Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick visited a third generation family farm in western Massachusetts to announce a new round of grants to help sustain farm operations across the commonwealth.
Governor Patrick announced grants totaling $700,000 to 11 different farms including vegetable farms, livestock operations, a cranberry farm and a goat dairy. The grants, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, will be used for infrastructure improvements such as new greenhouses and barns or to purchase energy- efficient equipment.
Kosinski Farms in Westfield, where the governor announced the grants, is receiving $75,000 to build a fruit-winery. Governor Patrick said in order to remain viable, local farms have to keep with the times.
The Kosinki farm is a third generation 133-acre family farm that started back in the 1930s. It is one of the largest blueberry farms in the state. They also grow apples, sweet corn and other fruits and vegetables. The winery will be built next to the farm’s existing retail store. Owner Gene Kosinski said he could not afford to build the $300,000 winery without the state’s help.
The expectation is the winery will make the farm an agri-tourism destination.
In order to qualify for grants under the state’s Agriculture Improvement Program farms must accept an agriculture preservation restriction. In the case of Kosinski Farms, 60 acres can never be used for any purpose but agriculture. Since 2009 Massachusetts has given a total of almost $3 million to 44 farms. The most recent grant recipients include farms located in Cummington, Easthampton, Sunderland and Rochester along with Dartmouth in southeastern Massachusetts and Dracut in the northeastern portion of the state.
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said the state’s agriculture industry has grown by 27 percent since 2007.
The grant announcement also marked , in all likelihood , the final public appearance for Tim Murray as Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor. Governor Patrick used the occasion to praise Murray and thank him for his six years of service to the administration.
As lieutenant governor Murray was an advocate for veterans, the homeless, battered women and the state’s military bases. He was the administration’s liaison to local government officials.
Murray said he has mixed emotions. His resignation is effective on Sunday. He is leaving state government to become the head of the Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce.