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Urban Farming Institute of Boston (UFIB)

 487 R Norfolk Street, P.O.Box 260371
 Mattapan, MA 02126
[P] (617) 989-9920
[F] --
Patricia Spence
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 45-3961022

LAST UPDATED: 11/28/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes


Mission StatementMORE »

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston's (UFI) mission is to develop and promote urban farming as a commercial sector that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and engage them in building a healthier, more locally based food system. 

Mission Statement

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston's (UFI) mission is to develop and promote urban farming as a commercial sector that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and engage them in building a healthier, more locally based food system. 

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $687,500.00
Projected Expense $687,500.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Urban Farmer Training Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston's (UFI) mission is to develop and promote urban farming as a commercial sector that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan and engage them in building a healthier, more locally based food system. 

Background Statement

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston, Inc. (UFI) was founded in 2011 by a group of local civic, community and business leaders, and neighborhood residents, who were concerned about the lack of jobs and healthy food in the neighborhoods where they live and decided to do something to rectify the problem. More than 50 percent of the board is African American and the organization is led by an African American woman. UFI's mission is to develop urban farming as a viable commercial industry that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in communities of color, primarily in Boston. By working in collaboration with landowners, neighborhood residents, and individual farmers, UFI provides training to beginning farmers, it involves neighborhood residents in identifying land suitable for farming with a goal of empowering them, and it promotes the production of healthy local food using environmentally sustainable methods. In addition to training neighborhood residents for careers in agriculture and the food industry, as well as providing access to land for its trainees, graduates and hundreds of volunteers, UFI builds awareness of the importance of sustainable urban agriculture by organizing the annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference and co-leading the Urban Ag Task Force, which is developing and implementing a statewide advocacy initiative.

In 2013 UFI co-sponsored the 1st annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and affiliate City Growers, launched the Urban Farmer Training Program and commented on the draft zoning Article 89, which permitted commercial urban agriculture in Boston for the first time and was adopted by the City in December 2013.


Impact Statement

2017-2018 Accomplishments  UFI's farm operation encompassed seven farm sites in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.
  • Co-sponsored the 2-day 6th annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference and hosted the largest number of attendees ever (415)
  • Increased farm revenue by 2.5%. Produced over 16,000 pounds of food and donated over 1700 of those pounds to families in need.
  • Erected towards the end of 2017 UFI's first greenhouse on Tommy's Rock in Roxbury. Planting beds were added in 2018.
  • Created the first urban farm community land trust in Boston and perhaps the country in June of 2017 and have recently applied for 501 (c) 3 status.
  • Developed Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (FCEF) into a food access hub and center of food production innovation and on-going learning.
  • FCEF will be known as a health and wellness education center, as well, where members of our community will come to learn about everything that has to do with food, nutrition, health, cooking, wellness, food sovereignty and self-empowerment.
  • Hosted the largest 20 week in-field training class comprised of 10 Farmer Training students.
  • Kicked of the Young Farmer's Project-a 6 week summer program geared towards the ages of 16-20.
  • Hosted over 700 volunteers and ran over 12 family friendly workshops.

Needs Statement

UFI plans to fully utilize the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm for farmer training, volunteerism, research, school initiatives, community meetings, healthy growing, healthy cooking and healthy eating workshops. We will create a comprehensive plan to insure maximum use of the facility for the betterment of Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester and to continue our critical work of growing a local food system.
  • Increase organizational capacity support now that we have moved to Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (FCEF) in Mattapan, MA ($200,000)
    Demonstration Kitchen (guest chef programs) ($50,000)
  • Kick of our 20 school initiative encouraging growing and being involved in the urban farming movement ($25,000)
  • Development of UFI's Individual Donor Relations efforts ($25,000)
  • The development of the UFI Community Land Trust and staffing of the UFI CLT. 501 (c) 3 has been submitted in November 2018.

CEO Statement

The Urban Farming Institute of Boston has moved to the newly restored historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan, MA 02126. The Fowler Clark Epstein farm is located on a 30,000-square-foot site. 

In addition to serving as Urban Farm Institute headquarters, the property is a training hub and demonstration farming center. The institute is devoted to advancing commercial urban farming in Boston through land development, technical training, and education of urban farming professionals. The other half of UFI's mission is to involve all our neighbors in art of growing food. Through workshops, volunteer opportunities and special events we will unleash a growing desire to plant, grow and harvest in our neighborhoods. 


