Vol. 90, No. 6 December / January

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In this issue:

Commissioner's Column - Gregory C. Watson

FOREFRONT

UPCOMING EVENTS / WORKSHOPS USDA

IN EVERY ISSUE


Commissioner's Column

Commissioner Gregory C. Watson

Dear Friends,

Food Policy Council Update
Last week the Massachusetts Food Policy Council voted to award a contract to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to facilitate a statewide process leading to the development of a comprehensive strategic plan for the Massachusetts food system. Two key objectives of the Food Policy Council (FPC) are to (1) increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods, and (2) develop and promote programs that bring healthy Massachusetts-grown foods to Massachusetts residents.

The Commonwealth undertook a similar initiative back in 1974 that was led by Harvard professor Ray Goldberg. That report entitled “In Search of a Food Policy” has been credited with helping to chart the path leading to the “rebirth” of the state’s agricultural sector. It resulted in the 1976 Massachusetts “Policy for Food & Agriculture” - a slim 24-page document that was a cornucopia of groundbreaking policies and programs including our Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR), Chapter 21A, and the origins of the “Massachusetts Grown and Fresher” campaign.

The 1974-76 planning process was undertaken in a time of crisis. The state’s agricultural economy was in decline. Farmland and farms were vanishing at an alarming and seemingly irreversible rate.

The current strategic planning process will seek to take advantages of the many opportunities that have emerged during the past decade coinciding with the steadily increasing interest in local food production and consumption, direct marketing options, value-added processing, and diversified farms – including those based in cities.

This is not to suggest that Massachusetts agriculture is not facing its share of new challenges. We certainly have ours. But this strategic planning process is a chance for us to anticipate both challenges and opportunities. In order to do that effectively we must ensure that the perspectives of all of the Massachusetts food system stakeholders are represented. Stay tuned. Updates will be made on the Food Policy Council page.

The Food and Agriculture Board
The Board of Food and Agriculture represents the interests of agriculture to the Department and provides input on policy development and budgetary decisions. The Board’s approval is required for the appointment or dismissal of the Assistant. It consists of seven members, each of whom must be from a different county, four of whom shall be farmers.

We welcome three new members who were recently appointed to the Board by Governor Patrick. They will be joining Judy Leab, Gordon Price and Kim Stevens. Short bios of the newest members follow:

Laura Abrams is the owner of JP Bartlett Nurseries, Sudbury. She was born and raised in Sudbury, Massachusetts and represents the 3rd generation of her family’s 100-year-old business – JP Bartlett Company, a wholesale grower and propagator of geraniums and vegetative annuals is one of the last greenhouses in the country to breed geraniums locally. Laura is a past president of the Mass Flower Growers Association, Chairperson of the Sudbury Agricultural Commission and Secretary of the Massachusetts Association of the Agriculture Commission MAAC. Laura has also received numerous awards in recognition of her service to the community and to agriculture.

Glynn Lloyd is founder and Chief Executive Officer of City Fresh Foods, the leading meal delivery service in the Boston area, which provides economical meals to local schools, child care centers and homebound elders. He co-founded City Growers – an urban farm with a vision of providing local retailers, restaurants and residents the option of buying their fresh produce from local, sustainable farms in Boston rather than large corporate farms across the country.

Noli Taylor is the Director of Island Grown Schools, the Vineyard's farm-to-school program. In less than five years, IGS has installed learning gardens at every K-12 school on the island and at four pre-schools, and has worked with school cafeteria staff to move every school to now regularly source island-grown ingredients for school meals.

Best,

Commissioner Greg's Signature
Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner

  Twitter @MDARCommish

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FOREFRONT


Urban Agriculture Program Seeks Proposals

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) through its new Urban Agriculture Program seeks proposals from municipalities, non-profit 501 (c) (3) organizations, state agencies, school districts, and or other non-profit entities, or fiscal partnerships with 501 (c) (3) organizations, for pilot projects that will advance commercial urban food production in the Commonwealth.

