AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP)– On organization that supports local farmers has received a new funding partner.

For the past nine years the Local Farmer Awards has awarded grants of up to $2,500 for infrastructure improvements to farms in Berkshire, Franklin, Hamden and Hampshire counties. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and Big Y Foods partner with twelve other community funders to provide support for the grant program.

The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (MSPA) was founded in 1792 and is the latest organization to join in offering financial assistance to help improve agricultural practices in the region.

“Our generous community funders are fundamental to the program’s success,” says Local Farmer Awards Director Cari Carpenter, who expressed her delight at the return of the Eastern States Exhibition to the roster of funders along with the recent addition of the Franklin First Federal Credit Union. Other community and philanthropic funders include Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Ann & Steve Davis, PeoplesBank, DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Audrey and Chick Taylor, Farm Credit East, HP Hood, Baystate Health, Country Bank and bankESB.

According to a news release sent to 22News, the program in 2023 received a record 182 grant applications from local farmers, a 20% increase over 2022. MSPA’s contribution will allow for an expansion of 20 more grants. Project applications must be related growing, harvesting, or the processing of farm products. Past award winners have used the grants to expand planting areas, improve fencing to keep their animals healthy and safe, acquire machinery to produce items for market, and put in place a host of other efficiencies.