News Bites: RI DEM Grant Opportunities / Coggeshall Farm Museum Crowdfunding Campaign / Stock Culinary Goods & Garrison Confections / Newport Restaurant Group to Open Avvio

by David Dadekian

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

DEM Promotes Growth of Green Economy with Latest Grant Awards

Nearly $400,000 to be invested in small businesses to foster innovation and growth of local food and agriculture

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

As part of its efforts to expand the green economy in Rhode Island and support working families, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today the availability of $380,000 in grant funding to local small businesses under the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) and Farm Viability programs. The grants are designed to increase the competitiveness of Rhode Island products in the marketplace and help local farmers and food partners grow their businesses.

“Rhode Islanders take great pride in their agricultural heritage and diverse food cultures,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “It is part of what makes our state such a special place to live, visit, and raise a family.  And increasingly, local food and agriculture are hotbeds for innovation and entrepreneurship – spurred on by a growing awareness of the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown food and being connected to a local farmer, nursery, or fisherman. We’re proud to invest in the continued growth of local food and green industries and to support the many new businesses, working families, and innovative initiatives funded under these programs.”

Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) Grant Program

In partnership with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, the LASA grant program provides up to $20,000 awards to new and small farmers, producer groups, and non-profits to support the growth and sustainability of Rhode Island’s farming, aquaculture, and seafood industries. Now in its third year, the LASA program funds both program and capital projects.  For capital projects, priority is given to initiatives that (1) directly benefit new or small agriculture producers; (2) foster new collaborations or share new information among Rhode Island food-system partners; or (3) support new products or new sales channels with clearly defined markets.

“Adequate nutritious food is essential to human wellbeing and the bedrock of economic development,” said Kenneth Payne, Chair of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council. “LASA is a building block in strengthening Rhode Island’s agriculture and seafood sectors. Let’s all eat well and enjoy Rhode Island’s best.”

LASA is a public-private partnership funded through the state with generous support from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation.  A total of $230,000 is available for the 2016 grant round.

For grant guidelines and to apply, visit  Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. on February 16. Applications may also be mailed or hand-delivered to DEM Division of Agriculture, Room 370, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 by 4 p.m.on February 16; however, applying online is strongly encouraged.  Awards will be announced as part of the Rhode Island Agriculture Day held each spring.  Non-profit organizations are eligible for program funds only.

Farm Viability Grant Program

The Farm Viability Grant Program, made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, supports efforts to increase specialty crop production and grow the marketplace for these crops in Rhode Island.  USDA defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, and nursery crops, including floriculture and turf grass.

The grants – open to individual farmers or agricultural or educational groups – fund projects up to two years in duration that support the continued vitality of local agriculture.  Funded areas include, but are not limited to, research, marketing, food safety and security, plant health, “buy local” initiatives, and development of cooperatives.  For a complete list of funded areas visit

Fund projects will support the broad competitiveness of locally-grown specialty crops in Rhode Island.  Initiatives that benefit a sole commercial product or provide a profit to a single individual or group will not be considered.  Single entities are encouraged to participate as project partners.  For this round, $150,000 is available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. To date, DEM has awarded more than $2 million in farm viability grants to support the competitiveness of locally-grown specialty crops.

For more information, visit  Applications accompanied by a W9 form should be mailed to DEM Division of Agriculture, Room 370, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 and postmarked no later than March 31, 2016.

In addition to these grant programs, DEM works across many fronts to accelerate growth of the local food economy, which supports 60,000 jobs in Rhode Island.  The department continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge and Snake Den farm properties.  The state’s food system now includes 1,243 farms, an increase of 44 percent from 2002, and nearly 70,000 acres of farmland.  And Rhode Island’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy.

The Ocean State is a national leader in direct-sales to consumers, with approximately 50 seasonal farmers markets in the state’s urban, suburban and rural areas; seven indoor winter markets; and numerous pick-your-own and farm-stand operations.  In partnership with the Seafood Marketing Collaborative, DEM developed the RI Seafood brand to uniquely identify Rhode Island seafood in the marketplace and help local fishermen and distributors grow their businesses.  In 2015, nearly 100 million pounds of seafood arrived at Rhode Island ports, with an ex-vessel value over $75 million.  There are 20 registered users of the RI Seafood brand – which was recently featured as part of Newport Restaurant Week, the Rhode Island Oyster Festival, and the Narragansett Calamari Cook-Off.  For more information, visit

