The Baker-Polito Administration earlier this week announced $22.5 million in funding to food producers across the Commonwealth, continuing ongoing efforts to address food insecurity issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program seeks to ensure local food producers are better connected to a robust and resilient food supply system in order to mitigate future food supply and distribution issues. This year’s recipients of grant funding represent a variety of sectors, including farms, fisheries, schools, nonprofits, for profits, food pantries, municipalities, distributors/suppliers, and other entities. Thirteen grants were awarded in the Berkshires.
In Pittsfield, Roots Rising was awarded funding toward building a new Youth Farm which will serve as a training ground for youth, a community and food hub, and a headquarters for the organization. Roots Rising’s Youth Farm will be teen-powered and community centered, and will be an innovative approach to youth empowerment, food justice and sustainable development.
Full Well Farm in Adams will use the funds to build a climate battery heated greenhouse. The infrastructure improvement “will allow us to produce vegetables year-round, improve our production of summer favorites like tomatoes, and allow us to move our seedling production to our own farm rather than renting space”, said farmers Meg Bantle and Laura Tupper-Palches.
“Ensuring children, their families, and all individuals have access to healthy, local food products is critical, particularly as so many continue to be detrimentally impacted by the pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our Administration is proud to work so closely with the Commonwealth’s farmers, food distributors, non-profit organizations, and others as we partner to strengthen the state’s food supply chains.”
Prior awardees have been able to make local, fresh food production more efficient and accessible, lower the production cost, and increase distributors’ ability to partner with SNAP, EBT, and other organizations.
Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown will use the award to purchase a new cattle corral system. “As an emerging beef producer in Berkshire County,” said farmer Sarah Lipinski, “Sweet Brook Farm hopes to use these funds to expand our operations to further support the demand for local, sustainable foods.”
Lanesborough’s Red Shirt Farm received FSIG funds to construct a new farm store and commercial kitchen. Farmer Jim Schultz said that the store will serve as “a conduit for connecting our farm with the community”, and the commercial kitchen will help the farm reduce food waste by turning excess produce into value-added products.
Berkshire Grown is proud to be among this year’s awardees, alongside many outstanding farmers and organizations working to address food insecurity in the region. As part of their Farm to Food Access program, Berkshire Grown maintains cooler and freezer for crop and meat storage. “We will use the FSIG funds to purchase a back-up generator for the walk-in, a temperature monitor and alert system, and funds to pour a concreate delivery platform outside the cooler door. This allows us to make large-scale crop purchases from local farmers and store the food until pick-up by food pantries and community kitchens,” says Executive Director Margaret Moulton.
The awardees for this round of FSIG grants in the Berkshire region include:
- Berkshire Grown, Inc. (Great Barrington): Temperature control support for walk-in cooler
- Berkshire Wildflower Honey LLC dba Mill River Farm (Great Barrington)
- Fairfields Dairy Farm LLC (Williamstown): upgrade to automatic milking system
- Full Well Farm LLC (Adams): Climate battery greenhouse
- Greenagers, Inc. (South Egremont): infrastructure and equipment to improve food storage capacity
- Holiday Brook Farm LLC (Dalton): season-extending high tunnel
- Ian Allen Farms (Sheffield)
- North Plain Farm (Housatonic): improvements to Farm Store
- Olsen Farm (Lanesborough): two hoop houses
- Red Shirt Farm (Lanesborough): build-out of Farm Store and commercial kitchen
- Roots Rising (Pittsfield): Toward expenses related to establishing a Youth Farm
- Sweet Brook Beef Company (Williamstown): New cattle corral system
- Woven Roots Farm (Tyringham): improvements to strengthen vegetable production/distribution capacity, expand wash/pack and storage infrastructures
Since 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded over $58 million in grants to 507 projects across the Commonwealth through the grant program. For more information regarding the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, please visit the program’s webpage.
Sweet Brook Farm herd of cattle in paddock, Williamstown, MA.