BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $500,000 in grants to the Commonwealth’s regional Buy Local agricultural organizations for projects that will enhance efforts in western, central, northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts. These organizations work to generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while improving logistical access to these important food sources.
“The Buy Local movement does important work with farmers across the Commonwealth to ensure the future of the state’s agricultural industry, provide healthy culinary products and stimulate local economies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration remains committed to encouraging all Massachusetts residents to buy locally-grown food products and support regional Buy Local organizations as they work to promote and expand the market for Massachusetts agriculture.”
“Locally sourced agriculture supports Massachusetts farmers and provides residents with access to fresh, healthy food products,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through these grants, regional Buy Local groups will be able to continue creating innovative programs and resources to connect consumers and farmers, and spread the word about the benefits of purchasing local produce.”
Regional Buy Local organizations connect food producers to their surrounding communities. Originally formed to identify and address marketing challenges in specific geographical communities across the Commonwealth, the work of Buy Local groups has grown to be known as a sustainable business movement that includes innovative marketing and educational programs.
“The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources values our Regional Buy Local partners and the initiatives and media campaigns they create to raise awareness for Massachusetts grown products,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Each organization is an excellent partner to have and the department collaborates with them at every available opportunity to promote Massachusetts agriculture.”
The following six projects have been funded through this year’s grants:
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) – $69,500
SEMAP & Sustainable Nantucket will coordinate on buy local activities within their own respective areas on such initiatives including; local fiber production & marketing, local food promotion into the regional fair circuit, support of local food access and promotion of ‘Eat Local’ month.
Sustainable Business Network (SBN) – $47,154
Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) will launch the Local Food Business and Eater Connection Program to grow our Massachusetts and New England economy, promote local agriculture and fisheries, and increase the amount of local food eaten by MA and New England residents. This year long initiative will increase the sales, raise awareness of locally grown and produced foods in MA and New England states, and increase the collaboration between the Buy Local organizations and other key players in the local food movement. The program features the Boston Local Food Festival, Massachusetts Eat Local Month campaign, and the development of a SBN Business in Support of Agriculture and Fisheries (BSA) project.
Berkshire Grown – $58,425
Berkshire Grown will collaborate with traditional and nontraditional regional partners to increase cash receipts for farmers and to increase recognition of MA agriculture, leverage other dollars, and promote the Massgrown and fresher brand. Our efforts support the MA Food Plan with its goal of increasing production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods.
Northeast Harvest – $60,792
Northeast Harvest will initiate various projects throughout the year to increase cash receipts for local farmers, increase the recognition and engage community members for Massachusetts agriculture, increase partnership to promote agriculture in our region, and collaborate with other buy local groups to help benefit the agricultural industry in Massachusetts.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – $80,000
CISA will invest in their Buy Local campaign to create new consumer educational materials, revise and update website interface, and bolster technical assistance support for farmers and businesses.
Central Mass Grown (CMG) – $100,000
Central Mass Grown will strengthen the network of agricultural producers and connect them with consumers who may not consistently support local farms. The plans and projects outlined will produce increases in cash receipts for Central MA farms, educate consumers as to the seasonality and consistent agricultural offerings within Worcester County, and provide new platforms for small producers to reach larger markets.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod – $68,500
Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod will expand the visibility and access of local food and retail operations that sell local products, and strengthen connections between food, health, economic development, and production agriculture.
Island Grown Initiative – $15,627
Island Grown Initiative will more effectively serve the local food system through farmers market support, local food aggregation, processing and branding as well as food waste reduction, redirection and education at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.
“Locally sourced food products create substantial benefits for our economy, our health, our environment, and our quality of life,” said State Senator Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “These grants will energize specific efforts to support the farms that produce that food and teach us all about how to take advantage of products being grown and produced by our neighbors.”
“A sure sign of Spring is the awarding of these important grants to keep local agriculture in the forefront,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “I appreciate the ongoing assistance from the administration and my colleagues to continue this funding which benefits the consumers and our farmers.”
“As House Chairman of the Environment Committee I have had the opportunity to witness the impact Buy Local Groups have had in regards to supporting local farms and agriculture across the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chairman for the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “Further, I have had the immense pleasure of working directly with Berkshire Grown, an organization which helps our Western MA agriculture economy flourish. I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for supporting Buy Local organizations such as Berkshire Grown, and allowing these programs to spread awareness about the positive impacts purchasing locally grown food products have on communities.”
“The work that the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Buy Local organizations do has a very positive impact on our region’s agriculture and farmers,” said State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). “I am glad that the Administration is supporting the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership in their efforts to raise consumer awareness of the many benefits of buying local.”
“SEMAP and Nantucket will put this grant to good use, connecting farmers with consumers in the South Coast region,” said State Representative Paul Schmid (D-Westport). “We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for recognizing the health benefits of local, fresh food.”
Buy Local groups across the Commonwealth offer members and consumers a variety of resources. From technical assistance information to marketing assistance; consumers, farmers, and food producers alike can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.
–Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
For more articles out of New England, click here.