BOSTON – November 21, 2016 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $300,000 in grants to the Commonwealth’s regional Buy Local agricultural organizations for projects that will enhance efforts in western, central, northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts. Regional agricultural Buy Local organizations connect Bay State farmers with their surrounding communities. Started in the Pioneer Valley with Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), Buy Local organizations are committed to the idea that knowing where your food comes from makes good health and economic sense. Their efforts have helped generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while at the same time improving logistical access to these important food sources.
“It is more important than ever that, given our current challenging drought conditions, all residents of the Commonwealth support our hardworking farmers by buying their agricultural products locally,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Buy Local supports Massachusetts’ food economies and agricultural industry by generating consumer awareness and increasing the demand for our fantastic locally grown food products.”
“The Commonwealth has a proud history of farmers growing and supporting their communities by providing food that is unparalleled in quality while creating jobs,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By supporting Buy Local initiatives, Massachusetts consumers are not only growing their local economies but providing increased access to nutritious, locally-grown products for all.”
Massachusetts currently has nine regional Buy Local organizations that span the Commonwealth with the aim to connect food producers to their surrounding communities. Originally formed to identify and address marketing challenges in specific geographical communities across the Commonwealth, Buy Local groups have grown to be known as a sustainable business movement that includes innovative marketing and educational programs. Buy Local organizations offer hosts of regional opportunities and benefits from technical assistance information to marketing assistance so that consumers, farmers, and food producers alike can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.
“Regional Buy Local groups provide opportunities to increase the visibility of locally grown farm products by promoting new and unique market venues throughout the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “With these grants, the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to continuing to support and promote a viable local food economy with Massachusetts’ agricultural industry.”
“This grant funding will allow our regional Buy Local partners to continue to work with DAR to promote and support local agricultural businesses while also ensuring consumers will have access to nutritious Massachusetts grown products.” said DAR Commissioner John Lebeaux.
The following six projects have been funded through this year’s grants:
- Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod, Island Grown, Sustainable Nantucket – $74,738
- The funding will be used to enhance and strengthen the market position of local farmers and fishermen in Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties through a collaborative project. The project will include holding networking events for local food buyers and producers; distributing printed regional Local Food Guides; expanding the existing local food curriculum at 16 K-12 Martha’s Vineyard schools to include hydroponics, aquaponics, aquaculture, mycology, and urban farming; sponsoring a one-day regional training event focused on local food sourcing strategies and education for the Cape, Islands, and South Coast regions; and designing and implementing an effective grower-to-restaurant delivery service for Nantucket.
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – $60,000
- The funding will be used to increase cash receipts for local farmers, CISA plans to expand and refine their “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” marketing campaign. CISA will distribute their Farm Products Guide, provide special promotions and educational opportunities, increase market research, and enhance their current advertising methods.
- Central Mass Grown (CMG) – $60,000
- The funding will be used to hire a full-time Director who will lead the organization towards goals determined by its Board of Directors. Only in its third year of service, CMG will expand upon its marketing and print media campaign to increase visibility and awareness.
- Northeast Harvest – $35,251
- The funding will be used to promote agriculture, aquaculture, and farmers’ markets in Essex and Middlesex Counties; plan and execute an industry conference and two educational events for students at the Topsfield Fairgrounds; increase the recognition of Massachusetts agriculture and aquaculture via a monthly electronic newsletter and social media campaign; enhance the Northeast Harvest website to include a section on aquaculture and a search function; and collaborate with other Massachusetts regional “buy local” groups through the Massachusetts Coalition for Local Food and Farms.
- Sustainable Business Network (SBN) – $40,010
- The funding will be used to plan, execute, and manage the 8th annual Boston Local Food Festival in September 2017. SBN has also decided to expand with the “Massachusetts ‘Eat Local’ Week,” to be held in August of 2017.
- Berkshire Grown – $30,000
- The funding will be used to develop a new, multifaceted media campaign that will increase the visibility of locally grown and produced products from primarily local ingredients grown or made in the Berkshires. A special focus on restaurants as buyers of locally produced food will be achieved through “Sourcing Local” workshops. Berkshire Grown will also provide business assistance for Berkshire County farmers and markets.
Additional information on the Commonwealth’s nine regional Buy Local organizations, their programs, and participating farms can be found here.