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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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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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Becket Installs First of Its Kind EV-Charging Stations
By Jeff Snoonian, Special to iBerkshires
02:37AM / Thursday, February 13, 2020
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BECKET, Mass. — A crowd of about 25 people showed up to a grand opening Wednesday at Town Hall to celebrate Becket becoming the first community in Berkshire County to offer municipally-owned electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.    The town and its utility provider, Eversource Energy, have been working in lockstep for a year to achieve the goal of giving residents, especially the small yet loyal number of EV owners, an alternative to traditional fossil fuels.   Selectman Michael Lavery was a driving force behind the project and is an EV owner himself.    "When I brought the idea for the EV charging stations to the select board last year. We were

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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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Farley-Bouvier, Hinds Chat Environmental Issues At Pittsfield Forum
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:22AM / Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state hopes to see more renewable energy from solar so it's incentivizing development.   However, the way the programs are currently established, solar often comes at the expense of cutting trees.   "We have perverse incentives for solar. It is cheaper for a  developer to come in and cut down a whole bunch of trees to do something for the environment," state Rep. Farley-Bouvier said.   The Pittsfield Democrat would like to see a shift in the way the projects are located. She said there are acres of rooftops available without solar but yet large scale projects go into wooded areas. Even in her neighborhood, there is a large

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MassWildlife Offers Tips for Dealing With Aggressive Turkeys
Staff Reports,
11:53AM / Thursday, April 18, 2019
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BOSTON — The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is offering some tips for dealing with aggressive wild turkeys.    A woman in Cambridge was recently injured when a flock of turkeys began pecking at her legs; aggressive turkeys have also been reported and recorded in in Foxboro and Brookline.    There's more room for humans and turkeys to co-exist in the Berkshires but residents should still be aware of turkey behavior if there's an encounter.    MassWildlife says:   March through May is breeding season for wild turkeys and as a result, there is an increase in turkey activity all across the commonwealth. Some turkeys may be seen acting

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