Thursday, September 27, 2018

Rain in Hadley: Farmers find buckets of financial relief

photo: Rhubarbi St. Germaine
September 27, 2018

In Hadley, rainfall was 75% higher than average in July and August. 

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) announced today that their revolving Emergency Farm Fund has been reopened to aid Pioneer Valley farms that have been affected by extreme weather events during the 2018 growing season, including the excessive rainfall in July and August.

"Many growers have seen reduced yields and crop losses this year due to the unusually wet and rainy summer, which can put them into a difficult cash situation," says Philip Korman, CISA's Executive Director. "We hope these loans will offer farmers options for bridging financial gaps, investing in infrastructure that builds resilience, or preparing for the next growing season."

The CISA Emergency Farm Fund is offering no-interest loans up to $10,000, and the application period will be open until October 31, 2018. Application information can be found at

This disaster-recovery fund has filled a longstanding financing gap for local farms. "The CISA Emergency Farm Fund is an important supplement to the public safety net provided by state and federal government programs," says Korman. "The Fund's small, no-interest, quick turnaround loans are able to provide assistance right away to help tide the farms over. "

The CISA Emergency Farm Fund was launched in 2011 in partnership with Whole Foods Market and Equity Trust in response to the damage suffered by farms in western Massachusetts due to Hurricane Irene. CISA has reopened the fund three times since its creation, and distributed a total of $221,000 in loans to 24 farms. 

The Fund is managed by CISA with the assistance of Equity Trust. The Loan Review Committee includes people with a variety of agricultural backgrounds, including farmers, CISA staff and board members, and representatives from Whole Foods Market, Equity Trust, and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

2019 Farmer Grant Applications for Funded Projects Due November 27, 2018

Photo: Rhubarbi St. Germaine

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is now accepting applications for 2019 Farmer Grants.

Proposals are due online by Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. E.T. Funded projects will be announced in late February 2019, and projects may begin in the spring. Application materials, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website at Questions about the grant program should be directed to

Northeast SARE, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, offers competitive grants and sustainable agriculture education. Its Farmer Grants are intended for farm business owners and managers who would like to research new sustainable production practices, marketing strategies, or other projects aimed at improving farm profitability, environmental stewardship, and farmer/community quality of life. Reviewers look for innovation, potential for improved sustainability, and results that will be useful to other farmers. 

Farmer Grant projects must be conducted in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia or Washington, D.C. Awards are capped at $15,000 and projects may address the wide range of issues that affect farming in the Northeast. To search topics that SARE has previously funded, please access the national database of projects at

Applicants must work with a technical advisor—typically a Cooperative Extension educator, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, nonprofit organization employee, private crop consultant, veterinarian or other service provider—who provides support and advice to the farmer applicant.
To answer questions that applicants and technical advisors may have about the program, Northeast SARE will host a Farmer Grant webinar on Oct. 10 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Carol Delaney, grant program coordinator, will provide information on program eligibility, how to apply, types of projects SARE funds, allowable expenses and more. The webinar is free. 

To register, visit To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Debra Heleba at (802) 651-8335, ext. 552, by Oct. 3.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Kitchen Garden Chilifest Seeks Competitiors!

Registration for the Hot Sauce Competition on Sunday, September 16 is now open! Up to 20 hot sauces will compete! 

This year, Kitchen Garden Farm of Sunderland MA will stage its two-day heat and taste explosion at Mike's Maze. Expect live music, local beer and spicy food at a New England's most experiential cornfield. This year's motif for Mike's Maze at 23 South Main St. farm in Sunderland is Blackbeard the Pirate. Enjoy this 3-d, site specific, land art work depicting marine lore in corn. The food will be brilliant. More info here.