August 2019 News

Growing the Region's
Food Economy
BAV supports farmers and food entrepreneurs in the Berkshires including adjacent areas of Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut by providing low-interest loans, technical assistance and grants. 
Featured Community Revolving Fund Project:
Sheffield Land Trust - The Batacchi Farm
The Sheffield Land Trust (SLT) is working with the Batacchi Family to protect 270 acres of farmland and wildlife habitat along Lime Kiln, Sheffield-Egremont, West Sheffield and West Roads, with an APR to be held by the MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources. This land has been farmed by the Batacchi-Larkin family for four generations and it is still a working dairy farm, supporting the Larkins’ 785-head herd.

SLT approached BAV for funding to help cover up-front costs associated with protecting this farm. In addition to the state-required local contribution to the APR, SLT is raising the entire cost of the pasture acreage and a portion of the cropland where the soils would not have ranked high enough nationally to get the necessary federal funding.

SLT’s fundraising has been incentivized by a wonderful opportunity presented by the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) for a substantial challenge grant. For every $1 SLT raises toward the project, the HVA Greenprint Partners Pledge Fund will match $2 through a gift from an anonymous donor. To support or learn more about this project visit the Sheffield Land Trust website .
BAV-sponsored Talk on Regenerative Agriculture and Climate Change
Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and Great Barrington Libraries co-sponsored a talk by Mark Phillips on "Food and Farming as Climate Change Solutions" in the Berkshires. The presentation highlighted regional examples of Project Drawdown solutions in food and agriculture, with a focus on agroforestry and planned rotational grazing systems as key opportunities for carbon sequestration and climate change resilience. The goal of the two part series was to foster awareness for climate change solutions in our local food system by spotlighting the existing farm operations and programs that are making Project Drawdown a reality in our community. The photo above is of Studio Hill Farm's restoration of a degraded corn field through rotational grazing.
Featured Matching Grant Project:
Thompson-Finch Farm
Thompson-Finch Farm is one of the largest (200 acres) and most well-known pick-your-own strawberry operations in the northeast. For the past 35 years, Don and Marnie MacLean have balanced operating a highly successful farm business with farming practices that protect the important native plants and animals that depend upon Thompson Finch Farm’s fields, forests, and wetlands.

Through a community-wide effort led by the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), including a multi-pronged partnership with Equity Trust, Dutchess Land Conservancy, and Scenic Hudson, Thompson-Finch Farm will remain a farm long into the future. More than 300 community members plus multiple organizations and foundations contributed to the $1.5 million cost of saving the farm. On March 11, their collective vision finally became a reality. CLC now owns the farm, and is leasing it back to Don and Marnie MacLean in their first-ever ground lease arrangement.
BAV was approached shortly after to provide funding directly to the operating farmers to support costs incurred in developing the model and collaborative legal arrangement to preserve both the farmland and its uses to ensure the continued viability of farming. It is anticipated that models of the legal documents developed – the easement, land ownership and ground lease – will be publicly available for similar projects in the future.
USDA Farm Labor Housing Direct Loans and Grants Program Open
The USDA Farm Labor Housing Direct Loan and Grant program provides affordable financing to develop housing for year-round and migrant or seasonal domestic farm laborers. This program assists qualified applicants that cannot obtain commercial credit on terms that will allow them to charge rents that are affordable to low-income tenants. Borrowers must have sufficient qualifications and experience to develop and operate the project.

The application deadline is August 30, 2019. Visit the Program Announcement to find out more.
Check Out BAV in the Current Edition of Berkshire Magazine!

Pick up a copy of the August edition of Berkshire Magazine and flip to page 2 of the biz413 section (which begins on p. 45) to check out Ashley Myers' feature on Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and Berkshire County crop sales.
Featured Technical Assistance Project: Quick Books Online Training Pilot
Farmer Laura Meister (Farm Girl Farm) is partnering with BAV and Prix Fixe Accounting (formerly CBSolutions) to teach the fundamentals of using Quickbooks Online in one-one-one sessions to individual farm and food business-owners.

This 2019 pilot program includes 6 local farms who are receiving customized bookkeeping support from Laura as well as a discounted subscription to QBO through Prix Fixe Accounting, all subsidized by BAV, for a full year. Laura's goal is to set up each business to successfully use better bookkeeping practices to help track and grow their enterprises.

Upon completion of this initial year of the program, BAV will work with Laura and Prix Fixe Accounting to use lessons learned to shape next year's training.
Project Update: Brattle Farm
Recipient of 2018 BAV Community Matching Grant

"We have installed our walk-in and it is amazing the impact it has on quality of the produce. Thank you to BAV for your assistance in upgrading the electric system to make this happen."

- Donna Chandler, Brattle Farm (Pittsfield, MA)

SAVE THE DATE! - 5th Annual Berkshire Fermentation Festival
Berkshire Ferments is hosting the 5th Annual Berkshire Fermentation Festival on Sunday, Sept. 22nd from 10am - 5pm at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington. BAV is proud to be a Presenting Sponsor of this year's festival.

The Berkshire Fermentation Festival is a free, family-friendly, day long celebration of the diversity of all things fermented and crafted. Each year there is an array of local cultured vendors sampling and selling their products along with demonstrations, lectures, a culture swap, science corner, book signings, raffle, live music and more...
Special Thanks to our Supporters
Special thanks to our generous donors including the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, the Lennox Foundation, the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, the Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation, the Thompson Family Foundation and the Whitehead Foundation, and the numerous individuals who have contributed to us over the past two years.
Berkshire Agricultural Ventures | |