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 Urban Farming Conference

“Cultivating Lands, Nourishing Communities, Building Businesses”

Saturday, March 9, 2013         8:30 am - 3:30 pm

Roxbury Community College      Media Arts Building

 Roxbury Crossing  Boston, MA


Presented by

City Growers  and  Urban Farming Institute of Boston

In Partnership with

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)


The annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC) is designed to advance the opportunities and address the barriers involved in cultivating a thriving urban farming sector. The UFC is a forum to share information regarding what is currently happening in Boston and other local urban communities and to map out a vision for urban farming in Massachusetts. Boston and other local urban communities in Massachusetts have the potential to offer a fresh, local healthy food supply while promoting economic and environmental sustainability, as well as healthy communities, employment at livable wages, food security, youth engagement and more.


The UFC brings together participants representing all aspects of urban farming including, but not limited to, farmers (including roof top, chicken, bees, etc.), commercial buyers, policy makers, investors and all others. The UFC conference is being convened to foster solutions, sustainable networks and business relationships. This will be achieved with interactive panels and roundtable discussions on diverse and relevant topics with distinguished Conversation Leaders and a networking reception. The UFC is designed to:

  • Introduce the Urban Farming Institute of Boston's mission and goals
  • Report on current urban farming issues and projects
  • Address infrastructure gaps in the urban farming industry
  • Serve as a resource on cutting edge models for healthy, sustainable practices and more
  • Serve as a means to educate community leaders, foundations, investors, city, state and federal  agencies on the necessity and value in investing in urban farming.
All panels are interactive discussions.
Join the conversation and contribute to advancing urban farming in Massachusetts.

UFC Developed by: ISES - Integrative Sustainability & Environmental Solutions
For UFC Sponsorship or Other Inquiries, 
Please Contact Crystal Johnson at Crystal@ISESplanning.com/(617) 416-4915

8:00 am – 8:30 am                   Registration Opens and Continental Breakfast


8:30 am – 9:15 am                  Welcome Ceremony


     Crystal Johnson, Senior Environmental Planner/Strategist, ISES

     Glynn LloydCo-Founder, City Growers and Founder and CEO, City Fresh Foods

     Klare Shaw, President, Urban Farming Institute Board of Directors

     Margaret Connors, Co-Founder, City Growers

     Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)


9:15 am – 9:30 am                   Networking Break

9:30 am – 10:30 am                 Session I

Panel 1. Open Field Farming Techniques 

The movement towards small scale farming in urban centers brings many benefits, such as improving access to healthy food and revitalizing neighborhoods. For farmers, it brings unique challenges that will be addressed by our round table participants. Our panel will share from their experience on what it takes to have a viable operation in a city setting sharing their production methods and how they address environmental concerns such as soil prep, water use and structural constraints.


Conversation Leaders:

Greg Maslow, Farmer, Newton Community Farm (Moderator)

Greg Bodine, Farm Managers, City Growers

Bobby Walker, Farm Manager, City Growers

Ethan Grundberg, Farm Manager, Allandale Farm

Jess Liborio, Boston Urban Grower, The Food Project

Panel 2. Organic Farming Techniques and Season Extension Technologies

With consumers growing interest in organic and local products, more people are looking to their local farms for products that are not only fresh, but readily available and organic.  With the challenges of the Massachusetts growing season, many farmers are finding solutions to extend their growing capacity to meet these needs. Hear from our panel of experts on the interest of organics and how their creative solutions for season extension can be applied to urban farming.

Conversation Leaders:

Ruth Hazard, Vegetable Entomologist, UMass Extension Vegetable Program (Moderator)           

Jessie Banhazl, Founder & CEO, Green City Growers

Jolie Olivetti, Farm Manager, Victory Programs Inc. - ReVision Urban Farm

Eliot Coleman, Organic Farmer, Four Season Farm 

Patti Moreno, Garden Girl, Garden Girl TV

Panel 3.  Lessons from Different Market Strategies


Building a successful urban farming business takes a creative and diverse plan to not only meet local consumer needs, but to be viable enterprise as well.  Today you will hear from leaders that represent different market opportunities: from restaurant to institutional.  This panel will discuss sales strategy and market analysis, helping you to create a strategy to meet the growing demand for local products.  Where will you sell a majority of your products? Are farmers’ markets or CSA’s the most viable routes for your business? Will social media and advertising play a role in the growth of your business? How can buyers and growers work strategically together?

