News Bites: 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grantees / The East End’s New General Manager / New Brunch at XACO TACO

by David Dadekian

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


Governor McKee, DEM, RI General Assembly Announce 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grantees, Helping Grow Agricultural, Seafood Businesses

Governor Dan McKee, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the 2024 Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grantees at Newport Vineyards. More than 40 local farmers, fishers, specialty food producers obtained LASA grant awards, splitting more than $650,000 in funding on projects that will support the growth, development, and marketing of local farms, seafood harvesters, and food businesses. LASA grants support small businesses and increase Rhode Island’s food security.

“LASA grants continue to be a game-changer for Rhode Island’s farmers, fishers, and aquaculturists,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I congratulate this year’s recipients and look forward to working with them to foster community resilience, promote sustainable practices and increase food security across our state.”

Authored by Senator V. Susan Sosnowski in 2012 and run by DEM, the LASA program helps new and existing small food businesses grow and flourish. Since the COVID pandemic, DEM has steered the program to prioritize building capacity for markets connecting local farms and fishers with food-insecure communities and supporting agriculture producers and fishers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – along with developing small food businesses. The LASA program provides grants that directly benefit and strengthen the local food system in Rhode Island by providing funding for projects that help support the growth, development, and marketing of RI Grown produce and RI Seafood. Since its enactment 12 years ago, LASA has provided more than $2 million through individual program grants up to $20,000 with no direct match required.

Last year the Governor and the General Assembly pledged their support to continue funding LASA, which is an important catalyst in strengthening the local food system, at historically high levels in fiscal year 2024. During this grant round, 43 grant awards totaling $662,000 were broadly distributed across many categories including agriculture, aquaculture, seafood or fishery based, and farmers markets that support these sectors. Eligible entities included Rhode Island-based, for-profit small or beginning farmers including aquaculture operators, fishers, producer groups, and non-profit organizations. Given the depth of the application pool, the evaluation of applications is a concerted effort by the LASA committee, which includes DEM staff and the RI Food Policy Council, with the goal of funding recommendations being as equitably and diversely as possible by taking score into consideration among other factors such as Environmental Justice. The final grantees awarded during this grant round reflect the purpose and value of the LASA program by fulfilling its purpose of seeking to broaden the scope and diversity of awardees.

“Since the food shortages and price spikes of the COVID pandemic, Rhode Islanders have been looking for food producers closer to home, so these Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grants are well timed and the awardees well positioned to meet growing consumer demand,” said Representative Terri Cortvriend (Portsmouth, Middletown). “I’m lucky to have an organic farm in my district, Garman Farm, that is receiving LASA funding. Jim and Michelle Garman believe that farming is as much about community as it is about plants. This funding will allow them to continue cultivating local food that is fresh, delicious, and safe. I am very proud to support this program.”

“Agriculture and seafood are extremely important economic sectors in all four of the communities I represent in the State Senate,” said Senator Louis P. DiPalma (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act helps incubate new and growing small businesses, some of which will one day become cornerstones of our communities. Supporting the production of local food also means fewer trucks on the road, which means less air pollution and better health for Rhode Islanders and our environment.”

“Food security means that all people, always, have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi (Narragansett, South Kingstown). “The Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island, which is in Wakefield in my district and obtaining a Local Agriculture and Seafood Act grant today, is addressing food security by supplying local seafood to Rhode Island public schools, especially in low-income districts. Another LASA grantee in my district, Moonstone Flower Company, is trying to solve a much different problem: deer pressure. By installing deer fencing with LASA funding, Taylor Olson soon hopes to put her company on a path toward supplying local restaurants with fresh flowers. I salute the vision and tenacity of all LASA grantees in growing their businesses and making Rhode Island a more beautiful, fair, and food-secure state.”

“As the chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee, I am always on the lookout for legislation and programs that benefit both the environment and agriculture,” said Senator Alana M. DiMario (North Kingstown, Narragansett, New Shoreham). “The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act program is one of a very few that does. I have seen the power of LASA grants at work in my district where farmers, food businesses, shellfishers, and aquaculturists have gotten just the boost they needed from a LASA award. I look forward to today’s awardees using their grants to gain traction and flourish in their marketplaces.”

