In this issue:

Commissioner's Column - Gregory C. Watson
Special Guest Column- David Webber

FOREFRONT

UPCOMING EVENTS / WORKSHOPS

USDA NEWS

IN EVERY ISSUE


Commissioner's Column

Commissioner Gregory C. Watson

Dear Friends,

April 2nd was Massachusetts Agriculture Day – a day farmers have the opportunity to meet with their legislators at the State House to discuss opportunities and challenges for agriculture in our state. And most importantly, it is also an acknowledgement and thank you to our Commonwealth’s amazing farmers who provide a rich and diverse mix of agricultural products to our state’s residents and visitors.

As you may know, I’ve had the honor of serving as commissioner twice with a twenty-year interval in between – a rather unique vantage point from which to have observed and now compare the changes that have taken place over that period.

No question, Massachusetts has experienced a significant evolution in the past 20 years.

For me the most obvious and encouraging development has been the incredible increase in demand for locally grown food – an acknowledgement by the general public that they understand the importance of what our farms and farmers provide.

As with any change, the increased demand for “Massachusetts Grown and Fresher” creates both opportunities and challenges.

Among the many and varied responses to these opportunities and challenges have been the emergence of some new faces of agriculture on the Massachusetts agricultural landscape:

  • New Beginning Farmers primarily seeking land in rural communities
  • New Beginning Farmers seeking to grow on urban lands and rooftops

They seek to join forces with our traditional/experienced farming community to help Massachusetts create a vibrant, diverse, resilient, sustainable food system ready to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

For a number of reasons I think this bodes well for the future of Massachusetts agriculture.

I also understand that this can be a potential source of friction – something that is inevitable with any kind of changes are introduced.

So let me quickly tell you why I think this is one of the most encouraging developments for Massachusetts agriculture and why we should do all that we can to seize the opportunities to capitalize on it.

First: According to the latest Census of Agriculture, the average age of our farmers is 55– YOUNG by my standards, but nonetheless in need of a healthy infusion of youthful energy and enthusiasm for the art of farming.

Second: These new farmers broaden the base of support for Massachusetts agriculture – both within communities across the state and with our legislature as well. Our political support needs to be as diverse as the variety of crops we grow to ensure sustainability.

Urban mayors committed to farmers’ markets and Farm-To-School are becoming increasingly involved and effective advocates for local agriculture and influencing the Farm Bill.

Third: They are the source of new ideas and innovations that can greatly benefit the entire agriculture community. How many of you ever heard of “Crowd Funding”? Young rural and urban farmers are making use of this social media tool to raise funds to build everything from chicken coops and rooftop farms.

Embracing the new does not mean we are abandoning, compromising or shortchanging the traditional. That would be forsaking our heritage and ignoring the most valuable and irreplaceable sources of experience-based knowledge we have.

On the contrary, by working together, we will be stronger than ever.

I urge all of the various commodity groups and agriculture advocates to work with MDAR, Massachusetts Farm Bureau, Agricultural Commissions, Buy Locals, The University of Massachusetts, and other stakeholders to help weave these important threads of the state’s agriculture economy into a seamless fabric that will define an exciting new stage in Massachusetts’ remarkable agricultural history.

 Best,
Commissioner Greg's Signature

Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner
 




www.twitter.com/MDARCommish 


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Special Guest Column

David Webber

by David Webber

When Simmons College intern Sara Murray, began her internship in January at MDAR, little did we know of her illustrious pedigree. How did we find out?

 Commissioner Greg Watson was giving a presentation at the 1st Urban Agriculture Conference in which he included a quote from Henry A. Wallace, former Secretary of Agriculture (1933-1940) and 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941-1945). “That was my great grandfather!” exclaimed Sara.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Wallace United States Secretary of Agriculture in his Cabinet, a post that Wallace's father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, had occupied from 1921 to 1924. As Secretary of Agriculture, he instituted programs for land-use planning, soil conservation, erosion control as well as food stamps. Later, President Roosevelt selected him as his running mate for the 1940 Presidential ticket.

Sara’s mother, Joan Murray, remembers her grandfather fondly. “While Henry A. Wallace is primarily known for his years as Secretary of Agriculture and Roosevelt's third Vice President, I would love for people to remember him for his advocacy of equal opportunities for all, regardless of religion, sex or race.” Wallace, for instance, always refused to speak before segregated audiences. He was also insistent on cooperation among nations to avoid an unnecessary arms race, and for his work toward improving agriculture in order to combat hunger and poverty, both nationally and internationally.

Joan and her sister loved going to Wallace’s farm every summer. Although they would have preferred to sit inside and watch television, their grandfather expected them to help him out in the hot dusty fields -- pollinating strawberries, corn and gladioli. He would happily talk about crossing one strawberry plant with another in order to get the perfect "wild" strawberry taste, or discuss why certain ears of corn were going to prove better than the crop from the previous year. Politics were the farthest thing from his mind; he truly was a farmer at heart.

Sara, who is with MDAR until end of April, is currently pursuing her Masters in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University as well as completing coursework at Simmons College to become a registered dietician. With her background in food policy, economics and nutrition, it would seem like the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

The earth is the mother of us all – plants, animals and men. The phosphorus and calcium of the earth build our skeletons and nervous systems. Everything else our bodies need except air and sun comes from the earth. “Henry A. Wallace

David Webber is the farmers' market coordinator for MDAR and works on various programs to support and promote Massachusetts agriculture.