The Urban Agriculture program will provide grant awards in the range of $5,000 to $40,000 (but may be exceeded at the discretion of the Department) to urban agriculture demonstration projects that will increase the commercial cultivation, processing, marketing, and distribution of healthy and nutritious food within Boston and urban communities throughout Massachusetts. The invitation can be found on Comm-Pass. There is a question and answer period from December 5 until December 19 at 3:00 p.m. Answers will be posted to Comm-PASS on December 19. Please direct any questions to Alex Gill at Alexander.Gill@state.ma.us. Responses must be date stamped or hand delivered by 2:00 p.m. on January 3, 2014.

MAPC Voted to Receive Award for MA Statewide Strategic Food Systems Plan

The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) will be awarded a contract to develop a statewide strategic food systems plan as voted by the Massachusetts Food Policy Council during a meeting held Monday, November 25, at Union Hall in the Worcester Union Train Station, hosted by the Central MA Regional Planning Commission. The last time this happened was in 1974, when Professor Ray Goldberg from Harvard Business School headed the Governor’s Commission on Food in search of a Policy which had important that remain important.

At the November meeting, three presentations were made in response to the RFR for a facilitating entity to develop a statewide strategic food systems plan.
Changing Tastes
Arlin Wasserman, Partner and Founder
Holly Fowler, Project Director

Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Marc Draisen, Executive Director
Julie Conroy, AICP; MAPC Senior Environmental Planner
Mary Prauss, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Land Use Planner
David Elvin, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Senior Planner
Alex Risley Schroeder, MA Workforce Alliance

Dialogos
Bill Isaacs, CEO, Dialogos, Senior Lecturer, MIT
Joanne Burke, Thomas W. Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems, UNH
Skip Griffin, Senior Consultant, Dialogos
David Miller, Consultant, Dialogos
Aaron Frederick, Consultant, Dialogos
Rebecca Niles, Consultant, Dialogos

All three bidders had thoughtful presentations with strong content that touched on important issues including economic development, entrepreneurship and food security and opportunities for policy development. The RFR Review Committee was thanked by the MA Food Policy Council for their time to review the proposals. Next steps regarding opportunities for engagement will follow. For more information, visit the MA Food Policy page.


Energy News

MDAR Releases RFR for MFEP

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources through its Agricultural Energy Grant Program invites proposals from a contractor, or contractors, to administer, implement and provide all services relative to the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP). Started as a pilot program in FY2008, MFEP is an energy efficiency and alternative energy service program that provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural operations for the implementation of environmentally responsible energy projects and strategies. The invitation can be found on Comm-Pass. The deadline for submission is December 19, 2013.

New Funding for Greenhouse Heating

The Mass Clean Energy Center and DOER have announced a new grant program for qualifying projects implementing biomass boiler technology, ground source heat pumps and/or qualified district energy systems.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until 3 pm, March 28, 2014, or until funds are depleted.

Some items to note - please see solicitation for a full list of requirements:  

  • Eligible biomass feedstock includes wood pellets, wood chips, and stick wood. Outdoor hydronic heaters are not eligible.  
  • Applications require a complete feasibility study as well as an energy audit. Funding for feasibility studies is available though MassCEC.   
  • District heating projects should consist of a central plant providing 2 or more buildings with hot water/chilled water for space heating, hot water, process heat or other end uses. Acceptable heating methods include biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal, advanced biofuels, and some natural gas.   
  • Greenhouses have been specifically identified as eligible entities.   
  • Most measures are funded up to 75%. Check page 6 of the solicitation for exact details.  

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their projects with MassCEC and DOER staff prior to preparing an application. Call 617-315-9379 or email renewablethermal@massscec.com with questions. Application materials can be found on the MassCEC website. For assistance with energy audits required for an application, please contact MFEP at 413-475-2234.

 MA DOER ReleasesRenewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has released a competitive solicitation entitled Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program which is being made available to provide financial support for businesses or business services that seek to establish or expand distribution, manufacturing, or marketing of renewable thermal technologies, or supply chain infrastructure within Massachusetts. The renewable thermal technologies eligible for this program are woody biomass, grass pellets, advanced biofuels, biogas, inverter driven air and ground source heat pumps, and solar thermal. This program will not support feasibility studies, engineering/design or construction of any of the above technologies at a facility.

