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Two farms in Whately and one in Leverett receive state grants for energy and environmental improvement projects

Twelve Franklin County farms, including two in Whately and one in Leverett, have received a portion of $700,000 in state grants for renewable and energy-efficiency projects.

The state Tuesday announced 56 grants for proposed energy and environmental improvement projects for local farms.

The money would be used for renewable energy systems, improve energy efficiency on farms and help farmers reduce or prevent negative impacts on natural resources from agricultural practices.

“We’re very happy,” said Dave Jackson of Enterprise Farm in Whately. “Any energy saved is a step in the right direction.”

Enterprise Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm, received a $15,499 grant for new greenhouse heaters and ridge roof vents.

“This grant comes at a great time for us as we’re growing our greenhouses up,” Jackson said.

The 21-year-old farm has used old technology, including old-style exhaust fans and heaters.

Sidehill Farm of Hawley, a small dairy and vegetable farm, received $11,250 to install a 9.75-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

Owner Amy Klippenstein said, “It will cover a large chunk of our electricity usage for the processing plant for making yogurt ... This is an ideal spot for a photovoltaic system. The site where we are has a fantastic wide-open sky.”

Nourse Farm, a berry farm based in Whately, received $15,000 to install a greenhouse shade curtain in a half-acre of new greenhouses, where strawberry and raspberry plants will be grown.

The greenhouse shade curtain is an energy-saving device that includes two curtains. An upper curtain holds heat in during cold nights, while the second lower curtain keeps shade in on hot summer days.

Some grants pair vacuum pumps for dairies and reverse osmosis machines for maple syrup producers.

Local awards included $25,000 for the Hager Bros. Farm of Colrain for a maple evaporator, $5,000 for Sunrise Farm of Colrain for reverse osmosis, $15,000 for Upinngil Farm of Gill for a 10-kilowatt solar panel, and $15,000 for the EIEIO Farm of Leverett for an 8.5-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

Thirty-three grants come from the state’s agricultural environmental enhancement program to fund projects like automated irrigation systems.

Those awards included a $20,000 grant for Carter & Whitcomb LLC of Ashfield for runoff diversion, $15,000 for Crossroads Farm of Ashfield for fencing and manure storage, $5,090 for the Red Fire Farm of Montague for double wall fuel storage and $12,500 for the Thomas Farm for a sewer connection for milk-house wastewater.

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