In this issue: 

Commissioner's Column - Scott J. Soares
Special Guest Column - Dr. Joe Buttner

Forefront

BusinessUpcoming EventsNews From USDA

In Every Issue


Commissioner's Column

Greetings,

Although you certainly don’t need to be a farmer to know that every growing season is different, I don’t think anyone (including the nearly 200-years-in-publication “farmers” name sake Almanac) could have predicted the meteorological curve balls we saw this 2011.

Tornados, micro-bursts, hurricanes transitioning to tropical storms -- all had an impact, directly or indirectly, on farmers and their neighbors this year.  Some of these impacts I witnessed on farms in Deerfield, where coble, silt (or both) have displaced some of the best agricultural soils in the world.

Regardless of these catastrophic events, our farmers – as they have done for centuries – continue to work the land and sea to the benefit of the 98-99% of us who are not farmers.

If there is any “silver lining” to be realized it is the demonstrations of great humanity and community strength, that have been displayed across our Commonwealth.  And so, with this Commissioner’s Column I open with a heartfelt thank you and recognition of the many nameless and unrecognized “neighbors” who have come to the aide of others, who have pitched in and helped out, and have demonstrated why and how such a young country continues to be recognized for its greatness globally.

Regarding disaster recovery for Tropical Storm Irene, Governor Patrick requested and received within a week’s time a USDA Secretarial Disaster Declaration that has made USDA FSA loan and other disaster recovery programs such as Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments available.

Other relief efforts have been coming together that will seek to provide some additional support for disaster recovery efforts.  To this end, it was heartening to see vendors exhibiting in the Massachusetts State Exposition Building offer up to 5% of their sales on Massachusetts Day at the Big E, as well as proceeds from sales of printed T-Shirts donated by Soft as a Grape. The Eastern State’s Exposition itself has pledged to match funding to support disaster recovery and the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts has offered to administer the fund. Stay tuned for more to come regarding fund availability.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan just issued a Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report. To no surprise, the report anticipates continued and significant climactic changes over the next 100 years that will no doubt affect New England agriculture in a big way. Not unlike what we’ve seen over this past summer, we can expect more frequent occurrences of extreme weather events. One of the recommendations in the report is that the preservation of farmland will be important to offset the expected loss of good quality agricultural land due to rising sea levels and increased erosion. To this end, I look forward to MDAR’s continued efforts in providing a suite of farm land protection programs including the APR, APR improvement and farm viability enhancement programs. Suffice to say I am confident that Massachusetts’ resilient farmers – no strangers over the centuries to a fickle Mother Nature-- will meet the challenges and opportunities that climate change will usher in.

On a more positive note, the Commonwealth’s apple orchards dodged the crazy storms and this apple season has been by and large an exceptional one.  Apple picking is still underway and you can a wide variety of local apples through our “Agri-Google” mapping feature at www.mass.gov/massgrown

To expand the use of this tool while at the same time increasing our efficiency, reducing costs for promotional campaigns, and maximizing our use of information technology we also recently developed a new partnership with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or the “T” as they are more commonly known). Launched mid-August, we’re starting to see some results from the MBTA MassGrown & Fresher campaign.  MDAR is developing a second campaign in 2012 through a specialty crop block grant that was announced October 5th. We will be reaching out to commodity groups to let them know about this exciting one-for-all, all-for-one campaign soon.

On the policy and regulatory front, the harvest season has also been very busy for various MDAR programs.  To highlight a few: on the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) side, through a vote of the Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee (ALPC) and in recognition of increasing agricultural and fair market land values, a change has been made to the “over the cap policy” that has already expanded the opportunity for agricultural land preservation in areas that see very high fair market land values. Soon we will be proposing a new approach to the ALPC that will allow a pro-rated pay back of farm viability enhancement funds by land owners that are interested in converting temporary protection provided by farm viability covenants to permanent protection provided through the APR program.  Although the forgoing gets more into the “weeds” of these programs, the point here is our recognition of the continued flexibility and evolution of these programs that allows increasingly important protection of our agricultural land resources while at the same time addressing the realities faced by the farming community.

On the regulatory side, although dairy prices are approaching all-time highs, so too are production costs rising -- specifically those related to feed and fuel.   The 2008 Dairy Farm Preservation Act sought to address these kinds of challenges faced by the dairy industry but changes to the USDA reported cost of production estimates confounded our regulations for the calculation of the Dairy Farmer Tax Credit that was enabled by the legislation.  The changed reporting primarily resulted from concerns about the USDA’s reported 2010 estimates and led to a change in state legislation that required the Dairy Farmer Tax Credit regulations to include an ability to recalculate the tax credit.  As a result, the Department recently launched emergency regulations that accommodate the change in legislation and will soon be launching a full regulatory process to re-examine tax credit calculations moving forward.

Created by Governor’s executive order, the Public Market Commission completed its seventh public meeting at the end of September and has now turned its attention to developing a request for proposals (RFP) for an eventual market operator.  The Commission is hopeful that the RFP will be issued in October -- a critical step closer to opening the market.  Over the course of the seven meetings (in as many weeks!), the Commission heard from farmers, fishermen, specialty food producers, the Haymarket Push Cart Association, and the community about what is needed to make a public market successful in Boston.  Overall, there was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for products grown, landed, and made in Massachusetts.  For the latest news and information on the market or to offer your thoughts and ideas, visit www.mass.gov/public-market.

Concurrent with the initiation of the Public Market Commission, the Massachusetts Food Policy Council (FPC) also held its first meeting at the end of July and is scheduled to meet again in early October and again in November.  After establishing its mission and objectives the FPC is now engaged in learning more about what efforts are underway or have already been taken that get at the FPC’s primary objectives of increasing production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods; developing and promoting programs that bring healthy Massachusetts-grown foods to Massachusetts residents through various programs; protecting the land and water resources needed for sustained local food production;  and training, retaining and recruiting farmers and to provide for the continued economic viability of local food production, processing and distribution in the commonwealth. To follow the progress of the FPC you can visit the Commission’s web page at www.mass.gov/agr/boards-commissions/mfpc.htm .

Finally, I recently attended the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) in Utah and received many compliments, including from our “locally grown” USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, on Massachusetts’ innovative efforts towards agricultural sustainability and competitiveness. I’m also honored to report that during that meeting I was elected second vice-president of the organization which means in 2014 Massachusetts will be host to NASDA’s annual meeting when I am then president. I look forward to the opportunity to bring “all hands on deck” to be able to highlight our unique and diverse agricultural landscape. MDAR is currently assembling a task team to begin initial planning stages for this prestigious event and great opportunity to highlight the Commonwealth’s diverse agricultural landscape. And of course, I cannot emphasize enough that Massachusetts’ success is based entirely on the support, commitment, and hard work from you!

I invite you to read about the many other things going on in our August/September newsletter below. And please feel free to follow me on Twitter for (almost) daily updates: http://twitter.com/mdarcommish.

Best,

Scott J. Soares, Commissioner


http://twitter.com/mdarcommish 


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Special Guest Column

by Dr. Joe Buttner

Aquaculture: Good for Massachusetts, Good for the Nation (Part II)

In the last issue of MDAR Farm & Market Report we focused on general aspects of aquaculture. In this issue we will explore aquaculture in Massachusetts, why it is important, how it is practiced, and look at new ways it is being pursued.

Massachusetts Recognizes and Supports Aquaculture 

To decrease the export of technology and jobs, to capitalize upon opportunities and to mitigate challenges associated with sustainable aquaculture, Massachusetts established in 1997 three regional centers: Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (NEMAC) housed at Salem State University, Salem; Southern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (SEMAC) housed at Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Barnstable; and Western Massachusetts Center for Sustainable Aquaculture (WMCSA) housed at University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Figure 1). Setup and supported by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the Centers working individually within their respective regions and collaboratively across regions have helped residents from nearly 80 communities explore, pursue and realize their aquaculture aspirations (Figure 2).

