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Massachusetts grants $1M for farm equipment to fight climate change

  • Harrison Bardwell, middle, gives Congressman Jim McGovern, left, and Philip Korman, executive director of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, a tour of his farm Aug. 23, 2017. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Published: 5/2/2019 3:30:46 PM
Modified: 5/2/2019 3:30:35 PM
For the Gazette

BOSTON — Nearly $1 million in state grants will be awarded to 40 farms across Massachusetts, including nine from Hampshire County, to help the farms install sustainable practices to reduce their impact on climate change, the governor’s office said.

Among the nine local farms to receive a grant, six received funding for the purchase of no-till equipment. No-till equipment replaces tools that disturb the soil, such as plows and shovels, with ones that turn over the soil gently, said Harrison Bardwell, owner of Bardwell Farm. Since his farm received a grant last year to purchase no-till equipment, Bardwell has seen the impact that the practice has on farming. It has led to lower fuel and labor costs, less erosion and more fertile soils, Bardwell said. 

“I can use my own machines instead of relying on others,” Bardwell said. “It will make the process more efficient and improve versatility of the crops.”

This year, Bardwell Farm received funding for new equipment to add to their existing produce cleaning system.

The local farms receiving funding are Phoenix Fruit Farm in Belchertown; Cook Farm, Devine Brothers Farm, Hukowicz Farm, and Earle M. Parsons & Sons Inc. farm in Hadley; Bardwell Farm, and Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield; Fletcher Farm in Southampton and Mayval Farm in Westhampton. 

Earl M. Parsons & Sons Inc. farm will purchase an automated steering system. Phoenix Fruit Farm received the most funding of the Hampshire County farms with $59,200 towards an upgrade to their produce washing facility. Statewide, individual grants ranged from $1,260 to $60,000.

Awarded through the Agricultural Climate Resiliency & Efficiencies (ACRE) Program, the grant was created through an executive order that lays out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect residents, municipalities and business from the impacts of climate change.

“The ACRE grant program plays an important role in our administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, build resiliency and ensure the long-term success of farms across the Commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

The farms are projected to save over $195,000 annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 780 tons each year, the governor’s office said.

“Massachusetts farmers are leading the way in working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and making their operations environmentally sustainable,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement.

The program awarded 16 farms across Massachusetts $500,000 in 2018. The program also offers incentives for farms to address future environmental risks and strengthen their practices as they adapt to the changing climate.




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