Forty-seven Local Farmers Receive Awards Totaling $117,500
AGAWAM — Recognizing that farming is essential to the region, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and Big Y awarded 47 local farmers from the Berkshires to the Pioneer Valley $2,500 each to make physical infrastructure improvements to their farms.
Along with the support of sponsors Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and MGM Springfield, farmers have already put to use the awards for farm-improvement projects. This represents a 42% increase in awards from the 2015 inaugural year.
With the collaboration of local agriculture advocacy organizations Berkshire Grown and CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), the applications selected for the Local Farmer Awards were announced in December. More than 120 farmers submitted applications describing their improvement projects. The award recipients are diverse: 32% have been farming for more than 20 years, and 23% for five years or fewer; and more than 40% of the farms have sales of more than $100,000, while another 30% recorded sales of less than $49,000.
A winner from 2015 and 2016, Julia Coffey of Mycoterra Farm in Westhampton said, “we are thrilled to be a Local Farmer Award recipient. The projects that these awards have helped fund are making our farm more viable.” This year, Coffey is purchasing equipment required for outfitting a commercial kitchen that will allow the farm to begin manufacturing value-added food products with unsold fresh mushrooms.
Jennifer Salinetti, owner of Woven Roots Farm in Tyringham, will install a permanent vegetable wash station which will directly impact the farm’s productivity. Gideon Porth of Atlas Farm in Deerfield will install a pump system for a new well to increase the supply of potable water for the farm’s packing house and greenhouses, which will double its current watering abilities.
Harold Grinspoon, founder of the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, who launched the Local Farmer Awards in 2015, noted that “farmers don’t typically ask for help. They are genuinely appreciative of these awards and use the money in creative ways for projects to help their businesses.”
Charlie D’Amour, president & COO of Big Y, added, “through our partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation, we are providing one more way to help local growers thrive in our community.”
The goal of the Local Farmer Awards is to strengthen farmers’ ability to compete in the marketplace so the region benefits from the environmental, health, and economic advantages of local farming. A farmer appreciation event is held yearly for all applicants and awardees to honor and recognize farmers and promote the importance of local farming.