For Immediate Release - January 27, 2012

State Agriculture Officials Award Funds to Promote Local Agriculture

BOSTON – Friday, January 27, 2012 – Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares today announced $200,000 in grants to three agricultural organizations for projects to enhance regional Buy Local efforts in Western, Central, Northeastern and Southeastern Massachusetts.

Buy Local groups are organizations that connect farmers to their surrounding communities using innovative marketing and educational programs to promote agriculture. Buy Local groups help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while improving access to these important food sources, and are committed to the idea that knowing where your food comes from is healthy and makes good sense for local economies.

First formed in the Pioneer Valley in 1993 as a way to identify and address issues facing agriculture in specific regions across the state, Massachusetts Buy Local organizations now number eight groups across the Commonwealth and offer members and consumers a variety of resources. From technical assistance information to the newest recipes, consumers and food producers can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.

“Massachusetts’ Buy Local groups serve an important role in support of our state’s efforts to promote local agriculture,” said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “These groups are in tune with specific regional challenges and opportunities making these grants an important tool of our joint efforts to bring farm products to tables across Massachusetts.”

The groups receiving awards are as follows:

  • Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will receive $75,000 in partnership with Berkshire Grown to increase the sales of local agricultural products in Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire and Berkshire counties. The grant will support efforts to increase awareness of agriculture; partner with organizations in the region and throughout the state to promote local agriculture; and build organizational capacity related to recruiting new community members into their Buy Local program and retaining business members. CISA and Berkshire Grown will expand their marketing campaigns for local agriculture through point-of-purchase materials, paid and earned media and direct consumer engagement.
  • Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) will receive $75,000 and work with Sustainable Nantucket, Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod, and the Island Grown Initiative on assorted projects – all designed to promote local agricultural sales and forge strategic partnerships in the southeastern region of Massachusetts.
  • Northeast Harvest will receive $50,000 to organize and coordinate an agricultural conference and a series of farm-to-table dinner events, along with a continuation of its mission to help consumers discover, enjoy and support the farmers and local agriculture in Essex and Middlesex Counties.

“SEMAP is essential to promoting local agriculture and farmers in my district and this grant will support the great work they already do,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “Buying fresh food and local food is essential for the health of our communities and for our local economic growth.”

“I am pleased to see the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Patrick-Murray Administration make these funds available,” said Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants will go a long way to help maintain the viability of local agriculture. When we buy locally grown food, we help enhance the diversity of the local economy, maintain jobs, and help to create a sustainable future for everyone."

“I appreciate all that DAR does to promote our local farms and the fantastic products they produce.  I know people I speak with want to know where their food is coming from and are glad to have the opportunity to buy local and support Massachusetts agriculture,” said Rep. Anne M. Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

"CISA is a national innovator and leader in agriculture's Buy Local movement, and I am pleased that these state funds will enable them to continue to serve farmers and consumers in our area,” said Rep. Stephen Kulik. “CISA's work strengthens our local farm economy, helps to preserve farmland, and educates consumers about the benefits of fresh local food."

“The timing is perfect as more and more communities and residents in Massachusetts connect to their local agricultural farms,” said Phil Korman, Executive Director of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).

For a complete list of Buy Local resources, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/buy-locals.htm.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community 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 twitter.com/agcommishsoares.

###

Follow Secretary Sullivan on Twitter — View videos on You Tube — View downloadable photographs on Flickr
Visit our website — Visit the Energy Smarts blog — Visit The Great Outdoors blog