Benefits to the Commonwealth
Sustainable aquaculture promotes jobs, perpetuates a working water front and fishing tradition, serves as source of safe, high quality seafood, and can realize environmental benefits. For instance, cultured bivalve mollusks remove excessive nutrients (such as N, P) from our coastal and estuarine waters. They sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by incorporating carbonates dissolved in ocean waters into their shells. According to the Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report 2009: Massachusetts, cash value of aquaculture to the producer exceeded $18 million in 2007. Other benefits to the Commonwealth facilitated by the MDAR supported Centers include:

  • Development of BMPs (Best Management Practices) for shellfish and finfish aquaculture. The shellfish standards served as a catalyst and template to develop regional BMPs (East Coast Shellfishers Association) and draft federal standards (Federal Register/Vol. 76, No. 7; 1595, Code 400)
  • Linkage with the industry as representatives from the Centers sit on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association.
  • Culture of softshell clams for commercial, restoration and enhancement purposes by private, public and private/public initiatives in 33 Coastal Towns.
  • Culture of blue mussels on longlines off Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Ann with on-site assistance provided by SEMAC and NEMAC personnel, respectively.
  • Demonstrations, workshops and on-site technical assistance are provided by WMCSA to promote freshwater aquaculture. Most freshwater aquaculture operations in Massachusetts are small-scale, but Australis in Turner’s Falls produces thousands of pounds weekly in RASs and employs over 50 people.
  • “Novel” aquaculture operations uniquely appropriate for the biotechnologically embracive Northeast have been established and push the definition of aquaculture such as Imagine an Ocean in Beverly which maintains aquaria in offices and homes (Figure 3), and Children’s Hospital in Boston, which cultures zebrafish (Danio rerio) for use in federally funded research projects that bring tens of millions of dollars to the Commonwealth (Figure 4).
  • The RACs provide an invaluable bridge between growers and regulators (Department of Agriculture Resources, Division of Marine Fisheries, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Public Health).

The BIG Picture

Over the last decade, extension efforts by NEMAC, WMCSA and SEMAC have advanced development of sustainable aquaculture in Massachusetts. Assistance and guidance have been provided to prospective and practicing aquaculturists, regulatory personnel, elected officials and the public at large, resulting in informed decisions. The future of sustainable aquaculture in Massachusetts appears promising. As coastal communities throughout the United States explore and pursue their aquaculture possibilities, the template developed and employed by Massachusetts should prove instructive.

Dr. Joe Buttner has been involved in aquatic science for nearly four decades as a faculty, researcher, and extension contact, largely in the arena of sustainable aquaculture. He is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Coordinator of the Cat Cove Marine Laboratory at Salem State University in Salem, MA. Since 1984 he has been an American Fisheries Society, Certified Fisheries Scientist, and is currently a USDA Designated Extension Contact for aquaculture in Massachusetts and Coordinator for the Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center. 

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FOREFRONT


Massachusetts Farm Disaster Recovery Fund

Severe weather this summer brought devastation to many Massachusetts farms. Making a bad situation worse, hundred year flooding from Tropical Storm Irene washed away farmlands, farms, livelihoods, families, and in some cases large chunks of rural communities. Coping with a tragedy of this magnitude demands a full court press. Federal, state and local authorities have moved aggressively to triage the most serious infrastructure damage. But that leaves lots of unaddressed farm, family and community needs, and an opportunity for us to do what Massachusetts residents and businesses and organizations do best: give ... so that others may recover, and so that families and communities may return to normal.

The Commonwealth’s agricultural community has reacted swiftly to this tragedy and established the Massachusetts Farm Disaster Recovery Fund, a charitable initiative formed under Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) to mitigate suffering and to improve farm lives and communities. Generous vendors from the Massachusetts Pavilion at the Big E pledged contributions to launch this campaign. Your support is critical to reach farm families and communities that need our help so desperately.

Send your contributions to:

MACD
MA Farm Disaster Recovery Fund
319 Littleton Road, Suite 205,
Westford, MA 01886.

MACD is a non-profit organization that volunteered to serve as fiduciary for the MA Farm Disaster Recovery Fund. All contributions will be dedicated to help distressed farms, families and communities to recover. If you or your organization would like to join this disaster recovery campaign, contact Don Lewis, MACD Executive Director by email at don_lewis@post.harvard.edu or by phone at 508-748-2130.

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Energy News

Farm Solar Thermal/Hot Water Workshop

On the evening of August 22 at Crossroads Farm in Ashfield, the MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP) and Community Involved with Sustainable Agriculture (CISA) hosted a crowd of more than 20 neighborhood farmers and agricultural producers for a solar thermal workshop. This workshop highlighted the practical farm use of solar hot water, current funding opportunities for solar thermal, including our Mass Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) new Commercial Solar Hot Water Program, and what steps farmers should take to installing a solar thermal system.

Solar thermal – solar heated air or water – is a practical technology with a proven lifespan and range of applications for farms (in addition to residential and commercial uses). Depending on the system used, water heated by the sun can reach between 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit. At those temperatures the water can be used for farm facility cleaning; farm housing and kitchens; food processing; aquaculture; space heating via radiant floors in farm offices, shops, packing sheds, or milking parlors; or under-bench or soil heating in greenhouses.
 
To determine if a solar thermal system is appropriate for their needs, farmers learned to evaluate several factors including: the volume of water needed to heat; if the season of energy production need matches the highest production period for solar energy in the summer; and what the target temperature is for air or water.

If you’re considering solar hot water, this is a great time to move ahead! Andy Brydges, Program Director, Renewable Generation of the MassCEC spoke to the audience of  the launching of their Commercial Solar Hot Water Program, which commits funding resources for solar thermal plans (pre-design studies) and construction rebates. The studies are useful for farms that need heat for radiant floors, greenhouse heating or yogurt-making.

Solar thermal projects are also eligible for the Federal Business Investment Tax Credit or Treasury Cash Option worth 30 percent of the solar thermal system installation cost (the Cash Option expires this December 31, 2011).

Here are some tips to get started:
  • Learn more about the technology and establish your current and future farm heating needs by reviewing your energy bills and speaking with installing contractors service providers.
  • Talk with installers – request an on-site assessment, consider equipment options, and talk through costs and payback periods.
  • Read up on MassCEC resources and funding support.
  • Inquire with your public utility regarding support for efficiency upgrades for existing heating systems using electricity or natural gas.

Please contact our Massachusetts Farm Energy Program for assistance moving from project concept to implementation, and ask to be placed on our waiting list for a soon to be released copy of our guide for solar thermal use on farms, Massachusetts Farm Energy Best Management Practices! (related articles below)

MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP) to Launch Best Management Practices Guide for Energy

The MFEP will be celebrating the release of the Massachusetts Farm Energy Best Management Practices Guide with a get-together and networking event on October 17, 2011 at Bramble Hill Farm, Amherst, MA from 4:00 – 6:30 PM.

Join this event to get a head-start on planning your farm’s energy projects. Meet local installers and energy contractors, explore funding opportunities with state and federal agency reps, learn about implemented projects, and share experiences with other farmers.

RSVP by October 10th to 413-256-1607 or info@berkshirepioneerrcd.org, www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/mfep/index.php#Network
Limited spaces available. Please include name(s), farm name, sector, and technology interests in RSVP.

The MA Farm Energy Best Management Practices Guide is a practical approach to agricultural energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects, all based on MA farm experiences with local installers. Included are:

  • Energy-saving equipment and renewable systems specifications 
  • Descriptions by farm sector
  • Detailed estimates of energy and cost savings

The full set of farm energy guides will be posted at www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/mfep/publications.php by October 17th. Contact the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program at Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D with questions.

