We are fortunate to be able to rely on the skills and experience of the great team that Sam put in place in 2014. Rebecca Busansky will continue to support the PVGrows Investment Fund as the Fund Coordinator, working to expand our outreach and ensure good communication with investors and borrowers. As our Network Coordinator, Javiera Benavente will work closely with our Steering Committee to deepen and expand the reach and impact of our network. CISA will continue to host and support the Network.
PVGrows is planning several exciting activities in 2015. Our new version of the PVGrows Loan Fund will launch in March. Following a 5-year pilot project, the PVGrows Investment Fund will continue to provide financing and technical assistance to farm and food businesses in the Pioneer Valley, and now it will accept investments from community members as well. This is an exciting opportunity for local residents to invest in the creation of a food system that works for all of us. The Franklin County CDC will administer this Fund and you will be hearing more from them and Rebecca about how you can help make this Fund a success.
The PVGrows Annual Spring Forum will focus on the important role that secure access to farmland, in both urban and rural communities, plays in our food system. We’re putting together an exciting line-up of presenters and networking activities. An optional afternoon listening session for the MA Food Policy Council Food System Plan will be offered to attendees as well. The Forum will take place in Springfield in mid-April-final dates and location coming soon!
PVGrows Working Groups convene in response to network member interest. The Racial Equity in the Food System Working Group continues to be very active, with quarterly gathering attracting up to 40 people. Their next gathering will take place in Holyoke in mid-March. The Job Creation Working Group is also quietly active and anticipates another gathering to follow the tour of the Food Processing Center in Greenfield. Representatives of our Slow Money Working Group are on the planning team for a regional Slow Money gathering scheduled for May 6th in Boston, and will ensure that western Massachusetts entrepreneurs have an opportunity to present there.
We look forward to seeing many of you at the Spring Forum. In the meantime, please stay in touch!