BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll Administration has awarded $800,000 in grants to support the efforts of ten regional Buy Local organizations that work to help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products. Stretching from the Berkshires to the Cape, the organizations connect local farmers to their communities, helping them sell locally grown products to buyers and fostering long-term relationships between growers and consumers.
In addition to supporting the important work of regional farmers, Buy Local groups will leverage this funding to support environmental justice communities. These communities are racially and ethnically diverse, low-income neighborhoods that also may face language isolation. Due to systemic discrimination and racism, these communities have historically felt disproportionate environmental burdens. With this funding, Buy Locals will address food security needs, enhance access to local, culturally relevant foods, and engage with and support historically underserved farmers.
“Nourishing and healthy food is grown right here in Massachusetts, but not all of our residents have access to these local farms,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “This funding will help bridge that gap by investing in our Buy Local organizations, farmers, and environmental justice communities. Everyone, regardless of race or income, deserves access to fresh, local products.”
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) works year-round with the regional Buy Local organizations to help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products and strengthen the marketing potential of agricultural businesses in different regions of the Commonwealth.
“MDAR values the ingenuity that the Buy Local organizations instill in their own regional and collective work, with many collaborating to enhance their initiatives,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “Each of the organizations have the pulse of the needs of their farmers/producers in their respective areas. We’re proud to partner with all of them in advancing our shared goals of increasing the purchase and consumption of locally grown food by our consumers in the Commonwealth.”
“The Buy Local organizations on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket are essential to maintaining a solid relationship between our farmers and our community,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D- Cape and Islands). “Locally grown food bolsters our health, advances food security, preserves our environment, and promotes our local economy. I am thankful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for supporting Buy Fresh Buy Local, Sustainable CAPE, Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, and Sustainable Nantucket with MDAR grants that will maintain the essential bridge between the Cape and Islands’ agricultural industry and Cape Codders and Islanders.”
“I am thrilled that this funding will empower Central Mass Grown to continue their invaluable work fortifying our region’s agricultural backbone and fostering awareness of locally grown products,” said Representative Meghan Kilcoyne (D – 12th Worcester). “Central Mass Grown has always played a critical role in supporting our local farmers and I am excited that this funding will further promote the vitality of local agriculture and help connect more people with local fresh food within the 12th Worcester District and across Central Massachusetts.”
The following ten projects have been funded for Fiscal Year 2024:
|Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod
|In collaboration with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and community partners, BFBLCC will promote Cape Cod grown land and sea farmers.
|Central Mass Grown
|The funded project will increase demand for local food through direct-to-consumer sales and wholesale purchases of Worcester County-grown products.
|The goal of the ”Local Chefs – Local Food!” and coordinated “Harvest Highlight – Buy Direct!” campaigns is to increase direct-to-consumer sales for Barnstable County farmers and fishers via a comprehensive community initiative to share information about local food access via a broad consortium of regional partners while strengthening the region’s Farmers Market Coalition and farmers markets’ ability to accept SNAP/HIP and other nutrition incentives.
|Berkshire Grown will strengthen collaborative initiatives that address food security in the Berkshires and increase connections between Berkshire farms and non-traditional community partners to make locally grown food available to all members of the Berkshire community.
|Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society
|Funds will be used to support the operation of the island’s mobile poultry processing unit and to expand efforts to support farmers with grant writing and marketing. Funds will also be used to advertise farms and markets on the island, especially those that accept SNAP/HIP.
|Sustainable Business Network (SBN)
|The program’s goal will be to provide a stepped ladder of support for local farms, fisheries, and food makers, connecting them with broader and new consumer markets and introducing them and expanding their wholesale connections.
|Essex Ag Society – Northeast Harvest
|Northeast Harvest will promote, support, and strengthen local agriculture and fisheries by providing Local Food Guides (online and print), participation in the Food Pantry CSA Project, outreach, and support for the Buy Local Statewide Mobile App; continuing social media and updates on their website; participating in tabling at promotional events; and hosting an annual agricultural conference.
|Southeastern MA Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP)
|This project will increase farmer revenue by expanding and assessing the promotion of agriculture, farms, and crops in Southeastern Massachusetts, and increase farmer business proficiency through education and business assistance.
|Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
|Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will connect local farms to consumers of all income brackets in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties, build demand for local food, and increase sales for local farms.
|This project will build on the success of previous grants to promote island farmers and fishers, helping them to raise their profile and profits through advertising and promotion efforts.