Money where its mouth is: Big Y invests in local farms

Celebrating its fifth year, Big Y's Local Farmer Awards recently gave $142,500 in amounts up to $2,500 to 62 farmers in western Massachusetts and eastern New York for materials and equipment to make infrastructure improvements. These projects help farmers expand their businesses, compete in the marketplace, and continue providing the health and environmental benefits of local farming.bigy

"Here in western Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have so many farming families who remain committed to their important work in our region," said Charlie D’Amour, president and chief executive officer of Big Y. "At Big Y, we are proud to continue our over 80-year tradition of supporting local farmers and supplying the fruits of their labor to our own customers every day. By partnering with the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, we are providing one more way to help our local growers to thrive in our community."

Funders include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation in partnership with Big Y along with Ann and Steve Davis, Friendly’s, HP Hood LLC, Farm Credit East, PeoplesBank, Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place, Baystate Health and, new in 2019, Eastern States Exposition.

While over 50 percent of this year’s winners are farms that have been in business for fewer than 10 years, Clarkdale Fruit Farms has been farming for over 100 years. Ben Clark, co-owner, said, "We are so thankful to the Local Farmer Awards and its funders for the opportunity for us to improve the apple washing process for our cider production."

Program founder Harold Grinspoon put his roots down in western Massachusetts over 60 years ago. His philanthropy in partnership with others celebrates the hard work and creativity seen among farmers, teachers and collegiate entrepreneurs in our region. “I have so much enjoyed being part of the Local Farmer Awards program,” Grinspoon said. “Farmers are amazing — so hard working and industrious. It is an absolute pleasure to get to know them.”

Berkshire Grown and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, both advocates for farming and agriculture in the region, have provided advice and support for this program since its inception. A farmer celebration event will be held in late fall 2019 to recognize all applicants and promote the importance of local agriculture.

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