GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Development Corp.’s Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (FPC) was named Manufacturer of the Year in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester state Senate district.
The FPC was nominated to receive this award by state Sen. Jo Comerford through the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, of which she is a member.
Located in Greenfield, the FPC was established in 2001 and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in October. The center serves as an incubator space for new and growing specialty food businesses to manufacture their products. The FPC team has helped local businesses prototype and launch a wide variety of different products, including sauces, toppings, salsas, dips, syrups, and frozen meals. It has a wide variety of specialized equipment to help local farms add value to their produce. Additionally, the FPC provides one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to support business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, and more.
“The entire team at the Western MA Food Processing Center is so honored to receive this award,” said Liz Buxton, director of Operations. “We take great pride in the products we manufacture here, both for local farms and food entrepreneurs. Throughout the last 20 years, we have become an integral part of the local food system, and we hope to continue to grow in our role for years to come.”
Currently, the FPC has 50 clients and employs eight full-time staff. During the busy harvest season, it employs several part-time staff, including individuals through the re-entry program of Hampshire County House of Corrections. This harvest season, the FPC team made value-added products, like pickles, pestos, and salsas, for 18 farms and offered dry and cold storage services to another eight farms. The FPC is also home to Valley Veggies, as well as the only individual quick-freeze machine in New England, which processes local vegetables for schools, institutions, and retail. The Food Processing Center is continuously improving its manufacturing capabilities by investing in specialized food-processing equipment, much of which is funded by state and federal grant programs.
“The Food Processing Center is an innovative and inspiring operation,” Comerford said. “It’s an integral part of our local food system helping our region’s farmers expand the reach of their nutritious food and grow their food businesses. As it happens, the FPC also processes many food items that are beloved in our valley, including many in my home right now. COVID-19 caused unprecedented shifts and disruptions to our local food systems, and I’m grateful to the FPC for its steadfast efforts in the face of tremendous adversity.”