mill City Grows Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620
MillCityGrows.org

MILL CITY GROWS AWARDED $400,000 CUMMINGS GRANT

MILL CITY GROWS AWARDED $400,000 CUMMINGS GRANT

Lowell non-profit receives 10 years of funding from the Cummings Foundation

[LOWELL, MA] – Mill City Grows (MCG) is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. The Lowell-based organization was chosen from a total of 590 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $400,000 over 10 years. 

Mill City Grows is a food justice organization that operates community and school gardens, urban farms, a mobile market and CSA program, and food and gardening education programs throughout Lowell. In 2020, Mill City Grows grew over 40,000 pounds of food and distributed produce at no cost to families experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This grant will be instrumental in helping us improve Lowell’s food system for everyone,” said Jessica Wilson, Executive Director of Mill City Grows.“Through the next 10 years, we will develop and deliver new, responsive programming to meet the food needs of our community, empower Lowell residents to help build this system, and increase the amount of fresh, local food going to families in need in our City.”

Funds from the Cummings $25 Million Grant Program will be used to support and expand MCG’s food justice programs. Specifically, MCG is working with local partners to conduct a Community Food Assessment to identify gaps in the local food system. Utilizing community feedback from this study, MCG will make plans to guide their program development over the next 10 years to address food insecurity and inequities in access to fresh, culturally connected food for all residents of Lowell. 

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. 

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation. 

“We aim to help meet the needs of people in all segments of our local community,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “It is the incredible organizations we fund, however, that do the actual daily work to empower our neighbors, educate our children, fight for equity, and so much more.” 

With the help of about 80 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each. 

“We have adopted a democratic approach to philanthropy, which empowers an impressive roster of dedicated volunteers to decide more than half of all our grant winners each year,” said Swets. “We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from a meaningful and fulfilling experience; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.” 

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including social justice, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. The nonprofits are spread across 43 different cities and towns. The following Lowell-based organizations received $100,000 grants from the Cummings Foundation: Community Teamwork, Inc., Merrimack Valley Food Bank, and Middlesex Community College Foundation. Mill City Grows is the only Lowell-based organization to receive a 10-year grant. 

The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 800 previous recipients, is available at CummingsFoundation.orgCummings Foundation has now awarded more than $300 million to greater Boston nonprofits. 

 

About Mill City Grows

Since 2011, Mill City Grows (MCG) has worked towards food justice in Lowell, Massachusetts, using the following strategies and programs: education in and out of schools, supporting community leadership through community gardens, increasing urban agriculture through urban farming, implementing a mobile market, and empowering people to produce their own food. MCG infuses food production spaces with food education to support their belief that a community that understands how to grow, access, and prepare healthy food will have better quality of life and deeper investment in their local environment. Visit MillCityGrows.org to learn more, and follow MCG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings and has grown to be one of the three largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn, and Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, LLC in North Grafton. Additional information is available at CummingsFoundation.org.

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Media Contact:
Katherine Davis
Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620

Contact:
Katherine Davis, Mill City Grows Director of Development
Katherine@millcitygrows.org
978-455-2620
MillCityGrows.org

Contact:
Alison Harding, Cummings Foundation
aeh@cummings.com
781-932-7093
CummingsFoundation.org

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