CISA awarded $76.5K grant to support about 280 local farms

Nov 17 2020

The Recorder, November 12, 2020. By MARY BYRNE, Staff Writer

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) was one of nine “Buy Local” organizations awarded a grant in the state Department of Agricultural Resources’ latest rounding of funding.

“The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of reinforcing local food system connections and encouraging residents and businesses to buy local,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a press release. “Regional Buy Local organizations have been doing great work promoting the commonwealth’s agricultural industry, and these efforts will be just as important in the future to sustain the farming community and local food sectors for generations to come.”

CISA Executive Director Phil Korman said the grants — including CISA’s $76,500 allotment — allow nonprofits to implement “really creative programs” that help farms sell in their communities.

“There are two things going on for farms this year — one is the pandemic. Many farms lost a lot of the places they would sell their harvest,” he said, recalling mid-March when schools, restaurants and winter farmers markets were closed or shut down. “And the second thing we’ve had this year is a drought. Between both of those, that added more cost and more challenge.”

Grant-associated work — which entails marketing support and technical assistance to roughly 280 farms during the pandemic — began in early October, Korman said, and will continue to June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Korman said CISA and other groups awarded one of the grants are “very appreciative” to the state Department of Agricultural Resources for its quick turnaround, even during a pandemic, in reviewing grants and signing contracts with each group this fall. He is also grateful to state legislators, including Sens. Anne Gobi and Jo Comerford, and Rep. Natalie Blais.

“Our Legislature is very, very supportive of this program, and they advocate for it to be in the budget on the House and Senate side,” Korman explained.

Blais said farms play an integral role in the local economy and food system.

“I am proud to have worked alongside Senator (Anne) Gobi to secure this funding in support of Buy Locals like CISA, who will stretch every dollar to maximize the benefits for Massachusetts farmers and consumers,” she said.

“CISA is an unparalleled champion for our region’s farms and farmers,” added Comerford, “calling us all to buy local and in doing so, strengthening food security, regional economic security and public health.” Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @ MaryEByrne

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