The Local Farmer Awards distributed grants totaling $225,000 to 97 farms in Western Mass. this year, a 30% increase over the number of 2022 recipients. These grants of up to $2,500 empower farmers to purchase essential equipment for planting, growing, harvesting, and processing. All projects include a funding commitment by the farm as well.
The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with 12 other funders, provide financial support for these Local Farmer Awards. Other community sponsors include Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Audrey and Chick Taylor, PeoplesBank, the DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Farm Credit East, HP Hood, Eastern States Exposition, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Franklin First Federal Credit Union, and bankESB.
Long-time funder Steve Davis, a partner at Vimco Corp., is grateful for having the opportunity to support this program. “Farming is a bedrock of community,” he said. “We are fortunate to have so many hardworking farmers and farms in our area.”
This year the Local Farmer Awards received a record 182 applications. Program Director Cari Carpenter noted that “we are so excited about the 97 farm winners, but our available funding did not allow us to support many additional requests for projects that are so needed on our local farms.”
Roughly two-thirds of this year’s awards went to farms in Hampshire and Franklin counties, with the remainder split between Hampden and Berkshire counties, and a few awards going to farms just across the Massachusetts border that participate in Massachusetts farming programs. About 25% of the recipients were new farmers (five or fewer years in business), and another 34% have been in business more than 20 years, many being multi-generational farms. The largest number of winners focus on vegetables and meat, while others include maple, fruit, dairy, and flower farms.