Technical Assistance Opportunities for Farmers 

Technical Assistance Opportunities for Farmers

Berkshire Grown has funding to provide individualized technical assistance to beginning farmers and direct market farmers in the form of business and marketing support. The technical assistance can include business growth/planning strategies, including website construction, e-commerce set-up, marketing/advertising, and other business planning needs. The technical assistance can be a single session with a Berkshire Grown staff member or with an external consultant.

Mentorship Opportunities for Beginning Farmers

For beginning farmers looking for a long-term mentorship opportunity, Berkshire Grown is pleased to offer a one-on-one mentorship program. This lightly-structured program will take place over a period of 5 months and include 5 hours of conversation/support from an experienced farmer.

Seeking Producers to Mentor New and Aspiring Farmers

Are you an experienced farmer interested in mentoring a beginning farmer?  Berkshire Grown is seeking mentors from diverse agricultural industries and with expertise to provide in-depth mentorship to beginning farmers. A stipend is provided to mentors for their time. This program has a time commitment of 5 hours over a period of 5 months.
If you are interested in receiving technical assistance support, or in acting as a farmer mentor, please email Ian Brunell at

Local Food and Farming events happening throughout the Berkshire region are on the calendar below.

Events displayed in red are open and of interest to the general public; those in green are appropriate for farmers and food businesses.

To subscribe to one or both of the calendars, click on the “+ Google Calendar” button at the bottom right-hand corner. Your calendar will open and you can choose which Berkshire Grown calendar you wish to add – “Community Events” or “Farmers and Food Business Events.” The button looks like this:

Berkshire Grown hosts our own events throughout the year. For a sampling, see the list below and visit the appropriate month on the calendar for details.

Farmer Workshops (January-March)
Spring Supper (March/April)
Summer Event (varies)
Harvest Supper (September)
Indoor Farmers Markets (Williamstown Nov & Dec, Great Barrington Nov-April)

Click here to submit an event to the calendar.

Throughout this 2020 Summer Podcast Series, Berkshire Grown hears from farmers and agricultural professionals from both in and beyond the Berkshires to learn about the different ways farmers are farming and getting their products to market.  These 30 minute interviews let farmers share their own experiences out in the field, in the barn and marketing their farm’s products.  Some weeks may include conversations with other ag professionals working on issues related to local food and food access. These podcasts are a part of Berkshire Grown’s Technical Assistance program to connect farmers with other farmers in order to learn from each other

Episode 1, May 28, 2020 – Lee Hennessey of Moxie Ridge Farm & Creamery in Argyle, New York

Episode 2, June 4 –  Abby Ferla of Foxtrot Farm in Ashfield, MA

Episode 3, June 11 – Brian Cole of Bigfoot Farm in Williamstown, MA

Episode 4 , June 18 – Winton Pitcoff, Massachusetts Food System Collaborative Director

Episode 5 , June 25 – Meg Bantle and Laura Tupper-Palches,  Full Well Farm in Adams, MA

Episode 6, July 2 – Jae Silverman of Windrow Farm in Conway MA

        Episode 7, August 3 – Molly Comstock of Colfax Farm in Alford, MA

On August 10, Massachusetts launched the MassGrown Exchange, an online platform designed to facilitate business-to-business connections within the local food system for products and services. The platform was developed following recommendations from the Administration’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food.

The MassGrown Exchange platform will assist Massachusetts food businesses looking to sell and purchase products and services, including:

  • Farmers, fishermen, specialty food producers with wholesale products to sell to restaurants, grocery stores, and other outlets, or searching for equipment or services, such as storage, distribution.
  • Buyers (including supermarkets, institutions, schools, food banks, restaurants, and retail outlets) looking for local food products.
  • Service and equipment providers working with businesses in the food system.

The platform offers a simple registration process for Massachusetts food businesses, which can operate as a buyer or supplier, depending on whether they are looking to acquire products or provide products or services. Potential sellers and buyers are encouraged to register their business and start listing products and services.

Please visit the MassGrown Exchange webpage for details on registering as well as a training video on using the platform.

MDAR also offers the popular Massachusetts Grown and Fresher interactive map, which aims to help the general public find local food and other agricultural products at local farms, farmers markets, fairs, agritourism farms, wineries, breweries, and more.

Developed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), in collaboration with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), this platform was originally established to address COVID-19 disruptions to the local food supply in order to assist Massachusetts growers and producers in accessing markets. Given its broad applicability to the food sector in the Commonwealth, this platform will remain in place as a helpful tool and resource beyond the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

“The MassGrown Exchange is designed to be a simple tool for buyers and suppliers with flexibility to meet the needs of the complex food system,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.  “Building on the recommendations of the Food Security Task Force, this platform will offer every region across the Commonwealth an opportunity to develop their local food network.”

“The platform is now live and ready for businesses looking to sell and purchase Massachusetts’ products and services,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “It is our hope and intent that this platform will increase business activity and revenue for the agricultural and aquaculture communities.”

“Massachusetts’ historic fishing industry has been working hard to help our state meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 emergency, and this platform provides a new tool that will make it easier for them to sell fresh seafood products,” said Massachusetts Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon. “Food security is a critical issue, and this platform will help both buyers and sellers, leading to benefits for local food businesses and residents across the Commonwealth.”




