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EPA Announces Grant Funding to Bessemer Historical Society to Develop an Urban Agriculture Project

Project will improve food access and long-term resiliency in neighbourhoods near the Colorado Smelter Superfund site

Vipin Saini

Project will improve food access and long-term resiliency in neighbourhoods near the Colorado Smelter Superfund site 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Agency will award Bessemer Historical Society, Inc. (dba Steelworks Center of the West) $50,000 in grant funding to support urban agriculture in neighborhoods in Pueblo, Colorado impacted by the historic Colorado Smelter, where cleanup is underway to remove lead and arsenic at affected homes and properties.

The EPA grant, selected for award in 2020 through the Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice grants program, will be used to build a raised bed demonstration garden and raised bed garden boxes at residents’ homes.

It will also provide the education, tools and materials to produce successful harvests. The award dovetails with ongoing efforts by the Pueblo Food Project and the Colorado Smelter Revitalization Project to empower residents and revitalize neighborhoods in the area. The Steelworks Center of the West, in collaboration with the Pueblo Food Project, will hire a community connector to recruit project participants, a landscape designer to develop plans for the gardens and a curriculum developer.

“This grant funding to The Steelworks Center of the West will provide local community members with the training, tools and resources to improve health and long-term resiliency through access to affordable, nutritious and locally grown food,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Thomas. “These resources will benefit families and residents in the Pueblo community and contribute to locally led efforts to revitalize areas impacted by the historic Colorado Smelter pollution.”

“Steelworks Center of the West is excited to bring this unique collaborative project together to serve the local community,” said Christina Trujillo, Bessemer Historical Society, Inc. (dba Steelworks Center of the West) executive director. “We look forward to a successful harvest season full of educational opportunities.”

“There is power and joy in being able to grow your own food, but it is not easy. This grant will help us catalyze our food justice efforts in the Superfund site area,” said Monique Marez, Pueblo Food Project coordinator. “We are grateful and honored for the opportunity to plant seeds of hope, on such a significant scale, across our community.”

The project will increase access to healthy, locally grown food for a majority population of low-income and underserved minority residents who live near high-traffic roadways, historic and ongoing industrial activity, and the Colorado Smelter Superfund site. By reducing food insecurity—the state of not having reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food—the project will build long-term community resiliency. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 16% of Latino households and 19% of Black households in the U.S. are food insecure.

EPA’s Environmental Justice Program works to address disproportionately adverse human health and environmental impacts in overburdened communities by integrating environmental justice considerations throughout EPA’s programs. Projects like The Steelworks Center of the West’s urban agriculture project highlight the Agency’s commitment to support community-driven efforts to revitalize these communities and improve health, equity and economic outcomes.

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