News Bites: RI DEM Farm Viability Grants, Providence Storefront Improvement, The Revolving Door

by David Dadekian
The Revolving Door in Newport

The Revolving Door in Newport

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.


The Department of Environmental Management announces that $150,000 in farm viability grant funds is available through DEM for grants to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Rhode Island. The funds are from the US Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Specialty crops are defined by this federally-supported program as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, and nursery crops including floriculture and turf grass production.

Grant awards will range from $10,000 to $50,000 with no direct match required. Funding will be provided in two stages, with 50 percent of the monies given up front and the remainder provided at the satisfactory completion of the project. The grants may be used for projects of up to two years in duration.

Funds may be used for research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health, product development, education, “buy local” initiatives, and for programs that provide for increased consumption and innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, and development of cooperatives. Grant funds may not be spent on construction projects.

“These grants will help sustain the livelihood of Rhode Island farmers and promote the long-term viability of agriculture in our state,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “All across Rhode Island we can see the tremendous growth of agriculture, from the expanded network of farmers’ markets to the promotion of local foods in our outstanding restaurants. Consumer demand for locally-grown products is constantly increasing, and these grant funds will help strengthen markets for specialty crops grown in Rhode Island.”

DEM’s Division of Agriculture oversees numerous efforts designed to maintain the viability of farming in Rhode Island, including locally-produced milk, meats and locally-harvested seafood, farmers’ markets, and buy local and agri-tourism programs. “The Specialty Crop Block Grant program is one of many efforts by DEM to support the local agriculture and food economy,” noted Ken Ayars, chief of DEM’s Division of Agriculture. “Past grants have fueled and continue to support initiatives such as Farm Fresh RI, the RI Farm to School program, research projects at URI, and marketing and promotion initiatives. We look forward to another round of strong projects to support via the current grant round.”

Any Rhode Island agricultural or educational association or organization, individual farmer, or resident is eligible to apply. Grant applications and projects must further the competitiveness of specialty crops as broadly as possible in Rhode Island, and not just serve to enhance individual farm viability pursuant to USDA program guidelines. Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

A downloadable application is available on DEM/Agriculture website at by clicking on “Grant Opportunities” on the left side of the homepage. For grant-related questions, contact Peter Susi, deputy chief of DEM’s Division of Agriculture at 222-2781, ext. 4517. Applications accompanied by a W9 form must be postmarked no later than March 31, 2014 and sent to DEM’s Division of Agriculture, Room 370, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 to be considered. Completed applications may also be emailed to in word format by the March 31st deadline. Grant proposals will be reviewed by the DEM Agricultural Advisory Committee, which will make funding recommendations to the Department.

The 2,500 green industry businesses in Rhode Island sustain 12,300 jobs and contribute $1.7 billion annually to our state’s economy. On top of these economic benefits, agriculture also contributes to tourism, open space, quality of life, and access to local foods and horticultural products.

Mayor Taveras Launches Storefront Improvement Program to Revitalize Building Facades, Support Small Businesses

Program is a priority in Mayor’s economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work

Mayor Angel Taveras, joined by local business owners and business leaders, announced the launch of a new storefront improvement program this morning. The program will support the revitalization of building facades and small businesses across Providence. The initiative is one of the steps identified in Mayor Taveras’ 20-point economic development plan, Putting Providence Back to Work.

“Providence is known for its diverse, historic neighborhoods, which are anchored by small businesses,” said Mayor Taveras. “The storefront improvement program is designed to attract customers to existing businesses, revitalize local business districts, and enhance the beauty and safety of Providence’s neighborhoods.”

Participating businesses are eligible to receive reimbursements for 50-percent of eligible storefront costs, up to $10,000. The city’s Department of Economic Development will assist small businesses that wish to make changes to their exterior storefronts, including awnings, signage, windows, doors, permanent landscaping, and façade improvements. The program is open to small businesses with 18 or fewer full-time employees.

This morning’s announcement was held at Los Andes Restaurant on Chalkstone Avenue.

“We’re excited to see a new storefront improvement program in Providence and look forward to applying for funding to help revitalize our restaurant,” said Cesin Curi, co-owner of Los Andes Restaurant. “Customers are often attracted by the look of our storefronts and the funding will help us to draw new customers while beautifying our neighborhood.”

To be eligible for the program, a business must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Business serves a predominantly low/moderate income population
  • Business will be able to create a job for a low/moderate income individual
  • Business will be removing neighborhood blight as part of the project

The program is funded with $250,000 from the Providence Economic Development Partnership, and applications will be accepted, reviewed and approved on a rolling basis, based on the availability of funding.
“This is a great opportunity to make a direct impact in the economic well-being of our small businesses, while improving the quality of life of our neighborhoods,” said James S. Bennett, director of economic development.

More information is available at

Guest Chef Debut At Newport’s Revolving Door

New York Personal Chef Makes Guest Appearance At Newport’s Revolving Door Restaurant

Private chef Isabella Lirakis of Newport and New York will be the next guest chef at The Revolving Door, the exciting new restaurant concept in Newport developed by Chef Albert and Sarah Bouchard.

Isabella, whose catering-personal chef-spa cuisine business is known as IsaCooks, is widely known as a food stylist, artist and photographer who has worked with well-known chefs in New York. She describes her food as “Influenced by the essence of French Cuisine, always cooking in season.”

Her menu selections at The Revolving Door will include Veal Cassoulet with Sauteed Parsnips; Spicy Bay Scallops, Edamame Puree & Faux Kimchee; Moroccan Honey Glazed Quail with Cauliflower Gratin, Curried Lentils, Grilled Eggplant and Raita with Forbidden Rice.

Chef Isa will make her debut on the weekend of March 6th.

The Revolving Door is an exciting new concept in restaurants which allows guest chefs to showcase their culinary skills. A rotating schedule allows chefs to stay a week or even up to a month, and experiment with fresh local ingredients and menu options. In addition, Resident Chef Josh Berman offers Restaurant Bouchard signature steak frites and shrimp provencale nightly.

The Revolving Door is located at 509 Thames Street in Newport next to Restaurant Bouchard. Information and reservations are available at or by calling 401-846-0400.

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