State slips grant to Edgartown farm

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The Baker-Polito administration announced Friday $300,000 in grants to install infrastructure and practices that improve food safety throughout farms across the state. Slip Away Farm, an Edgartown operation, was one of the 21 farms awarded a grant, according to a press release. They were given $10,000 for a washing station and walk-in cooler.

“We’re feeling pretty great about it,” Lily Walters, owner of Slip Away Farm, said in an interview with The Times. “We’ve been lucky enough to receive several grants over the years. They help keep us going.”

Slip Away Farm has both a washing station and walk-in cooler, but they’re inadequate, according to Walters. “The funding will help us improve them,” she said. “We’ll install stainless steel sinks and tabletops, a roof over the washing station — which we’ve never had before — and we’ll put the walk-in cooler right next to the washing station. Right now they’re far apart, and anytime we’re processing something, we have to trek it across the farm to the cooler. So this will help with lag time, which affects the overall quality of our crops.”

The Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program is a grant program that allows agricultural operations to complete food safety upgrades on their farms, enabling operations to meet buyer demands, increase local food consumption, and reduce food safety risks, according to the press release.

“As the demand for locally grown food continues to grow, farmers have an increasing need to improve their operations to meet marketplace demands and safety requirements,” Governor Charlie Baker said in the press release.

“These grants help farmers modernize their operations, and strengthen the local food supply in a safe and sustainable way,” Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito added.

Grants ranged from $1,500 to $25,000, and will fund a variety of projects including produce washing and storage, wildlife fencing, harvest and postharvest equipment, automated washing and sterilization, produce bins, portable restrooms, and washing and packing facilities, among others.

Slip Away Farm was the only farm in the Dukes and Barnstable district areas. The majority of grants were awarded in Hampshire, Franklin, and Worcester counties.