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State Grant Program Should Help Local Food Producers
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:27AM / Sunday, June 07, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As a member of a town committee, an officer with the advocacy group Berkshire Grown and a documentary filmmaker, Sarah Gardner has spent years pushing for a stronger local food supply.   So she was glad last month when Beacon Hill followed suit.   As part of its overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced $36 million in grants to build up the commonwealth's "food security infrastructure."    "The grants will fund investments in technology, equipment, increased capacity and other infrastructure to help producers distribute food, especially to food insecure

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CET Offers Webinar on Weatherization for Small Businesses
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:31PM / Monday, May 25, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Center for EcoTechnology on Wednesday will host a webinar to help small businesses learn about the benefits of weatherization.   "Right now, due to the current COVID-19 and economic situation, utilities have temporarily increased incentives available to small businesses – in some cases up to 70-100 percent of installed energy saving measures will be covered," said Katherine Butler, the special projects manager at CET.   "This means it’s a terrific time for businesses to pursue these energy efficiency measures. In general, weatherization is a phenomenal way to stimulate the local economy, save businesses money, and help the

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Area's Garden Centers Ready for Bump in Demand
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:47AM / Friday, April 24, 2020
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Customers can't go into Whitney's farm store but can order and pick it up outside. 

CHESHIRE, Mass. — When the commonwealth shut down non-essential businesses last month, nurseries and garden centers were classified as essential.

That could be an understatement. If anything, they're more important than ever.   "I've taken, I'd say, 10 times the phone calls about people wanting to start vegetable gardens this year," said Martha Tanner, the greenhouse manager at Whitney's Farm Market and Garden Center. "People are really interested in growing their own food and starting their own gardens.   "I totally encourage people to grow

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Internet Seen as Helping Save Planet, but Many in Mass Still Miss Out
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
11:33AM / Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — When the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires last week hosted a virtual town hall with Berkshire County's legislative delegation, the area's elected officials got a little face time with their constituents to talk about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.   All but one.   State Rep. Paul Mark, of  Peru, was an audio-only participant in the hourlong webinar.   "It's good to see my colleagues," Mark said at one point. "I haven't seen any of you for at least a month now."   "And we still don't see you," quipped state Rep. John Barrett III of North Adams.   That is because Mark is

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Earth Day 2020: 'Learning Experience' for Activists
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:43AM / Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For activists committed to saving the planet, the climate change crisis is top of mind, every day.   But there is one day each year when they can plan to rally together with like-minded citizens and engage the apathetic and unaware.   In a normal year, that day would be Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.   As it is with so many so many other things, normal is not part of the conversation.   "It's definitely been a change," said Jane Winn, the executive director of the Pittsfield-based Berkshire Environmental Action Team. "One of the things that hurts the most is we had student interns, who were absolutely

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Mohawk Trail Woodlands, Forest Service Team Up on Conservation
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:33PM / Thursday, November 21, 2019
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BRPC's Tom Matuszko asks advisory board members to raise their hands as FRCOG's Executive Director Linda Dunlavy waits to speak. CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A shared stewardship agreement signed Thursday will bring U.S. Forest Service expertise to the state while keeping hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland in state and private hands.    The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership will enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend

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Windsor Receives $165k in Funding for Ecological Repairs
05:50PM / Tuesday, August 27, 2019
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The secretary also met with local officials during her trip to Western Mass, including a roundtable on Friday in Pittsfield.  WINDSOR, Mass. — The town of Windsor has been awarded $165,000 to replace a culvert on the East Branch of the Westfield River. Windsor's grant is largest of 16 awards targeting culvert replacement and river health and totaling $932,000.    Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides announced the grants at an event last week at Windsor State Forest, then visited the sites of two culvert projects in Windsor and Cummington that received grants. Also receiving funds were Clarksburg and

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Microcosm Holds Surprising Pollinators' Diversity
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
04:51PM / Sunday, August 25, 2019
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — During May and June at various sites in the Berkshires, close examination of the floral bloom reveals some welcome surprises regarding pollinating insects.   Just pretend to drop down in scale until you are a tiny person, like in "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, walking among the mushrooms and fleabanes in bold bloom towering above. What a dynamic environment is the microcosm surrounding you with its assorted insect fauna.   Before long you may encounter one of our smallest butterflies, a spring azure (Celastrina ladon) imbibing at red clover, appearing gigantic in reduced scale. Pause for awhile as you may become mesmerized

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Northern Berkshire Solarize Program Holds 'Meet the Installer' Night
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:17AM / Friday, August 02, 2019
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North County residents and businesses have some time to enroll in the Solarize Plus program.   But if they want to take full advantage of all the economic incentives, they don't have much time.   "The [Solarize Plus] program runs through the end of the year," said Garrett Colvin of SolarFlair, the installer selected for the program in Northern Berkshire County. "Next year, the [federal] 30 percent investment tax credit drops to 26 percent.   "There's a 60- to 90-day period from signing up to installation. So to get the 30 percent, it's in your interest to meet with us sooner rather than

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Something New Under the Sun: Solarize Project Begins in North Adams, Williamstown
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:24PM / Monday, June 24, 2019
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Six years ago, the Solarize Williamstown initiative helped 79 homeowners add solar photo-voltaic panels to their properties.   Six years later, Solarize Plus looks to replicate and expand on that model thanks to more options, a wider pool of property owners, new technology and a greater need than ever to reduce the use of fossil fuels.   It seems like weekly new evidence is released about the threat of climate change, which the scientific community overwhelmingly agreed is fueled in part by human activity.   Just last week, a study by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development found that in the next 20 years, U.S. coastal communities

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