 

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FOREFRONT


First Ever Urban Farming Conference in Massachusetts

Urban Conference Welcome
Click to see the full size image.

Greg Bialecki,  Secretary, MA Executive 
Office of Housing and Economic Development, 
offers welcoming remarks at the UFC
 

Mel King receives Lifetime achievement Award
from MDAR Commissioner Greg Watson

Over 300 attendees participated in the first Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC), held on March 9th, 2013. MDAR partnered with City Growers and the Urban Farming Institute of Boston to present the conference. The event convened farmers, new and seasoned, to create opportunities for interactive discussions and to build sustainable networks and business relationships for the advancement of urban agriculture.

The day-long forum hosted 10 panel discussions focused on land use, marketing, policy, infrastructure, investors and models for sustainable practices, covering a broad range of issues facing the diverse and complex sector of urban farming.

The robust dialogue, with each panel’s “conversation leaders” and attendees committed to learning and developing partnerships, included farmers, composters, planners, investors, consumers, youth, and budding entrepreneurs.

The workshops were assigned official note takers, who documented the exchange of information. For a "taste" of these different discussions, click here.

The closing session of the conference was a tribute to a hero of agriculture in the Commonwealth, Mel King. A social activist and adjunct professor, (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT) Mel received the “Urban Farming Lifetime Achievement” Award for his commitment to agriculture and his visionary work for urban and rural farming over the course of his life’s work. The energy and enthusiasm for the work that Mel King passionately championed decades ago was a nod to the past and a hopeful l future for the seeds planted at the urban farming gathering.

MDAR is grateful for the tremendous support and interest in the UFC and looks forward to hearing from the agricultural community on how we can work together to foster this new sector. For any questions on the conference and MDAR’s work to support individuals and organizations regarding their work in urban agriculture, please contact Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us.

 

MDAR logo   City Growers logo   UFI logo   ISES logo

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MDAR Announces Open Application Period for Grant Programs

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is accepting applications through mid-June 2013 from farmers who wish to participate in Department programs in Fiscal Year 2014. Interested farm operators are encouraged to access program information and applications on the Department website (Click on Grants and Funding Programs under Quick Links in righthand column) or call contacts listed below for each program for more information.

Farm Viability Enhancement Program

This popular business planning and technical assistance program provides management advice and grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 to implement farm growth and sustainability strategies. Farm operators receive grant awards for signing a 5 or 10 year Agricultural Covenant, and receive valuable consultations and visits from a team of consultants to discuss farm production and management, marketing, and business planning. Typical uses of funds from the Farm Viability Program include building or repairing farm structures, modernizing field equipment, purchasing delivery vehicles and tractors, and improving retail marketing structures or food processing capacity.

Applications and program information are available by clicking on this link AGR- FVEP-14-21 doc format of Farm Viability Application
, online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1723. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

APR Improvement Program – for APR farms

The purpose of the APR Improvement Program (AIP) is to help sustain active commercial farming on land that has already been protected by the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. AIP provides technical and business planning assistance to improve farm productivity and profitability of APR farms with grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 to implement on-farm infrastructure improvements. AIP Funds are used primarily for capital improvements such as building or repairing farm structures, farmstands or processing facilities; or land management such as reseeding hay fields, pasture improvements, fencing, or establishing perennial crops.

The current Request for Response with program information including eligibility requirements, selection criteria and the application is available by clicking here RFR# AGR-AIP14-5 doc format of APR Improvement Program Application
, online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or by calling the APR Improvement Program at 413-268-8269. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 18, 2013.


MEGA - Grant Program For Beginning Farmers in MA

The Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) Program helps with business improvement on new farms. MEGA provides technical assistance and business planning help, and then provides funds for farm improvement strategies. Grants of up to $10,000 are available from this Program on a one to one cash-matching basis. It is the objective of the MEGA Program to assist beginning farmers in their first through fifth year of business who aspire to develop their farms into commercially viable operations. Funds are typically used for equipment, infrastructure or other capital improvements needed to implement strategies recommended through the planning process.

MEGA applications and program information are available by clicking on this link , online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the MEGA Program at 413-559-0949. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

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Open Application Period for Energy & Environmental Grants

MDAR will be accepting applications from agricultural operations who wish to participate in the Department’s energy and environmental programs for Fiscal Year 2014. Interested operations are encouraged to review the applications on each programs webpage.  If interested in applying, applications will need to be submitted by program deadlines with any supporting materials.

Ag-Energy Grant

The purpose of the MDAR’s Ag-Energy Grant is to assist agricultural operations in an effort to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies in order that they can become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies.

Reimbursement grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2014. The deadline for applications is May 3rd, 2013.

Ag-Energy Grant applications are available at www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/about/divisions/ag-energy.html.

USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) Application Announced

It is that time of year once again for REAP.  The FY 2013 Notice for REAP has been posted in the Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 61 / Friday, March 29, 2013 / Notices/page 19183. Application Deadline for the Renewable Energy and EE grants, as well as feasibility studies is April 30, 2013. The application deadline for the guaranteed loans only is July 15, 2013. 

Nationwide there is $10.4 million in grant funding and $43.4 million in guaranteed loan funding available this year. This will result in small grant allocations for each state, approximately about $75K-$100K for each MA, RI and CT in this USDA regional area. The regional USDA RD jurisdiction goal will be to spend all state allocation in the less than $20K grant request category & to make 1 guaranteed loan per state due to a priority set aside in funding for these categories.

