In September 2011, Lydia Sisson '12 launched Mill City Grows "with the goal of empowering Lowell residents to create a safe, healthy food system through access and education," says the alum of the Economic and Social Development of Regions graduate program. 
Sisson oversees three community gardens and provides more than 80 gardeners with growing space, supervision and access to tools and training. 
In 2013, Mill City’s Urban Community Farm opened as an educational and market-driven operation, with retail sales in the Lowell farmer’s market and a traveling market bus that visits neighborhoods. 
Sisson entered UMass Lowell after successfully running her own farm, because, she says, “I felt detached from social justice issues. UMass Lowell gave me the professional transition, the time to create a project around food justice and the community connections to make it happen.”