MassCEC Announces New Pilot for Commercial Solar Hot Water

Building on the success of the new residential Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program, which has awarded rebates for 110 solar hot water projects at homes across Massachusetts since its opening in February 2011, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has a new rebate program to help building owners finance commercial size solar hot water projects.

The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial Pilot Program complements the current Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Pilot Program by providing funding to commercial and large multi-family building owners interested in installing solar hot water (SHW) systems. The program will offer $1 million in grants through a non-competitive application process for SHW pre-design studies and construction projects.  

Starting the first week in August, MassCEC began accepting applications for pre-design study grants for commercial and large multi-family building owners interested in installing solar hot water. Eligible applicants can receive up to $10,000, with a required a cost-share of 25 percent for non-public commercial entities. No cost share is required for public entities.

In September 2011, MassCEC began accepting applications for design and construction grants, which will be structured similar to the residential rebates in which rebates are based on project size and the solar collector’s efficiency rating. 

Click Here To Access Application Documents for the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Commercial Program

To qualify, a resident and project site must be an electric customer of NSTAR, National Grid, Unitil, or Western Massachusetts Electric Co., or of a municipal power company that participates in MassCEC's Renewable Energy Trust Fund. These include Ashburnham, Templeton, Holden, Holyoke and Russell. The Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program is funded with $1 million from MassCEC’s Renewable Energy Trust Fund. 

MA Net Metering Reaching Capacity

The latest documents filed recently by the qualifying electric distribution companies at the request of the MA Department of Public Utilities (DPU) show that the 1% non-government project net metering cap will soon be reached, most likely by this fall. This includes NGRID, NSTAR, WMECO and Unitil. At this point it is unclear as to whether the state plans to expand this clean energy incentive to allow more projects to enjoy the benefits of net metering.

Federal 30% ITC Cash Option Reminder

For those still interested in pursuing the Federal Investment Tax Credit Cash Option for selected renewable energy technologies, the original deadline of December 31, 2010 for “Beginning Construction” for this opportunity was extended until December 31, 2011 by the lame duck session congress at the end of last year. Enacted as part of the 2009 ARRA stimulus package, this option provides non-residential commercial projects the opportunity to receive cash at the completion of the project in lieu of receiving a tax credit. Eligible renewable energy projects must now need to have been completed in calendar years 2009, 2010  or 2011 OR meet the are eligibility provisions for those initiating the project by the end of December 31, 2011, including executing a financial contract, executing an installing contractor contract and demonstrating at least 5% project expenditures by this date. This means if you can at least begin implementing an eligible renewable energy project by the end of this year you could still be eligible for the tax credit cash option. For more details on all eligibility requirements and other information please see: www.treas.gov/recovery/1603.shtml.

At the same time, those in our agricultural community who favor such a tax incentive can contact your local U.S. congressional representatives and senators to request this extremely beneficial cash tax equity option be extended beyond this year’s end as part of the new agenda of our new Congress in Washington, D.C.

Featured Ag Energy Project – J.P. Bartlett Company, Sudbury, MA

J.P Bartlett Company, Incorporated, Sudbury, MA, a leader in our horticultural sector of MA agriculture, recently completed a replacement greenhouse construction project incorporating some great energy efficiency measures. The project replaced four antiquated greenhouses with a new gutter connected energy efficient structure while also expanding from 43,776 to 55,116 square feet. The nursery and greenhouse sector, MA’s largest by revenue generation, is extremely competitive with other states and Canada. Heating continues to be the main energy end use and one of the higher operational costs and energy efficiency typically focuses on ways to reduce heating costs while not sacrificing product quality.

The project features over 55,000 square feet of energy/shade screens that in combination with double wall roofing and north and east sidewall insulation will achieve heating savings upwards of 50% over baseline. The energy/shade screen will also reduce summertime temperatures and ventilation needs, creating a better product. Additionally, J.P Bartlett incorporated natural non-mechanical roof with sidewall ventilation throughout and will realize significant electric savings as well as more even product temperature.  

This is not the first energy efficiency implementation by J.P. Bartlett. Prior to building their new greenhouse, J.P. Bartlett completely renovated their main boiler plant by retiring one old # 6 oil-fired boiler, modifying their other # 6 oil only central boiler to dual-fuel, #2 oil/natural gas and installing modules of smaller sized natural gas-fired only, condensing boilers. The hydronic boiler system is also temperature compensated, providing water temperatures as needed in direct relation to outside air conditions. 

National Grid played a key role helping J.P. Bartlett identify these energy efficiency opportunities as well providing valuable incentives for implementation.  MDAR has also contributed to these efforts as part of our energy and environmental programs and commitment to helping farms become more energy sustainable and environmentally cleaner. Congratulations J.P. Bartlett!

MassGrown & Fresher - How We’re Doing and What We’re Learning!


MDAR has been pushing hard to promote our MassGrown & Fresher website and we’re starting to see some tangible results.

Here are just a few stats from our Google Analytics tools:

  • Over a 30-day period, we saw a surge from 29 visitors per day to 1,531on our Pick-Your-Own apple page!
  • For clicks to our MassGrown Map we’ve gone from 15,013 pageviews in July to 29,077 between August 18 and September 18

What We’ve Been Doing

Our MBTA MassGrown & Fresher campaign continues through mid-October on the Red & Orange Lines. Google Analytics show that folks on the T are scanning the integrated QR Code – we’ll be analyzing the campaign’s overall success at the end of October.

Over the last few months, MDAR staff have reached out to over 2 million consumers via the distribution of thousands of agri-tourism maps, MassGrown rack cards, farmers’ markets brochures and more at events such as the Big E, Mt. Wachusett's Kid's and Apple Fests, Boston Local Food Festival, South Shore Edible Event, Topsfield Fair, and more.

What We’ve Been Learning

QR Codes are effective outreach tools if used in the appropriate environment and with realistic goals in mind. One of the most important things to consider with QR Codes is whether or not your audience has a Smart Phone that can scan it! It’s also important to link QR Codes to mobile-friendly sites. Many standard web pages are not mobile-friendly with the result that the pages cannot be displayed properly on a user’s smart phone. Here’s an example of a mobile-friendly site: http://mobile.boston.com/. 

Thanks again to Keep Local Farms, Mass Farmers Markets, Cape Cod Cranberry Association,  Massachusetts Flower Growers’ Association, Massachusetts Christmas Tree Association and the Massachusetts Winery Association who recognized this as a GREAT one-for-all, all-for-one opportunity and pitched in to cover the nominal printing costs for this campaign.

MDAR plans to launch a second MBTA campaign in 2012 through a specialty crop block grant which it has received. Commodity groups interested in this exciting campaign should please contact Rick LeBlanc at 616-626-1759 or Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us

*Farmers (retailers and wholesalers): As part of our on-going marketing efforts, we highlight Massachusetts farms and agricultural businesses through various publications, special events, B2B opportunities, and most importantly, on our website, www.mass.gov/massgrown. Helping you find profitable markets for your products is an important part of our mission. As a Massachusetts producer, you are entitled to the many different listings on the MassGrown website and brochures. If you would like to be included, or update your information, please complete our Farm Marketing Survey. If questions, contact Rick LeBlanc, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

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First “Commonwealth Quality” Lobstermen Announced at
Boston Local Food Festival

Massachusetts lobstermen adopt state’s quality seal to promote their local catch

MDAR's Commonwealth Quality Program (CQP) continues to gain steam. On Saturday, October 1, state marine and agriculture officials announced the first lobster fishermen to become certified under MDAR’s CQP, an initiative designed to help consumers identify Massachusetts agricultural and seafood products that are responsibly produced, harvested and processed.

Gathered beside Fort Point Channel at the second annual Boston Local Food Festival, officials from MDAR and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) joined local lobster boat captains to explain how consumers and fishermen stand to benefit from the state label program. State marine fisheries officials also underscored the importance of supporting Massachusetts lobstermen.

