Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 77.56
Liaison Ruairi O'Mahony
Submission Date Feb. 15, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Massachusetts Lowell
IN-24: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Ruairi O'Mahony
Executive Director
Rist Institute for Sustainability and Energy
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Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
University of Massachusetts Lowell - Urban Agriculture Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

UMass Lowell’s Office of Sustainability has developed an innovative urban agriculture program in partnership with Mill City Grows, a local food justice organization. This community partnership is unique in that it provides education to both the university and also to residents of the City of Lowell about food production and sustainability. It also provides an innovative, hands-on learning environment for campus and community members to come together on issues related to urban food production and sustainability.Community engagement focused on food access and justice is particularly important in Lowell. The majority of neighborhoods in the city are classified as low income with low food access by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Development of UMass Lowell's Urban Agriculture Program has been supported by over $150,000 in grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources which recognizes the importance of a leading educational institute addressing food access in partnership with its host community.

Underpinned by an 1,800 square foot greenhouse on an acre of ground which was formally an East Campus parking lot, the site serves as a testing ground where university researchers and students are paired with community members to
develop new and efficient ways to use water and energy to grow sustainable crops year-round.

Produce from this site is sold and donated back to the local community in Lowell, while fresh food donations are provided to the UMass Lowell student food pantry.

Faculty from the Francis College of Engineering and Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences are actively using the greenhouse and site for research proposals focused on the food / energy / water nexus.

In addition, UMass Lowell launched an innovative approach to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) this year. The CSA Pilot Program is a joint initiative between the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Public Opinion and Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences.

The goal of the pilot program is twofold: to set the table for a more formal
CSA program at UML starting next summer and to provide opportunities for funded research in the areas of urban and community-supported agriculture and sustainable food systems. The research component of this project presents an incredible opportunity to fuse research and service while also benefiting the health of the Lowell community.

Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Engagement
Public Engagement

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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