ReVision Urban Farm Uses Technology, Data, and Hard Work to Maximize Production

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Guest Blog by Conor Brosnan, ReVision Urban Farm Grower

Photo of produce at the farm stand. Everything is in trays and baskets on a wooden table. On the far left, a basket on it's side holds vine-ripe tomatoes, next to it sit peppers, carrots, summer squash, green onions, strawberries, and cauliflower. The top row is kale, lettuce, cabbage and other greens. Victory Programs’ ReVision Urban Farm is a special place; a small slice of farmland evoking the picturesque landscape of America’s agricultural heartland nestled in the heart of Boston’s densely populated Dorchester and Mattapan communities. Our staff strives to blend ages-old best practices for land management with modern, data-driven approaches to improve efficiency and maximize production on a small lot. Unlike many of its larger counterparts, our farm falls on less than an acre of land, which requires us to utilize and maximize every square foot. This urban “land challenge” has sparked a need for a variety of forward-thinking and innovative approaches. Our mission has, and will always be, to bring fresh, nutritious, local food to our community. Fulfilling this mission requires soil, sun, water, and lots of hard work; the hallmarks of any successful farm.

The ReVision team is currently researching and exploring a variety of technological advancements that would improve our yields, efficiency and more effectively fulfill our mission. Planned improvements include maximizing greenhouse efficiency through monitors and updated heating systems and monitoring field temperatures, soil saturation, and even pest issues to improve productivity. Although many of these technological improvements are in the idea and planning stage, we have already begun improving our

Overhead view of ReVision Urban Farm from the third floor of ReVision Family Home showing the gazebo, and fields lush with growing plants.

data-tracking, efficiency, and ability to meaningfully plan for future seasons. This season alone we’ve been able to channel generous support from donors and grants into significant improvements which enable us to better predict harvest yield and plan for future needs.

Our new germination chamber, purchased through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, tracks and controls humidity, temperature, and the overall environment for growing seeds, which has already drastically improved our germination rates. The germination chamber also helps us reduce our consumption of water, soil, compost, and other resources while addressing the dreaded anxiety of waiting on the unknown germination outcomes. Not only does the germination chamber save time, money, and headaches, it also allows us to grow and sell microgreens at markets year-round.

Another improvement we’ve been able to make this season is mapping our available growing space through an in-depth spreadsheet. Every single, row is mapped out with the planted crops and expected yield for each in via an advanced and user-friendly interface. Volunteers planting seedlings in the greenhouse at ReVision. The volunteer on the left is a woman with ebony skin and just below shoulder length dreadlocks wearing a black sweater over a grey shirt. She is smiling and leaning over a seed tray. The woman on the right has pale skin and short, light brown hair. She is wearing a shirt with horizontal grey and black strips and sunglasses. She is holding a pen which she is using to make holes to put seeds into. Our new system allows up to see at-a-glance how many plants are in each bed, what variety each is, and more accurately project what will be available for CSA subscribers, farmers markets, and community partners. Looking forward, this data will provide us the information we need to make informed changes to crop plans and ensure that we are maximizing our available growing space.

Urban farming is entering a new and exciting chapter that intersects the need to understand and utilize both nature and technology. Our goal at ReVision Urban Farm is to lead by example, adopting the best practices that will help us bring affordable, nutritious, local food to our community. By committing to both data and cutting-edge technology and good old-fashioned sweat and hard work, our small piece of land will be able to change the culture and approach to food and nutrition in our neighborhood and beyond.

Curious about ReVision Urban Farm?

Give us a call at 617-822-3276 or stop by our farm stand at 1062 Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, open Fridays from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM through October.

You can also support our work by making a donation to the farm here or calling our volunteer coordinator at 617-236-1012 x227 to ask about available work shifts.

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Thank you, Bank of America!

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Thank you to Bank of America BOAGrants for awarding Victory Programs $25,000 to support FamilyFinancialEmpowerment & JobReadiness services at Chamblet, Portis, and ReVision Family Homes!

“This financial literacy workshop taught me how to budget my money. The presenters were really positive & made the experience great.” – Erin, Portis Family Home support positive services thankyou financialliteracy budget

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Cummings Foundation Invests $100,000 in Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Enhancement Project

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Funding will expand access to critical services like comprehensive STI/HIV/Hep C testing, naloxone distribution, and other low-threshold harm reduction services for some of Boston’s most vulnerable community members.

Victory Programs was selected as one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through the Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. Victory Programs was one of 574 applicants to apply for during a competitive grant cycle.

Victory Programs operates 19 health, housing, and prevention programs in the Greater Boston area, with a primary focus on individuals who actively use, or are in recovery from injection drugs and other addictive substances; individuals and families who are homeless and/or facing potential housing insecurity; and people living with chronic, life-altering infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. All of Victory Programs services are grounded in evidence-based models of change and individualized care plans to help clients identify, and work towards personal goals.

Sarah Porter, Victory Programs Interim CEO, and Ed Ahern, Government and Foundation Grants Manager, joined approximately 300 other guests to represent Victory Programs at a reception at TradeCenter 128 in Woburn to celebrate the $10 million infusion into Greater Boston’s nonprofit sector. With the conclusion of this grant cycle, the Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $260 million to Greater Boston nonprofits alone.