“A healthy fishing community in Massachusetts depends largely on the ability of local fishermen to market their product locally and cost effectively,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “This seal accomplishes this purpose by identifying those fishermen who sell direct while providing consumers access to the freshest products at the lowest prices.”

More than 60 local businesses, including agriculturalists, forest product manufacturers and commercial lobstermen, have achieved CQP certification since the program’s inception in September 2010.

“This program builds on the success of locally grown agriculture and helps keep small, family-run fishing operations viable,” said MDAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “Consumers who purchase products from a Commonwealth Quality-certified lobsterman will know they are getting a high-quality product, fished from Massachusetts waters using approved practices for harvesting and handling.” 

So far, Commonwealth Quality-certified lobster fishermen include:

  • David Casoni, Fishing vessel Margaret M, Plymouth
  • William Doherty, Fishing vessel Ishmael, Weymouth
  • Timothy Field, Revolution Lobster, Westport
  • Steve Holler, Fishing vessel November Gale, Quincy
  • Wes Penney, Fishing vessel Curmudgeon, North Billerica
  • Fred Penney, Fishing vessel Roy C., North Billerica
  • Richard Rowell, Fishing vessel Allison Gail, Danvers
  • Arthur Sawyer, Fishing vessel Miss Carla, Gloucester

To learn more about Commonwealth Quality, visit www.mass.gov/cqp. To inquire about Commonwealth Quality certification, contact program coordinator Michael Botelho at 617-626-1721 or Michael.Botelho@state.ma.us.

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Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Launches the
Massachusetts Gleaning Network

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is launching the Massachusetts Gleaning* Network. The network will include farms, volunteers, service agencies, food banks and other organizations, helping them to partner with others in gleaning projects in counties across Massachusetts. MDAR will serve as a clearinghouse for the network and members will utilize this vetted information to help them participate in gleaning projects in their own community.

The Massachusetts Gleaning Network will launch during the week leading up to “Food Day”, October 24, 2011.
An official press event will be used to educate constituents about gleaning, the impact they can make in their community by participating and to inform them on how get involved with local groups, working together to glean in their local community/ county.

Dozens of gleaning projects are taking place in several counties across Massachusetts by community groups who have recently joined the Massachusetts Gleaning Network. Gleaning efforts will be coordinated the week of October 14th and run through November (the timing of these events will depend on the harvest time of the individual farm).

Why a Massachusetts Gleaning Network?

Farms in several counties have expressed that they would like to be listed and love the idea of gleaning…they just don’t have the time or energy to coordinate it. There are gleaning groups and organizations wanting to host a community based volunteer project, yet do not have the resources, staff or time to identify farms. This is where MDAR can provide the resources and help to support communities who are coming together to help their neighbors access healthy, locally sourced food.

Interested groups are encouraged to become a part of this growing network. For more Information, please contact Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us, or at 617-626-1849.

News Flash Just In! Boston Area Gleaners is looking for hard-to-market, not-quite-perfect, frosted or a little too mature produce. Call 781-894-3212 (the office number) or 781-648-5117 (ask for Oakes). They have an enthusiastic volunteer base they can mobilize on short notice and will journey out to your farm with an appropriate sized group. Boston Area Gleaners, who are fully insured, closely supervise their volunteers to ensure that this process is easy and helpful to you. They deliver the harvested produce to a local food pantry or Food For Free. www.bostonareagleaners.org,email: volunteer@bostonareagleaners.org.

* Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.

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Commissioner Scott Soares Elected 2nd Vice President of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture – in 2014, Commissioner will Serve as President and Annual Meeting will be Hosted in Massachusetts

At the recent National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s Annual Conference held in Utah, Commissioner Scott J. Soares was elected 2nd Vice President of the Association. In 2014, Commissioner Soares will serve as president of the organization and the annual meeting will be held in Massachusetts. The last time an annual meeting was held in Massachusetts was in 1981 when then Commissioner Frederic Winthrop, Jr. served as president of NASDA.

Said Commissioner Soares, “This is a great honor for Massachusetts and will certainly be an opportunity to highlight the passion and commitment of so many people here who are working hard towards a vibrant agricultural future. The NASDA gathering will shine a national light on our rich agricultural heritage, diversity, and the innovative initiatives undertaken by our agricultural community.”

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(C)(6) association whose members consist of the “Departments of Agriculture” of all fifty states and four territories. The association’s office is located in Washington, DC. Its mission is to represent the state departments of agriculture in the development, implementation, and communication of sound public policy and pro-grams which support and promote the American agricultural industry, while protect¬ing consumers and the environment.

The organization is governed by a 10-member Board of Directors consisting of a 5-member Executive Committee; one At-Large member; and the presidents of the four NASDA regions. Executive Committee members are the officers of the association and serve a five-year term (each region has at least one member serving on the Executive Committee). The regional presidents serve a one year term. The At-Large member is selected by the Executive Committee.

MDAR is currently assembling a task team to begin initial planning stages for this prestigious event and great opportunity to highlight the Commonwealth’s diverse agricultural landscape.

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Why Should You Vaccinate Your Pet Against Rabies?

While the law requires that cats, dogs and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies, the best reason to vaccinate your pets is that the threat of rabies is serious and the virus is almost always fatal in animals and humans. The virus attacks the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and invariably results in death. Humans who are exposed to the rabies virus must receive post exposure prophylaxis immediately. It is only when treatment is received prior to the onset of symptoms that it is considered to be effective. Unfortunately, there is no post-exposure treatment for pets. The widespread use of routine rabies vaccinations in cats and dogs has proven to be the best defense in protecting pets as well as humans.

Rabies can and has impacted animals and their owners in Massachusetts, since 1992. During the summer of 2011 multiple exposures of animals occurred. The most devastating incidents occurred in two separate households in different areas of Massachusetts when pets, that were not up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations, encountered confirmed positive rabid animals. In both instances the pets were contained to enclosures where they were thought to be safe from harm. The exposures resulted in the heartbreaking decision between confinement to an isolation facility within an animal hospital for three months or euthanasia of the beloved pets. One of the cases involved a family’s 3 dogs that had attacked a confirmed rabid skunk. The other person lost his beloved 14 year old Labrador. Both households stated that they did not realize this could happen to them. Numerous similar heartbreaking incidents have occurred over the years because owners were not aware of the risk. Even pets that live strictly indoors have had encounters with confirmed rabid animals, so rabies vaccination is essential for housebound pets as well.

During 2010, 2,691 domestic animals in Massachusetts were possibly exposed to the rabies virus as a result of encounters with wildlife or other at-risk domestic animals. 131 animals, including 14 bats were confirmed positive for the rabies virus last year. Almost 150 animals submitted to the state laboratory for testing were not viable specimens because the samples were not handled appropriately and it could not be confirmed if they were infected with the rabies. Those numbers still don’t represent all of the rabid animals in the Commonwealth, as only those animals that caused known exposures to humans or domestic animals are submitted to the State Lab for testing. There are many animals that may have died from the virus that went undetected. The most important message is that rabies virus is present in Massachusetts, and it remains important to protect both animals and humans from the disease. For rabies clinic information please visit www.mass.gov/agr (under "Quick Links") or call 617-626-1786.

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Pest Alert: Spotted Wing Drosophila

Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii or “SWD”) has been detected for the first time in several New England states, including Massachusetts. This species, first found in the USA in California back in 2008, is different from most other fruit flies in that it can infest healthy fruit. SWD is primarily a pest of small fruit and berry crops, but has also been observed on other soft, fleshy fruit. For more information, including tips on managing this new pest, see this helpful page from UMass Extension: http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/alerts/spotted-wing-drosophila-drosophila-suzukii

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Pictures from Massachusetts Day at the Big E

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BUSINESS


Agricultural Commission Roundtable

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2011: 6:30 to 8:30 pm - MonponsettInn, Routes 106 and 58 (550 MonponsettSt), Halifax, MA

Plymouth and Bristol Counties Agricultural Commission Roundtable - Join Us! All invited, including AgCom members, folks from towns that are thinking about starting an AgCom, and others.**Refreshments will be served**

  1. The State of Agriculture and AgComs in Plymouth & Bristol Counties
  2. Roundtable discussion: AgCom issues, successes, opportunities, problems. Moderators: Sue Guiducci, Dartmouth AgCom and MAAC Board Member; and Dick Ward, Carver AgComand MAAC Board President
  3. Voting and Establishing an AgCom: the steps from A to Z, model warrant articles, establishing a steering group, getting the Town Meeting vote, recruiting members, working with other boards.

