EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island farmers will soon be getting a financial boost to help them expand market access for local fruits, vegetables and other crops.

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Gov. Dan McKee announced more than $160,000 in grants available through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The goal is to help make farmers more competitive in the marketplace by increasing awareness of local produce, creating new marketing opportunities for suppliers, and diversifying their crops.

“Specialty Crop Block Grants help achieve more homegrown Rhode Island food on the table, help the environment by minimizing transportation costs and reducing carbon emissions, and boost the local economy while providing the freshest product possible to the consumer,” DEM Director Terry Gray explained. “These grants are investments that will further enhance the share of profits for those who grow, harvest, process, and prepare our food.”

The grant recipients include the following:

  • The Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association: $22,260
  • Southside Community Land Trust: $38,640
  • The Rhode Island Food Policy Council: $29,938
  • Farm Fresh Rhode Island: $37,776
  • The RI Farm Incubator: $32,541

The DEM said the funding is a portion of the $73 million being awarded across the country through the program this year.