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College Farm Market Project Launched with $25,000 Grant

GREENFIELD — The Rural Community College Alliance has awarded a $25,000 grant to Greenfield Community College (GCC), Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), and the Franklin Community Co-op (FCC) to fund a new collaborative College Farm Market Project (CFMP).

GCC farm and food systems and business majors will work as interns with CISA and FCC to enhance and expand on existing opportunities with farmers’ markets in the Pioneer Valley. The project’s goal is to develop a replicable model for coordinating food- and farm-focused education, marketing, and sales that support the growing sustainable farm movement in Western Mass.

The RCCA grant will fund six three-credit paid internships for GCC students while the costs of the credits earned are covered by other grants the college has won. Three interns will work at FCC, and three will work at CISA. The grant also provides funds to defray some of the partner-agency staff time needed for this project and for staff to attend national and regional conferences to share information about the project with other colleges and organizations. This grant brings together three organizations that have significant impact on regional farm and food systems and will enhance coordination around food justice and development of farmers’ markets.

The internships housed at FCC will continue the work of fall 2015 GCC interns to create a mid-week farmers’ market in Greenfield, seeing its development from its opening this spring through the remainder of the summer and fall. At CISA, the GCC interns will focus on broader regional issues that affect farmers’ markets in general, further food justice and SNAP matching efforts, provide replicable templates for building market business structures, and expand the customer base for locally grown foods that promote sustainable models for farm viability. Staff and administrators from the three organizations will meet regularly to develop long-term structures for interorganization collaboration for strengthening agricultural cooperative supports in the region.

“This project enhances the learning of our students in farm and food systems and in business through work experience in which they can apply their academic work,” said Christine Copeland, SAGE assistant and internship coordinator at GCC. “It’s great for their career prospects, and they also make professional contacts and network with people in their field. Not least, they work in the farm and food sector, about which many of them feel passionately.”

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