This spring, farms from the Berkshires to the Pioneer Valley are welcoming the season bolstered by physical improvements implemented as a result of a new program which recognizes the contributions of local farmers.
-For Immediate Release-
Cari Carpenter, Director
Grinspoon Farm Awards
Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation
Inaugural Simon Grinspoon Farm Awards give $75,000 to Local Farmers
This spring, farms from the Berkshires to the Pioneer Valley are welcoming the season bolstered by physical improvements implemented as a result of a new program which recognizes the contributions of local farmers. The Simon Grinspoon Farm Awards were launched earlier this year by Western Massachusetts-based philanthropist Harold Grinspoon. Named in honor of Mr. Grinspoon's father, the financial awards of up to $2,500 were distributed to 33 farms throughout the region, helping them to make physical improvements that will strengthen their overall farm business.
The award was announced to the local farming community with the collaboration of local agriculture advocacy organizations Berkshire Grown and CISA (Community Involved in Sustained Agriculture). Eighty-eight farms submitted applications describing their needs and how the awards would be used. Initially, Grinspoon intended to give a total of $50,000. However, the high levels of interest, the quality of the applications and the importance of the projects convinced him to increase the amount to $75,000. Based on this year's positive response, the program will continue next year.
The award recipients are diverse in terms of their years in business-24 percent of recipients have been farming for more than 20 years and 18 percent have been farming for five years or less. Approximately 1/3 of the farms had incomes of $100K, while another 1/3 recorded incomes of $10-24K. Additionally, the type of farms and proposed projects widely varied.
An example of some of the projects this year's award will fund include: the purchase of a back-up generator for the robotic milkers at Barstow's Longview Farm in Hadley, MA; the purchase of pipe and fittings for a waterline to a back pasture at Manda Farm in Plainfield, MA; the purchase of materials and components to complete a cold storage room and walk-in cooler at Many Forks Farm in North Adams, MA; and improved roads and electric fencing to keep out predators threatening the expansion of a queen bee breeding program at Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, MA.
The benefit of the award, says Steve Cunningham of Berkshire Bounty Farm in Southfield, MA, "allowed me to expand my vertical growing capabilities and better optimize my limited space. Additionally, the growing cart I purchased with the award gave me a several week jump on my growing season." Mr. Grinspoon hopes these awards recognize the important role farmers continue to play and highlight how fortunate we are in this region to have access to fresh products, daily farmers markets, and incredible CSA offerings.
Had his father been able to make a living as a farmer, Grinspoon is sure he would have considered it. But the next best thing in Grinspoon's childhood home was a large garden that his father tended before and after his work day. Grinspoon has fond memories of selling vegetables to neighbors from a wagon connected to his bicycle. "In my father's name, and in some modest way, to be able to encourage those who work on their land is an absolute joy for me" says Grinspoon.