Berkshire Agricultural Ventures recently held its first regional food event on October 7th at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, Ma. Featured speakers included author, Andy Fisher (Big Hunger) and Brian Donahue lead author of A New England Food Vision. Moderating the event was BAV Executive Director, Cynthia Pansing. Over 60 people attended the inaugural event that brought the importance of growing the regional food economy for food security to the forefront. A video of the event will be made available on this website and the Berkshireagventures Facebook Page. Please send your comments and questions to email@example.com. Support for this event was made possible by generous contributions. To make a donation to BAV please visit our donate page on this website.
Over the past decade, public demand for local food has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the food sector. National business and trade associations as well as nonprofits have traced this trend through extensive economic data and personal surveys. What this data reveals about people’s preferences is this: regardless of whether one lives in a rural or urban area, or one is young or older, demand for local food is increasing rapidly across almost all communities.
At the same time, growing demand for local food is outstripping supply because of bottlenecks in the food supply chain that prevent products from getting to consumers. These bottlenecks range from lack of distribution hubs and processing facilities to stable markets. There needs to be more local investment in this infrastructure to help get more local products to consumers at a good return to farmers and a good price for consumers.
This recent Business Insider article authored by Oran Hesterman, founder of the Fair Food Network, and Dan Horan of Five Acre Farms in New York, traces these trends, the impacts on the local food sector and the powerful role of investing in the local food economy. This is the role that BAV plays in this region.
The National Farm Viability Conference (NFVC) took place at the Albany Capital Center May 22-24, 2017. Focused on strengthening farm sustainability, building stronger and more resilient local food systems and supporting the long-term profitability of farm entrepreneurs from start-ups to generational businesses, the conference audience targeted professionals in the fields of farm and food business planning, financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development and food hub management. A valuable networking opportunity, the conference facilitated learning among professionals in the field, the development of new knowledge and skills, and visits to farms and value-added processing facilities.
Featured speaker John Piotti, the President and CEO of American Farmland Trust (AFT), discussed how farm viability is linked to issues of farmland protection, farmland access and environmentally sound farming practices. He explored specific examples where AFT is working with partners around the nation in food systems planning, aiding beginning farmers in securing access to land and supporting women landowners in land stewardship. John has worked at the forefront of sustainable agriculture since the early 1990s. He helped found Maine Farmland Trust, served as its president and was elected to the Maine State Legislature.
This year’s conference was a collaboration between The Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, GrowNYC and The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program. Visit farmviabilityconference.com for more information.
Check back here frequently for the latest news updates and stories of interest to the Berkshire-Taconic region featuring farmers, food entrepreneurs, investors and partners. Upcoming stories will include:
- How to build and sustain the local and regional agricultural economy with technical assistance and financial support to farmers.
- Highlights of entrepreneurs who need financing and technical assistance for new food businesses and support for regional infrastructure development.
- Upcoming conferences, workshops and other noteworthy and educational events.