This solicitation is for $3 million and applications will be considered by DOER from $20,000 to $1 million. Projects must be located within Massachusetts to qualify. The solicitation can be found on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts procurement website www.comm-pass.com, Please read through the entire solicitation for eligibility, the application process and submittal requirements including important submittal scheduling requirements.

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State Officials Confirm Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Essex County

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) announced recently that the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been detected in Essex County, Massachusetts. The destructive beetle was detected in the Town of North Andover on November 15, 2013, and was confirmed by federal officials on November 22, 2013. Essex County is the second county in the Commonwealth to have a confirmed detection of EAB. On August 31, 2012, EAB was detected in Berkshire County in the Town of Dalton. To date, 22 states across the country have confirmed detections of EAB.

DCR and DAR officials are working together, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Forest Service to take a number of swift proactive steps aimed at preventing the spread of the invasive beetle. More here.

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Massachusetts Winter Moth Survey

Winter Moth

Have you seen moths flying around during late fall or early winter, or have you seen moths gathered at your porch light? You could be seeing an invasive species known as winter moth. Help us gather information about the distribution of these moths across Massachusetts. The results will be passed on to UMass Extension, where a research lab is working on a biological control that attacks winter moths. Click here for survey.

 

 

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DAR Featured in New Publication from the Massachusetts Public Health Association

DAR is one of several state agencies featured in Partners in Prevention: How Non “Health” State Agencies are Advancing Public Health in Massachusetts.” MPHA selected the agencies based on programs and policies they were implementing that encouraged healthy eating, active living, and tobacco-free lifestyles. DAR’s work, in partnership with the Department of Transitional Assistance and Department of Public Health, to increase farmers market access for SNAP (formerly food stamp) participants was profiled.

Since 2010, through both state and federal funding, over 85 farmers markets and sponsoring organizations have received funds to support wireless equipment to process SNAP payments, as well as funding for outreach and incentives. For copy of the full report, click here.

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MA Farm to School Project Names Michael DeChiara Executive Director

michael dechiara

Massachusetts Farm to School Project recently announced the appointment of Michael DeChiara as Executive Director. Michael brings a passion for food systems work, local agriculture and education, as well as nearly three decades of nonprofit management skills and expertise to Mass. Farm to School. Most recently he served as the Director of Community Impact Development at the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

Mass. Farm to School works with farmers, school food service providers and institutions across the state to provide technical and training assistance as well as educational opportunities to connect cafeteria, classrooms and communities. As executive director, DeChiara will oversee the organization’s statewide efforts to support local farms and residents by ensuring that locally grown foods find their way to public and private K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, hospitals, and other institutional cafeterias.

“Mass. Farm to School is a well-respected and effective organization working to expand the vitality of our region and state through relationships, knowledge and innovation within the food system. I am excited to be part of this important work, promoting farm profitability, enhancing healthy school meals, and broadening understanding of the value of locally grown foods,” said DeChiara.

Prior to working with the United Way, Michael worked in the Pioneer Valley at Amherst-based Community Partners, Inc., and in eastern Massachusetts with Shelter, Inc., Rosie’s Place, and Greenpeace USA. With these organizations he developed his interest in advocacy, the environment, and public health issues. His interest in local agriculture has emerged as a resident of the Pioneer Valley. He is part of a working group convened by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to review local food systems from a regional planning approach, has served as a strategic planning consultant to Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), consulted with Partners for a Healthier Community’s Farm to Preschool program in Springfield, and managed farm to school related grants at the United Way. www.massfarmtoschool.org, 413-253-3844, michael@massfarmtoschool.org.


Eat Up and Take Action for Local Food

Can you use the power of your food dollars and your strength as an active, engaged citizen to create a better world? CISA's new publication, Eat Up and Take Action for Local Food, provides resources and encouragement to bring your love of local food to your workplace, your volunteer activities, and your friends and family. Get inspired to take action!