Farm Credit East has released their 2020 guide to Grants and Incentives in the Northeast.

This document contains grants and other incentives available in the Northeast states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island serviced by Farm Credit East. The listings include grant programs, tax incentives and loan programs from various funding sources available to agricultural producers and other entities involved in agriculture or related industries. Please note that as grant programs often change, this list should not be viewed as a comprehensive compilation of all grant opportunities. Interested parties should consult other sources to identify all potential sources of grants and incentives.

COVID-19 Guidance for Farms and Food Businesses

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) COVID-19 Resources for Agriculture
State bulletins and guidance for agriculture, and resources covering: food safety, farmers’ markets, marketing and distribution, animal health, farm labor, financial resources, and mental health resources. Including the following documents:

Farm Labor Management
MDAR Guidance Bulletin for Pick Your Own Activities
Order of the Commissioner of Public Health for Farmers Markets, Farmstands and CSAs (9/8/20 update)
Guidance for Farmers Markets, Farm Stands and CSAs
Cleaning and Sanitizing Guidance for Fruits and Vegetables Growers
Matching CSAs and Farmstands with Value Added Food Businesses list of Vendors selling protective and hygienic supplies

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Novel Coronoavirus (COVID-19) Information and Guidance

Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation COVID -19 Resources
Financial resources for New York State farms and food businesses including information about New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), USDA CFAP, and PPP loan forgiveness, as well as guidance documents from NY Ag and Markets, listing of local health departments, and updates for horticultural businesses.

CISA’s COVID-19 Resources for Farmers
A comprehensive list of resources for farms, food businesses, and farmers markets covering topics including: COVID testing for farm workers, sanitation, employee management, economic assistance, and online sales.

UMass COVID 19 Resources and Information for MA Vegetable Growers

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development Guidance for Prevention & Control on Farms
Includes Employer Actions Steps as well as links to printable factsheets and posters in English and Spanish to use in your workplace.

Building Farm Resilience During COVID-19 from Cornell Small Farms Program
Conversation and idea sharing about building market resilience in this moment as well as links to resources for New York farmers including New York Extension Disaster Education Network and New York FarmNet offering financial and mental health resources.

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension COVID-19 Resources
Resources for farmers & growers, farmers with livestock, farmers markets, and delivery & pick up distribution information including online payment systems.

Economic Resources

Massachusetts Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program
The state of Massachusetts has released a Request for Responses (RFR) for project proposals to ensure that individuals and families have access to fresh, local food. Applications are open now and will be accepted on a rolling basis until funding runs out or until September 15, 2020. Projects should be completed by June 30, 2021.  Each applicant may submit up to three separate applications.

USDA Coronairus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
CFAP makes direct payments to farmers of certain eligible commodities, including dairy, livestock (beef, pork, lamb), non-specialty crops and wool, and some specialty crops. Eligible producers of specified agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater decline as a result of COVID-19 and who face substantial marketing costs for inventories are eligible for CFAP payments. Contact your county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for further details and to apply. FSA is accepting applications through August 28, 2020.

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures
BAV is pleased to have received a generous grant from a local family foundation to launch the Resilience Fund for Farmers.  Zero interest, forgivable loans and grants will be provided to farmers to help them adapt to the new realities of COVID-19, overcome significant income challenges, ensure their farms are viable and sustainable, and that they can continue to meet demand among consumers for healthy local foods. In addition, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures regularly provides flexible and urgent loans, grants and 1:1 capacity-building assistance to farmers. Applications are considered on an ongoing basis. For information regarding how to apply for this support, please contact Cynthia Pansing at

Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation COVID -19 Resources
Financial resources for New York State farms and food businesses including information about New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF), USDA CFAP, and PPP loan forgiveness, as well as guidance documents from NY Ag and Markets, listing of local health departments, and updates for horticultural businesses.

CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund
Available to those operating Franklin, Hampshire, or Hampden counties in Massachusetts, CISA Emergency Farm Fund offers zero-interest loans to farms affected by COVID-19. As of May 27 the Fund is not currently accepting applications, but is expected to be opened for a second round of applications.

Western Mass Business Resources
A range of business resources compiled by the Western Mass Business Technical Assistance Collaboration covering Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties.

American Farm Land Trust (AFT) Farmer Relief Fund
AFT’s Famer Relief Fund that will provide $1,000 grants to farmers suffering from market disruptions caused by the pandemic. The fund is targeted at small and mid-sized producers who market direct to consumer (annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs).  No longer accepting applications.

Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Massachusetts request for a disaster declaration and will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Massachusetts; and the contiguous counties in neighboring states.

General COVID-19 Resources and Information

1Berkshire Information & Resources for COVID-19 in the Berkshires

Mass Department of Public Health COVID-19 Information

New York State Health Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information


USDA’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide

Resources and reading for pivoting sales strategies online

List of direct sales software from National Young Farmers Coalition

Selling Real Farm Products in a Virtual Marketplace from Cornell Small Farms

The Local Food Revolution Goes Online – For Now 

Facing devastating losses, small farmers pivot to sell directly to consumers 

Roots Rising Virtual Farmer’s Market

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