By MELISSA HART
From subsidizing farm shares to solar installations, two grant programs aim to help Adirondack farms reduce their carbon footprint and provide greater access to locally grown foods for low-income families.
Adirondack Council’s Cool Farm/Healthy Park micro-grant program was created in 2016 to support climate-friendly, farm-based projects that help farmers manage operations with less fossil fuels and/or waste. Project categories and examples include energy conservation (weatherization and insulation, upgrading to energy-efficient equipment); carbon emissions reduction (solar projects, use of draft horses); habitat planting (legumes for carbon sequestration or trees for soil stabilization); and environmental sustainability (bee keeping, compost management).
So far, 75 percent of the awarded projects have been related to energy conservation and carbon emissions reduction, according to information provided by Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan.
“Sustainable farms, local food and local businesses are essential to the park’s quality of life,” Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway said in a news release. Now in its fourth round of funding, the program is expanding to accept applications for farmers seeking professional development related to these areas.
To date, the grant program has awarded $65,000 to 54 farms. One of those is North Country Creamery in Keeseville, which received grants in 2016 and 2018. The first was to install fencing and build a water wheel to improve rotational grazing practices. The second was to update their Clover Mead cafe and farm store to make it more energy-efficient, work that included weatherization, such as painting the exterior and other updates to the facade.
According to Ashlee Kleinhammer, co-owner-operator of North Country Creamery, the farm’s next big project will greatly reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. She and partner Steven Googin are planning to install a solar array this summer that would power the barn, creamery and farm store. They then plan to replace appliances currently running on propane with electric-powered ones: hot water heaters, space heaters and a boiler for the creamery.
“This would be a huge step toward pretty much eliminating the amount of propane we use,” she said, adding that they spent $14,000 last year on utilities, at least $8,000 of which was propane.
Now in its second year, Adirondack North Country Association’s FarmShare mini-grant program seeks grant proposals up to $1,500 that improve local food access, so more low-income families can benefit from eating food grown and produced locally. Past projects have included subsidized community supported agriculture (CSA) shares, cooking demonstrations, and the purchase of freezers for institutions to expand local food storage.
Both programs have an April 1 application deadline.
Adirondack Council’s Cool Farm/Healthy Park
- Climate-friendly Grants – Awarded for energy conservation, carbon emissions reduction, habitat planting, and clean and environmentally healthy sustainable farming (or small business) efforts. Grants range from $500-$1,500. Eligible applicants include farms across the Adirondack Park; and small businesses in the Willsboro area.
- Professional Development Grants – Awarded to farm owners or managers pursuing professional development opportunities related to climate change mitigation and adaptation practices in agriculture. Grants range from $600-$1,000. Must be an Adirondack farm in operation for 5+ years.
Adirondack North Country Association’s FarmShare Fund
- Eligible applicants include local farmers, nonprofits, government agencies/departments, food banks, community groups, schools and producers/entrepreneurs working on North Country local food access and food security projects. Grants range from $250-$1,500.
More info: https://adirondack.org/farmshare