Hike funding

Leominster’s Sholan Farms Receives $50,000 in ARPA Funding to Recover Lost Tourism Revenue

LEOMINSTER — Sholan Farms recently received $50,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding, a much-needed boost for the city-owned property that Friends of Sholan Farms President Joanne DiNardo has lost dozens to thousands of dollars in tourism revenue. of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s amazing,” DiNardo said. “It’s going to help us recover.”

Mayor Dean Mazzarella presented a check to Joanne DiNardo and other farm staff on February 7. DiNardo said they were thrilled when the city reached out to them about funding that will help with “significant loss of revenue.”

“It’s exciting to get that kind of support,” she said. “We are going to seriously consider how we are going to spend the money.”

Sholan Farms will use $50,000 in ARPA funding to update infrastructure, food safety equipment, and more. (DANIELLE RAY/SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE FILE PHOTO)

Mazzarella said they were able to provide ARPA funding from the city for Sholan under the tourism impact portion of the legislation.

“They’ve done such a wonderful job of being self-sufficient for all these years, and then COVID came along,” he said. “They weren’t able to have some of the big fundraisers that helped them.”

The mayor said using a portion of ARPA funds to help Sholan recover lost revenue is one area they feel they can help, noting that the farm has remained active with visitors throughout. the pandemic.

“One of the few things people could still do during COVID was take your family on a hike,” Mazzarella said. “Sholan was busy all the time which meant they had expenses and maintenance etc. We thought it was appropriate to provide them with funding to compensate for their loss of income.

DiNardo said they have a budget meeting coming up and will discuss exactly how the funding will be spent.

“We have an extremely long and extensive wish list,” she said. “We’re looking at things like improving our infrastructure, everything is so outdated… like new and improved equipment. We will be careful how we spend it.

One of the items they plan to replace is a 100-year-old apple polishing machine, something that will help with their production and “will be a good investment, a safer way to do it,” DiNardo said. . “Other items on the long list are a new cash register, scales, signs, shipping containers, renovations to the family stand, restoration of the water tower and more apple bins.

“The tools of the trade are what we need,” DiNardo said. “We’re going to have to prioritize.”

She said the farm recently received an $11,000 food security grant from the state to purchase stainless steel wash stations and sinks.

“These, along with the new apple polisher, will help improve our ability to make food safe,” DiNardo said.

In other farm news, Sholan is looking to hire a new orchard manager as longtime manager Mike Meehan retires.

Longtime Sholan Farms orchard manager Mike Meehan is retiring, leaving a vacancy at the Leominster entity which they hope to fill by the end of March. (DANIELLE RAY/SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE FILE PHOTO)

“We’ve interviewed several people and are trying to figure out how much we can afford,” DiNardo said, adding that they hope to bring someone in by the end of March. “We are looking for someone younger to stay with us at the next level.”

The new person will manage the 167-acre farm with crops including apples, peaches, pears, blueberries, raspberries, seasonal vegetables, grapes and pumpkins. Duties include spraying, pruning, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing and packing, and previous experience working in an apple orchard is desired. Candidates must be able to lift 50 pounds, be willing to work in extreme weather conditions, and must have reliable transportation to the farm.

“Sholan Farms is a uniquely structured company, so we’re looking for someone who can be flexible, reliable, open-minded and have a sense of humor,” the farm said on social media Jan. 5, adding that salaries are based on experience and resumes can be emailed to [email protected]