Eat up and Take Action for Local Food urges all residents of our region to get involved in the essential work of building a healthy food economy that sustains strong communities all across our region. The publication includes vignettes of success from local communities, actions we can take with our family, in our community and for our values to support our local food economy. Examples range from cooking more with local, seasonal ingredients and bringing local food to your workplace, to supporting local food access for low-income residents. The report is available on-line here.

Eat Up and Take Action for Local Food is the second publication in a series that provides information and inspiration on our local food economy. The first publication, Scaling up Local Food: Investing in Farm & Food Systems Infrastructure in the Pioneer Valley, is also available from CISA at www.buylocalfood.org.


Financing and Business Assistance Available for Pioneer Valley Farm and Food Enterprises through the PVGrows Loan Fund

Are you a farm or food entrepreneur located in the Pioneer Valley? Does your farm or food business need financing to help you break through to the next level? If so, the PVGrows Loan Fund can help you finance and develop your business.

The PVGrows Loan Fund has financing available for equipment, working capital, startup expenses, and more. The Fund is designed as an alternative for borrowers who may not qualify for more traditional bank financing. It offers competitive interest rates, flexible terms and loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. Loans are available for all types of local farm and food businesses – farms, restaurants, food retailers, food processors, wholesalers, and others.

By providing us with some basic information about your business and financing needs, we will first consider you for a loan from the PVGrows Loan Fund, or, if necessary, help you find the right fit with one of our four partner lenders, each of which is experienced in financing local farm and food businesses.

Applicants may also be eligible to receive expert business development services, up to $10,000 in value, in areas such as business planning, regulatory compliance, marketing and management assistance. Interested in learning more about obtaining financing for your enterprise? Go to pvgrows/loanfund.net.


2014 MA Agriculture Calendar Makes a Great Holiday Gift

2014 Agriculture Calendar cover

The 2014 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar is now available. Proceeds benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom. The calendar makes a great gift for a friend or family member who enjoys agriculture. 

In its fourteenth year, the 2014 "Celebrating the Seasons of Massachusetts Agriculture" calendar was unveiled and released recently on Massachusetts Day at the Big E. Each year, the photo contest has become a popular annual opportunity to highlight and feature farms and products across the Commonwealth. The calendar was produced in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), MA Ag in the Classroom (MAC), and MA Farm to School Project . Each month features a photo of a farm business or crop grown across the Commonwealth, along with teaching tips, statistics, and fun facts on Massachusetts Agriculture. Besides having the photographs in the calendar, they are also featured on the MDAR's homepage. Each month’s winning photo adds a colorful touch highlighting the rich diversity of our Commonwealth’s agricultural community. View pictures and order your copy at aginclassroom.org.

Thanks to associations for the months they sponsored: MA Maple Producers Assoc. (March), MA Farm Bureau (April and November), MA Flower Growers Assoc. (May), MA Dairy Promotion Board (June), MA State Grange (July), MA Fairs Association (August), MA Fruit Growers Assoc. (Sept.), Cape Cod Cranberry Assoc. (October), and MA Christmas Tree Assoc. (December).


UPCOMING EVENTS / WORKSHOPS


New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference and Trade Show

New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference and Trade Show will be held next week, December 17, 18, 19, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH and will include more than 25 educational sessions over 3 days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops as well as various special topics. A Farmer to Farmer meeting after each morning and afternoon session will bring speakers and farmers together for informal, in-depth discussion on certain issues.

There is also an extensive Trade Show with over 100 exhibitors. Great opportunity to meet with fellow growers, advisors, researchers, and industry representatives. The goal is to leave with new ideas and information that will have a positive impact on your farm. Schedule of events and classes here. Register online here.

Sponsored By the Cooperative Extension System: Universities of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine; Cornell University; Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station along with New England Vegetable and & Berry Growers Association and the Massachusetts Fruit Grower's Association.

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Exploring The Small Farm Dream 2014

5-Session Evening Courses (6-9PM) - Amherst on Wednesdays February 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5, or Marlborough, on Tuesdays, February 4, 11, 18, 25 and March 4.

