Financial Relief for Local Farms that Lost Peach Crops

WWLP, July 27, 2016, by Mike Masciadrelli. It’s almost impossible to find fresh peaches in Western Massachusetts. That’s because the crop here suffered one of its worst losses in February when temperatures went from warm to freezing. Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield is one of many farms across Western Masssachusetts, that have no peaches available for sale this summer.

“We’re going to struggle through this month and next month because we sold our last fruit back in March so we have no income since then,” said Tom Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farms. “Usually by now we’d have money coming in.”

The South Deerfield organization, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or “CISA”, is stepping in to help. They’re offering zero-interest loans up to 10,000 dollars to orchards and farms, struggling from the loss of their peach crops. This emergency farm fund will be able to provide assistance to the farms right away.

“In terms of farms whose incomes are short because of the peaches, it’s really going to be a saving grace for some,” said Ben Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farms and CISA member.”

Farms have until August 26th to apply for the loan. Clark said this was the first time CISA has responded due to widespread damage to one crop. CISA started the fund back in 2011 to help farms damaged by Hurricane Irene.

While the fund is relatively new, CISA has been working in western Massachusetts for more than 20 years.