Big Y Awards 47 Local Farmers
Big Y Foods and the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, aided by sponsors Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation and MGM Springfield, have awarded 47 local farmers in Massachusetts and New York $2,500 each to make physical infrastructure improvements to their farms. This year’s awards represent a 42 percent increase from those bestowed in the program’s inaugural year of 2015.
In partnership with local agriculture advocacy organizations Berkshire Grown and CISA (Community Involved in Sustained Agriculture), the applications selected for the Local Farmer Awards were revealed last December. A total of 128 farmers submitted applications describing their improvement projects. Of the 47 recipients, 32 percent have been farming for more than 20 years and 23 percent for five years or less, while more than 40 percent of the farms had sales of $100,000-plus and 30 percent logged sales of less than $49,000.
“Through our partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation, we are providing one more way to help local growers thrive in our community,” added Charlie D’Amour, president and COO of Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y, which operates more than 60 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts with 10,000-plus employees.
“The projects that these awards have helped fund are making our farm more viable," said Julia Coffey, of Mycoterra Farm, in Westhampton, Mass., a winner in 2015 and 2016, which this year will purchase equipment to outfit a commercial kitchen enabling the manufacture value-added food products with unsold fresh mushrooms. Other products to be undertaken by 2016 recipients include the installation of a permanent vegetable wash station to improve productivity and the installation of a pump system for a new well to increase the supply of potable water for the farm’s packing house and greenhouses,, thereby doubling its current watering abilities.
“Farmers don’t typically ask for help,” noted Harold Grinspoon, founder of the Agawam, Mass.-based Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and creator of the Local Farmer Awards. “They are genuinely appreciative of these awards and use the money in creative ways for projects to help their businesses”.
The aim of the Local Farmer Awards is to strengthen farmers’ ability to compete in the marketplace so that the region benefits from the environmental, health and economic advantages of local farming.