For Immediate Release - May 20, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces 11 Grants to Promote Specialty Crops

BOSTON - May 20, 2010 - Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares today announced $100,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture grants aimed at promoting specialty crops.

The grants, awarded to 11 organizations across the Commonwealth, range in size from $5,000 to $15,000 to support Massachusetts agricultural products and promote those products through a new website dedicated to marketing locally grown produce.

"Agriculture is a proud tradition and an important economic engine in the Commonwealth. These grants will help to expand this vital Massachusetts industry," said Governor Patrick.

"These grants help to encourage a new generation of farmers and get the word out about Massachusetts farms that produce a wide range of local products, from cranberries and oysters to apples and nursery plants," said Energy and Environment Secretary (EEA) Ian Bowles.

DAR's MassGrown & Fresher website features an Agri-Google mapping tool that makes it easy for consumers to find fresh produce, agri-tourism destinations, nursery products, and farmers' markets. The site also features a calendar of events and tips for how to cook and when to harvest local produce.

These funds were generated through a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant Program to enhance the competitiveness of Massachusetts Specialty Crops, which are defined as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, and horticulture and nursery products.

"Funds received through this grant program will give organizations the opportunity to promote and market their products to a wider audience," said Commissioner Soares. "The new MassGrown & Fresher website is a one-stop gateway that connects consumers to the great diversity of Massachusetts' agricultural offerings."

Award recipients:

Ashland

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation, $6,600

For promotion of a Farm-to-School Program during the Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week (September 27 -October 1).

Bedford

The Massachusetts Flower Growers' Association, $7,500

For promotion of nursery products.

Carver

Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, $7,300

For promotion of cranberry tourism.

Deerfield

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, $12,349

For promotion of a Buy Local Campaign through online communications and a farm products guide (50,000 of which are distributed locally) that advertises local operations and products.

East Wareham

Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership, $7,150

For promotion of a Buy Local Campaign through a electronic announcements and pocket farm guide that promotes local member farms and businesses.

Great Barrington

Berkshire Grown Inc., $9,000

For promotion of a Buy Local Campaign through collaboration with the Berkshire Visitor Bureau to promote a new Holiday Farmers' Market.

Seekonk

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, $9,895

For the promotion and administration of the Fun at the Farm and Fair. This program will consist of educational activities and products focused on five of Massachusetts specialty crops: honey, nursery products, cranberries, tomatoes and carrots.

Shelburne Falls

Shelburne Falls Farmers' Market, $15,000

For radio advertising of MassGrown & Fresher Products at local farmers' markets. There are up to 26 markets that will benefit from these advertisements.

Topsfield

Northeast Harvest, $5,000

For promoting a Buy Local Campaign that promotes local agriculture.

Waltham

Massachusetts Association of Farmers' Markets, $10,000

For farmers' markets coupons, designed specifically to increase the consumption and sales of specialty crops, to be distributed by healthcare providers in the Boston area.

Wayland

Sustainable Business Networks of Greater Boston, $10,206

For the Greater Boston Campaign for MassGrown & Fresher - Connecting Local Eaters and Retailers with Locally Grown Crops. The project aims to increase awareness of locally grown products as part of Boston's Restaurant Week in August and Local Food Dining Week in September.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish