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122 Action Items Found
Focus analysis on Gateway Cities to assess the potential for those cities to support both short- and long- term urban agriculture on vacant and underutilized land. Work with city planners to inventory these municipalities’ surplus land and prioritize based upon criteria developed in the action plan as called for in Recommendation 2.1. Consider using Health Impact Assessments to evaluate soil remediation on urban land.
Advocate for dedicated funding conduct soil testing, and import or remediate soil on prioritized land in Gateway Cities and other cities. Consider using the MEPA process to secure clean soil from development projects that could replace contaminated soils in urban locations.
Educate municipal officials and citizen advocates about the availability of state funds for this purpose, including Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND), Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations Program (PARC), Community Forest Stewardship Implementation, and Urban Agriculture.
Launch an educational campaign to teach consumers about when a product is still safe to eat, even past the expiration/sell by date.
Clarify expiration/sell by dates, and reduce the number of foods that require a date label, using information from Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.
Increase outreach and education on food donation opportunities, including the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which provides liability protections for donators.
Implement a state tax credit for farmers and others who donate surplus food. Currently, there is no state tax credit for food donation and only C-corporations are eligible for the federal enhanced tax credits and most Massachusetts farmers do not meet these criteria.
Increase refrigerated storage capacity at food pantries through public funding or connections with under-used, existing, nearby facilities to allow food pantries to accept more donations of fresh, perishable foods.
Increase participation in existing education and training around the handling of fresh food for those donating, distributing, and serving the food. Best management practices are being developed through a collaborative effort of the EPA, Massachusetts Department of Public Health(DPH), and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), with support from Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Center for Ecological Technology.
Increase education and consistent implementation of public health regulations regarding food donation.
Create a communication network so that farmers can connect with volunteers willing to harvest and distribute a crop in an overly abundant year.
Increase soil testing on land used for urban farming where food is grown in soils of unknown quality. Cities could use Boston’s soil safety protocol as a model.
Explore with MassDEP streamlining the assessment and remediation of contaminated soil on land used for urban farming.
Develop a resource guide for urban farming soil remediation that includes best practices, applicable regulations, and funding sources. City, state, federal agency programs should be included in the guide.
Municipal and regional planning staff should collaborate with urban farms to secure EPA Brownfields Assessment Grants, EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grants, and Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program (PARC) monies.
Expand research to identify and fill gaps in the literature about the level of non-point source water pollution that agricultural activities can generate.
Provide more resources and introduce regionally-appropriate program reforms to improve water quality. The NRCS, UMass Extension, and non-profits should provide additional technical assistance and resources.
Provide technical and financial support to farmers for irrigation and waste water testing, to assist in compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations and USDA’s Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification.
Provide more technical support to urban farmers on water quality impacts from urban farming.
Include a representative from the urban farming sector on the NRCS’ State Technical Committee to represent the particular needs of the Massachusetts urban farming sector.