The farmhouse and barn will be available for rental for workshops, meetings, board meetings, weddings, growing themed Birthday parties, showers and more. The teaching kitchen will host guest chefs of all cultures and cooking styles. Our chef's will promote healthy cooking tips for families, elders and, for example, those fighting of the effects of diabetes, heart disease through good food.


Rehabilitation included land and open areas cultivated for local food; classrooms for educational programs and a residence for an on-site farm manager in the historic house; an education/training center that promotes urban farming knowledge with classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and offices in the carriage barn for both farmers in training and public programs about farming and food production; a future greenhouse to extend the New England growing season; and a  farm stand with fresh produce.


The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is considered a hub of Urban Farming in Mattapan. Families, young adults, seniors and more all participate in workshops, volunteer activities and growing experiences. Fresh food can be purchased at our on-site summer farm stand and in 2019 cooking demonstrations will also be offered for our neighbors and the community at large.


UFI looks forward to creating a Mattapan destination for health, fitness, education, transformation, tranquility and a sanctuary for everyone through the vehicle of growing fresh food. Partnership and collaboration with other leading non-profits throughout Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester are critical to successfully reaching our community.  Many UFI programs and workshops will be provided in partnership with other key organizations.

Board Chair Statement

The primary challenges facing the governance of UFI are those common to many young, grass roots organizations. We are caught between our aspirations for the organization and its potential impact, and current reality which is constrained by our budget, and our human resources. UFI has a core staff of 6; we supplement their work with key collaborators. Several contractors consult in fund development, land development, social media and conference planning and logistics. Our challenges are: board turnover (key board members have left due to new jobs, retirement/relocation); and fundraising as supporters of urban agriculture are not plentiful.  Also we have added two board members, one of whom is a consultant in organizational development. Currently we hope to bring on a few people with desired skills in marketing, accounting, law etc. Overall UFI has been very adaptive and has managed to collaborate and to maximize resources while laying the basis for growth and stability. We want to explore a new entrepreneurial vision for urban agriculture that feeds locally grown food to families, generates income and helps heal the environment and the neighborhoods. Continuing to build our track record to fulfill UFI's vision at our new headquarters at the historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan.

Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)
City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Roxbury

UFI's urban farmer training program serves residents of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, where it also runs farming operations. UFI operates the annual Urban Farming Conference Agricultural Resources to support farmers throughout Mass. UFI also co-chairs the Urban Ag Task Force, which engages with urban and rural farmers and groups throughout the Commonwealth.

Organization Categories

  1. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Agricultural Programs
  2. Employment - Job Training
  3. Community Improvement, Capacity Building - Community & Neighbourhood Development

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Urban Farmer Training Program

UFI trains low-income neighborhood residents for careers in urban farming and the food industry. The Urban Farmer Training Program (UFTP) consists of twenty-nine weeks of classroom instruction and hands-on field training, which includes crop planning, planting, harvesting, packaging, marketing and distribution, and managing volunteers. Trainees develop business plans, maintain daily journals, attend farm and related business field trips and participate in farmers' markets. Trainees, as well as volunteers and residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the urban farm parcels, learn about soil quality and the impact that soil quality has on the nutritional value of food, which has helped them make better decisions about their diets. In his program evaluation, one trainee reported that he lost over 100 lbs. Trainees and volunteers take home food that they normally would not have access to in their neighborhoods. UFTP teaches participants key life skills such as the importance of being on time, how to manage volunteers, how to develop a crop plan and write a business plan; trainees develop skills that are transferable and make them more marketable.

Budget  $170,000.00
Category  Community Development, General/Other Community Economic Development
Population Served Blacks, African Heritage Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees Hispanic, Latino Heritage
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 31 low-income residents were selected for the 2018 Urban Farmer Training Program, and 10 were invited from that group to continue with the 20-week field training program. All 10 graduated. Many are explorign their business ideas with the continued help of UFI farm staff.
  • 2018 was the 6th cohort of farm trainees. 
  • Students were able to participate in a personal financial literacy workshop, resume workshop and a tax workshop along with business planning sessions throughout the 20 week program.
Program Long-Term Success 
UFI’s long-term goals are to:
  • Develop urban farming as a viable commercial industry that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in communities of color, primarily in Boston
  • Improve the Urban Farmer Training Program (UFTP) so that it becomes the model for replication in cities across Massachusetts and throughout the region
  • Increase acreage under cultivation to 3 acres
  • Improve access to fresh, local and sustainable grown produce in Boston's low-income communities
  • 140 individuals have gone through the 20 week program in 6 years. Over 60% are currently working in food related businesses or urban farming.
Program Success Monitored By 
  • Conduct rigorous application and interview process to select

    Trainees who have a strong work ethic, demonstrate a willingness to work hard, understand the importance of teamwork, have an entrepreneurial spirit and a great attitude.

