Berkshire Conservation District Monthly Meeting
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 at 5:30 PM
Arizona Pizza, 395 Pittsfield Rd, Lenox MA
1. Call to Order- Mary Stucklen called the meeting to order 5:26pm.
Attending: Ned Kirchner, Holly Aragi, Mary Stucklen (Chair), Cynthia Grippaldi (Admin Assistant)
Absent: Bob Lear
2. Secretary’s Report - Submitted by Mary Stucklen, Chair
a. A motion was made to approve the March 7th meeting minutes, with grammatical corrections. Motion made by Ned, seconded by Holly. All were in favor.
3. NRCS Report
a. The February Report was presented and reviewed by the District, with no comments.
4. Treasurer’s Report for March, Submitted by Mary Stucklen, Chair
The discussion included payments for website services, and a motion was made by Ned for the District to pay up to $275. Motion made by Ned, seconded by Holly. All were in favor. MACD Dues were due in recent months, a new expense for the District. Motion was made by Ned to pay $25 MACD dues, seconded by Holly. All were in favor. Holly made a motion to accept the treasurer’s report, Ned seconded. All were in favor.
Additional insurance options were discussed for the No-till machine, and Dominic Sinopoli Farm Family Insurance was mentioned. Mary will ask them for a quote and will bring it back to the next meeting.
Ned made a motion to allow Mary (Chair) to move money from the savings account to the checking account as needed so that the District avoids going into the red. Motion made by Ned, seconded by Holly. All were in favor.
The District discussed legal offices to look at the rental and contractor agreement: Cynthia will investigate. John Martin Lawyer, of Martin & Allovera, will be called and asked about their rates. Additionally, the District will call Cohen & Valicenti & Kinney. Ned made a motion to authorize $2,000 for a lawyer to review a rental agreement, seconded by Holly. All were in favor.
5. No-Till Grant Updates
The Updated Scope for the EEA was presented and discussed.
The Financing Status for the machine was discussed. Cynthia will email Tom about being locked out of the office and if he could assist the District with some paperwork needed for the application.
The EEA Working Group was discussed. The District decided that the cost to attend this opportunity is too high and there is a lot of time invested in No-Till and isn’t local-friendly.
The District understood that there will not be No-till workshops for now, considering the late season and that the machine has yet to arrive.
6. Farm Bill Workshops - Ned mentioned that he would like the District to host one of these workshops but that the District didn’t want to overextend the administrator’s time. The District decided to decline the opportunity to host a workshop.
7. Administrative Assistant Update
a. Office Access and Hours Update – Cynthia still does not have access to the office and has had scattered hours. She works remotely and fills out a time log to keep track of her regular and her No-Till hours.
b. Master Gardener Event – Cynthia attended the symposium and had a great time, all bulbs that were left over from last year are gone.
8. Other new business
- Holly asked about plans for nutrient and conservation incentive workshops and sharing of information. Ned had heard about the new regulations for pesticides and more. Holly referenced a ‘14-’15 nutrient change, and NRCS has incentives to manage their treatments and more. Ned referenced that there was a huge change in the 70’s, and now we have a new wave of concerns. Holly and Ned are concerned that there isn’t much talk about nutrient management.
- Basic & Innovation Grants – Ned suggests that the District pursue an innovation grant about the nutrient regulations and how to use incentives. Ned envisions that regulations and licensing is going to grow. Education and research of these regulations could fall under an innovation grant. The question was asked: How do small farmers work with these regulations? This grant could require 8 hours a week of time for the administrative assistant towards this, plus more. There could be two phases- Identifying how nutrient management affects farmers and landowners, and how the district can help.
Another idea discussed for the Innovation grant: Perform No-Till studies, where the District pays for seed and rental costs and soil testing and the assistant’s time to do studies about the efficacy of the No-Till. Perhaps there could be phases, and in phase one: Research & Planning (seeds and efficacy) and then for the second phase, or FY 2021, apply for money for implementation. Basic and Innovative Grant letter of inquiry will be drafted with the nutrient regulation research and presented at the May 8th meeting.
9. Adjournment – Holly motioned to adjourn at 7:00pm, seconded by Ned.
Next Monthly Meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 8th, 2019 at 5:30 PM at Pittsfield Public Library/ Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, MA.