 Grant & Loans may be used for:
1.       The purchase & installation of renewable systems
2.       To make energy efficiency improvements
3.       Feasibility studies.
4·       REAP applicant must qualify as a small business or a farmer.
5·       Small business must be located in an eligible rural area.  Farmers are excluded from this rural location requirement.

For more information please contact:
Anne Correia | Area Specialist | Energy Coordinator
Rural Development
U.S. Department of Agriculture
15 Cranberry Highway | West Wareham, MA 02576
Phone: 508-295-5151 ext 3 | Fax: 508-291-2368
www.rurdev.usda.gov

MassCEC Commonwealth Small Pellet Boiler Pilot Grant Program

MassCEC and DOER have dedicated $475,000 to the Commonwealth Small Pellet Boiler Pilot Grant Program. This program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to Massachusetts residents and organizations who install high-efficiency, low-particulate matter (PM) wood-pellet boilers or furnaces in their homes or businesses.

To qualify for a grant, the installed boiler or furnace must be used in a year-round residence or small business where the building occupant pays into the MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust Fund. All customers of investor-owned utilities – National Grid, NSTAR, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, Unitil (Fitchburg Gas and Electric) – and participating municipal lighting plants (Ashburnham, Holden, Holyoke, Russell and Templeton) pay into this fund.
Grants in this program will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. “Base” grants begin at $7,000 for the wood pellet boiler/central heating unit with bulk storage, and with various “adders” including automatic fuel conveyance, thermal storage, solar thermal hybrid, and moderate income or home value, the grant could reach the maximum grant value of $15,000.

This Small Pellet Boiler Program is part of the MassCEC’s new broader Renewable Thermal Program, which has already included incentives toward pellet stoves and outdoor wood hydronic heater replacements, and will soon include industrial/commercial wood boilers, community district heating, and residential and commercial air and ground source (geothermal) heat pumps. For more information on these programs please contact biomassthermal@masscec.com.

Solar Renewable Energy Credits(SRECs)) Update

As the SREC program approaches its 400 MW cap, (which is currently at 220 MW), DOER has begun a formal rulemaking to address important changes to the SREC Solar Carve-Out Program. Among the proposed changes will be an Assurance of Qualification which provides Solar Carve-Out Renewable Generation Units with an assurance of qualification to the SREC program as the program approaches the capacity cap. Other proposed changes pertain to defined processes when reaching the program’s final compliance obligations.

Please refer to the following webpage for more information:

http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/renewable-energy/rps-aps/regulatory-proceedings-for-rps-and-aps.html

Additionally, DOER has been engaged in developing policy to maintain the growth of the solar PV market in Massachusetts after the 400 MW cap of the current RPS SREC Solar Carve-Out is reached. A couple of stakeholder meetings have been held, most recently March 22, 2013, to review initial ideas and soliciting feedback.  

Please refer to this webpage for more information on this effort:

New Net Metering “System of Assurance” Initiated

As noted in the last Farm & Market Report, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has adopted a new process to admit renewable energy projects for net metering purposes. Now initiated, this “System of Assurance” will ensure an eligible net metering project a place in the net metering queue while the project is being implemented. This is different from the past where projects were admitted into net metering only after the project was constructed, commissioned and feeding electricity into the grid and if there was still room in the net metering cap.

For those farms that are in the process of installing an eligible, net metering renewable energy project, please contact your installing contractor regarding your need to be part of this new process.

For details, please refer to the official DPU Memorandum (click here), and if you have questions, please contact the Hearing Officer at the contact information listed below:

Laura C. Bickel, Hearing Officer
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of Public Utilities
1 South Station, 5th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Office:  (617) 305-3588
laura.bickel@state.ma.us

 MA Farm Energy Program(MFEP) & Community Involved in Sustainable Agriculture (CISA) Sponsor “Energy Efficient Refrigeration” Workshop

Father and son Tom and Ben Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, MA hosted a well attended refrigeration twilight workshop March 21, 2013 sponsored by MFEP & CISA. Tom and Ben showcased their recently completed extensive renovation of their 70 year old walk-in cooler. Major retrofits included installing high R-value new wall and ceiling insulation, a new entry door and energy efficient, split refrigeration systems. Workshop presentations were made by Chris Callahan, Agricultural Engineer from the University of Vermont on everything you need to know related to product storage, NGRID’s Richard Drury on the relevant utility programs and Casey Steinberg of Old Friends Farm on his “Koolbot” refrigeration system.

Many thanks to Tom and Ben Clark for hosting and recognition Jess Cook, MFEP Program Manager, Layla Hazen, MFEP Program Assistant, and Kristen Wilmer, CISA Program Assistant for the well organized and very informative workshop.

MassGrown & Fresher at the 10th Annual AAA Travel Marketplace

MassGrown attended the 10th Annual AAA Travel Marketplace at Gillette Stadium, March 1-3 reaching 15,000 locally minded consumers!

With funding from a Specialty Crop Block Grant, MassGrown designed a new eye-catching booth display and over the three day event offered attendees a variety of Ag-tourism resources including Ag-tourism maps, Buy-Local posters, apple calendars, maple brochures, seasonal recipes, and rack cards featuring the MassGrown website, www.Mass.gov/MassGrown.

