The Helena-West Helena/Phillips County Port Authority will explore a potential farmers market and events space in a long-abandoned building near downtown where underground storage tanks have been removed. The Port Authority (the local economic development entity) has acquired the site and begun cleaning up contamination from its past use as a school bus repair facility, in support of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined other federal partners in announcing assistance to help 16 communities revitalize downtowns, boost the local economy, improve public health, and protect the environment through local food enterprises Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
The assistance is provided through Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a federal initiative that helps communities reinvest in their neighborhoods and improve quality of life as they develop the local food economy. “America’s farmers and ranchers are some of the nation’s first environmentalists,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “We look forward to helping our community partners develop local food enterprises that support local farmers, improve public health, protect the environment, and grow local economies.” Through LFLP, partner communities work with a team of experts to identify local assets and opportunities that can support local food enterprises, and set goals for leveraging those resources in ways that spur revitalization. They then develop an implementation plan and help identify potential resources from the participating federal agencies to support implementation. In 2018, LFLP is supported by EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Delta Regional Authority. Since its launch in 2014, LFLP has helped 78 communities across the country develop local food enterprises—such as farmers markets, community gardens, and cooperative grocery stores—that improve environmental, economic, and health outcomes. The 16 communities receiving assistance today were selected from more than 75 applications. A summary of planned projects is provided below. EPA is also releasing a new report to help other communities interested in growing their local food economy. Lessons from Community Leaders on Using Local Foods to Revitalize Downtowns summarizes experiences, successes, and challenges from LFLP partners who participated in a national LFLP Summit in Washington, D.C. in July 2017. An update on results from 2017 LFLP community projects is also now available.