  • Pre-screen applicants by requiring 3 days of volunteer fieldwork prior to acceptance in the field training session
  • Hold weekly meetings and administer evaluations to monitor progress and insure success of trainees
Examples of Program Success 

The following quotes are from graduates of the 2014 Urban Farmer Training Program

"If it was not for the UFI Urban Farmer Training Program I have no idea what I would be doing and I have to say it saved my life. I lost over 100 lbs. as a result of the emphasis the program places on diet and nutrition."
Chris Mables

"Before I met Bobby and Nataka I was basically on the corner of progress or peril. I chose to make progress by following a proven interest that I was kind of working with, but it was this program that gave me the real life experience. I thought the things we did over the summer was beautiful. We did something to help ourselves and I felt we did something everyday to help the planet."
Ronald Munroe

"A life changing experience of personal growth, knowledge and friendship. The wealth of knowledge and friendship has increased my personal power and sense of security. I fell that all humans on the planet can benefit from this kind of education.
Siedric White

"The program brought together an incredible group of passionate, dedicated, and hilarious people with a deep love for their communities. The group believed deeply in providing for each other outside of the broken food systems and economy that have often failed struggling communities of color."
George Lee


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The Broad Vision- by Glynn Lloyd, UFI Founder and Board Member
I am convinced the real challenge and opportunity of the urban farming movement is persuading, encouraging, enticing, facilitating more urban dwellers to grow their own food. Period. All of us are actors in a dysfunctional and dangerously fragile food system. Our current food system has a design problem. Most of us get our food that derives from large monocrop agribusiness systems that rely on cheap labor and heavily on fast depleting fossil fuels. Fresh water and soil are the two most critical natural resources our species rely on and their rate of depletion are the most serious threats to our next generation’s ability to comfortably survive. It is no longer sustainable or practical to have less than 2% of the US population directly involved in its own food production. What if urban and suburbanites had market size gardens, fruit trees and maybe even a few of their neighbors farming chickens or rabbits. What if the in-between spaces, sidewalk medians, vacant lots and unused parts of parks were overflowing with food production.

This is a bottom up, spiritual and cultural undertaking. The leaders in this movement play an important role as catalyst. This is where The Urban Farming Institute (UFI) who with community credibility, farming knowledge and social and political capital can fully step in and start creating the new. We as communities of color who have been historically and economically dispossessed need to be more food self-reliant, an important step in making us more resilient to the unstable future.

UFI is positioned to ‘train the trainer’ partnering with individuals and organizations to provide the education on the mechanics of small scale food production while also providing the tools including land, soil, and water. The ultimate goal is enrolling families, and finding champions within the family unit to start getting their hands dirty one seed at a time. The next chapter in the movement strives to make the act of growing food both a family and a community practice. Densely nutritious and less toxic diet inputs and dollars saved from self-production and potentially dollars earned by selling excess to market are practical benefits.

 Parents can point themselves and their kids towards activities that teach practical skills and produce something worthwhile. It allows us to reconnect to the natural cycles and all the richness of natural sciences like plant biology that come with growing food. Sustainable and long term movement change includes ongoing education.


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Patricia Spence
CEO Term Start Mar 2014
CEO Email
CEO Experience

As a seasoned leader Patricia brings to the table extensive experience in the areas of community engagement, project design, development and implementation; program marketing and promotions; budget preparation, fundraising and administration.

Prior to joining the Urban Farming Institute, Pat served as the Community Field & Literacy  Coordinator for Boston Public Schools, as well as having worked as an education advocate assisting parents navigate the school selection process through the Educational Options Series. Over the years, Pat has work with numerous non-profits specializing in the areas of the arts, employment and education.

Pat started her career in sales and marketing for Xerox and the Digital Equipment Corporation.  She continued in sales, in the community, working for WILD 1090/ HOT 97.9 radio and WGBH. In the background Pat has worked on various projects and community engagement efforts to empower families and the community.

She is a board member and founder of “They Made It So Can I”, the 5th grade speakers series, and serves as the Vice Chair of the Boston Nature Center Sanctuary Committee.

