BAV Project Addresses Region's Dairy Farming Challenges

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) announced the launch of the Berkshire-Taconic Dairy Cohort, a two-year project to support and sustain dairy farming in the region.

With the aim of addressing specific challenges facing dairy farmers and improving the health of the regional dairy economy, this project will bring together a core group of dairy farmers to increase participants' technical skills, business planning, and grant readiness, as well as strengthen farmer-to-farmer dairy networks. The initiative is made possible by funding from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC).

Partnering with dairy farming consultants and experts, BAV will establish a cohort of five to eight dairy farmers from the nonprofit's service area within Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut to gain and share knowledge, information, and networking opportunities. Through participation in cohort sessions and one-on-one consultations, dairy farmers will be better positioned for grant applications, will develop solid business planning skills, and will gain a stronger foundation for financial sustainability.

BAV will work with leading agricultural business planner Rose Wilson, who has been offering business planning services to the farm and food community since 2004. Wilson focuses on improving the agricultural economy through a combination of market research, business consulting, grant writing, and other services.

"Dairy farming is a critical yet vulnerable component of our regional food system," said BAV Executive Director Rebecca Busansky. "We know that dairy farms in the Northeast are under tremendous strain due to many factors. We at BAV believe that the region's historical loss of dairy farms can be stopped and reversed—helping to ensure that dairy production continues to feed our region's residents and contribute to regional self-reliance."

All dairy farmers in BAV's service area (Berkshire County, MA; Columbia and Dutchess Counties, NY; and Litchfield County, CT) are welcome to apply. Participating farmers will collaborate with other dairy farmers on issues faced within the dairy industry and gain knowledge of the business opportunities available for overcoming these challenges.

For details and to apply, please visit The deadline for applying is July 17, 2024. For questions, please contact Dan Carr at 413-258-1039 or



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A Thousand Flock to Designer Showcase Fundraiser at Cassilis Farm

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — More than a thousand visitors toured the decked-out halls of Cassilis Farm last month in support of the affordable housing development.

Construct Inc. held its first Designer Showcase exhibition in the Gilded Age estate throughout June, showcasing over a dozen creatives' work through temporary room transformations themed to "Nature in the Berkshires."  The event supported the nonprofit's effort to convert the property into 11 affordable housing units.

"Part of our real interest in doing this is it really gives folks a chance to have a different picture of what affordable housing can be," Construct's Executive Director Jane Ralph said.

"The stereotypes we all have in our minds are not what it ever really is and this is clearly something very different so it's a great opportunity to restore a house that means so much to so many in this community, and many of those folks have come, for another purpose that's really somewhat in line with some of the things it's been used for in the past."

"It can be done, and done well," Project Manager Nichole Dupont commented.  She was repeatedly told that this was the highlight of the Berkshire summer and said that involved so many people from so many different sectors.

"The designers were exceptional to work with. They fully embraced the theme "Nature in the Berkshires" and brought their creative vision and so much hard work to the showhouse. As the rooms began to take shape in early April, I was floored by the detail, research, and vendor engagement that each brought to the table. The same can be said for the landscape artists and the local artists who displayed their work in the gallery space," she reported.  

"Everyone's feedback throughout the process was invaluable, and they shared resources and elbow grease to put it together beautifully."

More than 100 volunteers helped the showcase come to fruition, and "the whole while, through the cold weather, the seemingly endless pivots, they never lost sight of what the showhouse was about and that Cassilis Farm would eventually be home to Berkshire workers and families."

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