Industry partners included New England Apple Association and Massachusetts Maple Association. “Apple” representatives, Bar Weeks and Russell Powell helped staff give out over 1,200 apples to hungry visitors craving a healthy snack! Maple friends, Rob Leab and Russell Norton provided samples of five grades of Ioka Valley Farm maple syrup and samples of their maple candy. With their help, MDAR's staff reached thousands of visitors, who were happy to savor a taste of Massachusetts. Next year, MDAR plans to attend the Boston Travel Show to continue efforts to promote Massachusetts agriculture as the number one reason to travel in Massachusetts. We hope you’ll join us then!

Hosting Ag-Related Events?

Need some help promoting your farm/community festival or culinary event? Mass Grown & Fresher hosts a year round calendar filled with a variety of ag-tivites - fun for the entire family! It is one of our most popular features; highlighting the diversity of food and farming waiting to be discovered across the Commonwealth. Next to the map, it is one of the most clicked on webpages under MassGrown. Email calendar submission form to Julia.Grimaldi@state.ma.us. These events also help us build upon our social media network on Twitter @Massgrown, bringing event information to hundreds of our followers.

If you would like to be included on our Agri-Google Map, please click here (.pdf, .doc) for our Farm Marketing Survey. Already a part of MassGrown? Make sure your information is up-to-date on our map. Send updates/edits to Rick LeBlanc: Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

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Massachusetts Farmers’ Market GIS Layer Now Available

Derived from the database maintained by MDAR, MassGIS has published the Massachusetts Farmers’ Market GIS Layer. Available to the public, the information is accessible for download, web applications, research and more. The layer includes information on locations and times of farmers' markets, and participation in various food assistance programs. This is almost certainly the most complete and up-to-date information on Massachusetts farmers markets available. During the busiest times of the year updates will be pushed up to the GIS layer monthly. For more information or to see the metadata, click here.

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Farmers’ Markets Looking for Vendors

Many farmers’ markets are seeking vendors for the upcoming season. For a complete statewide list which includes new proposed markets, click here. Be sure to check back periodically for updates. If you would like to add a market, contact David Webber, David.Webber@state.ma.us, 617-626-1754.

This year’s annual Massachusetts Department of Transportation Farmers’ Market Program will begin in May 2013 and runs through the fall. We invite all Massachusetts’ farmers to sell their freshly grown fruits and vegetables as well as their made in Massachusetts food products, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Farmers' Market Program has been very popular for the last ten years on the Masspike and for the fourth year, MassDOT has decided to offer the farmers' market at all eighteen service plazas on State of Massachusetts’ Highways. Along with the original eleven Masspike service plazas, MassDOT has added seven new service plaza locations. The Farmers Market Program offers Massachusetts’ farmers a unique opportunity to sell and market their wonderful locally grown products. Farmers can sell their goods as long as they do not compete with the service area stores and restaurants.

The service areas available for the farmers’ market are located in Lee (east/west), Blandford (east/west), Ludlow (east/west), Charlton (east/west), Westboro (west), Framingham (west) and Natick (east), Interstate 95 in Newton, Lexington, Route 128 in Beverly, Route 24 locations (north/south ) in Bridgewater, Route 3 in Plymouth and Route 6 in Barnstable.

If you are interested in participating in this year’s program or have any questions, please contact David Fenton at 413-572-3171 or via e-mail at Dave.Fenton@state.ma.us.

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MA Food Policy Council Features Two Reports

The Massachusetts Food Policy Council webpage features two recently released reports. One is "Scaling Up Local Food: Investing in Farm and Food Systems, Infrastructure in the Pioneer Valley," by CISA, which features local examples of the successes, challenges and opportunities in the Pioneer Valley food system today. Consumers, farmers, businesspeople, investors, planners, and policy-makers will find suggestions for action to help create a local food system that provides more local food to more residents of our region. The second is “Local Food, Local Jobs: Job Growth and Creation in the Pioneer Valley Food System," by the Massachusetts Workforce Alliance. This research describes current work in the Pioneer Valley food system, with an emphasis on jobs that are within reach of lower-skill workers, identifies promising segments of the food system that are currently generating these jobs, and looks at ways job creation and growth in this system can be fostered.

Visit the MA Food Policy Council website for additional reports, background on the FPC and meeting minutes. The next meeting of the MA Food Policy Council will be held on Friday, June 7, 2013 at the Worcester Union Train Station, 9:30 – 11:00 AM. The space is available through the Central MA Regional Planning Council, and is located at 217 Franklin Street (parking garage), Worcester, MA 01604 - www.cmrpc.org/directions. For more information: Bonita.Oehlke@state.ma.us.

Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Survey

New England Vegetable and Berry Growers' Association are asking for information about raspberry growers experiences with spotted wing drosophila (SWD) to help support requests to the US Environmental Protection Agency for expanded insecticide labeling to control SWD. This information will also be valuable to provide background information for grants supporting research to guide management recommendations. All information collected will be summarized; individual growers will not be identified, and information will remain confidential. Please complete the survey only once. Thank you for your assistance in collecting this information. Once it is completed, the results of the survey will be shared with all interested respondents.

If you grow raspberries, please take this survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/GTF36QL 
 

The Massachusetts Wasp Watchers project is looking for volunteers to participate in an effort this summer to detect the invasive Emerald Ash Borer and related beetles. Wasp Watchers monitor ball-fields across the state each July using a native non-stinging wasp that is an expert beetle catcher. Sign up now at: http://massnrc.org/pests/blog/2012/06/wasp-watchers-wanted-2.html

 

Spring Rabies Vaccinnation Clinics

Prevent Rabies image


MDAR, in a combined effort with the Massachusetts Animal Coalition is encouraging pet owners to take advantage of rabies vaccination clinics being held across the Commonwealth this spring. Massachusetts law requires all dogs, cats and ferrets living in Massachusetts be vaccinated against rabies. Low-cost rabies vaccination clinics are offered to protect pets and the public at large against this potentially deadly disease and provide pet owners an affordable solution to remain in compliance with the law.