Patricia is passionate about the environment, and as the daughter of a farmer, in her free time, she enjoys growing her own herbs and vegetables in her back yard.  Pat is excited about the work ahead for UFI and looks forward to empowering the community through creating farmer entrepreneurs, increasing urban land dedicated to farming and working on urban farm related advocacy issues.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Nataka Crayton Farmer Training Support Services Coordinator --
Mr. Tristram Keefe Farm Enterprise Manager --
Ms. Patricia Spence Executive Director --
Mr. Bobby Walker Farm Trainer --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Citation for Garrison Trotter Farm Groundbreaking City of Boston 2014


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


UFI partners with The Trust for Public Land and Dudley Neighbors Inc., which is the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative Community Land Trust, and works together with the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development and neighborhood associations such as the Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association in Roxbury to develop and hold land suitable for urban farming and empower neighborhood residents by giving them a voice in how the land is used. 

UFI collaborates with a host of partners; such as, Mattapan Food & Fitness, The Boston Nature Center, Boston Organization of Nutritionists and Dieticians of Color (BOND), Mattapan on Wheels, Mattapan Vigorous Youth, Mattapan Community Health Center, The Food Project, ReVision Urban Farm, Round the Bend Farm, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Fulani's Kitchen and more.

UFI partnered in the past  with the Tufts University New Entry Sustainable Farming Project to develop an urban farming classroom and field-training curriculum. New Entry's farm business planning courses and practical skills field training programs help farmers develop the skills to run a small farm operation, from developing market opportunities and selecting enterprises, to field production, finding land, and ongoing business strategy and farm management. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 4
Number of Volunteers 700
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 7
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 4
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A


Board Chair Ms. Klare Shaw
Board Chair Company Affiliation Liberty Mutual Foundation
Board Chair Term Sept 2013 - Sept 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Gerard Cox Cox Associates --
Ms. Jennifer Hashley Tufts University New Entry Sustainable Farming Project --
Mr. Mel King South End Technology Center --
Mr. Glynn Lloyd Boston Impact Initiative --
Mr. David Madan theMOVE --
Mr. Greg Maslowe Newton Community Farms Voting
Mr. Angel Mendez Red Tomato --
Mr. Chris Muhammad Community Servings --
Ms. Klare Shaw Liberty Mutual Foundation --

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 5
Male: 8
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 57%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • --
  • --
  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Program / Program Planning
  • Real Estate

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

UFI is h

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $687,500.00
Projected Expense $687,500.00
Form 990s

2016 Form 990

2015 990

2014 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $470,925 $264,450 $181,922
Total Expenses $395,130 $203,394 $170,532

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $37,384 $37,383
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $0 $37,384 $37,383
Individual Contributions $422,167 $215,773 $139,156
Indirect Public Support $0 -- --
Earned Revenue $48,757 $11,291 $5,373
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1 $2 $10
Membership Dues $0 -- --
Special Events $0 -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $0 -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $308,057 $140,379 $139,175
Administration Expense $36,170 $32,899 $18,693
Fundraising Expense $50,903 $30,116 $12,663
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.19 1.30 1.07
Program Expense/Total Expenses 78% 69% 82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 12% 12% 7%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $161,742 $77,809 $11,390
Current Assets $145,666 $61,354 $10,282
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $13,501 $5,363 $0
Total Net Assets $148,241 $72,446 $11,390

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose To raise funds for the eventual purchase of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm from Historic Boston, Inc.
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 10.79 11.44 inf

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s with additional expense breakout detail for FY14 per the nonprofit. 
UFIB was previously fiscally sponsored by Project Bread - the Walk for Hunger Inc., from Jan. 1, 2015 through June 2015. Prior to that, during its start-up phase, UFIB was fiscally sponsored by New Ecology Inc.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

UFI’s  long-term goals are to:

  • Develop and promote urban farming as a commercial sector that creates green-collar jobs for local residents of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, particularly those who are outside of the formal economy, folks re-entering the workforce, immigrants facing language barriers and single mothers.
  • Engage those communities in building a healthier and more locally based food system
  • Provide access to markets by creating a local brand backed by systems to produce and sell
  • Develop the UFI CLT  to preserve and hold urban farms in Boston
  • Develop Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan into a food access hub and center for food production innovation. 