The Explorer Program is intended for those who are considering farming as a (small) business. Its purpose is to help pre-venture, aspiring farmers learn what it will take to start and manage their own agricultural enterprise. Explorer makes use of four guided group sessions and a farmer panel of those who have already done what you are contemplating. It is based on an acclaimed workbook and is presented by instructors experienced in starting ag businesses. Explorer was created to help you articulate the clear vision and goals you will need to guide a new agricultural venture. The registration cost of $125 includes instruction, materials, guest speakers and a session of Q&A with a panel of varied-stage farmers.

For a Registration Form, please visit the agricultural business training (ABTP) website or contact: Rick Chandler, MDAR, 101 University Drive, Suite C-4, Amherst, MA 01002, Rick.Chandler@state.ma.us.

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NESFP Farm Business Planning Courses – In Person or Online

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFP) is offering two versions of its flagship Farm Business Planning Course again this winter. Learn to develop and plan for your farm business in either a classroom setting or a web-based learning environment. Both courses will cover all aspects of planning for the long-term financial success of your farm business, including how to:
  • Select farm enterprises, create enterprise budgets and develop a farm business plan;
  • Identify the markets in your area and promote your farm products;
  • Find and evaluate the materials, equipment, and additional information and resources you will need as a farmer; and
  • Develop a crop or livestock production plan.
Application deadlines are fast approaching, so apply soon! Select the learning style (classroom or online option) that works best for you:

Option 1: Classroom-Based Farm Business Planning Course

January 8 - February 26, 2014 - Wednesday evenings, 6-9 pm (see full schedule here)
Location: 155 Merrimack Street, 3rd floor, Lowell, MA
Course fee: sliding scale, based on tuition scholarship application ($80 - $400)
Application Deadline: December 20, 2013
For more information and to apply to the classroom-based course in Lowell, please click here. * Questions? Email Sam Anderson at sanderson@comteam.org or call (978) 654-6745.

If you are new to farming, please sign up for the free introductory Explore Farming workshop (details here). If you do not have prior farming experience, Explore Farming is a prerequisite for the classroom Farm Business Planning Course. The next Explore Farming is scheduled for December 12, 4-6pm at our Lowell office. If you would like to sign up for Farm Business Planning but think you will be unable to attend Explore Farming, please contact Sam Anderson at sanderson@comteam.org or 978-654-6745.

Option 2: Online Farm Business Planning Course

January 4 - March 22, 2014 - Flexible schedule and location with 1 mandatory in-person orientation session to be held in downtown Boston, MA (see full syllabus here)
Course fee: $500, or sliding scale, based on tuition scholarship application ($100 - $500)
Application Deadline: December 20, 2013
For more information and to apply to the online course, please visit here. Questions? Email Meredith Epstein at meredith.epstein@tufts.edu or call (978) 654-6745.

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Flower and Plant Programs

Greenhouse Pest Guide, now available at your fingertips! See UMass Extension’s new web-based App! Try our new mobile optimized website app that contains options for biocontrol and pesticides for commercial greenhouse production. This is a cooperative project with Leanne Pundt, UConn Extension. This website is optimized for use on your browser with your computer, cell phone or other electronic devices. See: greenhousepestguide.umass.edu/

Wednesday, January 15
Growing Spring Crops in Greenhouses (UMass Extension) - 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, Cranberry Experiment Station, East Wareham. Join UMass Extension faculty and staff for this educational program on commercial production of spring crops in greenhouses. Topics will include using plant growth regulators; identifying nutrition problems; and managing insects, mites and diseases on spring crops. This program is an excellent opportunity for new growers of greenhouse crops to learn about many aspects of greenhouse production and for existing growers to brush up on information. Cost: $30 (includes lunch). Register early as space is limited. 3 pesticide contact hours. Contact Tina Smith, UMass Extension, at (413)545 5306, tsmith@umext.umass.edu., Geoffrey Njue, UMass Extension, at 508-295-2212 x47, gnjue@umext.umass.edu, or Russ Norton, Cape Cod Coop. Extension at 508-375-6692, rnorton@barnstablecounty.org.Program and Registration

Wednesday, January 29 
Winter Flower Growers Program (Mass Flower Growers Assoc. and UMass Extension), Mahoney’s Garden Center, 242 Cambridge St., Winchester, MA, 9:30 am – 3:45 pm. Full day education program, featuring Judy Sharpton, Growing Places Marketing, Brian Krug, University of New Hampshire and Fred Hulme, Everris. Program and Registration

