Senator Lesser Delivers Remarks at Grinspoon Foundation’s 2018 Local Farmer Awards

NORTHAMPTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser was invited to offer remarks again this year at the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s annual Local Farmer Awards on Wednesday.

“Our local farms are an uncelebrated, but essential, part of our regional and statewide economy — which is why events like this, highlighting their contributions, are so important,” said Sen. Lesser.

Launched in 2015 in partnership with Big Y and sponsors HP Hood LLC, Baystate Health, Farm Credit East, MGM Springfield, Springfield Sheraton Monarch Place and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Local Farmer Awards fund physical infrastructure improvements to farms.

“Our farms feed our families, especially those most in need through food assistance programs, and provide healthy school lunches to our students. I’m deeply grateful to the Grinspoon Foundation for awarding these needed resources to our farms each year, which make them even more competitive and benefit all of us who depend on fresh food,” Sen. Lesser said.

This is the second year that Sen. Lesser was the lead Senate sponsor on the budget amendment introduced to increase funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), which buys produce from local farms, including many in Western Massachusetts, to stock the state’s food banks. Last year, Sen. Lesser was honored by the Greater Boston Food Bank as a “Public Advocate of the Year” for this work that supports both farms and food banks.

In 2018, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and Big Y awarded 59 local farmers up to $2,500 each to support their infrastructure improvements. As of this year, these annual Local Farmer Awards have helped more than 125 local farmers carrying out a total of 188 projects.

2018 recipients include Gardening the Community in Springfield, Green Acres Fruit Farm in Wilbraham, Red Fire Farm in Granby and Phoenix Fruit Farm in Belchertown.

Gardening the community used their award to purchase a battery powered tiller. 

“We will utilize this gift toward continuing our resilience as an organization and for sharing the importance of stewarding the land in an ecological and sustainable way,” said Ibrahim Ali, co-director for youth programs at Gardening the Community.