UFI’s vision is for urban communities to gain greater control of their local food supply, improve the nutritional quality of the food, reduce the carbon foot print by producing locally, reconnect current and future generations to the source of their food, and grow culturally relevant food.

We will know that our efforts were successful if we have:
  • Increased community employment by providing high quality classroom and intensive field training that improves trainees skills and marketability and provides the practical experience and platform for those who are entrepreneurial to start commercial farms and food oriented businesses
  • Enabled hundreds of youth and neighborhood residents to learn about farming, nutrition, health and wellness by working on UFI farms in their neighborhoods on a volunteer basis
  • Contributed to neighborhood revitalization by acquiring, remediating and converting three new vacant lots from eyesores to economically productive open spaces that provide fresh, local produce grown without chemicals to food insecure people
  • Connected UFI and urban farmers across Massachusetts and New England to the broader local food movement by convening annual Urban Farming Conference, which is the premier venue for disseminating best urban farming practices
  • Changed values around healthy eating by hosting community workshops on topics ranging from growing food without a garden to foraging for food in urban environments, as well as developing and disseminating recipe cards that explain how to cook kale, collard greens, calloloo (amaranth) and other vegetables
  • Implemented constituent relationship management database, developed three-year strategic growth plan, enhanced performance evaluation system, logic model and outcomes reporting to stakeholders

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Near-term activities:
  • Implement constituent relationship management (CRM) system with Quickbooks and other software integrated to improve data collection across all functions 
  • Add new directors to the board with the capacity to make significant contributions to UFI's general operating budget and/or connect us to people with that capacity and interest in our field  
  • Create in-house instructional capacity so that UFI isn't dependent on third parties to deliver the classroom component of the curriculum
  • Partner with community-based organizations that will refer candidates to our Urban Farmer Training Program who have the flexibility in their schedules to participate in the intensive field training program, which is 20 hours/week for 20 weeks
  • Improve intake process in order to capture income and other data that some funder's require as part of the grant application 
  • Pre-screen applicants by requiring 3 days of volunteer fieldwork prior to acceptance into the intensive field training session
  • Hold weekly meetings and administer evaluations to monitor progress and insure success of trainees
  • Form a fundraising advisory council to plan fundraising events; create annual appeal
  • Create comprehensive land acquisition strategy by increasing the involvement of farmers, trainees, design engineers and other stakeholders, as well as holding 4 meetings to elicit stronger neighborhood input

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

UFI’s core asset is its board and leadership are representative of the community it serves. The board consists of 9 directors, who are community, civic and business leaders, and is more than 60 percent African American. In early 2014 the board hired the organization’s first executive director, who is an African American woman with extensive nonprofit management, community organizing and business experience. She, the farm trainer and farmer training support services coordinator run the Urban Farmer Training Program with support from a contracted two classroom instructors and grant writer. UFI’s land acquisition and development work is led by the executive director, staff from its partners Trust for Public Land and Dudley Neighbors Inc. and a volunteer with a professional background as an architect managing projects, policies and programs that required coordination among multiple city agencies. UFI’s statewide urban agriculture advocacy and public education work is led by the executive director and partner/funder Merck Family Fund staff, who co-lead an Urban Ag Task Force.


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

  • Increase land under cultivation
  • 80% of trainees graduate and at least 50% work in agriculture or food industry
  • Expansion of the Urban Farming Conference to 2 day event with a separate youth track increasing youth attendees and overall conference attendees from 400 per day.
  • At least 700 local youth and neighborhood residents work on UFI farm sites on a volunteer basis during 2018 growing season 
  • Raise $220,000 in 2019 to pay for trainee stipends, course instruction, curriculum development, outreach and recruiting, build greenhouse and general operations 
  • Increase farmers market sales by 15% to local residents in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan  seeking quality, locally grown fresh food.
  • Obtain non-profit status for the newly formed UFI Community Land Trust in 2019.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

  • Developed with partners Trust for Public Land and Dudley Neighbors Inc. and City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development  the first urban farm in Roxbury since the City enacted Article 89, which permits commercial farming in Boston. This parcel will add 10,000 sq. feet and bring the total land under cultivation to 45,000, which is one third of the long-term goal of 3 acres.
  • Urban Farming Training Program graduated has had forty two 20 week in-field training students since its inception in 2013.
  • 50 percent of the 2014 graduates are working in the commercial agriculture and the food industry; one of UFI's long term goals is to develop urban farming as a viable commercial industry that creates green-collar jobs for local residents in communities of color, primarily in Boston.