GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Just Roots, a community farm and food access organization based in Greenfield, has been awarded a Food Security Infrastructure Grant from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The grant, totaling over $146,000 will be used to fund critical renovations to the main portion of the organization’s historic barn. The funds will also support essential infrastructure upgrades, including repairs to the barn’s slate roof, installation of energy-efficient windows, and new flooring to enhance efficiency and accessibility.

The grant will also facilitate improvements to the barn’s electrical systems, ensuring adequate support for climate-controlled food storage spaces.

Over the years, Just Roots has been progressively transforming the barn from its original state as a livestock facility to a versatile hub for aggregating locally grown food, including produce from their own fields. This latest grant follows a series of prior improvements funded by the organization, with previous grants allowing for structural reinforcements and construction of a wash, pack, and storage facility in the basement.

Just Roots plays a significant role in providing fresh, locally grown food to the community. Through initiatives such as their Franklin County CSA and the Farm to Family program in partnership with MassHealth, they currently serve over 500 families in western Massachusetts with weekly supplies of locally sourced produce. The new funding will not only enhance the organization’s ability to meet the rising demand for fresh food but will also enable year-round provision of local food to food-insecure households across the state.

Meryl LaTronica, Director of Farm Operations at Just Roots, emphasized the impact of the funding, “With this funding, we can update and secure our roof and floors, create natural light and upgrade our electrical systems, making it possible to increase our cold storage. Our systems will become safer, more efficient, and more productive, allowing us not to just work smarter but to ultimately serve more people through our food access programs.”

Governor Healey announced the grant recipients during a press conference in Chicopee on July 20th. The initiative is set to invest more than $26 million across 165 farms and food businesses throughout Massachusetts, with the aim of enhancing local food access and addressing food insecurity. Just Roots’ Executive Director, Laura Fisher, expressed her gratitude for the funding, highlighting its significance for the region: “[This funding will] help us aggregate, store, box, and distribute more food to more of our neighbors.”

With the state grant secured, Just Roots anticipates commencing barn renovations this fall, with a target completion date of early summer 2024 for this phase of improvement projects.

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