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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $297,000 in grants to the Commonwealth’s regional Buy Local agricultural organizations for projects that will enhance efforts in western, central, northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts. These organizations work to generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while improving logistical access to these important food sources.
“The Commonwealth’s nation-leading Buy Local movement helps ensure the continued viability of family farms in Massachusetts, reduces the environmental impact of shipping agricultural products, and stimulates local economies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration remains committed to encouraging all Massachusetts residents to buy locally-grown food products and supporting regional Buy Local organizations as they work to promote and expand the market for Massachusetts agriculture.”
“Massachusetts’ regional Buy Local groups ensure consumers have access to fresh, healthy food products, and help support local small businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By providing much-needed resources to these organizations, we are strengthening our local food system and improving consumer awareness of Massachusetts-grown food products.”
Regional Buy Local organizations connect food producers to their surrounding communities. Originally formed to identify and address marketing challenges in specific geographical communities across the Commonwealth, the work of Buy Local groups has grown to be known as a sustainable business movement that includes innovative marketing and educational programs.
“Knowing where your food comes from makes good health and economic sense, so our administration is dedicated to supporting Buy Local efforts across the state,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through these grants, regional Buy Local groups will be able to continue to create innovative programs and resources to connect consumers and farmers, and spread the word about the benefits of purchasing local produce.”
“The Baker-Polito Administration values our regional Buy Local partners and the initiatives and media campaigns they create to raise awareness for Massachusetts-grown products,” said Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Each organization is an excellent partner to have and the department collaborates with them at every available opportunity to promote Massachusetts agriculture.”
The following six projects have been funded through this year’s grants:
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) – $68,000
SEMAP, along with its partnerships, will use Buy Local grant funding to coordinate several varied agricultural programs. Plans include supporting farmers with Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) implementation and farmers’ market technical assistance, and increasing awareness and visibility of locally harvested seafood and fiber. Funds will assist the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension to enhance the Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod brand, allow the Island Grown initiative to improve education, HIP, and farmers’ market support, and Sustainable Nantucket will implement several programs to bolster the Buy Local ideal in the surrounding areas.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – $46,635
To increase cash receipts for local farmers, CISA plans to expand and refine their “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” marketing campaign. Throughout the state, CISA will partner with other organizations to promote Buy Local organizations and “MA Grown and Fresher,” which will amplify regional efforts. Several new initiatives will be launched, including a celebration of CSAs and an updated online guide. CISA will be highly involved with other Buy Local campaigns and will have an impressive presence at local farmers’ markets, conferences, and events.
Central Mass Grown (CMG) – $40,000
Only in its fourth year as a non-profit, Central Mass Grown (CMG) will use grant funding to assist the newly chosen full-time Director who will lead the organization towards goals determined by its Board of Directors. With Buy Local grant funds, CMG will expand upon its marketing and print media campaign to increase visibility and awareness. By hosting and participating in local agricultural events, CMG plans to enhance the Buy Local initiative.
Northeast Harvest – $51,200
The Northeast Harvest organization plans to implement new marketing strategies through increased social media, e-newsletters, fun promotional items, and tabling events. Two “Student Ag Days” are highly anticipated as well as several new education initiatives that reach out to youth. Additionally, Northeast Harvest will maintain a highly visible presence at Topsfield Fairgrounds farmers’ markets and events, where they will host classroom-based programs, provide educational support to farmers, and collaborate with other Buy Local programs.
Sustainable Business Network (SBN) – $44,473
SBN will use Buy Local grant funding to plan, execute, and manage the 9th annual Boston Local Food Festival in September 2018. After seeing success with this festival, SBN has also decided to branch out and expand with the “Massachusetts ‘Eat Local’ Month,” planning and directing the first ever month-long event next August 2018. Both events focus on cost-effective, local food and products awareness by bring consumers and producers together.
Berkshire Grown – $46,692
Berkshire Grown will expand their media marketing campaign, which will increase the visibility of locally grown and produced products from primarily local ingredients grown or made in the Berkshires. Plans to ramp up the media campaign include increasing media outlets: billboards, movie ads, radio ads, and press, collaborating farmers’ markets and regional partners to promote direct sales, exploring infrastructure improvement programs for local agriculture, and providing technical assistance and support to local farmers and farmers’ market managers in the community.
“Watching the success of Buy Local has been very gratifying and knowing that consumers and farmers are benefitting while increasing the awareness of fresh, local produce is a program worthy of support and I thank the Baker administration for their continued assistance,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
“Berkshire Grown has done tremendous work to get fresh, local produce on the dinner tables in our communities and I am thrilled to see them receive this grant award,” said State Representative William Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “This money will help Berkshire Grown reach even more people, which is a win for our farmers and for our families. I want to thank Commissioner Lebeaux for this grant, and for the grants all the various Buy Local groups are receiving. The work done by all the Buy Local groups to connect consumers and farmers is a huge asset to our communities and MDAR’s support is vital to their continued success.”
“Local farms and agriculture are the life blood of the farming industry in Western Massachusetts,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “Supporting our local products and initiatives through these grants will raise awareness of Massachusetts grown products for consumers to purchase and support our local farmers.”
“I am extremely grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration’s generosity in this year’s ‘Buy Local’ grant program through MDAR,” said State Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich). As the representative for a district that relies heavily on support of our agricultural initiatives, I am appreciative that Northeast Harvest has been recognized as a worthy recipient of this funding that will allow the organization to implement many new programs and marketing campaigns aimed at public education and awareness to support our local farmers.”
“The Buy Local program has done so much to leverage support for regional and local organizations so that they can grow larger markets, give consumers more healthy food choices, and sustain our state’s agricultural community,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “The department provides technical assistance, funding and logistical support all across the state and we are all better for it.”
“I congratulate CISA on the important work it has done over the past 20 years to help build the local food movement and strengthen connections between food producers and consumers,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “The annual funding that the legislature and MDAR provides to the Buy Local organizations helps to sustain this work and improve both our agricultural economy and healthier eating.”
Buy Local groups across the Commonwealth offer members and consumers a variety of resources. From technical assistance information to marketing assistance; consumers, farmers, and food producers alike can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.