Sponsored by: Mass Association of Agricultural Commissions (MAAC), Mass Audubon, The Trustees of Reservations, Mass Dept of Agricultural Resources, Plymouth County Farm Bureau, and Bristoland Plymouth County AgComs. For pre-registration(encouraged but not required) or information, Pete Westover, MDAR, 413-665-4077, westover03@comcast.net; or Priscilla Chapman, Mass Audubon, 508-828-1104, pchapman@massaudubon.org. Click here for flier.

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Anaerobic Digester? What’s That? And You Mean to Tell Me There’s a Sales Tax Exemption for This Equipment?

You can find the answers to these and other questions about agriculture in a publication series named Agricultural Law Memos or ALMs. The Legal Services Division of the Department periodically publishes ALMs to provide farmers, local officials, and the general public with answers to difficult questions about agricultural activities and the law.

And in fact, there is an ALM on anaerobic digesters. Anaerobic digesters represent an alternative energy generating technology consisting of equipment that takes organic material such as manure from dairy and livestock farms or other organic feedstocks and decomposes it in a manner that creates methane gas and a composted soil amendment. The methane gas fires an electric generating facility to supply electricity for use on the farm and to sell to customers on the electricity grid. As Massachusetts laws would have it, equipment used in this process is exempt from the Commonwealth’s sales tax. Visit our website at www.mass.gov/agr/legal/alm and click on the link for ALM 11-01 to find out more! Or call Bill Gillmeister at 617-626-1811.

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GAP Training Program

UMass Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program - Conducted by Dr. Richard Bonanno, UMass Extension Educator. MARKET YOUR PRODUCTS WITH GREATER CONFIDENCE. Preventing and controlling the contamination of fresh farm produce is the key to producing wholesome, healthy products. GAP helps growers develop and implement farm food safety plans, and prepares you for GAP certification.

UMass Youtube videos (accessed by Smartphone or computer) teaches Massachusetts beginning farmers and established growers strategies for controlling microbial food safety hazards throughout all phases of production, havest, and post-harvest handling. This information also prepares growers for the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification process.

Print off the one page attachment and access videos via your Smartphone or go online with your computer.
http://extension.umass.edu

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Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) - Tourism U

October 24 - 28: Locations: Multiple locations across the state

Tourism U is a series of FREE presentations hosted around the state to enhance the tourism industry's awareness of the programs that MOTT offers. Each location will have two sessions.

Sessions Include:
1) Meet MOTT’s International Reps / Discover New England Summit Info Seminar

  • Presented by:
    • Julie Greenhill, MOTT UK Trade Representative
    • Doerte Buss, MOTT German PR/Trade Representative
    • Sue Norrington-Davies, Managing Director, Discover New England
    • Larry Meehan, Vice President of Media Relations & Tourism Sales, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
2) Massachusetts Film Office
  • Presented by: Lisa Strout, Director, Massachusetts Film Office

NOTE: the schedule below for each session except Hyannis (see link below for more info):
10:30 am - 12:00 pm - International Tourism Marketing
12:00 noon - 1:00 pm - Lunch on own
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm - Massachusetts Film Office

  • Monday, October 24: Hy-Line Cruises, Hyannis
  • Tuesday, October 25: MOTT Offices, Boston
  • Wednesday, October 26: The Gateways Inn, Lenox
  • Thursday, October 27: Hotel Northampton, Northampton
  • Friday, October 28: Wachusett Village Inn, Westminster
For more information visit massvacation.com. RSVP: dagny.ashley@state.ma.us. Questions: contact 617-973-8511.

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Hop Harvester Trialed at Massachusetts Hop Farm

A prototype of a new small scale, mobile hop harvester developed for New England hops growers was showcased at Four Star Farms in Northfield, just prior to Hurricane Irene on August 25. Dr. Heather Darby and Rosalie Madden from UVM Extension and Chris Callahan from Callahan Engineering led the discussion and demonstration of the hop harvester, being used for the first time in the hop yard at Four Star Farms.

There was also a discussion on processing and storing hops, a focus on determining harvest readiness and the best moisture and packing to preserve quality. A harvester showcase, farm tour and networking session were among the offerings. “The harvester prototype is being fine tuned as growers develop experience with the variations in the hop vines, according to Gene L’Etoile. It takes one person about one hour to pick a pound of pounds. “In three days with the harvester, L’Etoile and his family picked about 550 pounds of wet hops, working eight hours a day. The harvester is critical to making the business economically viable.

The L’Etoile family hosted the event, where they have experienced many of the challenges and successes of growing hops since they began production in 2008. Many Massachusetts farmers have stated their interest in growing hops, using information from the Vermont Trial Garden and Four Star Farms. There has been strong interest from brewers to obtain local hops, several of whom attended the event.

The development of the harvester prototype for small New England growers was supported by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Development and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Foods and Markets as part of the USDA Specialty Crops Grants program.

To learn more about the new hop harvester and to see a video demonstration, click here.

For information on the Northeast Hop Alliance Fall Hop Conference and Annual Meeting on November 5th in Troy, New York, click here.

For more information: Bonita.Oehlke@state.ma.us or visit MDAR's Hops Grower Resources.


“Pricing for Profits Farm Products” Workshop

Friday, October 28, 2011: Portsmouth Country Club, Greenland, NH, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm.

How much should I sell my tomatoes for? Is the price of my blueberries too low? What are other farms are charging? “These are questions growers ask me every season,” said Nada Haddad, UNH Cooperative Extension Educator, Agricultural Resources with Rockingham County.

Indeed pricing farm products for retail sales can be a difficult even for experienced growers. Yet this challenge is an important component of an effective marketing strategy. Pricing decisions must take into account all expenses and relate to market preparation and distribution channels, competition, farm image, branding and communicating the value of the product.

As an entrepreneur, your ultimate goal is to know your costs and price for profits, thus keeping the farm business sustainable and successful.

If you are a fruit, vegetable, cut flower or plant grower, livestock or egg producer, then this workshop is for you. If you sell at farmers markets or you operate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or Pick-Your-Own operation or have a farmstand or a garden center or are looking at selling your product at restaurants or institutions, please join us.

Speakers from New England will discuss the following: “How Many Markets Channels Do You Sell At? Are They Performing Equally Well?” Matt Leroux, Cornell Cooperative Extension; “Selling Farm Produce in Different Venues”, Richard Bonanno with Pleasant Valley Garden, Massachusetts; “CSA, Cut Flowers, Weddings and Chickens – How Do They Fit All Together?”, Stacey Brenner with Broadturn Farm, Maine; “Branding Your Business”, Robin Chesmer with the Farmer’s Cow, Connecticut; Crop Revenue Insurance with Shelby Colwell; and the following speakers from UNH Cooperative Extension: “Determining Your Bottom Line: Costs and Your Time”, Mike Sciabarrasi, Business Management Specialist; “The Price Tag” Nada Haddad, Agriculture Extension Educator, “Got Ideas You Want to Explore?”, Margaret Hagen, Agriculture Extension Educator. This workshop will get you ready to establish a market pricing for next season.

UNH Cooperative Extension thanks the USDA Risk Management Agency for supporting this workshop. Cost for the workshop including lunch and hand-outs is $20 per person if pre-registration received before October 22, or $25 with late or at the door registration and lunch not guaranteed.

