Pittsfield Urban Youth Farm Grows

MassDevelopment Awards Commonwealth Places Grant to Roots Rising

January 10, 2022

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

Photo courtesy of Roots Rising

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – MassDevelopment has awarded a $7,500 grant to Roots Rising for the development of its new urban youth farm in Pittsfield, with funds supporting community engagement, land assessment, farm research, and business planning purposes. The urban farm’s mission will focus on youth development and food justice; providing meaningful work for disadvantaged teens; addressing food insecurity within Pittsfield, including by selling food grown at the farm at Roots Rising farmers markets at affordable prices; and creating a green hub for the community. The funds are awarded through MassDevelopment’s special Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which was made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors.

“The Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help the vibrant centers of our cities and towns bounce back as a driving force behind the strength of local economies, and continue to be the places where we gather to dine, to shop, and to be entertained,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased that this Resurgent Places grant to Roots Rising’s Urban Youth Farm will provide additional resources to improve youth development, combat food insecurity, and support an equitable recovery.”
“This project is all about growth: cultivating healthy and affordable food for those experiencing food insecurity, empowering young people with the skills they need to live positive and fulfilling lives, and creating a space for the community to come together,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is excited to support Roots Rising as it strives to turn its vision of an urban youth farm into a reality for the City of Pittsfield.” 

Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and from August – October 2020 awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 placemaking projects across Massachusetts. 

In December 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $390,000 in funding for a second Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places. Nonprofits and other community groups can apply to MassDevelopment for seed grants of between $250 to $7,500 to fund inclusive community engagement, visioning, and local capacity building that will support future placemaking efforts, or implementation grants of up to $50,000 to execute a placemaking project. For implementation grants, up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations. 

More information about the program is available at

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.