BOSTON (WWLP) – The Healey-Driscoll Administration has unveiled a substantial commitment to support the agricultural backbone of Massachusetts with a total of $710,140 in grants disbursed through the APR Improvement Plan (AIP).

These funds will aid nine farms situated across the state, reinforcing their efforts to sustain active commercial farming on protected lands.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has orchestrated this initiative, which aims to provide business planning, technical guidance, and financial support to commercial farms that have been safeguarded through MDAR’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program.

EEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper emphasized the significance of these grants, “The assistance provided through AIP will help fund critical infrastructure investments on protected farms. Massachusetts is committed to supporting our farms through this important farm viability program. This will ensure the continued economic vitality of our agricultural sector.”

The financial aid furnished by AIP will be directed towards enhancing existing agricultural infrastructure or constructing new structures that amplify productivity. These improvements encompass the construction of barns, livestock housing, farmstands, processing facilities, as well as resource enhancements such as wells, perennial crops, and fencing. Additionally, the AIP program extends its support by offering technical guidance in areas identified as crucial for farm sustainability, including family succession, marketing strategies, and financial tracking.

MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle praised the impact of AIP, asserting, “The valuable business and technical assistance provided through AIP will help these farms stay in business for many more generations. We thank these farm families for their commitment to preserving our workable farmland in the Commonwealth and keeping it sustainable for years to come.”

The AIP grants highlight the commitment of the Massachusetts government to foster a thriving agricultural sector. Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, a strong advocate for these endeavors, expressed his excitement about the Lewis Family Farm being awarded $60,000, a contribution that will facilitate the construction of a new storage barn for hay and equipment. This investment promises to enhance hay quality and extend the longevity of essential equipment.

Senator Jo Comerford highlighted the symbiotic benefits of the APR Improvement Program, “Our Commonwealth must continue to invest in our farms and farmers who greatly contribute to our food system. This is what makes the APR Improvement Program (AIP) a win-win for all of us, our farms and farmers receive the funding they need to modernize their operations, and we reap the benefits of sustainable farming for years to come.”

In addition to financial support, the AIP program emphasized the preservation of Massachusetts’ agricultural heritage and its alignment with the broader goals of environmental stewardship. The participation of key representatives from the state underscores the unified commitment to securing the future of agriculture in the region.

The AIP grants for Fiscal Year 2023 are set to invigorate the following farms:

Amherst Nurseries – Charlemont, MA: $120,000
Amherst Nurseries is set to construct a new barn, dedicated to storing equipment and bare root nursery stock, thus expanding production and maintaining soil health at their Charlemont location.

Brook’s Bend – Montague, MA: $60,000
Brook’s Bend, LLC, will channel the funds to renovate an existing barn, a transformation that secures a safe environment for current and future farm lessees. The refurbishment aims to augment the efficiency of produce washing and packing and will integrate equipment storage, a farm office, and retail space.

Chase Hill Farm – Warwick, MA: $120,000
Chase Hill Farm is set to advance its infrastructure by completing a heavy use area and manure management structure. Additionally, the grant will facilitate the construction of an additional hay storage barn and the repair of an existing dairy and hay barn. These efforts collectively aim to enhance the dairy herd’s health, feed quality, and operational efficiency.

Forthill Farm – Pittsfield, MA: $90,000
Forthill Farm has a vision to enhance their existing farmstand building, creating additional space to accommodate retail sales, washing and packaging activities, and storage needs.

Four Corners Farm – Worthington, MA: $60,000
Four Corners Farm is set to usher in a new agricultural building, designed to cater to retail sales and produce storage, with an emphasis on elevating efficiency in washing and packaging.

Nicewicz Family Farm – Bolton, MA: $80,140
The Nicewicz Family Farm is geared to establish a new equipment storage barn, a strategic move to extend equipment life and reduce maintenance costs.

Stones Throw Farm – West Boylston, MA: $60,000
Stones Throw Farm is poised to raise the bar by constructing a versatile barn that will serve as both hay storage and a retail farmstand, offering ample room for increased production and sales.

The Lewis Family Farm – Westport, MA: $60,000
The Lewis Family Farm plans to utilize the funds to erect a hay and equipment storage barn, a step that promises to enhance hay quality and safeguard haying equipment against the elements.

Viveiros Farm – Fairhaven, MA: $60,000
Viveiros Farm is set to undergo a series of repairs and renovations aimed at augmenting livestock health and productivity. This includes the creation of a weathertight facility for the herd, roof leak repairs to improve hay quality and storage capacity, and enhanced equipment accessibility.

The AIP grants underscore the robust dedication of the Healey-Driscoll Administration to promote sustainable farming practices, support local farmers, and preserve Massachusetts’ agricultural heritage. Through strategic investments and collaborative efforts, the state aims to secure a thriving future for its agriculture sector.

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