Most of the clinics are open to any member of the public, regardless of residency. As a matter of convenience, pet owners may choose to attend any of the scheduled clinics to have their pet vaccinated for rabies. The costs for the vaccinations vary but all are affordable. Some clinics offer additional services such as other routine vaccinations, dog licensing and microchipping.

For a list of participating communities, visit www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/animal-health/rabies-control-program

Rabies is an infectious and contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. Transmission usually occurs through a bite or scratch from a rabid animal. The virus is considered to be fatal if untreated. To protect animal and public health, any pet owner who suspects that their pet may have been exposed to rabies should contact their veterinarian immediately.

In 2012, 73 terrestrial animals and 38 bats tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts. Consequently, 70 domestic animals were put at risk by known exposures to those rabid animals. In addition to the pets exposed to known positive animals, nearly 2,200 pets had exposure to animals that had the potential of being rabid but were not available for testing. Most Potential exposures occur when there is contact between a pet and wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, woodchucks and bats.

This rabies awareness effort is co-sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Animal Coalition and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in cooperation with the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, and the Cape Cod Veterinary Association. The MDAR Division of Animal Health started the program in 2000 to raise awareness of rabies and increase compliance with state vaccination law.

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Attention Greenhouse Growers

University of Massachusetts Extension provides timely messages about what’s happening with pests, nutrition and other issues that affect your greenhouse business. Pest messages are posted to our http://negreenhouseupdate.info/updates website based on site visits and conversations with growers. As new information is added, an email is sent with a direct link to the website. To be added to the email list contact: Tina Smith, tsmith@umext.umass.edu or call 413-545-5306.

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New Funds Available to Pioneer Valley Farm and Food Businesses

The PVGrows Loan Fund has announced a new partnership with the Fair Food Network. Pioneer Valley farm and food businesses applying for loans from the PVGrows Loan Fund are now eligible for business assistance funds. Selected entrepreneurs will be paired with a business assistance partner for a period of up to three months. The cost of business assistance services will be subsidized up to $10,000, with business sharing a portion of the total cost of the assistance.

"This is an exciting development for local farm and food businesses who might be considering financing an expansion, but who don't have the time or money to do the planning required" says Sam Stegeman, Coordinator of PVGrows.

Background
The new funds are a result of increased collaboration among local food advocates through Pioneer Valley Grows (PVGrows), a professional network of 500 people dedicated to creating a healthy food system in the three counties. Since 2008, PVGrows members have been investigating how local lenders and investors can meet the financing needs of the rapidly-expanding local farm and food sector. PVGrows hosts its own $750,000 loan fund, and is currently developing a larger fund, which may offer needed alternatives- such as royalty financing and equity investments- to traditional loans. "It is great to see how the financing options have been expanding in recent years, because it gives farm and food entrepreneurs the ability to shop around for the best match," says Michael Abbate, Chief Operating Officer of Common Capital in Holyoke. "What has been missing, however, is the ability to provide the in-depth assistance businesses need so they can develop a plan to grow and utilize the capital sources."

Applying for New Business Assistance Funds
Examples of businesses that might be a good match for the business assistance include:

  • Existing food businesses exploring the opportunities and challenges of sourcing more from local farms.
  • Expansion of food businesses already sourcing from local farms.
  • Expansion of individual farms or other businesses engaged in aggregation, storage, distribution, processing, marketing, information technology, or other means of supporting local food system viability.

Business assistance is available to selected enterprises applying for financing from the PVGrows Loan Fund. Applicants begin the process by filling out a simple inquiry form on the PVGrows website.

More about the PVGrows Loan Fund.

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Congratulations to Another Centenary Occasion as Davenport Maple Farm Turns 100!

Davenport-farm

Founded in 1913, Davenport Maple Farm joins the celebrated ranks of Massachusetts farms that have been in the same family for 100 years or more and which are still being farmed. Massachusetts is home to over 115 farms that have met this criteria, with more than a dozen of them having reached the 300-year milestone. These Century Farms have existed for so very many years thanks to the efforts and determination of the families who own them. Although the business plans may have changed over time, the tenacity and resilience of the families who’ve worked them has not. They’ve managed to adapt as markets and consumer demands have changed; they have thrived despite hardships from war, weather and the economy; and through it all, they have persevered.

In 2010, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation chronicled the histories of these farms and published Massachusetts Century Farms 2010, a guide to these historic agricultural treasures. If you have a farm, or know of one that meets the criteria, please contact Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation at (508) 481-4766 so that it may be considered for inclusion in a future edition (a limited supply of the books are available for purchase; Cost is $10.00, including shipping and handling).

The Davenport Maple Farm is a 4th generation family-owned farm. During the year, the farm offers maple products, fresh eggs, raw milk, hay, and cordwood. At their seasonal Sugar House Restaurant (March and early April), visitors can watch and learn about the sugaring process, visit the cows and calves, and enjoy the view while waiting to eat a home-style breakfast.

And don’t miss out! April 6th and 7th is the last weekend the Maple Farm Restaurant will be open and will feature a special Yankee pot roast luncheon in celebration of this centennial. Call 413-625-2866 for more information.

