To help build the regional food economy and provide greater access to fresh, healthy and local food in our first year of operation, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures has:
- Invested capital in two area businesses by providing assistance with operating and startup expenses, including farmland acquisition and facility improvements.
- Provided technical assistance to 12 farmers and food businesses, and established a consulting forum to assist in building food and farming infrastructure projects, such as a food distribution hub.
- Helped farmers gain access to agricultural land by enabling the purchase of 54 acres of prime agricultural farmland now cultivated by a producer who serves regional and metropolitan markets.
- Supported high-impact infrastructure projects through seed capital loans and grants and equity investment for a new regional food hub and conducted a feasibility study for a regional livestock transfer station.
Our Recent Success Stories
Berkshire Agricultural Ventures’ investment in important food-producing assets enhances community vibrancy, security and resiliency. The following are a few of our recent success stories:
Marty’s Local, LLC
Assembled startup capital and equity capital for grants and loans, and provided business planning technical assistance.
As a one-stop marketing and distribution hub, Marty’s Local builds markets for farmers by aggregating their products and selling and distributing them to area grocers, schools, resorts, colleges, hospitals, restaurants, museums and other institutions.
The hub provides multiple supply chain linkages, from marketing and building local brands to centralized cold storage, and distribution and sales to large-scale buyers.
In the spring of 2015, Marty’s Local received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant through the Fair Food Fund to undertake a feasibility study researching the potential for a food hub in Berkshire County. Nick Martinelli, owner of Marty’s Local, began test marketing in December 2015, and launched the business in January of 2016.
BAV’s investment enabled Marty’s Local to grow and develop markets for specialty crops and produce seconds, which generated greater returns to farmers and helped Marty’s grow its institutional food-purchasing power in a two-state area and the Berkshire region.
North Plain Farm
Great Barrington, Mass.
Great Barrington, Mass.
Assembled capital for a loan toward the acquisition of 54 acres of prime agricultural land; and provided State of Massachusetts Agricultural Protection Reserve grant writing assistance.
A small, sustainable operation that began with a small chicken flock in 2001, North Plain Farm has grown into a diversified operation that includes heirloom tomatoes and pasture-foraged chickens, heritage pigs, draft horses, goats, turkeys and beef cattle. The animals’ diets are supplemented by organic grain and post-consumer food scraps from local businesses. Farmer Sean Stanton also manages the grass-fed, organic dairy at Blue Hill Farm that supplies the restaurants of the same names at Stone Barns and in New York City.
Our investment has enabled this highly successful local farm to expand its business to meet demand of buyers in multiple states, and enter into new agricultural product markets.
West Stockbridge, Mass.
West Stockbridge, Mass.
Provided marketing assistance and grant writing assistance.
Hosta Hill was started in 2011 by Maddie Elling and Abe Hunrichs. With rapidly growing demand for locally grown products, they decided to enter the vegetable fermenting business. The couple grows red and green cabbage, onions, turnips, peppers, carrots and radishes on farmland they lease around the Berkshires. Hosta Hill’s award-winning kimchi and Gochu Curry Kraut are distributed to more than 50 Berkshire regional and New York State stores. The company has won multiple, international Good Food Awards for these two products and their pickles. Other Hosta Hill products include fermented hot sauces, mustards and sauerkraut-based juices called Krautonics.
BAV’s technical assistance support enabled Hosta Hill to develop a marketing master plan for existing and new products, and leverage additional funds toward this plan.
Sky View Farm
Provided support to hire a business consultant to conduct a financial analysis of the farm’s operations.
Will and Amelia Conklin are fourth-generation stewards of Sky View Farm where they produce pasture-raised meat, dairy, pork, chicken, lamb and goats, along with local lumber products. Through local farmers’ markets and other venues, they offer fresh frozen cuts of meat and favorites like pork shoulder, smoked ham hocks, beef for stewing, osso buco, short ribs and leg of lamb. In addition to farming and lumber production, Will is executive director of Greenagers, a local environmental youth employment, volunteer and service-learning organization.
With support from BAV, Sky View has assessed multiple options for strengthening and diversifying their business.