For registration or more information contact Nada Haddad or Deb Stevens at 603-679-5616 or Deb.Stevens@UNH.edu. Visit: www.Extension.unh.eu. Click for flier with details and registration form is attached and below is a summary of the program.

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Farm Sales to Institutions in Massachusetts Continue to Grow

Massachusetts farms that sell to institutions such as schools and colleges grossed over $1.3 million in 2010, according to a report just released by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project in Amherst, Massachusetts. The 42 farms that reported 2010 income data generated $1.32 million in gross sales, a 74% increase over 2008, when 29 participating farms reported that they grossed $760,000. The vast majority (82%) of the farms that sell directly to institutions found it profitable or somewhat profitable, and 49 of the 51 farms that sell directly to institutions plan to continue such sales. In addition to being profitable, farmers cited other benefits, such as “Schools are loyal, regular customers,” “Winter school sales help stabilize the business,” and “Selling to schools gives us exposure in the community that helps sales at our farm stand and farmers markets.” One farmer stated, “I want to help kids eat the right stuff.” The report, titled “The Impact of Institutional Sales on Farm Income in Massachusetts: 2010 Farmer Survey Results,” can be downloaded here.

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2012 Agriculture Calendars Now Available

In its twelfth year, the 2012 Agriculture Calendar was unveiled and released on Massachusetts Day (Sept. 22nd) 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. Besides having the photographs in the Calendar, they are also featured on the Department’s Homepage. Each month’s winning photo adds a colorful touch highlighting the rich diversity of our Commonwealth’s agricultural community.

The Calendar was produced in collaboration with MDAR, MA Ag in the Classroom (MAC), and MA Farm to School Project. Each month features a photo a farm business or crop grown across the Commonwealth, along with teaching tips, statistics, and fun facts on Massachusetts Agriculture.

This years' photograpgh winners were honored on Massachusetts Day at the Big E, September 22nd where they were presented with complimentary calendars, and an Award Certificate by Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' (EEOEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan.

2012 Calendar Winners (click on month to see featured photo):

  • January – Barbara Ronchetti, Vineyard Haven (Alpaca Company Farm, Martha’s Vineyard)
  • February – Monica Elefterion, Dudley (Canning Jars at the Mind Barn, Dudley)
  • March – Tom Adams, Williamsburg (Hanging Mountain Farm, Westhampton)
  • April – Leonora Giguere, Leicester (Green Gate Farm)
  • May – Dr. Mary Melonis, Montague (Purple Dahlia)
  • June – Shelley Baker, Swansea (Baker Farm, Swansea)
  • July – Larry Flaccus, Shelburne (Kenburn Orchard, Shelburne)
  • August – Becky Prior, Watertown (Hutchins Farm booth at the Belmont Farmers’ Market)
  • September – Leonora Giguere, Leicester (Stephanie Giguere at Blossoming Acres, Southwick)
  • October – Sasha Purpura, Middleboro (Plato’s Harvest Organic Farm, Middleboro)
  • November – Jerry Horbert, Uxbridge (Cranberry Harvest Festival, A.D. Makepeace, Carver)
  • December – Susie Mulliken, New Braintree (Kip’s Christmas Tree Farm, New Braintree)

Honorable Mentions include Sasha Purpura of Middleboro; Richard Antinarelli of Dedham; Gene L’Etoile of Northfield; Tamara Leclerc of Ashby; and Robin Cohen of Arlington.

Your purchase of this unique local calendar will show your enthusiasm for Massachusetts agriculture, and will also support the many educational efforts of Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, the designated recipient of the proceeds. This attractive calendar will make a nice gift for any friend or family member who has an interest in agriculture. Calendars can be purchased for $10 each ($5 wholesale cost at 10 minimum). Send check payable to Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom to PO Box 345, Seekonk, MA 02771. *Farms and businesses are encouraged to purchase at wholesale cost on consignment for resale to at your retail farms. Contact Debi at debi.hogan@earthlink.net.

Thanks to associations who also sponsored pages; MA Maple Producers, MA State Grange, MA Flower Growers, MA Dairy Promotion Board, MA Farm Bureau, MA Fairs Association, MA Fruit Growers Assoc., and the MA Christmas Tree Association.

Keep clicking your cameras away and visit our MDAR’s website for next year’s Photo Contest held in the spring!
 

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UPCOMING EVENTS


Three Top Chefs to Prepare Harvest Feast at 2011 Urban Barn Dance

A Benefit for Mass Farmers' Markets

Three top chefs will showcase the best of the Massachusetts harvest at the 4th annual Urban Barn Dance on Thursday, October 20th. Bob Sargent of Flora Restaurant (Arlington), Chris Schlesinger of East Coast Grill (Cambridge) and Paul O'Connell of Chez Henri (Cambridge) will prepare an enviable cornucopia of food at this benefit for Mass Farmers' Markets.

After dinner, enjoy live music and contra-dancing with renowned caller Cammy Kaynor calling the steps – no experience necessary. A fantastic silent auction completes the feast. The Urban Barn Dance is $50 – an incredible value for such a fun-packed delicious event! It is from 6:30-9:30 PM at the Dante Alighieri Center in Kendall Square Cambridge. For tickets and more info, see www.massfarmersmarkets.org.

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Plant Nutrition for Greenhouse Crops

November 1, 2011: Sturbridge Host Hotel, 9:30am - 4:00pm

Plant nutrition is an important part of growing a quality crop. Many problems we see in greenhouses are due to incorrect plant nutrition. This program is for growers of all greenhouse crops...whether you grow ornamentals or greenhouse tomatoes, use organic fertilizers or chemical-based fertilizers (1 pesticide credit approved). Sponsored by UMass Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program. Program Details and Registration

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New England Trade Development Summit

October 17, 18: Waypoint Conference Center, New Bedford. For agricultural, seafood and food businesses interested in export development opportunities through the Port of New Bedford, plan to attend The New England Trade Development Summit. The event is sponsored by the City of New Bedford and the Port of New Bedford - Harbor Development Commission.

This program offers participants the opportunity to interact with key professionals from all aspects of international trade; identify links to trading partners through the National Export Initiative (NEI); understand new federal initiatives and trade policies; understand advantages of New Bedford for accessing New England and overseas markets; and attend a buyers/sellers workshop for regional and international trade. Featured speakers include Mayor Scott W. Lang, City of New Bedford and Rick Bridges, President, Coalition of New England Companies for Trade. DAR will join a panel relating to export support from USDA. Attendance at the Summit is courtesy of the City of New Bedford and Port of New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.

For additional details contact: Edward Anthes-Washburn, Director of Operations,Port of New Bedford – Harbor Development Commission, 508-961-3000, Edward.Anthes-Washburn@newbedford-ma.gov

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Fall Conference for Educators

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom (MAC) will hold our third annual "Fall Conference for Educators" onMAC logo Saturday, November 5th at the Clay Science Center of the Dexter and Southfield Schools in Brookline. The school borders Allandale Farm who joins us in co-sponsoring the conference.

The theme is Greening the School and all workshops will focus on composting & healthy soils; school gardening; activities for taking the garden into the classroom; nutrition & local foods, and natural resource conservation. Four sessions will be held throughout the day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a choice of five concurrent workshops in each session, offering how-to ideas, specific lessons, hands-on activities, curriculum connections and much more.

The Clay Center for Science and Technology is a state-of-the-art astronomical observatory and learning center that features seven research-grade telescopes. It contains sophisticated computer and science laboratories, a multi-media lecture hall, classrooms, dining and meeting spaces, and a solar energy roof deck and wind turbine. A tour will be offered during the afternoon.

