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Posts Tagged ‘urban farming’

community-garden-in-boston-cmpThough winter is not quite over, TSL has decided to come out of hibernation. Why, you ask? A February 28 program at 16 Beacon Street, “Cultivating Local, Health Food: Urban Agriculture Initiatives & Pro Bono Opportunities,” caught our eye.  This program stood out for a few reasons:  1) Urban Agriculture is a hot topic in Massachusetts and across New England; 2) The Commissioner of the MA Department of Agriculture is one of the panelists, and 3) TSL is always on the lookout for environmentally focused pro bono opportunities. With this in mind, TSL touched base with Staci Rubin (Alternatives  for Community and Environment) and Jennifer Rushlow (Conservation Law Foundation) to give us the lowdown on the upcoming event.

As we know, the BBA has a reputation for developing cutting edge programming on relevant legal and business issues both state and nationwide. Some recent examples? The BBA’s Update on the Jamaica Plain Drug Lab Crisis, and  Apple-Samsung $1 Billion Judgment and its Impact on the Smartphone Market. So why Urban Agriculture? Staci explains:

Rubin, Staci1“When it comes to urban agriculture, there is great public interest on the topic, and the pace of policy development in this arena in the last few years has been swift, which makes this an ideal topic for the BBA — there is much new information to report. This is an area of great opportunity for our legal community in terms of providing support for the growing urban agriculture movement and this program will provide clarity as to how they can get professionally involved in this movement – by providing pro bono legal services to urban gardeners, farmers and food entrepreneurs and by engaging in public service with urban agriculture focused organizations.”

TSL gets that not everyone wants to listen to a panel of speakers during their lunch break, but frankly, this program will be worth it. How do we know? Jennifer Rushlow gave us a primer on the speakers and their topics, so you can make your own decision:

Rushlow, Jenny“Panelists will address recent developments in environmental and land use laws that will impact environmental lawyers’ work, illustrate how environmental lawyers can provide support for urban gardeners facing legal challenges, comment about the recent policy developments affecting urban agriculture and the Boston rezoning process and share expertise on interagency efforts related to sustainable food production.”

Speakers:

Gregory Watson – (Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources)
Attorney Philip B. Posner – (Volunteer, Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network
Paul Locke – (Director of Response and Remediation for Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)
Danah Tench – (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)

So far so good, right? But that’s not all. The program will also highlight one of TSL’s favorite things, environmental pro bono and public service opportunities for lawyers! Yes, the program is a week away, but TSL is already getting excited to hear from our panelists on how to:

1) Represent groups of low income residents and residents of color to convert vacant lots into green space for gardening,
2) Find transactional pro bono work on behalf community gardeners,
3) Serve as a board member for organizations working on urban agriculture and
4) Participate in an upcoming (June 1st) public service day with the Food Project (remember them?).

For now, TSL is signing off, but we will see you next Thursday…right?

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Last week The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) asked the BBA’s Sustainability Task Force to keep us abreast of their upcoming activities after we highlighted the Trailhead renovation they took on last month. While we have plenty of confidence in our task force, to be honest, we weren’t expecting a response this quickly (read: two days). The task force let TSL know they already has another public service event planned, a joint effort with The Food Project scheduled for June 16.

A little background on The Food Project for those of you not familiar with the program:

Each year, The Food Project works with over a hundred teens and thousands of volunteers to farm on 37 acres in eastern Massachusetts. Food from their farms is distributed through community supported agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, and to hunger relief organizations. The Food Project also organizes a plethora of Youth and Community programs as well as trainings and other services.

Sounds like a great initiative, right? Task Force members Danna Tench (Mass DEP) and Dylan Sanders of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak and Cohen thought so too. They serve on the board of The Food Project and helped organize this collaboration. TSL got a chance to ask Dylan a few questions about why the Task Force got involved with the Food project and what the event will help accomplish.

What do you hope to accomplish by holding this event?

Dylan: First off, we want people to get their hands dirty! On a more serious and philosophical level, we want to expose lawyers (some of whom may spent too many hours indoors) to urban agriculture that is very close to them, as well as introduce them to a diverse group of youth who work on these farms. Diversity is important in sustainability, on both the environmental and agricultural fronts.

Can you speak to the importance of urban farms when it comes to sustainability?

Dylan: The farms are valuable in two main ways. They are important to the youth who work on them as well as the community at large. In any city, getting access to fresh organic produce is a challenge. These farms make produce available to more residents, while providing education and tangible skills to urban youth on the development, production and harvesting of produce.

A Food Project youth harvesting lettuce.

So here’s the deal. On June 16, the Task Force will meet at the West Cottage Street Farm in Roxbury at 9am. All BBA members are invited, and are encouraged to bring their families to plant, tend, weed and possibly harvest vegetables. Volunteers will also have a chance to hear from the youth of the Food Project who will share their experience of learning about sustainable agriculture, food justice, diversity, leadership issues.

For more information or to register, contact Dylan Sanders at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen @ sanders@srbc.com or 617-619-3400.

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