For Immediate Release - June 29, 2009

Patrick Administration awards $100,000 in Grants to Organizations that Promote Local Agriculture

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) today awarded seven grants totaling $100,000 aimed at encouraging consumers to buy Massachusetts-grown food.

"Buying local, farm-fresh products bolsters the state's agricultural economy while promoting good health and nutrition," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes DAR. "Buy Local campaigns are essential for spreading the word about the benefits of purchasing local produce."

Organizations from South Deerfield, Great Barrington, Topsfield, Nantucket, Dartmouth, Barnstable and Boston will receive Buy Local Grants. Under this program, DAR awards grants to community organizations throughout the state to support efforts that encourage consumers and businesses to buy produce from local farmers.

"Local farms provide both fresh produce and sustainable, working landscapes for Massachusetts residents and visitors to enjoy. We're thrilled to honor groups whose work promotes Massachusetts farm products," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares.

"I echo the sentiments of Secretary Bowles and Commissioner Soares, in congratulating the grant winners, for the recipients' determined efforts to promote local produce and the associated benefits of these products," said Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

"Buy Local Grants are a vital boost to local farmers and agricultural economies," said Rep. William M. Straus, chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture. "Even in this fiscal climate, I am pleased state government continues to promote both through direct grants to where it is needed."

The grants are aimed at attracting additional funding to support future programs, increasing agricultural product sales for farmers, and promoting regional agricultural products such as maple syrup from Western Massachusetts or apples grown in Northeast Massachusetts.

Agricultural sales have trended up in recent years. A February 2009 report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that Massachusetts agriculture expanded from 2002 to 2007, growing by 27 percent both in crop and livestock sales and in the total number of farms. The USDA's latest agricultural census states that the number of Massachusetts farms increased from 6,075 in 2002 to 7,691 farms in 2007. The market value of agricultural production also jumped during the same period, from $384 million to $490 million.

The grant winners are:

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension will promote its regional Buy Local program and create a new website.

Barnstable

Award: $16,000

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture will train volunteers and to promote local agriculture at local events.

South Deerfield

Award: $13,057

Sustainable Business Networks of Greater Boston will assist with Buy Local campaigns throughout the Commonwealth.

Wayland

Award: $2,000

Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) will work on extending the season programs to help local growers increase their sales.

Dartmouth

Award: $23,885

Berkshire Grown will work with the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau to help promote their Buy Local campaign, and it will create community root cellars and other activities to extend the season.

Great Barrington

Award: $24,500

Sustainable Nantucket will promote the agricultural components of the Nantucket Farmers' and Artisans' Market

Nantucket

Award: $10,000

Essex Ag Society will update its website and create Farm Kits to help farmers in their area use the Buy Local message in marketing their products.

Topsfield (northeastern region)

Award: $10,557

The 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.