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Thinking about Food Production in Our Region

“The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.”- Michael Pollan

There isn’t much as universal as food, save maybe air and water. Access to food and the sustainability of food production, however; is not quite as universal. In this edition of the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) newsletter we explore agriculture and aquaculture in the southeast New England region with an eye on how food production fits into our southeast New England environmental and societal tapestry.

Many in the U.S. and around the world take food for granted. Go to the grocery store, pick from almost any kind of food, and head home. Few people think about the labor and effort, the environmental impacts, the shipping, and the waste that goes into getting that food on the shelf. Our project spotlights this month discuss future possibilities of synergy between agriculture and aquaculture; how the Buzzards Bay Coalition is working to combat food waste with composting regulations; and how a novel technology is being used in the SNEP region to determine the sources of agricultural fecal contamination.

In this edition we also talk with Andrew Jacobs, Manager of the Wampanoag Environmental Laboratory (Natural Resources Department of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gayhead, Aquinnah) about the Tribe’s work on shellfish aquaculture. 

We hope you don’t get too hungry reading about all this food production!

Enjoy the changing leaves,
The SNEP Team

Agriculture and Aquaculture: Food for Thought

Aquaculture’s potential goes well beyond food production, especially in the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) region where it is still a nascent industry reliant on oysters for greatest economic value. According to the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, aquaculture ranks fifth in value of all agricultural products and is among the state’s fastest growing agricultural sectors, with oyster farming alone ranking third in value of all landed seafood in Massachusetts.   Beyond their value as food, shellfish (primarily oysters) are also seen as a low-tech nitrogen reduction intervention for waterbodies impaired by nutrients. And aquaculture products like kelp can be used for as low cost, climate efficient, feed for cattle.

Learn more about the future of agriculture and aquaculture here

Project Spotlight

Curious about funded projects in the SNEP Region? Look no further! For this issue we focused on agriculture and aquaculture and how they impact the region.

Composting Food Waste: Keeping a Good Thing Going


Food waste is a growing problem in our modern society. Approximately one third of the food produced worldwide never makes it to the table and ends up as waste, occupying around 25% of our ever-shrinking landfills. Commercial composting is a great alternative to the disposal of food waste into landfills. Massachusetts was one of the first states to tackle the issue on a large scale. In 2014 Massachusetts passed a state-wide law to reduce the disposal of commercial organic waste.

Learn more about composting in the SNEP region and how the Buzzards Bay Coalition is working to clean up some of the unintended consequences of composting. 

Using Phylogenetics for Fecal Source Tracking in the SNEP Region

The PhyloChip is a rapid, high throughput, genetic analysis that probes water samples for the 16S rRNA gene. The beauty of using this gene is that its genetic sequence is nearly identical in all bacteria except for small sections of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that can be used to determine the taxonomy (e.g. order, genus, species) of a bacterium. SNEP, along with its partners MassDEP, RIDEM, and EPA New England Regional Lab used this new technology to determine potential sources of fecal contamination in the Palmer River Watershed.

Learn more about this research project here


A SNEP Chat with Andrew Jacobs

Andrew Jacobs, Environmental Laboratory Manager for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) speaks with SNEP about his work on shellfish restoration and its importance to the Tribe. 

Learn More about Andrew
Restore America’s Estuaries
In September, SNEP announced $1.8 million in new grants to restore water quality and coastal ecosystems throughout Southeast New England. Projects funded by 2020 SNEP Watershed Grants:
  • Town of Warren, RI: Market to Metacom: Adaptation and Economic Development $91,875
  • City of Providence, RI: Woonasquatucket River Greenway $250,000
  • RI Division of Marine Fisheries: Oyster Habitat Conservation and Restoration Planning $150,000
  • Town of South Kingstown, RI: Green Hill Pond Stormwater Plan $100,000
  • University of Rhode Island: Mt. Hope Bay Water Quality Monitoring $301,289
  • Pleasant Bay Alliance: Nitrogen Management in Pleasant Bay $132,178
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition: Multi-Community Collaboration to Reduce Nitrogen in Upper Buzzards Bay $118,275
  • Friends of Bass River: Upper Bass River Watershed Restoration $253,779
  • Mt. Holyoke College: Bioreactors for Nitrogen Removal in Coastal Cranberry Farms $232,352
  • Center for Coastal Studies: Ecosystem Research Conference for Pleasant Bay $8,984
  • Mass. Audubon Society: Protecting Salt Marshes $150,000
With the inclusion of this years’ awards, SNEP Watershed Grants has provided nearly $8.5 million over the past three years to organizations working to improve Southeast New England’s environment and communities.
Cape Cod Commission

The Commission is working on a climate action plan for the region. We have a newly updated Cape Cod Climate Initiative webpage, which includes information on a regional greenhouse gas emissions inventory we have just recently completed as draft, as well as an electric vehicle charging station analysis and industrial scale solar screening analysis, among other things. We also have a call for stakeholders open – we are seeking both individuals as well as organizations to contribute to development of the climate action plan (more details below). If appropriate, we’d like this to be included in the member updates.
SNEP Newsletter Subscription
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About SNEP

The Southeast New England Program (SNEP) is supported by U.S. EPA to foster environmental action, collaboration, and innovation to protect and improve the health of the coastal watersheds of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter, SNEP News, or find us on Facebook for the latest information and to find out how you can be involved.

For additional information:  
EPA's Southeast New England Program Website
SNEP Grants
SNEP Network Website

Ian Dombroski
SNEP Coordinator,
EPA New England

Martha Sheils
SNEP Network
New England Environmental Finance Center

Tom Ardito
SNEP Grants Program Coordinator,
Restore America's Estuaries

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Southeast New England Program · 34 Bedford St · Portland, ME 04101-1909 · USA

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