(Boston, MA, September 18, 2013) – Rep. Tom Stanley (D-Waltham) today testified at the State House before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support of the proposed UMass Center for Urban Sustainability to be located in Waltham. UMass officials first introduced the idea of establishing an urban/suburban sustainability center to Rep. Stanley almost two years ago at a meeting in Amherst. The new building will be situated on the 58-acre open space parcel located at 240 Beaver Street in Waltham, currently owned by UMass Amherst and the former site of UMass Suburban Experiment Station.
“I fully support UMass Amherst’s efforts to create a Center for Urban Sustainability which will benefit residents while boosting the state’s economic vitality,” said Rep. Stanley. “Through a public-private partnership, the Center will be committed to the long-term responsibility for the environment. I applaud the Center’s forward-thinking efforts to create a sustainable environment.”
Rep. Stanley spoke in support of UMass’ amendment to the Environmental Bond Bill which would earmark $20 million for the rehabilitation or reconstruction of a 20,000 square foot research and extension building at the University of Massachusetts Center for Urban Sustainability in Waltham. The Center will house partners that include industries and businesses, municipalities, government agencies and citizen groups who will collectively be involved with and address priorities related to food security and access, environmental stewardship, urban agriculture and workforce development in urban settings.
Highlights of the UMass Center for Urban Sustainability will include:
· Science-based management practices, education programs and research will be conducted and demonstrated on site to help provide technical resources needed for commercial and community agriculture efforts to successfully integrate and operate in urban settings ; teaching urban agriculture practices to growers, decision makers and citizens who govern and/or grow, process and sell food in cities (ex: active CSA, roof top garden, community gardens, nutrient dense crop production, raising animals in urban settings, food safety and processing systems, greenhouse management)
· On-site job training, career development and credentializing of the urban workforce in sustainability careers (UMass Green School : Agriculture and Green Industries, certification and licensing from professional associations)
· Solutions for creating and managing water, soil, waste, energy, non-point source pollution and wildlife in urban settings. (Working roof top garden, managing storm water practices, sustainable landscapes, contaminated soils, compost)
· Creation of a private-public partnership to sustain the financial operations.
· Practices for sustainable environments (ex: xeriscapes, water and wetland remediation tools, edible landscapes, low input turf and plants, environmental hardscapes) will be showcased
· Youth development programs and training for citizens of all ages (in development – UMass Green Camp – blended hands on and classroom program for youth, schools, workforce professionals and educators involved with sustainability)
· Using remote teaching technology to connect urban students to UMass Amherst courses in sustainability (Stockbridge School of Agriculture Sustainability Programs) by connecting the
· Agricultural High Schools in Massachusetts with the new facility also using technology
Supporters of the Center include Waltham Fields Community Farm, Waltham Land Trust, Mass Audubon, Massachusetts Farm Bureau, Massachusetts Arborists Association, Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals, Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals, New England Nurseryman’s Association, New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association, Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association, Massachusetts Flower Growers Association, Massachusetts Tree Warden Association, New Entry Sustainable Farmers Network, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Rural Development Agency, Farm Service Agency and Massachusetts 4H.