“DEM is always working to get more RI Grown food and RI Seafood on the table by supporting local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses, and the support of Governor McKee and the General Assembly for a well-funded LASA program helps achieve this,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “Today’s LASA awards will help build Rhode Island’s food security while bolstering the traction of a diverse range of local food businesses in the marketplace by harvesting and marketing fresh home-grown food to meet consumer demand.”

LASA 2024 grantees:

NAMECITY/TOWNGRANT AWARD
401 Oyster CompanyCharlestown$20,000
Allen Harbor Oyster Co.Saunderstown$10,600
Aquidneck Community TableNewport$20,000
Ashawaug FarmAshaway$18,572
Bee Happy HomesteadCharlestown$5,337
Block Island Shellfish FarmNew Shoreham$14,955
Breakwater Oyster CompanyBristol$20,000
Center for Mediation and Collaboration RI – Land & Sea TogetherWarwick$20,000
Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode IslandWakefield$20,000
East Coast Oysters LLCSaunderstown$7,500
Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD)Tiverton$12,000
Foggy Notion FarmJohnston$4,202
Frontier FarmWesterly$9,008
Fue KhangCranston$20,000
Garman FarmNewport$17,903
Gather FarmJohnston$10,752
Hard-Pressed Cider Company, LLCWest Greenwich$14,165
High Tide Mushroom FarmCoventry$19,532
Hmong Rhode Island Association, Inc.Providence$20,000
Josephine’s FarmProvidence$20,000
Long Lane FarmWarren$16,077
Luckyfoot Ranch PartnershipSaunderstown$20,000
Marie’s FarmCoventry$20,000
Moonstone Flower CompanyWakefield$12,695.3
Moorefield Oyster FarmNarragansett$20,000
Mount Hope FarmBristol$19,080
Narragansett Indian TribeCharlestown$15,426.2
Night GardenPortsmouth$19,963
Open fArms RetreatCumberland$8,486
Pea Shoot Farm LLCFoster$14,900
Quononchontaug Fish CompanyWesterly$20,000
Rocky Rhode Oyster Co. LLCNarragansett$3,380
Saunderstown Garlic FarmSaunderstown$12,650
Seraphina’s FarmProvidence$20,000
Silk Tree FarmExeter$19,280
Southern Rhode Island Conservation DistrictWesterly$12,534.5
Sowams Cider WorksWarren$9,600
Stephen DuyenProvidence$20,000
SunRise Forever, Inc.Providence$20,000
Tiverton Farmers MarketTiverton$17,651
Transfarmative ProjectFoster$20,000
Westbay Community ActionWarwick$10,000
WinterHawk VineyardsWest Kingston$5,751

The 2024 grant funding priorities included:

  • Supporting the development of new marketing, promotion, sales, and/or distribution channels, including connecting local farms and fishers with Rhode Island’s food insecure communities.
  • Supporting the development of new products, including value added processing capacity.
  • Fostering new cooperatives, partnerships, and/or collaborations among Rhode Island agriculture and aquaculture producers, and fishers and supporting organizations.
  • Protecting the future availability of agricultural land for producers, including farm transition planning and implementation.
  • Assisting with on farm food safety improvements including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) Compliance.

DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. According to the recently published 2022 Census of Agriculture, which is conducted once every five years by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rhode Island has the highest percentage of beginning farmers in the country. Both the number of farms and the percentage of farmland in RI grew from 2017 to 2022 according to the census data, demonstrating the increased support for local agriculture and food throughout the state. Supporting local agriculture benefits all Rhode Islanders, ensures our future food security, enhances our environment, and celebrates the state’s unique food cultures and landscape.


The East End Welcomes Hannah Weaver as New General Manager

The East End's General Manager Hannah Weaver
The East End’s General Manager Hannah Weaver

The East End, Providence’s premier Whiskey Bar & Bistro, renowned for its exceptional culinary offerings, unparalleled service, and a robust cocktail program complemented by hundreds of rare and special whiskeys behind the bar, is excited to announce the appointment of Hannah Weaver as its new General Manager. This strategic move is part of The East End’s ongoing commitment to elevating its dining experience and operational excellence.