To Note: Russell Davenport was also one of the first Faces of Massachusetts to be featured in honor of MDAR’s 150th anniversary.

UPCOMING EVENTS


Senator "Mo" Cowan to Hold 2 Listening Sessions April 19

Senator Cowan was sworn in on February 1st as Massachusetts’s new senator to serve on an interim basis for the seat vacated by former Sen. John Kerry. As a committee member on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Senator Cowan has already taken a keen interest in the state’s agricultural activities. Shortly after taking office, the Senator joined MA Secretary of Energy and Environment Rick Sullivan and MDAR Commissioner Greg Watson to Enterprise Farm in Whately, Mass. For more information, contact Rose Arruda at Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us.

Listening Session 1 - 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Senate logo

Worcester City Hall
Levi Lincoln Room
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

Listening Session 2 - 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Middleborough Town Hall
The Meeting Room
10 Nickerson Avenue
Middleborough, MA 02346
 

Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program

Wednesday, April 17, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, MA Farm Bureau Federation Office, 249 Lakeside Drive (located at the intersection of Rt. 20 and 495), Marlboro, MA (phone: 508-481-4766)

UMass Extension, the UMass Department of Nutrition, and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) are pleased to present a Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program for growers and other fresh produce handlers. You will receive a manual filled with GAP resources, a memory stick loaded with the GAP Manual and templates needed to maintain records to verify USDA GAP that can be customized for your farm, a certificate of participation and one pesticide credit for participating through UMass Extension.

The training will focus on:

  • the costs and impact of diseases and outbreaks caused by food-borne pathogens
  • strategies for controlling potential microbial food safety hazards before planting and throughout all phases of planting, production, harvesting and postharvest handling
  • changes to the USDA GAP Program to reflect the Harmonized Audit
  • the Third Party Audit process
  • the MA Commonwealth Quality Program
  • The status of FDA draft regulations to implement the Food Modernization Act of 2010

Registration is $50.00 for the first person, and additional employees are $10.00. Additional employees’ cost includes the presentation, pesticide credit, and refreshments, but not the GAP manual or memory stick. Space is limited. Registration deadline: April 11, 2013. Please make checks payable to University of Massachusetts. Please send check along with registration information to: Doreen York, Agriculture & Landscape Program, 210 Bowditch Hall, 201 Natural Resources Rd., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003. Questions, contact Doreen York at 413-545-2254, dyork@umext.umass.edu.

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Day of Gardening Skills Workshops for the School Garden

Saturday - April 20 - Sponsored by Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom (MAC) in collaboration with Tranquil Lake Nursery, Rehoboth. 9 AM - 3:00 PM. Free and open to the educators, school gardeners and the public. MAC is teaming up with Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehoboth to offer a full day of how-to Gardening Skills workshops and demonstrations for educators, school gardeners and the general public. Spend saturday brushing up on your gardening skills to get yourself ready for the gardening season ahead, whether growing plants in containers outside the classroom, in a school garden or in your own backyard. Workshops will cover digging in-ground garden beds; building raised beds, gardening in containers, adding amendments; seeding and seed saving, skills for planting a tree, pruning and more. Free an open to educators, school gardeners, garden volunteers and the public. Bring your own lunch.

Ten Professional Development Points are provided to teachers with accompanying school gardening or classroom activity. For more information visit www.aginclassroom.org or call 508-336-4426.

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SEMAP's 2013 Twilight Grower Education Series Kick-Off Workshop

Monday, May 6 – 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM, Eva's Garden, 105 Jordan Rd., S. Dartmouth MA.

Herb Touch n' Taste with Eva Sommaripa & Chef Didi Emmons

SEMAP's 2013 Twilight Grower Education Series kicks off with an exciting Potluck event at Eva's Garden. Eva and Chef Didi will lead a discussion where participants taste, touch and smell several herbs easily found or cultivated in Southeastern MA. Learn to use these herbs in everyday cooking with examples from the duo's local foods cookbook, 'Wild Flavors'. Contact Kristen Irvin for more information at kirvin@semaponline.org.

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Join the MA Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show and the Preceding Buyers Mission

Massachusetts value added and specialty food businesses will be meeting new customers and expanding existing business at the Summer Fancy Food Show, New York City, June 30 – July 2 at the Jacob Javits Center. There are typically 2,400 exhibitors with confections, cheese, snacks, ethnic and natural products for sale! This year’s Massachusetts Pavilion has an excellent location and is the largest in years with 30 booths – ten remaining. To participate, National Association of Specialty Food Trade membership is required. If you’re a first time participant, the Branded Program will offset half of eligible costs if your products have at least 50% US ingredients, excluding water and packaging. Sign up for the June 29 Buyers Mission to be added to the waiting list. Additional meetings will be set up to accommodate everyone. For more information: Bonita.Oehlke@state.ma.us.

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2013 MA Farm Winery and Growers Association Wine Festivals

June 2 - The Taste of Massachusetts Wine Festival, Three County Fairgrounds, Northampton
July 28 - The Greater Boston Wine Festival, , Marshfield Fairgrounds, Marshfield

MA Farm Winery and Growers Association (MFWGA) is soliciting vendors offering products such as: cheese, chocolate, Massachusetts made specialty foods, handmade crafts, etc. Food vendors will be able to sample and sell products in packaged form, or on-premise consumption. There will be a maximum of 3,000 tickets sold for each event. The 10 X 10 space is offered free of charge. Vendors need to provide their own table, chairs, etc, as well as obtain the necessary permits from the City of Northampton and Town of Marshfield, respectively. Vendors will be promoted on the MFWGA website, as well as in the event program. The vendor application website is: 2013 Festival Vendor application For questions, contact Kim LaFleur at masswinery@gmail.com.