Adjacent to the Dexter and Southfield Schools is Boston’s last working farm. Allandale Farm practices growing methods that meet organic requirements. They rotate crops, amend the fields with organic fertilizers and their own compost, and use only approved herbicides and fungicide. They offers CSA shares, a farm market with locally grown and artisan foods, a summer youth camp and school. Plan to visit the farm at the end of the day.

Don’t miss this day of discussion, interaction and activity ideas that will enhance your classroom. The $50 fee includes all workshops; materials; breakfast snack; dessert and drinks at lunch; and 10 professional development points with a related classroom activity. Read the full workshop schedule, registration information and more.

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New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference & Trade Show

December 13, 14, 15 2011: Center of New Hampshire Radisson Hotel, Manchester, NH

Three full days with over twenty educational sessions that cover all of the major vegetable, berry, and tree fruit crops, as well as various special topics such as cut flowers. 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. We hope that you will enjoy your time here, and meet with fellow growers, advisors, researchers, and industry representatives. We want you to leave with new ideas and new information that will have a positive impact on your farm. More info at www.newenglandvfc.org.


NOFA 25th Annual Winter Conference

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) / Massachusetts Chapter - 25th Annual Winter Conference
Saturday, January 14, 2012: Worcester State University, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, Massachusetts

Featuring Keynote Speaker John Jeavons: “Food & Our Future”
Including All-Day Seminar with John Jeavons, developer of GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini farming

65 Workshops, Dozens of Exhibitors and Vendors, Children’s Program, NOFA/Mass Annual Meeting

Registration opens October 15th: www.nofamass.org/conferences/winter/index.php
For more information about the 2012 Winter Conference, please contact:
Cathleen O’Keefe, Winter Conference Coordinator, wc@nofamass.org
For information on workshops, please contact: Michal Lumdsen, michal@nofamass.org
For information on sponsorships or exhibiting, please contact: Bob Minnocci, bob@nofamass.org.


Agricultural Business Planning Courses
January-March 2012

Registration is OPEN and filling fast - Courses Will be Offered in Amherst and Marlborough

MDAR offers three formats that serve broad spectrum of individuals who make up Massachusetts agriculture. Fees are kept low through MDAR support and openings are filled first by in-state farms and residents.

Explorers - For those who are thinking about getting into farming or expanding a hobby to an income-generating scale, “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” delivers experienced Instructor guidance and timely peer group feedback for making informed decisions about whether and how to proceed in farming. Five sessions over 6 weeks on weekday evenings in Amherst and Marlborough. Cost per enterprise - $125. *almost full

Planners – For those a step or two beyond Explorer who have access to land and a stronger sense of what they want and are capable of doing, “Planning for Start-up” provides a gut check before making more significant investments of time and money. Requires completion of Explorer, or prior self guided completion of the Explorer workbook. Applicants must have already reached the decision to farm on a revenue generating scale. Six sessions over 8 weeks on Saturday mornings. Cost per enterprise - $175.

Established Farmers – For those already operating an agricultural enterprise with at least two years of production and sales records, and who need to develop a comprehensive business plan on paper, “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity” offers a chance to assess, regroup, assemble documentation for decision making, consider redirection, plan expansion, or approach ownership transfer. This course draws on extensive peer experience, Instructor knowledge and guest speakers - with the addition of substantial individual technical assistance at course conclusion. 10 sessions over 11 weeks on weekday evenings. Cost per enterprise - $225.

Explorer and Tilling the Soil courses are limited to 12 farms/potential agricultural businesses in each site, with an option to bring a key partner at no extra cost. Planner is limited to 10. Full attendance is required to get expected results.

Please request additional details and an application for the course that fits you best. Courses fill quickly in the Fall. Email requests to Rick.Chandler@state.ma.us, or visit Agricultural Business Training Program.


New Entry Sustainable Farming Project Offering Two Versions of its
Farm Business Planning Course

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will be offering two versions of its flagship Farm Business Planning Course this fall:

Learn to develop and plan for your farm business in either a classroom or a web-based learning environment! The course will cover all aspects of planning for the long-term financial success of your farm business, including how to:
 

  • Select farm enterprises, and develop a business plan and enterprise budgets;
  • Identify and research the markets in your area, and how to 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 and schedule that follows your marketing and business plan.

Option 1: Classroom-Based Farm Business Planning Course
Dates: October 11th through November 29th, Tuesday evenings 6-9pm
Location: Middlesex Community College in Lowell, MA
Course fee: $400 (scholarships available)

For more information and to apply, please visit http://nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu/training/farmbusiness.html
Questions? Email sanderson@comteam.org or call 978-654-6745.


Option 2: Online Farm Business Planning Course
Dates: October 1st through December 3rd
Flexible schedule and location with 2 mandatory classroom sessions on the first and last days of the course in downtown Boston
Course fee: $500 (scholarships available)

For more information and to apply, please visit http://nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu
Questions? Email maura.beaufait@tufts.edu or call 978-654-6745.

The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project is a partnership project between Tufts University’sFriedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Community Teamwork, Inc. of Lowell. New Entry’s mission is to assist people who have an interest in small-scale commercial agriculture, to begin farming in Massachusetts. The broader goals of New Entry are to support the vitality and sustainability of the region's agriculture, to build long term economic self-reliance and food security among participants and their communities, and to expand access to high-quality, culturally appropriate foods in underserved areas through production of locally-grown foods. New Entry achieves its mission through preparing farmers with the knowledge, practical skills training, and business savvy to produce healthful food and market it within their communities by providing business planning courses, field trainings, access to farmland, collaborative markets, and ongoing technical assistance and support.


NEWS FROM USDA


USDA Secretary Designates 9 Counties in Massachusetts as
Primary Natural Disaster Areas

The Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Richard Burke would like to inform producers that Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester counties in Massachusetts have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by excessive rain and high winds associated with Tropical Storm Irene that occurred from August 28 through August 31, 2011. Plymouth and Suffolk counties are named as contiguous disaster counties.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reviewed the Loss Assessment Reports, along with additional information submitted by State Executive Director Richard Burke of the Massachusetts Farm Service Agency (FSA). Based on this review, USDA has determined that there were sufficient production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the FSA, provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses, security available, and repayment ability. SURE Program applications for 2011 crop losses will be accepted in 2012, when the 2011 farm revenue data required by statute becomes available.

For further information and assistance, please contact your local FSA office or the MA State Office at 413-253-4500.


Youth Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) makes operating loans of up to $5,000 to eligible individual rural youths age 10 through 20 to finance income-producing, agriculture-related projects. The project must be of modest size, educational, and initiated, developed and carried out by rural youths participating in 4-H clubs, FFA or a similar organization.
The project must be an organized and supervised program of work. It must be planned and operated with the assistance of the organization advisor, produce sufficient income to repay the loan, and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience in agriculture-related skills.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

For new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers.

Funding priority will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental and community-based organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach. At least 25% of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of limited resource beginning farmers or ranchers; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and farm workers desiring to become farmers or ranchers.

According to official guidelines, a beginning farm is considered to be one that is operated by one or more operators who have 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch; additionally, “farmer” is used in the broadest sense and includes traditional agricultural farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers.

Estimated total funding: $19 million - Closing date: November 22, 2011. For more information, please go to: www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher.cfm.


Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants

Agricultural and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change

This program provides support to coordinated agricultural projects designed to advance adaptation and mitigation of agricultural and forest production systems to climate variables to support the sustainable production of food, feed, fiber, and energy resources. Eligible areas/systems include the following: food and fiber production systems, to include legume production, farmed aquaculture systems, forest systems, and forage and range systems; and animal production systems, to include ruminant, swine, and poultry production. Total Program Funds: approximately $12 million.