Wednesday, March 19
Greenhouse Plant Disease Diagnostic Workshop (UMass Extension -Limited to 25 attendees) - Fernald Hall, UMass Amherst campus, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. This program for commercial growers of greenhouse crops will include a lecture to review the basics of diagnostic plant pathology followed by a hands-on workshop using diagnostic test kits for viruses and root diseases of greenhouse crops. We will also use microscopes to view fungal root pathogens such as Thielaviopsis, Rhizoctonia and Pythium and foliar pathogens such as Downy mildew and Botrytis that were covered in the lecture. 4 pesticide contact hours.Cost: $70. Program and Registration.

MAC Workshops and Updates

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom (MAC) will hold its 13th Annual Winter Growing Minds Through Massachusetts and Connecticut Agriculture Conference on Saturday, March 8th, 2014 at the Paul R. Baird Middle School in Ludlow. There will be four workshop sessions, with eight concurrent workshops in each session related to the many different aspects of agriculture in the classroom. Each will be taught by a teacher or farm educator. The fee for the conference; all materials; breakfast snack; lunch from Randall's Farm in Ludlow, and professional development is $50. ($45 for registration received by December 31, 2013)

MAC is now working to complete the schedule of 32 workshops in conjunction with Conference co-sponsor Connecticut Agriculture in the Classroom. You may also choose to join us as a presenter and received a free registration. There are still a few workshop spaces open, if you have a great idea for a workshop we encourage you to send an e-mail to Debi Hogan with more information!

MAC is also happy to announce that through a special printing by National Agriculture in the Classroom, we will be selling "Who Grew My Soup" by Tom Darbyshire starting next week. It tells the story of young Phineas Quinn and his questions about the vegetable soup his mom serves for lunch. Phin declares he won’t slurp a single spoonful until he knows the answer to such questions as "Who grew these carrots? Who grew these tomatoes?" This entertaining and educational children's book is currently out of print but MAC will be selling a soft cover version of the book for you to enjoy in your classroom or library. Look out in the coming weeks for more information! (We heard that the books will arrive soon, if you would like to receive more information send an email.)

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Ag Commission Meeting

January 11, 2014 - MA Association of Agricultural Commssions (MAAC) Smith Vocational School, Northampton – co-sponsored by MAAC, MDAR, CISA, the Northampton Ag Commission, and others.

Topics include: How can AgComs stay active & engaged; Farmland protection options; Nuisance Complaints / Best Management Practices vs. Normal Practices / Current Farm Legal; Issues Farm Transfer Issues – Passing farmland to new farmers; Agendas and registration will be mailed to AgComs and farmers in the region soon. Hope you can attend! Complete agenda here.

www.massagcom.org/; MDAR Ag Commission page. Contacts: Peter Westover, 413-665-4077, westover03@comcast.net, Cheryl Lekstrom, 508-835-6936/2452, clekstrom@mac.com.

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NOFA Winter Conference

January 11, 2014 - The Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter (NOFA/Mass) offers the 27th Annual NOFA/Mass Winter Conference - Worcester State University. This year's Winter Conference will offer a diverse line-up of more than 60 workshops, exhibits by numerous regional vendors, an all-day seminar and keynote by Restoration Agriculture author, Mark Shepard, perennial agriculture and permaculture design expert. Complete details and registration here.

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Better Process Control School

January 7-10, 2014 - University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Center

The Better Process Control School (BPCS) certifies supervisors of thermal processing systems, acidification, and container closure evaluation programs for low-acid and acidified canned foods. Each processor of low-acid or acidified foods must operate with a certified supervisor on hand at all times during processing. This school satisfies the training requirements specified in both the FDA and USDA regulations. Instructors for this school are drawn from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the University of Massachusetts, and industry.

