BOSTON (WWLP) – The Baker-Polito Administration awarded $750,000 in grants to support nine regional Buy Local organizations.

The grants will help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products, as well as improving logistical access to these important food sources, according to a news release sent to 22News from the Department of Agricultural Resources. The Buy Local organizations will partner with the Administration to achieve shared goals, like ensuring access to sustainable food, educating consumers on the understanding of local food sources, and elevating the interest and demand for fresh products to enhance the consumption of local products and support the Massachusetts agricultural industry.

These nine projects have been funded through this year’s grant program:

Berkshire GrownGreat Barrington$86,886.83Support the Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers Markets, provide technical assistance for SNAP/ HIP vendors and shoppers, and facilitate farmer-to-farmer mentoring support. The grant will also contribute to the publication of the annual Guide to Local Food & Farms, as well as support the year-round promotion of local food and farms through advertising, published articles, and social media coverage. Two new initiatives will be implemented: the Last Minute Menu resource for restaurants and farmers and the Farm to Food Access buying exchange. 
Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape CodBarnstable$79,983.20In collaboration with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and other partners, BFBLCC will promote locally grown land and sea products to enhance economic opportunities for Cape Cod farmers and farmers’ markets, and the local food system. BFBLCC and partners will work to address the needs of demographic groups facing food insecurity, the need for youth agricultural education, lack of transportation to markets, gaps in knowledge for a healthy lifestyle, and access to opportunities to grow business opportunities. 
Central Mass GrownWorcester$94,985.75Launch three Buy Local Campaigns to strengthen the local food system of Worcester County. A Marketing Campaign will raise awareness of and participation in the food system to increase cash receipts of farmers. The Partnership Campaign will engage traditional and non-traditional partners to strengthen the food system in the northern region with state agencies, state-wide nonprofits, and regional organizations. The Food Access Campaign will increase HIP use in 10 Environmental Justice cities and towns with the highest rates of SNAP clients where HIP is available within that city or town. 
CISASouth Deerfield$87,000,00Encourage buying local agricultural products through paid advertising, videos, articles, and social media; help consumers act on their interest to support the local food economy; and provide training to help farms better market themselves and respond to consumer concerns regarding inflation. The organization will refine messaging through testing in the digital space and share insights and lessons directly with farm businesses and the other Buy Locals across the state. 
Northeast HarvestTopsfield$66,276.00Promote, support, and strengthen local agriculture through a print Local Food Guide, print pick-your-own pocket brochures/cards, Food Pantry CSA Project, enhance information about fish and seafood, outreach and support for the Buy Local State-wide Mobile App, continue social media, and host the annual agricultural conference. Northeast Harvest will also collaborate with the other buy locals (Massachusetts Coalition of Local Food and Farms/MCLFF) and other traditional and non-traditional agricultural organizations. Northeast Harvest will also update the website as needed. 
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural PartnershipSouth Dartmouth$94,719.01Increase farmer revenue by expanding the promotion of farms and crops in southeastern Massachusetts and increase farmer business proficiency through education and business assistance. 
Sustainable Business NetworkCambridge$87.000.00Provide promotional, and sales support to farmers and local food producers through programming that increases direct-to-consumer sales, connections with wholesale buyers and consumers, education about our local food system, and collaboration between the Buy Local organizations and other key partners. The program features the promotion and management of the Eat Local MA mobile app, the Boston Local Food Festival, the Local Food Trade Show, and the Eat Local Month campaign. 
Department of Agricultural Resources

“Regional Buy Local organizations have long recognized the importance of working to support Environmental Justice population neighborhoods across Massachusetts, and these grants will further their efforts to reach many more people about the advantages of buying local produce and other products,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Enhancing partnerships and collaborative efforts with farmers and other stakeholders will greatly expand both food access and the local economy.”

“The Baker-Polito Administration appreciates the ingenuity the Buy Local organizations instill in their own regional work, as each organization continues to partner with farmers and producers to educate and promote efforts required to inspire consumers to support local food,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Their partnership with MDAR and many other organizations is a tremendous support, and we appreciate their efforts to further increase consumer awareness to more consumers across the Commonwealth.”

“Thankful for this opportunity to support Buy Local organizations across our Commonwealth, including Northeast Harvest in Topsfield,” said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “By investing in small scale and regional agriculture, we can support our farmers, local economies and provide residents with more accessible and affordable food options. It is vital that we continue to create environments that foster positive working relationships, conditions, and incentives to buy local. In doing so, we can create a more sustainable future that collectively benefits all who call our Commonwealth home. I would like to thank Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Card, and Commissioner Lebeaux for their foresight and leadership on this important matter.”

“The grant funding provided to Buy Local Organizations will have a major impact on our community’s ability to grow and enjoy local agriculture,” said State Representative Christopher Markey (D-Dartmouth). “The funding distributed to the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership in Dartmouth will help promote local farms and provide educational opportunities to our farmers. I want to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for making this essential investment in local, sustainable farming possible.”  

“I am thrilled to see Northeast Harvest awarded this critical grant,” said State Representative Jamie Belsito (D-Topsfield). “Northeast Harvest services the counties of Essex and Middlesex counties for the “Buy Local” initiative by connecting the farms to the public. Locally owned farms and locally sourced food are a strong part of our communities. The demand for locally sourced food continues to expand, with Essex and Middlesex counties seeing more and more farms joining to meet that demand. Sustainable, accessible, and healthy food is an integral part of our local economy. This grant will allow continued promotion, marketing and training for the 1,200+ farms that Northeast Harvest currently serves. These funds are vital for our farms and families to produce and access fresh local food. Thank you to the legislature for supporting this crucial initiative and congratulations Northeast Harvest.”

“The local food system here in Massachusetts has the strong support of our Legislature,” said State Representative Natalie M. Blais (D-Deerfield). “We are grateful for the efforts of our Buy Local organizations in supporting farmers, educating consumers, and increasing demand for healthy, local food.”