The Baker-Polito Administration announced $500,000 in grants to the Commonwealth’s regional Buy Local agricultural organizations for projects that will enhance efforts in western, central, northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts. These organizations work to generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while improving logistical access to these important food sources.

Governor Charlie Baker said the Buy Local movement “does important work with farmers across the Commonwealth to ensure the future of the state’s agricultural industry, provide healthy culinary products and stimulate local economies. Our administration remains committed to encouraging all Massachusetts residents to buy locally-grown food products and support regional Buy Local organizations as they work to promote and expand the market for Massachusetts agriculture.”

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said that locally sourced agriculture “supports Massachusetts farmers and provides residents with access to fresh, healthy food products. Through these grants, regional Buy Local groups will be able to continue creating innovative programs and resources to connect consumers and farmers, and spread the word about the benefits of purchasing local produce.”

Originally formed to identify and address marketing challenges in specific geographical communities across the Commonwealth, Regional Buy Local organizations connect food producers to their surrounding communities.   The work of Buy Local groups has grown to be known as a sustainable business movement that includes innovative marketing and educational programs.

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux said that MDAR “values our Regional Buy Local partners and the initiatives and media campaigns they create to raise awareness for Massachusetts grown products. Each organization is an excellent partner to have and the department collaborates with them at every available opportunity to promote Massachusetts agriculture.”

The following projects have been funded through this year’s grants:

Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) – $69,500

SEMAP & Sustainable Nantucket will coordinate on buy local activities within their own respective areas on such initiatives including; local fiber production & marketing, local food promotion into the regional fair circuit, support of local food access and promotion of ‘Eat Local’ month.

Sustainable Business Network (SBN) – $47,154

Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) will launch the Local Food Business and Eater Connection Program to grow our Massachusetts and New England economy, promote local agriculture and fisheries, and increase the amount of local food eaten by MA and New England residents. This year long initiative will increase the sales, raise awareness of locally grown and produced foods in MA and New England states, and increase the collaboration between the Buy Local organizations and other key players in the local food movement. The program features the Boston Local Food Festival, Massachusetts Eat Local Month campaign, and the development of a SBN Business in Support of Agriculture and Fisheries (BSA) project.

Berkshire Grown – $58,425

Berkshire Grown will collaborate with traditional and nontraditional regional partners to increase cash receipts for farmers and to increase recognition of MA agriculture, leverage other dollars, and promote the Massgrown and fresher brand. Our efforts support the MA Food Plan with its goal of increasing production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods.

Northeast Harvest – $60,792

Northeast Harvest will initiate various projects throughout the year to increase cash receipts for local farmers, increase the recognition and engage community members for Massachusetts agriculture, increase partnership to promote agriculture in our region, and collaborate with other buy local groups to help benefit the agricultural industry in Massachusetts.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – $80,000

CISA will invest in their Buy Local campaign to create new consumer educational materials, revise and update website interface, and bolster technical assistance support for farmers and businesses.

Central Mass Grown (CMG) – $100,000

Central Mass Grown will strengthen the network of agricultural producers and connect them with consumers who may not consistently support local farms. The plans and projects outlined will produce increases in cash receipts for Central MA farms, educate consumers as to the seasonality and consistent agricultural offerings within Worcester County, and provide new platforms for small producers to reach larger markets.

Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod – $68,500

Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod will expand the visibility and access of local food and retail operations that sell local products, and strengthen connections between food, health, economic development, and production agriculture.

Island Grown Initiative – $15,627

Island Grown Initiative will more effectively serve the local food system through farmers market support, local food aggregation, processing and branding as well as food waste reduction, redirection and education at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.

Buy Local groups across the Commonwealth offer members and consumers a variety of resources. From technical assistance information to marketing assistance; consumers, farmers, and food producers alike can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.