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GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) awarded Gould Farm a resilience grant of $5,000 to complete construction of a new hoop house that will enable the farm to extend its growing season. This grant was awarded in conjunction with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Services.

Gould Farm will use this hoop house (also known as a ‘high tunnel system’) to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, and frost, and increase spring and fall crop production in an environmentally safe manner.

Gould Farm produces crops as part of its mental-health programming, through which clients grow, cook, and consume vegetables from the farm. During the growing season, Gould Farm also supplies the multicultural BRIDGE food pantry.

With the hoop-house addition, Gould Farm will be able to increase the amount and availability of fresh produce for the farm and pantry. “Our program participants are hard at work building the hoop house and look forward to being able to spend more time doing what they love … growing and sharing fresh food for the community,” Executive Director Lisanne Finston said.

Ben Crockett, BAV’s program manager, who focuses on climate-smart agriculture, added that “BAV recognizes the importance of helping farms implement adaptive growing strategies, like hoop houses, to address the increasing challenges Berkshire farmers face due to climate change. Recent growing seasons provide multiple examples of increased extreme weather patterns that increase risks to Berkshire farmers.

“Farmers in our region will continue to see dramatic fluctuations in weather patterns for the foreseeable future” he added, “and supporting Gould Farm in completing this hoop house is part of BAV’s effort to improve local farm resilience to extreme weather events and ensure farms keep farming.”

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) announced it has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to support its Resilience Fund for Farmers.

This new fund was established in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting impact on local farmers, who are hurting right now as stores, restaurants, and other income-generating avenues like farmers’ markets and CSA are closed or operating in different, logistically challenging ways due to the virus. Despite these challenges, many farmers are reaching out to contribute healthy food to the neediest among us and sell as much as they can directly to consumers.

The goal of the BAV Resilience Fund for Farmers is to support those who are experiencing business challenges as a result of COVID-19. Zero-interest, forgivable loans and grants will be provided to help farmers adapt to new realities, overcome significant income challenges, and ensure that farms remain viable and sustainable so they continue to meet demand for healthy, local foods.

In addition to working with individual farmers, BAV also hopes to support strategies that avoid costly duplication of effort among farmers, such as developing coordinated delivery services. The first grant from the fund helped Roots Rising to pivot and establish the Berkshire County-wide Virtual Farmers Market, which in its first eight weeks served 1,400 households, gave $18,000 to neighbors in need, and generated $50,000 in sales to support the local food system.

The grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank represents the first corporate support to the fund, which was established with a grant from a local family foundation.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to our Resilience Fund for Farmers. The grant will allow us to provide deeper support to our key constituents, the farmers who are providing our neighbors with fresh, healthy, and local food,” said Cynthia Pansing, BAV executive director.

J. Jay Anderson, president and CEO of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, added that the bank “is proud to support the work of the Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the Resilience Fund for Farmers during this extraordinary time. At a time when local food systems and healthy food is important to our communities more than ever before, we thank them for their work.”

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