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Exhibitor/Vendor, Advertiser, Sponsor Opportunities at NOFA Summer Conferenc

Participant in the 39th annual seven-state NOFA Summer Conference, August 9 -11, at UMass in Amherst, as a sponsor, exhibitor, advertiser, or all three and reach a market of 1,500 farmers, gardeners, landscapers, educators and consumers from across New England, New Jersey, New York and other parts of the United States. This inspiring weekend offers a wonderful experience of networking, educational opportunities and selling. More than 200 workshops will be offered providing valuable information about organic farming, landscaping, food preparation and preservation, bee keeping, animal husbandry and dozens of other topics. It’s a great place to market while engaging in vital networking.

Free advertising for your business or organization awaits you! Sign up and pay for your vending space and we'll list your name as an Early Bird Vendor in our many email promotions that we're sending to 6,000 subscribers many times between now and the conference. It's free advertising! All you have to do is pay for the space and you're in!

This historic farming event attracts 1,400 to 1,600 people who will be shopping for your products and services during a weekend of educational workshops, great keynotes and fabulous organic and local food prepared by the UMass award-winning catering team. We'll also be listing vendors on our web site.

You can check the conference out on line at: www.nofasummerconference.org/. The sponsor, advertiser and vendor form, click here.

Consider becoming a sponsor. Your logo will appear with a link to your website here and will remain on the site through the end of the calendar year, enhancing the search engine pull of your website. Sponsorships offer a broad basket of marketing benefits at either the Silver ($500) level or the Gold ($1,000) level. Gold Sponsorships include vending space and registration for one person into all events.

Don't forget to place your ad in the Summer Conference Program Book. Attendees hold onto the book all year long as they search for organic friendly products and services. We've introduced a new low cost $45 classified ad this year. Space is limited in the Program Book so reserve and pay for the ad early. Contact: Bob Minnocci, 662 Mass Ave #6, Boston MA 02118, 617-236-4893, bob@nofamass.org.

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USDA News


Building Healthy Soils: The Benefits to Your Farm

Two workshops designed to help farmers who grow vegetables, fruit and field crops, as well as grass-based livestock operations, to build healthier soils are planned for April 24th and 25th in western and southeastern Massachusetts. ”Building Healthy Soils on Your Farm” will focus on the soil’s capacity to function as a vital living system that sustains plant, animal and human health.

The program will be the same for both sessions; the dates and locations are as follows:

April 24, 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM | UMass Crops Research and Education Farm, 89-91 River Rd., S. Deerfield, MA (north off Rte. 116)

April 25, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM | South Rehoboth Fire Department, 104 Pleasant Street, Rehoboth, MA

Soil Health experts Ray Archuleta – a.k.a. Ray The Soil Guy – and David Lamm from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) National Soil Health Team in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as Tom Akin, NRCS Massachusetts Conservation Agronomist. Each day will include hands-on demonstrations, classroom presentations and field exercises.

Ruth Hazzard of the UMass Extension Vegetable Team will cover the economics of soil health, the benefits of deep zone tillage, and cover crops for soil health at the western Massachusetts session. Dr. Jude Boucher, UConn Extension Educator for Agricultural & Commercial Vegetable Crops will cover the same topics at the southeastern Massachusetts session.

Registration fee: $20 per person (includes lunch). Space is limited. Sponsored by NRCS, UMass. Extension, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research (SARE) and the Bristol County Conservation District.

To register for the April 24th workshop in South Deerfield, send your name, address, phone and e-mail address with a check payable to UMass. to: Doreen York, UMass, Bowditch Hall, Amherst MA 01003. For more information, contact: Doreen York, 413-545-2254, dyork@umext.umass.edu.  

To register for the April 25th workshop in Rehoboth, send your name, address, phone and e-mail address with a check payable to BCCD, to the Bristol County Conservation District, 84 Center St, Dighton, MA 02715. For more information, contact: Sue Guiducci, 508-990-2854, sguiducci@earthlink.net.

Details here.

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The Importance of Timely & Accurate Production Reports

Massachusetts agricultural producers who are covered by a Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) policy on any of their crops are reminded of the importance to file timely and accurate reports of their insured crops production.

In general, insureds must report all production (both insured and uninsured) from the previous crop year to their crop insurance agent by the earlier of the acreage reporting date or 45 days after the cancellation date. Insureds who grow perennial insured crops such as apples, cranberries and peaches likely have already reported their production to their crop insurance agents. While producers of spring-seeded crops such as corn, potatoes, sweet corn and tobacco still have adequate time to file their production reports, now is a good time to gather those records before producers head out into the fields.

Insureds are also reminded that production reports must be supported by written verifiable records from the buyer of the insured crop; by measurement of the farmstored production; or, by any other records of production approved through the crop insurance agent on a case by case basis in accordance with FCIC approved procedures.

Insured producers are encouraged to contact their crop insurance agents if they have any questions regarding production reporting.

UMass Extension works in partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to educate Massachusetts producers about Federal Crop Insurance and Risk Management Programs. For more information, please visit www.rma.usda.gov or contact UMass Risk Management Specialists Paul Russell at pmrrussell@umext.umass.edu or Tom Smiarowski at tsmiarowski@umext.umass.edu.