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit  Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

Coggeshall Announces $50K Campaign to Fuel Education Program

Living history museum to launch crowdfunding campaign to meet $50K matching grant

Mortar and Pestle at Coggeshall Farm Museum

Mortar and Pestle at Coggeshall Farm Museum

Coggeshall Farm Museum may be set in the 18th-century, but it’s launching a 21st-century campaign to raise funds for its growing education program. On Friday, January 29, the nonprofit living history museum in Bristol, RI will kick off a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign to help meet a $50,000 matching grant from philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

“We’re using these funds to build something pretty amazing — a mobile living history program that puts the story back into history,” says Executive Director Cindy Elder. “Last year, 3,000 students came to Coggeshall for field trips, and we plan to host even more in 2016. Unfortunately, lots of schools find it difficult to afford field trips. Transportation costs alone make it tough. So we’re sending our educators from the farm yard to the school yard to get kids excited about history.”

Coggeshall is using the crowdfunding platform,, to generate the matching funds. The theme is “Send Coggeshall to School: $50K in 50 Days.” Donors access Coggeshall’s Indiegogo site at and can make gifts of any size. “Perks” for giving range from memberships to hearthcooking classes to naming rights for Coggeshall’s next newborn farm animal. Donations made on the museum’s website or by mail also count toward the match.

Coggeshall honors the lives of 18th-century tenant farm families and brings to life the daily struggles, joys and tasks experienced by working people of this time period. Elder feels it’s critical to bring this perspective into the classroom, because it helps children connect to history through stories that more closely resemble their own.

“We all remember the names of the powerful people who filled our history books,” she says. “But what about the everyday people who built this country from the ground up? The tenant farmers we represent didn’t own their land. They rented. And they had no voting rights. Through their own sweat and determination, they helped to build the American dream. That’s something today’s kids can understand.”

Coggeshall’s education program sheds light on an era when the United States was brand new, just after the American Revolution. The museum’s educators explore issues such as farming, traditional hand skills, politics, class, gender roles, the slave trade, the role of government, voting rights and other issues affecting working people of the time.

“We’re not paying lip service to history at Coggeshall,” says Elder. “We speak from experience, because we are operating a 48-acre farm using 18th-century methods every day of the year. We can share the things we’ve learned by caring for animals, raising crops, cooking over a hearth or mucking the barn when it’s 10 degrees out. History is not just dates and names. It’s the story of where we came from and how we got here. For us, history isn’t forgotten. It’s alive and well and living at Coggeshall Farm Museum.”

The “Send Coggeshall to School Campaign” will fund:

  • Development of a class-based living history curriculum, in collaboration with a team of K-12 educators and the Rhode Island Historical Society.
  • A prototype living history app for the classroom, developed in partnership with MuseumTrek.
  • Educational materials to assist teachers with pre- and post-visit lesson planning.
  • Pilot presentations at no cost to 20 schools in the next 12 months to test the program.

In the past 12 months, Coggeshall has received several grants to help it preserve this 1790s salt marsh farm and build its educational program, including:

  • $2,500 from Roger Williams University and $500 from BankNewport to fund field trips for Bristol students.
  • $32,000 from The Champlin Foundations for improvements that will enable Coggeshall to offer short-time residencies to scholars and craftspeople.
  • $25,000 from the Carter Family Trust and $1,000 from the Town of Bristol to hire and retain high-quality educators.
  • $3,260 from the 1772 Foundation and $1,000 from the State of Rhode Island for historic restoration.
  • $2,500 from Access for All Abilities to improve wheelchair accessibility to the site.

Coggeshall Farm Museum is located at 1 Colt Drive in Bristol, RI, off Poppasquash Road. The museum is open weekends from December 15 through April 15; Tuesday through Sunda during the week of February 15 for school vacation; and by appointment for groups or scholarly visits. For more information, visit, call 401-253-9062 or email Cindy Elder at

Garrison Confections Returns to Hope Street

Meet chocolatier Drew Shotts and sample Rhode Island’s finest chocolates February 6th at Stock Culinary Goods

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a new partnership between Garrison Confections and Stock Culinary Goods returns the entire line of the award winning artisan chocolate back to Hope Street in Providence where it all began.