More information is available at www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html and www.nifa.usda.gov/afri
Contact: Dr. Raymond Knighton, 202-401-6417

Sustainable Bioenergy

This program provides support to sustainability investigations that focus on the interplay between policy, the environment, and bioenergy and protecting and providing habitats for wildlife and beneficial insects in order to achieve economic, environmental, and rural community sustainability. Eligible topical areas are as follows: development and sustainable production of regionally-appropriate biomass feedstocks, policy options for and impacts on regional biofuels production systems, impacts of regional bioenergy feedstock production systems on wildlife and pollinators, socioeconomic impacts of biofuels on rural communities, and environmental implications of direct and indirect land use change. Total Program Funds: approximately $11 million for new awards.

More information is available at www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html and www.nifa.usda.gov/afri

Food Security

Projects are expected to address one of the several program priorities: reduce the economic, environmental, and social consequences of animal and plant pests and diseases with major impacts on food availability; decrease the use of antibiotics and pesticides in agriculture and food production and associated health and environmental risks; increase animal and plant products produced with the same or fewer resources; increase the number of farms engaged in local and regional food systems that use sustainable practices; increase food security, especially in vulnerable communities; increase and strengthen local, regional, national, and international markets; and strengthen the sustainability and economic resilience of rural communities.

More information is available at www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html and www.nifa.usda.gov/afri

Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program

Community Food Projects should be designed to (1): (a) meet the food needs of low-income people; (b) increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and (c) promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues; and/or (2) meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agriculture needs for (a) infrastructure improvement and development; (b) planning for long-term solutions; or (c) the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Participation in the pre-application submission webinar on October 27, 2011 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern Time is strongly encouraged. Total Program Funds: Approximately $5 million

Information is available at www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/communityfoodprojects.cfm and www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/cfp/cfp.html, Contact: Elizabeth Tuckermanty, 202-205-0241.


IN EVERY ISSUE

Classified Ads

  • The Town of Dartmouth is seeking Requests for Information and Qualifications for the Short Term and Long Term Usage of Dutch Belt Farm. Click here for more information.
  • Looking for a farmer to run the farm, partner, or lease it 15 ac total area with 3-5 ac cultivated fruit trees asparagus blueberry and veg fields fencing water green house barn raised beds. Near Rt. 9 and Rt. 495. Local restaurants have been buying can sell all that you grow the rest of the land is heavy woods and I have a sawmill I sell lumber and cut logs for people ( urban logging ) I'm very flexable just want the land to be productive. White Oak Farm and Sawmill, Hampton Smith, Southboro, 774-285-2952.
  • Agricultural excavation – Grading services: We 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.
  • Stone Ridge Farm offers full and rough board ($300 - $690). Indoor ring for inclement weather, large outdoor ring and trails just outside the back door. Facilities include a full jump course, a wash stall, heated buckets inside and out during the winter. We offer all day turn out, are open 24-7 and have a great group of friendly boarders!! Dressage/event lessons from USET event judge with many years of experience (truck in or I will travel). Located one mile from Route 495, near Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill. Call or stop by and visit!! Judy Lawless, 978-314-5685.
  • Used RTV 900 Kubota. Work model. Cab with windshield. Hydraulic dump body. 800 hours. Good condition. Asking 7500. Call (after 7 pm) Turner Farms Maple Syrup at 413-528-5710.
  • Free range chickens are good for coyotes. Not so much for chickens. Keep your chickens safer in a Happy Chicken Tractor -- daycare for chickens from the Little Chicken Factory. Made in Massachusetts, reasonably priced. Shipped UPS or delivered assembled from www.thelittlechickenfactory.com - 978-724-6662.
  • Looking for a cheese vendor at the Natick Winter Farmers’ Market - Saturdays, Jan. 7 – March 31. Debra @sayre.com, 508-259-9118.
  • Big, beautiful, just over a year old Silver Laced Wyandotte Rooster needs new home. Must be free range. He is just to big and frisky for my small flock of 5 hens. Fairly friendly has never attacked and will eat out of your hand. Free. Located in Princeton, MA. Contact Ann - quistcha@gmail.com.

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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Calendar

October

8 & 9

8th Annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration.This fun family event features juried crafters, activities for children, animal shows, cooking demonstrations, food vendors. For companies/organizations interested in exhibiting; Food Vendor Guidelines/Policies/Application; Exhibitor Guidelines/Policies/Application. Contact: Kim Houdlette, khoudlette@admakepeace.com,508-322-4000. For more information, visit the www.cranberryharvest.org.

8Northeast Highland Cattle Association's Annual Fall Show and Gathering, Mallery Arena, Eastern States Exposition, W. Springfield, MA. Free admission for spectators. For more information, visit highlandcattle.org/nehca or call (860) 423-4995.
13Brookfield Farm Twilight Meeting, 3 - 7pm, Brookfield Farm, 24 Hulst Rd, Amherst. The program will include: Using biological controls; Brookfield Farm has used Trichogramma ostrinea for control of European corn borer in sweet corn and Pediobius foveolatus for control of Mexican Bean Beetle in their bean crop. Late-season crops in high tunnels; Tomatoes and greens; Winter storage of fall crops; Post-harvest techniques to optimize storage life and quality of their late season crops. Their specially designed storage room in the basements of the barn holds root crops all winter. Winter CSA shares
More information on the following vegetable grower programs can be found at: extension.umass.edu/vegetable/
13Flooding and Organic Certification, Webinar: 1:00 - 3:15, Jim Riddle, University of Minnesota - Organic Outreach Coordinator - Flooding and Organic Certification. Preregistration required. Space is limited. Register now at www1.gotomeeting.com/register/433991832
17Massachusetts Farm Energy Guide Release and Networking Event! 4:00-6:30pm, Bramble Hill Farm, 593 S. Pleasant St., Amherst. Thinking about reducing energy use - and lowering fuel bills - on your farm? Or you already have energy-saving measures in place and are interested in renewable energy systems? Join us to get a head-start on planning your project with the practical MA Farm Energy Guide and expert guidance from other farmers, program partners, and local contractors. Come celebrate the release of the MA Farm Energy BMP Guide and pick up a copy of your own! Meet local installers and energy contractors, explore funding opportunities with state and federal agency reps, learn about implemented projects, and share experiences with other farmers! Limited spaces available - seasonal refreshments included! RSVP by October 10th. (413)256-1607 or info@berkshirepioneerrcd.org
*please include name(s), farm name, sector, and technology interests.
20Production Methods for Landscape Trees: Preliminary Research Results, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Amherst Nurseries, 199 Belchertown Rd (Rte. 9) Amherst. Join us for a tour of Amherst Nurseries where Dan Lass, UMass Isenberg School and Cathy Neal, Extension Nursery Specialist, UNH will discuss research results of three different tree production methods: field grown (B&B or bare root trees); pot-in-pot; and in-ground fabric containers. Program Details; Register by contacting Tina Smith, UMass Extension by 413-545-5306 or tsmith@umext.umass.edu.
26 - 28Community Wind Across America, Northeast Region Conference - The Desmond Hotel, Albany, NY. Conference covers Community Wind and Small Wind in a two-track program, with a mix of case studies and technical information. For those interested in benefiting from wind energy production - rural landowners, farmers, ranchers, municipal utilities, elected officials, town planners, tribal representatives, economic development professionals, business leaders, investors, bankers, and community leader. These regional conferences have been made possible in part by a grant from the Department of Energy, to bring hundreds of stakeholders together to learn from each other and experts in the renewable energy field. Since 2010, Windustry has held conferences in the Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Region, Minnesota for the Midwest, and Pennsylvania for the Mid Atlantic, and Michigan for the Great Lakes. For more information on Community Wind Across America, visit windustry.org/cwaa.

For a Complete Ongoing List of Events and Workshops, Click Here.

*** If you have events you would like listed to our Ag industry calendar, or Consumer events, email Rick LeBlanc at 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, Scott J. Soares, 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 December / January. Please send news, calendar and/or classified information by November 30th to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us, or fax to 617-626-1850. To unsubscribe or change your address, send an e-mail message to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us or call 617-626-1759.