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Census of Agriculture Helps Grow Your Farm Future, New England Farmers – Be Counted Before It’s too Late

Planting season is almost here and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is providing New England farmers and ranchers a final chance to sow a seed for their future by responding to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. “I want to recognize the dedication and effort of the 26,000 farmers from across New England who have responded to the Census,” said Gary Keough, State Statistician. “For those we have not yet heard from, there is still time to be counted. So before you get on the tractor, take a moment to complete and return your Census form today.”

The Census of Agriculture, conducted only once every five years, is the only source of consistent and comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. It looks at farms, value of land, market value of agricultural production, farm practices, expenditures, demographic data, marketing information and other factors that affect the way farmers and ranchers do business. The information is used by town planners, policy makers, agribusinesses and others to help make important decisions for New England communities.

“As a producer, responding to the Census of Agriculture is the easiest choice you can make this spring,” said Keough. “Data and agriculture go hand and hand. Whether its numbers on acreage, yield, price, inventory, weights, rain and moisture, or expenses, producers rely on numbers – the same is true for federal, state and local decision makers. Statistics lay the groundwork for agricultural programs and policies. And, by responding to the Census you are sowing the data seeds that will help grow the future of your farm, your community and your industry.”

NASS recently began mailing a final copy of the 2012 Census of Agriculture to producers who have not yet responded. NASS is committed to ensuring that every farm and ranch operation in New England is counted. Therefore, representatives will make follow up telephone calls and personal visits throughout the spring to those who have not responded.

New England farmers and ranchers can return their forms online by visiting a secure website, www.agcensus.usda.gov, or by mail. Federal law requires a response from everyone who receives the Census form and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. For more information about the Census, including helpful tips on completing your Census form, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.

IN EVERY ISSUE

Classified Ads

  • Food Day Organizers - Temporary Positions Available - The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a non-profit health-advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on improving nutrition, food safety, and public health. CSPI publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter, the nation’s largest circulation nutrition newsletter. CSPI provides valuable, objective information to the public; represents citizens’ interests before legislative, regulatory, and judicial bodies; and ensures that advances in science are used for the public good. CSPI is supported largely by the 850,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants. Food Day is a major national event that CSPI is sponsoring in October 2013. The goal is to educate the public and support policy measures on such issues as diet and health, sustainable agriculture, and food insecurity. We are searching for Food Day Organizers in the following geographic areas which represent priority areas for the national campaign: Boston, MA; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA; Jackson, MI; and New Orleans, LA. Position details here.
  • Farm for Sale: Approx. ten-acre farm that has been in operation since before WWII. Located in Hampden County, this fully equipped farm, while needing refurbishing, is basically a turn-key operation. Farm has produced vegetable crops and has 3 tractors, all implements, and irrigation for the entire farm plants. Includes ten hoop greenhouses, with all equip. including fans, heaters, soil mixers, conveyers, homemade flat filler, germination chamber, automatic seeders and sprayers. Six houses are heated by natural gas, which is very reasonable this season. All the greenhouses are protected by a 40K generator, and wired into an automatic transfer switch. fueled by natural gas. Property improvements include two barns. One measures approx. 60’ X 66’ and includes a retail farmstand as part of the barn. Modern office trailer, heated, air-conditioned and completely equipped. Office area has a separate break room with two bathrooms. City water with a septic system. There are no living quarters on property. $500,000. Has farm plates and a 61A tax status. Financing available for qualified buyers. Please contact Al Fini, 413-896-4764.
  • Scholarship Opportunity from Farm Credit - In 2013, Farm Credit East will award up to twenty-eight $1,500 scholarships to qualified students, including diversity scholarships. We look for students who are committed to a career in agriculture and have demonstrated exceptional achievement. We make our decisions based on your essay, experience, course of study and extracurricular activities. Details here.
  • Retail Farm Equipment SaleApril 6 & 13 – Butterbrook Farm, Acton – Ford box truck, tractors with attachments brush or grapple buckets , cooler, freezers, ovens, etc. Visit or contact Guy McKay, butterbrookfarm@aol.com, 781-266-8319.
  • Agricultural Excavation – Grading Services - provide earth moving, drainage, land/pasture reclamation, greenhouse preparation, and rock raking services. Includes but not limited to orchards/equine facilities/cranberry bogs/nurseries. Chris Merrill Excavating merrilltrucks@comcast.net, 978-897-9977.

How to Place a Classified Ad

Classified ads are accepted free-of charge on a first-come basis. Be sure to include a phone number. No display ads will be accepted. Only one ad per business/individual per issue, unless space permits. Ads may run in consecutive issues, space permitting. Ads must be of interest to Massachusetts farmers. The Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) reserves the right to refuse any listing it deems inappropriate for publication. E-mail, fax or mail ads to: Farm & Market Report, MDAR, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114, fax: 617-626-1850, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

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About the Farm & Market Report

Published bi-monthly by:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard K. Sullivan, Secretary
Department of Agricultural Resources, Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner

Boston Office:
251 Causeway St., Suite 500,
Boston, MA 02114
617-626-1700, Fax: 617-626-1850
Amherst Satellite Office:
101 University Drive, Suite C4
Amherst, MA 01002
413-548-1900, Fax: 413-548-1901
Division Directors

Next issue to be published for June / July. Please send news, calendar and/or classified information by May 31 to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us. To unsubscribe or change your address, send an e-mail message to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us or call 617-626-1759.

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