Daily News

Sixth Annual Local Farmer Awards Fund 70 New Infrastructure Projects

AGAWAM — At an essential time for local farmers, a group of community philanthropic leaders and businesses have come together to fund the Local Farmer Awards for the sixth year in a row. More than 70 farmers in Western Mass. received checks of up to $2,500 for farm infrastructure improvements and equipment. In all, this year’s Local Farmer Awards totaled $157,500.

Over the past five years, the Local Farmer Awards have provided nearly $750,000 to support local growers, helping farmers expand their businesses, compete in the marketplace, and continue to provide the health and environmental benefits of local farming. As COVID-19 causes farmers to lose large customers such as restaurants and schools, the need for assistance is greater than ever.

“We are excited and honored to receive this award, and we are committed to growing healthy, organic food for our community,” said Casey Steinberg of Old Friends Farm. “People say that it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a community to raise a farm and grow a vibrant local food system. We are honored and humbled by the outpouring of support from our customers and all the ways we are held and embraced.”

Local Farmer Award funders have come together because they recognize the importance of investing in local farms. They include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation in partnership with Big Y along with Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, HP Hood LLC, Farm Credit East, PeoplesBank, Baystate Health, Eastern States Exposition, and others.

“Now more than ever, our local farmers and their farms are an intrinsic and crucial part of our communities. We recognize their growing need for assistance,” said Big Y President and CEO Charles D’Amour. “For nearly 85 years, Big Y has been proud to support hardworking farmers and their families, and during this time we are pleased to partner with the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation to provide one more way to help our local growers thrive.”

The Local Farmer Awards team notes that farmers are showing creativity and resilience in these challenging times by shifting how and where they sell their products. Director Cari Carpenter noted that “we have many great options for purchasing local farm products, and we can support our farmers by buying their products whenever and wherever we can.”

Berkshire Grown and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, both advocates for farming and agriculture, have provided guidance for this program since its inception. A farmer celebration event will be held in late fall to recognize all applicants and promote local agriculture.