Daily News

Tenth Year of Local Farmer Awards Receives Record Number of Applications

AGAWAM — Following a year of enormous challenges, a record 199 Western Mass. farmers recently applied for infrastructure-improvement grants from the Local Farmer Awards, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation. This represents a 21% increase in applications from last year.

“Farmers are struggling,” said Harold Grinspoon, founder of the Local Farmer Awards. “They work so hard and never ask for help. These capital improvements for their farms can help them continue to support our economy and food supply.”

Three new funders helped increase the available funding for the projects. Three County Fair, Andrew Associates, and PeoplesBank Workplace Giving Campaign joined the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y, and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, the program’s partners, along with a team of 15 funders committed to supporting local farms.

“Forty-six of the farms are first-time applicants,” said Cari Carpenter, director of the program. “The project descriptions farmers submitted are excellent. Our reviewers will have their hands full selecting the best among them.”

Carpenter recognizes the challenge ahead to try to find funding to support even more of these projects. She and the Local Farmer Awards team are already reaching out to prospective funders to help close the gap.

The Local Farmer Awards is in its 10th year of helping local farms grow. To date, the program has helped 266 local farms with 572 infrastructure projects totaling $1.28 million invested in the local farming community.