Farmers are invited to apply for a scholarship: UMass Extension and MDAR encourage farmers who grow specialty crops with an interest in value-added processing to apply for this scholarship opportunity to participate in Better Process Control School. The primary objective of this scholarship is to increase the food safety processing skills for farmers interested in producing shelf stable low-acid and acidified specialty crops (examples include: acidified foods, glass container closures, retorting, etc.). Tuition Fee for Scholarship Participant: $150 (Regular cost $700). Please note: Tuition fee includes administrative costs, course materials, continental breakfast & lunch. Students are responsible for their own meals and lodging outside of the class.

All interested applicants are required to contact Amanda Kinchla, Food Science Extension via email (amanda.kinchla@foodsci.umass.edu) or by fax: 413-545-1262. Application Deadline: Friday, December 20th - Details here.

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Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program

January 22, 2014, 10 am - 4 pm

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 at the MA Farm Bureau Federation headquarters in Marlboro. Space is limited. Registration deadline: Monday, January, 13, 2014. To register or for more information contact Doreen at 413-545-2254 or dyork@umext.umass.edu.

At the training, you will learn more about:

  • 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 production, 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
You will also:
  • receive a manual filled with GAP resources
  • receive 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

At the end of the session, you will receive a certificate of participation and one pesticide credit for participating through UMass Extension. The key presenter for the training is A. Richard Bonanno, Ph.D., Extension Educator with UMass Extension. Registration cost is $50.00 for the first person, and additional employees are $10.00. Details at extension.umass.edu/.

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CISA Winter Workshop Series on Farm Labor

CISA will hold a six-workshop series this winter in Holyoke on farm labor management, starting the last week in January. The series will help farmers understand the legal framework and financial implications of farm labor choices, and improve labor management strategies to build a stronger and more productive farm crew. Workshops will include:

  1. Introduction to farm labor management - Wednesday, 1/29/14, 6-9pm - Presenters: David Chapelle, UVM Extension
  2. Understanding the financial impacts of farm labor decisions - Thursday 2/6/13, 6-9pm - Presenter: Roy Henshaw, CPA
  3. Finding, training, and retaining a hard-working crew - Thursday, 2/13/14, 6-9pm - Presenter: Richard Wiswall, Cate Farm
  4. Navigating federal labor laws on farm labor - Tuesday, 2/25/14, 6-9pm - Presenters: Patti Colarossi & Christopher Mills, U.S. Department of Labor
  5. Managing to create and maintain a strong working team - Wednesday, 3/5/14, 6-9pm - Presenter: Daniel Cantor Yalowitz, Dean of SIT Graduate Institute
  6. Farm labor management experiences, successes and challenges - Thursday, 3/13/14, 6-9pm, Presenters: Farmer Panel

Additional one-on-one support will be available to those who attend at least three workshops including the first session. Dinner will be served at each session. Cost to attend the series is $55 for Local Hero Members, or $12 each for individual workshops. The non-member fee is $75 for the series, or $15 each for individual workshops. For more information and to register, see www.buylocalfood.org or contact Kristen at kristen@buylocalfood.org or 413-665-7100 x12.

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2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference

Save the Date! Saturday, March 8, 2014 (Tentative Date)
8:30 am - 4:30 pm, Boston Area Location, TBA

The 2nd Annual Massachusetts Urban Farming Conference (UFC) is designed to advance urban farming issues ranging from farming techniques and business models to climate change adaptation and food security. The UFC contributes to short-term and long-term state-wide strategic planning for a sustainable food system in Massachusetts.

Network with Massachusetts' diverse, multi-sector stakeholders in this dynamic event that looks at current issues, emerging practices and programs, and markets that can contribute to Massachusetts' urban farming sector resiliency.

For more information, contact Rose Arruda at MDAR; Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us.

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Ag Day at the Statehouse

Save the Date - Agriculture Day at the Statehouse will be Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

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USDA


Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)

The primary objective of the VAPG program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the Program Regulation. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Closing Date: February 24, 2014

Estimated Program Funding: Approximately $10.5 million in carry over funding from fiscal year (FY) 2013 is available to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Details here.

Now available, the release of NSAC’s latest Farmers’ Guide to Value-Added Producer Grant Funding, which provides updated information on the program’s application requirements, including a step-by-step description of the application and ranking processes.