With a rich background in the hospitality industry, Hannah Weaver brings a wealth of experience to The East End. Her journey in hospitality has led her through several renowned establishments across the United States, from Seattle to New York and Detroit, before settling in Providence in 2015. Hannah has been instrumental in building and managing outstanding restaurant and bar programs, with a particular focus on whiskey and innovative cocktails.

Beyond her expertise behind the bar, Hannah has also showcased her culinary talents as a contestant on Season 13 of MasterChef on Fox. Her leadership and dedication are driven by a profound passion for the culinary arts, innovative operational strategies, and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction.

In her new role as General Manager at The East End, Hannah will be responsible for overseeing all operational aspects, from enhancing service delivery to guiding the team toward realizing the restaurant’s ambitious vision. Her appointment marks a significant step in The East End’s journey to continue leading the culinary scene in Providence.

The East End extends a heartfelt invitation to our esteemed guests and the entire Providence community to join us in welcoming Hannah Weaver. With her leading the charge, we’re on the brink of unveiling thrilling new ventures and continuing our tradition of crafting dining experiences that linger in your memories.

For more insights, media inquiries, or to chat with Hannah Weaver about what’s on the horizon for The East End, feel free to reach out at:

Hannah Weaver
General Manager, The East End
hannah@theeastendpvd.com


Spice Up the Weekend with New Brunch at XACO TACO

Authentic Mexican Street Food Eatery Debuts Weekend Brunch on May 11th just in time for Mother’s Day

XACO TACO's Brunch Bar, photo courtesy of Chow Fun Food Group
XACO TACO’s Brunch Bar, photo courtesy of Chow Fun Food Group

XACO TACO, located at 370 Richmond Street in Providence, Rhode Island, is pleased to launch a festive brunch menu, sure to spice up the weekend. Debuting on Saturday, May 11th, just in time for Mother’s Day, Executive Chef Andy Pyle’s menu is infused with traditional techniques and authentic flavors, which along with creative cocktails, puts the rise and shine in every palate. Brunch will be served Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., indoors and on Xaco’s streetside patio now open for the season. For more information, visit www.xacotacori.com.

Guests may start with a selection of fresh, fruit-forward Mimosas including freshly-squeezed orange, freshly-squeezed grapefruit, and guava juice; XACO’s Bloody Maria featuring Cazadores Blanco, bloody mix, spicy, pickled vegetables and a tajin rim; Tijuana Sunrise with El Jiamador Silver, mango and pomegranate grenadine; Coffee Margarita with Cazadores Café, cold brew coffee, Kahlua, cold foam and lime; and Smoked Horchata with Illegal Mezcal, house-made horchata and cinnamon; in addition to the restaurant’s full list of specialty cocktails, beer and wine. Zero-proof cocktails include Spicy Pineapple Mint with house-made pineapple mint agua fresca, lime, serrano simple syrup, and fresh mint; and Cold Brew Coffee with house-made cold brew over ice; and Corona N/A served with a lime wedge. 

Brunch at XACO features dishes inspired by traditional, authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist such as the Grande Mexican Breakfast with two tacos (choice of carne asada, beef barbacoa or house-made chorizo), scrambled eggs, jack cheese, crispy home fries, avocado and pico de gallo; Chilaquiles Verdes with totopos and sunny-side eggs, spicy salsa verde, refried black beans, Mexican crema, and queso fresco; and Horchata French Toast featuring Seven Stars Bakery challah bread, “Rumchata” custard, Vermont maple syrup, ancho-chili bacon, and whipped strawberry butter.

A XACO Kids Breakfast will feature scrambled eggs, crispy home fries, and house-made tortillas. Sides include crispy home fries, ancho-chili bacon, French toast, avocado, guacamole, refried beans, and pico de gallo. 

“We are excited to share our delicious brunch offerings with the downtown community,” said Harrison Elkhay, President, Chow Fun Food Group. “Guests will love the authentic, fresh, and bright flavors in our brunch dishes and cocktails, all served in a relaxed and fun environment. We’re the perfect, laid-back spot for delicious food and great drinks.”

XACO TACO is open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and serves its all-day menu daily from 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

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