News & Events

Press Release: 82 ACRES OF LAND ACQUIRED TO BE PRESERVED IN GREAT BARRINGTON

For Immediate Release 10/16/2018

Contact:
Gena Johnson
413-645-3594
gena@berkshireagventures.org

Great Barrington, MA – Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV), with Dirt Capital Partners and North Plain Farm, LLC, are pleased to announce their partnership in purchasing an 82 acre riverfront parcel in Great Barrington to preserve as affordable farmland in perpetuity.

Dirt Capital Partners and BAV provided financial support toward the purchase of the $1.1 million parcel by farmers Sean Stanton and Tess Diamond of North Plain Farm, LLC on September 25, 2018.

This is the first such collaborative venture with these partners taking a landmark step toward promoting farmland affordability in the Berkshires. This will be achieved through the pursuit of Agricultural Protection Restriction (APR) from the State of MA. This process to receive this funding is well underway.

This purchase is a testimony to Sean and Tess’s decade-long dream and commitment to this property. They intend to concentrate their farming operations in one corridor and scale up their sustainable pasture-based enterprises, while preserving this prime parcel of agricultural land.

“The acquisition of this property will allow us to revive this beautiful pastureland. We are incredibly grateful and excited for the future of our farm and most of all, for the opportunity to preserve this land in our community for generations to come,” said Tess. “Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and Dirt Capital Partners understood the value of this project right away and helped us see our vision through. It was a pleasure to work with this team.”

The site also includes a large barn and rental housing for community residents and future beginning farmers who will participate in a resident apprenticeship program onsite.  The property is mostly cleared land with meadows, hardwood borders, woodlands, streams, a pond and a Housatonic River backwash.

For BAV, this acquisition marks a significant milestone in the organization’s support of farmland preservation and transition. According to BAV’s Executive Director, Cynthia Pansing, “Farmland affordability is a huge challenge in the Berkshires. We hope this project will serve as a model for future preservation and land management efforts.  Farm viability and the health of our food system depend on it.”

This is Dirt Capital’s first project in Massachusetts. “This project will enable North Plain Farm to invest in the land, and apply regenerative agricultural practices in a way that short-term leases do not allow,” said Jacob Israelow, Dirt Capital’s Founder and Managing Director. “Protecting this farm and its frontage on the Housatonic River will keep this as a community resource in perpetuity. And BAV’s creative and flexible financing were critical to making it happen.”

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures – Cynthia Pansing, Executive Director, berkshireagventures.org

North Plain Farm – Sean Stanton and Tess Diamond, Owner Farmers, northplainfarm.com

Dirt Capital Partners – Jacob Israelow, Managing Director, dirtpartners.com

 

BAV Wins 2018 1Berkshire Trendsetter Award!

We at BAV are thrilled to be the 2018 recipient of the 1Berkshire Trendsetter Award for Growing/Advancing the Economy! Congratulations to all the finalist and winners, it was an honor to be in your company. And many thanks to all the organizers at 1Berkshire and their sponsors for such a wonderful evening and celebration of our community.

Visit 1Berkshire to read about all the 2018 Nominees and Winners!

BAV 2017 Community Impact Report Available Now

The inaugural edition of our Community Impact Report is now available. We have much good news to share about Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the local farms and food businesses we have helped support over the last year. Included you will find highlights of the businesses we have supported over the past year, as well as a look ahead at some exciting projects moving forward in 2018.

Thank you to our community for your support, enthusiasm and energy in growing our regional food economy. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the projects in the report please contact us at 413-645-3594.

BAV 2017 Community Impact Report

If you would like to support ongoing and future projects please consider making a donation here: https://berkshireagventures.org/donate/

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures in March Issue of BTAC

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures Executive Director, Cynthia Pansing, featured as a Guest Columnist in the March issue of Berkshire Trade and Commerce Monthly

“With current economic and consumer trends, the food and farming sector remains an area of continued high growth. It is also an important investment arena not only for those who focus on the traditional markers of economic development – dollars, jobs and wages – but also for those who are more interested in the creation of social value and patient capital as the pathway to long-term and sustained growth, as we are with Berkshire Agricultural Ventures.
There are numerous promising farms and food businesses here in the Berkshires that demonstrate the power of an entrepreneurial idea translated into a business venture – and, in some cases, are addressing fundamental infrastructure needs of the regional food sector.” – Cynthia Pansing, BAV Executive Director

Read the full Op-Ed titled “Growing the Berkshire regional food economy – a path for the future” on page 8:    March 2018 BTAC Op-Ed

Regional Food Event October 7th

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 info@berkshireagventures.org. Support for this event was made possible by generous contributions. To make a donation to BAV please visit our donate page on this website.

photo credit: Laura Meister/Farm Girl Farm

Demand for Local Food Calls for More Local Investment

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 Features President of AFT

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 CorporationGrowNYC and The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program. Visit farmviabilityconference.com for more information.