Conversation Leaders:

Jamey Lionette, Sales Director, City Growers (Moderator)

Kelly  Erwin, Project Director, Massachusetts Farm to School Project

Rachel Cory, Speciality Foods Buyer, City Feed and Supply Inc.

Michael Leviton, Owner and Chef, Lumiere Restaurant  

10:30 am – 10:45 am                 Networking Break

10:45 am – 11:45 am                 Session II

 Panel 4. Composting: Policy, Practice and Viable Business Enterprise


A critical component for farming is healthy, nutrient-dense soil and in an urban setting, the complexities and opportunities that arise are abundant.  Due to the reality of pollution in all cities, the safest alternative to existing soil is compost.  Generating enough compost to meet the needs of urban farmers and gardeners will take a multi-tiered system, one that will engage policy makers and entrepreneurs alike.  What are the zoning restrictions? What are the resources that can be utilized to make large volumes of compost? How do communities capitalize on this economic opportunity? Join this conversation to learn more from seasoned professionals.

Conversation Leaders:

Betsy Johnson, Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (Moderator)

Gerard Kennedy, Director of Technical Assistance, MDAR

Bruce Fulford, Owner and Principal, City Soil & Greenhouse

Greg MurphyNew England Sales Rep, Sun State Organics

Andy Brooks, Founder, Bootstrap Composting

Adam Mitchell, Partner, Save That Stuff, Inc.


 Panel 5. Roof Top Techniques

The benefits of roof top farming in an urban setting make it an attractive alternative when ground-level space is scarce, utilizing and beautifying space in a community for growing fresh produce. The possibilities abound for roof top gardening and our speakers will engage you with their vision and share best practices. Year round growing, hydroponics, vertical and container gardening are just some of the methods to be discussed. How can your model be fiscally and operationally sound? What do you need to consider for future expansion? What environmental issues are unique to roof-top gardening?


Conversation Leaders:

Mark Winterer, Co-Founder/Director of Operations, Recover Green Roofs (Moderator)

Mohamed Hage, Founder, Lufa Farms

John Stoddard, Founding Farmer, Higher Ground Farm

Joseph Swartz, Director of Farming, Sky Vegetables, Inc.


Panel 6. Food System Investors Meeting


Meeting the growing demand for healthy, fresh produce will take partnerships across many sectors. Addressing the financial impact will take a strategic and comprehensive approach by our financial institutions that recognize the need for and are committed to strengthening our diverse food system. Today you can participate in this conversation with leaders of several institutions that are committed to engaging in a MA food systems planning process.  What are the conventional and creative vehicles needed to move capital into this new urban farming sector?


Conversation Leaders:

Gus Schumacher, Co-Founder and Executive VP of Policy, Wholesome Wave (Moderator)

Jo Anne Shatkin, CEO, Conservation Law Foundation Ventures

Thai Ha-Ngoc, Program Analyst, Henry P. Kendall Foundation

Eric BodzinskiFarm Loan Manager, USDA Farm Service Agency 

11:45 am – 1:00 pm                  Lunch


Gregory Bialecki, Secretary, MA Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

       Urban Farming Thought Leaders: A Discussion

Massachusetts has the building blocks to be one of the most active, equitable and sustainable urban farming models in the nation. Join this roundtable discussion which brings together leaders from government, community, business and the nonprofit foundation sectors to discuss their vital roles, visions and how they can work together to cultivate a thriving urban farming sector.  
       Conversation Leaders:

      Crystal Johnson, Senior Environmental Planner/Strategist, ISES (Moderator)

       Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner, MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)

       Mel King, Social Activist/Community Organizer and Adjunct Professor, Department of Urban                                  

                Studies and Planning, MIT

       Glynn LloydCo-Founder, City Growers and Founder and CEO, City Fresh Foods

       Greg Horner, Senior Program Officer, Cedar Tree Foundation

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm                   Session III

 Panel 7. Land: Strategy, Community Control, Zoning and Policy


Scaling up the urban farming movement in MA brings with it the promise of transformed vacant spaces and improving neighborhood conditions, it also presents challenges for producers.  Land insecurity issues, high infrastructure costs and outdated zoning policies need to be addresses to support urban farming.Join community advocates and local officials in this discussion on the need for agriculture-friendly zoning policies. What are the processes that need to take place to encourage collaboration with community members and urban farmers? How can policy change protect urban farmers from redevelopment and also encourage them to invest in their farming business?