To mark the union, Garrison Confection’s chocolatier Andrew Shotts will visit Stock on Saturday, February 6th from 11 am – 3pm to offer samples and talk about how he makes his nationally renowned chocolates. Campus Fine Wines will also attend to provide samples and suggestions of sherries, ports and bubblies that will pair perfectly with the chocolate.

Since leaving his popular Hope Street retail location eight years ago, Chef Shotts has been producing his chocolate confections from his factory in Central Falls, with most of it being shipped to major cities such as Los Angeles and New York. While limited amounts have been available locally, for the last several years the only way to get the full range was to visit the factory in the days preceding holidays.

“Before Christmas and Valentine’s Day, we would have people lining up to purchase outside of the factory, ringing the bell before we even opened,” says Chef Shotts. “But we wanted a solution that would allow more people to conveniently get their chocolate, while allowing me to focus on my work, which is experimenting with and creating the confections. That’s where Stock came in.”

For the last two years, Stock has rolled out a few select items, but with this new arrangement, the entire line of sixteen varieties of confections, including tablets, chocolate covered fruit and nuts, hot chocolate and boxed sets of bon bons is available at all times.

“This has been a dream of ours since we opened,” says Stock owner Jan Faust Dane. “Many of my customers are elated when they find that we carry it because they know that the gift of Garrison chocolate is always a hit, and now it’s all readily available, seven days a week.”

Each year for Valentine’s Day, Garrison releases its “Legendary Lovers” boxed set collection of boldly flavored and elegantly designed bon bons, with each flavor honoring a famous or infamous couple. This year marks the 15th year of the tradition and the lovers are a roll call of past years’ favorites, including George + Gracie, Scarlett + Rhett and Napoleon + Josephine. Those bon bons and other confections will be available to sample during the instore event.

Stock Culinary Goods, with its Garrison kiosk, is located at 756 Hope Street, Providence near Rochambeau.

Newport Restaurant Group to Welcome ‘Avvio Ristorante’ in former Papa Razzi Location

Newport Restaurant Group’s Award-Winning Portfolio Expands to Include Avvio, an Inspired and Classic-Italian American Eatery in Garden City

Avvio Ristorante exterior rendering

Avvio Ristorante exterior rendering

Newport Restaurant Group, a division of Newport Harbor Corporation, an employee-owned hospitality company, is pleased to announce Avvio, a new restaurant in the former Papa Razzi space in Garden City, Cranston. Avvio will join the Newport Restaurant Group collection as the ninth location in Rhode Island and will embody the essence of everyday Italian dining; a place where friends and family gather, share laughs and celebrate milestones. Papa Razzi will be closed for business beginning on Sunday, January 31st and Avvio will open as a classic Italian eatery in spring 2016.

“When Newport Harbor Corporation purchased seven Papa Razzi restaurants in 2012, it gave us the opportunity to grow our footprint into Massachusetts,” said Paul O’Reilly, CEO and President of Newport Harbor Corporation. “The Cranston location has been successful, but with the growth and expansion of Garden City, we saw an opportunity to refresh the space and enhance its offerings to align with Newport Restaurant Group’s culinary philosophy. These changes will allow us to add Avvio to the Newport Restaurant Group portfolio and to provide guests in the West Bay and statewide the experience they have come to expect from our restaurants and with a similar price point to Papa Razzi.”

Chef Greg Coccio, former Executive Chef at Papa Razzi will remain in this role at Avvio. His efforts will be complemented by Chef Kevin DiLibero, Director of Culinary Arts. Both have been cooking within Newport Restaurant Group for many years and share a passion for and heritage of Italian cooking.

As always, the Newport Restaurant Group’s focus on simple ingredients will be on display, sourced locally and directly from Italy. Prepared with distinct, yet traditional cooking techniques, Avvio’s menu will feature inspired Italian classic dishes along with Neapolitan pizzas and a wood-fired grill.

The culinary team will be augmented by Chef Casey Riley who serves as Chief Operating Officer and oversees the culinary development of each Newport Restaurant Group property. Chef Riley’s extended familial roots are in Cranston and this opening is especially personal and special as Casey’s appreciation of Italian cooking was first nurtured through the traditions passed on to him via the family table.

During the closure, Papa Razzi gift cards will be accepted at all Papa Razzi locations in Massachusetts, as well as at Newport Restaurant Group properties Waterman Grille and Hemenway’s, in nearby Providence. Visit or for additional details.

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