Valley farms receive state grants for infrastructure, energy improvements

  • Robert Williams of the Mt. Tobey Farm in Sunderland feeds his cows before milking them again in this June photo. Recorder FILE PHOTO

@JackSuntrup
Published: 1/8/2017 10:22:53 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Agencies on Friday announced several grants designed to bring infrastructure improvements and energy-efficiency measures to Massachusetts farms.

The first grants, announced in a news release, indicate that up to $375,000 will be awarded to farms statewide protected from development by the Agriculture Preservation Restriction program (APR). The money comes from the APR Improvement Program.

Beyond infrastructure aid, the grants will also help with technical and business assistance, according to a news release.

Locally, Amherst’s Small Ones Farm is to receive $25,000 for farmstand improvements and Hadley’s Cook Farm is to receive $100,000 for dairy infrastructure, according to a news release from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.

No one from Small Ones Farm could be reached for comment Sunday.

Gordon Cook, with Cook Farm, said Sunday the grants were not a done deal, and that the farm still has to complete certain tasks to receive any money. He declined further comment.

Other grantees are Ayrhill Farms in Adams, for $50,000 toward a hay storage barn; Bree-Z-Knoll Farm LLC in Leyden, for $100,000 to go toward dairy infrastructure; Chris’s Farmstand/Stasinos Farms in Haverhill, for $50,000 to go toward orchard development; Kip’s Christmas Tree Farm in New Braintree, for $25,000 to go toward a livestock barn; and Walker Farm at Whortleberry Hill in New Braintree, for $25,000 toward a farmstand.

“Our administration remains committed to supporting the commonwealth’s farms, and I congratulate the AIP Grant Program recipients on today’s grants and on their commitment to agriculture and the environment,” Baker said in a statement.

Since its inception in 2009, according to the release, the AIP program has awarded $4.5 million in grant monies and more than $405,000 in technical assistance to 65 Massachusetts farms.

Also on Friday, the Center for EcoTechnology in Northampton announced $33,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be used to provide assistance and other information to rural farms interested in boosting energy efficiency, according to a news release from the center.

The Center for EcoTechnology partners with the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources to run the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, according to the release.

The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, according to the release, helps farmers with day-to-day operations with the goal of encouraging conservation and new renewable energy projects.

Since the Center for EcoTechnology began as program administrator for the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program in 2014, the group has helped reduce carbon emissions by 800 tons, the equivalent of taking 586 cars off the road for a year.

The program has also aided 50 farms in towns with populations of less than 5,000, the Center for EcoTechnology said in its release.

Contact Jack Suntrup at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.




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