Conversation Leaders:

Kevin EssingtonMassachusetts State Director, The Trust for Public Land (Moderator)

Bette Toney, Tommy's Rock Neighborhood Organization

Jessica Burgess, Legal Counsel, MDAR

John (Tad) Read, Senior Planner/Project Manager, Boston Redevelopment Authority

 Panel 8. Viable Enterprises Other Than Fruits and Vegetables

A growing number of local restaurants and markets are actively sourcing locally grown products. Is expanding into a value-added business the opportunity you desire to capitalize on? Our Conversation Leaders will help guide entrepreneurs to assess your enterprise’s viability for long term success. A business planning process will involve determining your operation’s strengths and weaknesses and an exploration of your goals. What are the next best locally produced products that have viability? What tools will you need to explore your idea? Where can you obtain technical assistance? What are some key considerations regarding financing? What does expansion look like? What are the best ways to get my products to market? Join in this conversation to understand more about the process and opportunities available to help you grow a value added enterprise.

Conversation Leaders:

Margaret Connors, Co-Founder, City Growers (Moderator)

Jen Faigel, Consultant, Pearl Food Production Small Business Center

Tonya Johnson, Owner, The Ancient Bakers, Inc.

Bonita Oehike, Export Development Program, MDAR

 Panel 9. Youth and Urban Farming

Massachusetts youth are the key to leading the way to transforming empty urban land into farms and community growing spaces. Hear from our panel of youth leaders on the work they've done to reshape urban spaces. What are the visions and priorities of youth leaders in the urban farming movement?  How do they manage the various resistance they encounter? Where do they see their futures within the urban food movement? How can more youth be engaged in this work?  


 Conversation Leaders: 

         Dave Madan, Board of Directors, Urban Farming Institute and Founder and Executive Director,                            theMOVE (Moderator)

           Hakim Sutherland, Chairperson, Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE)/Roxbury

                 Environmental Empowerment Project's Grow or Die Campaign

           Wil Bullock, Farm Educator, The Trustee of Reservations

        Selvin Chambers, Executive Director, The Food Project

        Kenny Lopez, Youth Leader, The Food Project

       Shanelle Villegas, Youth Grower, United Neighbors of Lower Roxbury 

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm                   Closing Ceremony


      Urban Farming Lifetime Achievement Award

 Mel King, Social Activist/Community Organizer and Adjunct Professor, Department of Urban                                   

                Studies and Planning, MIT


      Session Reporting and Next Steps

When & Where

Roxbury Community College
1234 Columbus Ave
Boston Ma 02120

Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM

  Add to my calendar


City Growers, Urban Farming Institute of Boston and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources

City Growers - City Growers’ mission is to transform vacant lots in Boston into intensive urban farms that are economically and environmentally sustainable.  Their goals include:

  • Creating employment for community members at livable wages
  • Addressing food security issues by increasing local agricultural production capacity
  • Increasing local access to affordable, nutrient-rich foods

City Growers is contributing to the new green economy in communities where economic revitalization is needed most.  In the coming years, they will create a checkerboard of productive green space in Boston’s inner city where local growing talent thrives.



The Urban Farming Institute of Boston (UFI) is an organization founded to support the development of urban farming - the growing of agricultural products for income. UFI's mission is rooted in advocacy, training, research and development, education and economic development. It is UFI's goal to cultivate smart, healthy and sustainable communities and cities by promoting and creating self-sustaining urban farming enterprises and farming careers. By enabling urban farming through land trusts, farm creation, farmer training and networking, public education and policy change, UFI advances people in urban neighborhoods to become emerging key leaders in local food system production. UFI programs provide positive environmental, economic and social impact.


MA Department of Agricultural Resources – MDAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production.



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Urban Farming Conference
Boston Ma 02120 Events Conference

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