The Farm & Local Food Initiative
Investing in the sustainability and resilience of farming communities in Massachusetts
Since 2016, our environmental grantmaking has focused on sustainable agriculture and the local food system in Massachusetts. Why did we choose this area for our new grant program?
Over the years, our environmental grantmaking had supported nonprofits working at the nexus of natural resource protection and community economic sustainability. Like many of our funding colleagues drawn to environmental causes, we recognized that we can’t protect our environment unless we consider how conservation measures affect people, their communities and their economic livelihood.
As we see it, farming and local food is perhaps one of the most comprehensive nexus issues of all.
The food system is a complex web of players beginning on the farm with the farmer and farm worker, moving to the processor, distributor, marketer and eventually to all of us who buy and eat food. How we grow and distribute food matters. By building a robust local food system that values sustainable practices, we can help protect our natural resources while serving the varied constituencies who depend on those resources for their health and economic well-being.
The Farm & Local Food Initiative is designed to help build a thriving Massachusetts farming community that:
- encourages sustainable practices to protect our land, air and water
- is economically viable, providing a quality standard of living for farm owners and workers
- increases the availability of fresh, healthy food to local communities, including populations in need.
Our initial funding supports nonprofits working in Massachusetts (outside of Greater Boston) who provide technical assistance and educational supports to farmers running small-to-mid-sized farms. These farms lend themselves to sustainable practices and tend to find their best niches in local markets within local food systems.
We also support a few related food system areas including food waste and recovery; access to fresh, healthy food; and youth education around farming and sustainable practices.
The Foundation accepts proposals by invitation only. Appropriate nonprofits working in Massachusetts should feel free to submit introductory material about their organization to Foundation staff.