“We are so grateful for the Cummings Foundation’s partnership,” shares Sarah Porter. “This grant will make a remarkable difference in what we are able to accomplish. The $100,000 from Cummings Foundation will support enhancements to our Mobile Prevention Team, augmenting their ability to access the individuals in our community who are most at risk for fatal overdoses and those with the highest risk of exposure to HIV, Hepatitis C and or other STIs.  Through the purchase and retrofit of a specialized van, services will move deeper into the community providing innovative, evidence-based prevention and treatment options for people who may otherwise struggle to access critical care.”

This grant will provide vital operational support for the Mobile Prevention Team (MPT) Enhancement Project over the next two years.  This project will bolster the MPT’s efforts to reach those at high risk for opioid overdose and the acquisition of disease, including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and STIs.  The fully equipped van purchased as a part of this project will enable the MPT team to travel throughout Boston’s communities and provide syringe services, risk assessments, navigation to prevention and treatment services, and much more.

The $100K for 100 program supports nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“By having such a local focus, we aim to make a meaningful positive difference in the communities where our colleagues and leasing clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “We are most grateful for the nonprofit organizations that assist and empower our neighbors, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

This year’s diverse group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years.

The complete list of 100 grant winners is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.

Cummings Foundation announced an additional $15 million in early May through its Sustaining Grants program. Through these awards, 50 local nonprofits will receive ongoing funding of $20,000 – $50,000 for 10 years.

The history behind Cummings Properties and Cummings Foundation is detailed in Bill Cummings’ self­ written memoir, “Starting Small and Making It Big:  An Entrepreneur’s Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist.” It is available on Amazon or cummings.com/book.

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2019 Drive for Victory Results!

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

Victory Programs’ annual charity golf tournament continues a tradition of defying unpredictable New England weather patterns to produce a perfect day. This year, the fundraiser attracted more than 120 people to the gorgeous greenways at the Cape Club of Sharon. Drive for Victory is a scramble style tournament over 18 holes featuring prizes for “Most Accurate Drive,” “Closest to the Pin,” and the top three scoring teams.

This year’s winners:

First Place: Mark Dromgoole, Tom Dromgoole, John Murphy, and Tom Sodergren from Hugh’s Energy

Second Place: Ben Gredler, Will Horn, Ashten Petry, and Bill Whitney

Third Place: Bill Griffin, Reic Letson, Angelo Theofilopoulos, and Bill Theofilopoulos

 

Closest to the Pin:

On hole #4: Mark Vassalotti at 9’11”

On hole # 13: Linda McDaid at 3’8”

 

Most Accurate Drive:

Jessica Maguire

 

Drive for Victory serves as an important connection between Victory Programs’ supporters and the thousands of individuals and families who turn to the organization every year for services to address homelessness, substance use disorder, and life-altering illnesses like HIV/AIDS. This year, Drive for Victory raised nearly $60,000 through sponsorships, donations, auction and raffle prizes, on-course games, and golfer registration fees. Proceeds from the event help Victory Programs open the door for recovery, community, and hope across 19 housing, prevention, and recovery programs in the Greater Boston area. Victory Programs is grateful to the staff, volunteers, corporate partners, in-kind prize donors, and golfers who support the event and the vital health services that change futures and save lives every day beyond the iconic, welcoming red door to victory.

Drive for Victory would not be possible without dedicated friends like this year’s Title Sponsor Maguire Mechanical Services; Golden Eagle Sponsors CREA, Cohn Reznick, Eastern Bank, and Holland & Knight; Silver Birdie Sponsors Cabot Risk Strategies and Slattery Brothers; Special Sponsor United Way; and many other businesses and organizations that give back to the community by supporting Victory Programs’ important work to address the opioid epidemic, support those impacted by the housing crisis, and provide vulnerable community members with tools to reduce their risk of contracting an infectious disease. Additionally, the generous management and dedicated staff at Cape Club in Sharon deserve credit for hosting Drive for Victory at their picturesque course and catering to the needs of everyone involved in the event from the golfers to the volunteers.

2019 Drive for Victory on June 17, 2019

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2019 Boston Bulldogs Run for Recovery

Posted on by Joy Mosenfelder

On Sunday, May 19, clients, staff, and Board Member Drusilla Pratt-Otto joined runners from across the Greater Boston area for the annual “Run for Recovery” organized by the Boston Bulldogs Running Club. The annual run is a tribute to all those who are battling or have lost their lives to substance use disorder. Client participation from New Joelyn’s Home, LARC, and Women’s Hope was coordinated by Carmen Thurston, Supervising Counselor at New Joelyn’s Home.

“I run to be really present, to be in my body, now. I am able to focus on the very best I can be. With regard to the Bulldog’s, I run for the hope of recovery – both my family and globally.”

Vice Chair, Victory Programs Board of Directors, Drusilla Pratt-Otto

Please click the image below to see below for photos from the Run for Recovery:

2019 Run for Recovery

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