BOSTON – July 7, 2016 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced grants totaling $50,000 for projects that will help farmers improve the overall utilization of land resources permanently protected from development under the Department of Agricultural Resources’ (DAR) Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APR).
“By choosing to protect their land from development, these farmers have committed to supporting a strong agricultural industry that benefits our local and regional economies,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This assistance to dedicated farmers illustrates our administration’s ongoing support for the Commonwealth’s vibrant agriculture industry, which provides fresh, healthy food for our state’s residents.”
“Restoring and stewarding farmland to ensure fields remain in active, agricultural use will help these farms continue to be successful for future generations,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are proud to provide this valuable assistance to farmers across the state who are committed to the enhancement of their land for agricultural purposes.”
The grants are being provided through a new DAR grant program, Stewardship Assistance and Restoration on APRs (SARA). SARA will fund activities related to restoring and preparing land for active agricultural use, design or engineering plans, project implementation costs associated with resource restoration, legal or professional fees to address land ownership problems or compliance issues, and other activities that assist with enhancing the purposes of APR.
The first round of grants has been awarded to three farms in the towns of Ashfield, Dartmouth, and Greenfield. These grants will fund projects to remove stumps from an abandoned orchard to replant new apple trees, restore hayfields through brush clearing, apply fertilizer and lime, reseeding and reclaim old overgrown pasture land for active production.
“We are excited to introduce this new stewardship program to ensure greater overall productivity of land protected under APR and to maximize the commercial potential of the land,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The APR program helps keep Massachusetts’ agricultural economy strong and viable, so it’s important we help farmers keep their APR land in active agricultural use.”
“This grant program helps ensure that we continue to invest in our APR landowners by funding stewardship tools to help them improve their farms and enhance their long term viability,” said DAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “The importance of implementing responsible land stewardship practices to grow our agricultural potential is increasingly important, especially for new owners who have invested in these protected farms.”
The SARA program is one of several programs within DAR’s Division of Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance (DACTA), whose mission is to advance the conservation and utilization of agricultural resources through preservation, environmental stewardship, technology, technical assistance and education in order to enhance the viability of agricultural enterprises and safeguard natural resources.
Today’s grant awardees:
- Bear Swamp Orchard, Ashfield, $1,700
- Stump removal for orchard restoration
- Gidley Farm, Dartmouth, $24,724
- Restoration of hayfields
- Bree-Z-Knoll Farm, Greenfield, $23, 57
- Reclamation of land for pasture
“I thank the Baker-Polito Administration and MDAR for their commitment to the Stewardship Assistance and Restoration program on APR protected farmland,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “I congratulate Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield on receiving this competitive grant to support its efforts to restore and make valuable improvements to the Orchard to strengthen its agricultural business”