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The harvest is bountiful at the Pittsfield Farmers Market, one of 20 farmers markets operating in Berkshire County.

Biz Briefs: Berkshire Farm & Table, Alchemy Initiative Team Up to Aid Farmers Markets

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Teaming up: The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, in partnership with Berkshire Farm & Table and Alchemy Initiative, has been awarded a three-year capacity-building U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service Farmers Market Promotion Program grant in the aims to address the growing needs of 20 independent markets currently operating in the Berkshires. The project will build capacity, address market challenges, provide an ongoing support network to farmers market managers, increase customer volume and sales, and ultimately contribute to economic development in the region.

The Sustainable Berkshires Plan, developed in 2014, indicates that the resident demand for fresh vegetables is more than twice the current supply and the demand for fresh fruits and berries is roughly four times the current supply. Despite a more than adequate customer base, local farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet during a relatively short growing season. BRPC hopes to address this by serving as a neutral facilitator of the Berkshire Market Collective and building capacity of the 20 independent farmers markets in the region.

The USDA AMS was able to fund 11 percent of the applications received this year and the Berkshire Market Collective was one of two applications selected to support projects in the state. The grant received high overall scores in many areas including alignment and intent, achievability, expertise and partners, and technical merit. This is the first full capacity-building grant the Berkshire region has been awarded for the AMS FMPP by the USDA.

Berkshire Farm & Table and Alchemy Initiative approached BRPC to join forces in early 2017 after first applying for the USDA grant in 2016 to support the Berkshire Market Collective project. Grant-writing expertise of BRPC helped strengthen this year's proposal and as lead applicant and project manager, BRPC will serve as a neutral facilitator in bringing together independent farmers markets throughout the region. The Berkshire Market Collective will build upon the work of past and current market managers and stakeholders in the region working to support farmers markets.

The Berkshire Market Collective will meet several objectives: First, it will create a resource for market managers to share information, knowledge and expertise. The Collective will meet with market managers to assess the needs and challenges of each individual market. A discussion forum and toolkit will be created to share information, streamline market operations, provide training and reduce the administrative burden of managing a farmers market. Second, the Collective will determine a baseline of sales in dollars and initial customer counts to document the volume of sales increases and percentage changes in customer count over the course of the three-year project. Lastly, the Collective will develop a unified marketing strategy to create opportunities rather than barriers and promote each of the independent markets though a universal campaign that is contemporary, customer-friendly and cost-effective.


Isn't it grand: Mildred Elley is holding a grand opening cocktail celebration of its new satellite office in North Adams on Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. This new office provides residents of North Adams, Southern Vermont and surrounding areas the chance to learn more about Mildred Elley and enroll in programs offered at the Pittsfield campus.

Located at 33 Main Street, next to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the satellite office is staffed with an admissions representative on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The representative will be available to help guide prospective students through the process of going back to school. On Tuesday, visitors will receive a tour of the new office and learn more about Mildred Elley’s Pittsfield campus.

Since 1917, Mildred Elley has been educating students in programs of study designed to meet today's needs. Mildred Elley has campuses in Albany, N.Y., New York City and Pittsfield.


On top: The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge has been recognized as a "Top Hotel in New England" with a ranking of 29 in the 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards in Condé Nast Traveler. More than 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments, voting on a record-breaking 7,320 hotels and resorts, 610 cities, 225 islands, 468 cruise ships, 158 airlines, and 195 airports.

The Red Lion Inn, a charter member of Historic Hotels of America, has been providing food and lodging to guests for more than two centuries. The inn offers 125 antique-filled rooms and suites, four restaurants with formal and casual dining with locally sourced food, a gift shop featuring locally made items, a pub with nightly entertainment and a full range of amenities including wireless internet, a year-round heated outdoor pool, and in-room massage therapy and weekly yoga classes.

What an assist: Berkshire Bank's foundation, in partnership with New England Sports Network, is sponsoring the Berkshire Bank Exciting Assists grant program in which it will award grants to three select  nonprofit organizations throughout the season. The Exciting Assists promotion will run from Oct. 15 through March 31 and will be divided into three sections, the first running from Oct. 15-Dec. 17, the second from Dec. 16-Feb. 9 and the final from Feb. 10-March 31.

The Foundation will provide $100 per Boston Bruins assist to the initiative with the total funds raised during the 2017-2018 regular-season games being shared between the three organizations. For the purpose of this promotion, an assist is defined as a Boston Bruins player who shot, passed or deflected the puck towards the scoring teammate, or touched it in any other way which enabled the goal, meaning that they were "assisting" in the goal.

The first nonproft to receive donations will be the Jimmy Fund, whose sole purpose is to support Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. The second nonproft will be Bridge Over Trouble Waters, which povides life-changing services for homeless and high-risk youth ages 14 to 24. And the third will be Boston Cares, a volunteer agency in New England and member of the national HandsOn Network that mobilizes and trains individual and corporate volunteers filling more than 20,000 volunteer spots annually in support of more than 165 Greater Boston schools and nonprofit agencies.

This is the second consecutive year that Berkshire Bank and NESN has teamed up to offer the Exciting Assists promotion in connection with NESN’s broadcast of the Boston Bruins. Last year more than $32,000 was raised and shared between Soldier On, Cradles to Crayons and Birthday Wishes.


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