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Farmers and Forest Landowners: Sign-up for USDA-NRCS Conservation Programs by Jan. 17

Do you own or manage farmland or forest land in Massachusetts? Would you like help addressing natural resource concerns on your land? If so, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages you to get in touch with your local NRCS office by January 17, 2014 to apply for federal conservation programs that can provide financial and technical assistance.

Applications may be submitted at any time for NRCS programs that can help with soil erosion, water quality and conservation, integrated pest management, forest stand improvement, greenhouse efficiency, pasture and hayland improvement, invasive plant control or wildlife habitat improvement.

NRCS has offices in USDA Service Centers in Greenfield, Hadley, Holden, Hyannis, Pittsfield, Westford, and West Wareham, which work with local conservation districts and other partners to serve farmers and landowners throughout the commonwealth. USDA Service Center locations are listed at offices.usda.gov. General program information at www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov.

Among the voluntary conservation programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill are:

  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – EQIP helps farmers and forest landowners address water quality, water conservation, invasive species control, soil quality, erosion control, nutrient and pest management, residue management, irrigation efficiency, energy conservation, air quality and other natural resource concerns. In Massachusetts, EQIP is also available to help greenhouse operations with water quality and conservation practices, aquaculture operations with best management practices, and certified organic growers and those transitioning to organic production with specific conservation practices. Massachusetts farmers can also receive help establishing seasonal high tunnels to extend the growing season in an environmentally friendly manner and developing forest management plans and agricultural energy management plans.
  • Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) – WHIP provides assistance to landowners who want to improve fish and wildlife habitat or restore natural ecosystems on their land.
  • Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) – AMA helps farmers adopt conservation practices that will reduce or mitigate risks to their agricultural enterprises. In Massachusetts, financial and technical assistance is available to producers for drought mitigation.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to improve and protect their soil, water and other natural resources. For decades, private landowners have voluntarily worked with NRCS specialists to prevent erosion, improve water quality and promote sustainable agriculture.

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IN EVERY ISSUE

Classified Ads

  • Increase sales in 2014 with a Good Egg Blue Ribbon Marketing Plan! Our Blue Ribbon Marketing Plan is customized to help you reach your target customers, build loyalty, tune up your website and social media, and evaluate results. Regularly $500; first 3 people to mention Farm & Market Report get a special low price of $295. myrna@goodeggmarketing.com. 617-642-3562.
  • Full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions open February, 2014 - Gardener Engagement & Capacity Building Coordinator - Growing Places, a dynamic community based nonprofit working in North Central MA to improve lives through food gardening, seeks a passionate and skilled individual to join our team! For more info. about Growing Places, visit growingplaces.org. For more info. about AmeriCorps VISTA and to apply, see VISTA posting here.
  • Corey Street Farmers’ Market in West Roxbury looking for an Assistant Market Manager for the 2014 season. Contact Leslie Belay for more information, (617) 460-5417 or leslie.belay@verizon.net.
  • Farm Program Manager - The Trustees of Reservations - Statewide position, centralized primarily in Eastern MA. The Trustees is one of the largest owners of farmland in MA. Full-time, year round, exempt position. Starting salary is commensurate with experience. Interested candidates should send a cover letter with resume and names/contact info for three references to Mary Johnson at: mjohnson@ttor.org.
  • Town of Carlisle Seeks Letters of Interest for Cranberry Bog - The Town of Carlisle is seeking letters of interest from parties interested in entering into a 10-year management agreement, starting in July of 2015, of approximately forty (40) acres of cranberry bog, plus other adjoining land used in connection with or incidental to the maintenance, cultivation and harvesting of said bog, including existing sand pits, gravel, dikes, water supply and control structures and including the agricultural building known as the Cranberry Bog House, and including a parking area, all as described in the 2007 Cranberry Bog Baseline Assessment. The cranberry bog has been in operation since the early 1900s. Details and the Assessment can be located here.
  • Looking for PTO driven log splitter. If you have one and want to sell it, we are looking. 413-687-0784 or LBA8021@aol.com.
  • 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 February / March. Please send news, calendar and/or classified information by January 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.