Vol. 89, No. 5

In this issue:

Forefront

Upcoming Events / Workshops

USDA News

In Every Issue


Commissioner's Column

Commissioner Greg Watson

Dear Friends!

Early vivid hues of fall are backdrop to this October/November newsletter that I hope has you all enjoying the season!

Without doubt, our working landscapes are a big part of autumn’s splendor – a pasture of grazing cows, colorful apple orchards, pumpkin fields, cranberry bogs, vineyards, oyster farms and more. Thanks go to all of our very hard-working farmers who deliver us not only with fresh, local food from these working landscapes but also provide scenic beauty to residents and visitors alike.

The 2012 harvest season is looking to be a bountiful one. While there were a few pockets of crop damage due to earlier storms, most crops have fared well. To give a few examples: pumpkins, grown on 500-plus farms throughout the state and valued at approximately $7.8 million annually, are in abundance. The cranberry industry is looking at a crop of 2.10 million barrels of cranberries, which account for 30% of the total use of cranberries in the entire U.S. (second to Wisconsin which produces 57%)! As to this year’s apple crop, look below at one of our featured stories about some of Massachusetts’ fans who are particularly partial to the fruit!

Meanwhile, MDAR staff has been busy helping to protect and promote the state’s agricultural efforts throughout the season. I’m delighted to report that the Department’s MassGrown & Fresher “bootstrap” initiative that connects consumers to agriculture and vice versa was a recent recipient of a “Bright Ideas ” award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The Center recognized 111 innovative government initiatives as Bright Ideas that demonstrate a creative range of solutions to issues such as urban and rural degradation, environmental problems, and access to locally grown agricultural products.

Further in the news is our continued headway to preserve our working landscapes. For fiscal year 2013, the Division of Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance closed three projects with a value of $7.2 Million. Staff anticipates two to three more closings by the end of the calendar year.

Many grant announcements have been released within the last month that will help further boost the viability of local agriculture. These grants in excess of $1 million dollars will be used towards agricultural environmental enhancement projects, assistance to new and beginning farms, specialty crop block projects, marketing improvement, and more. Additionally, funding was received to promote the local craft brewery industry as well as maintenance level funding for the Department’s pesticide enforcement services.

MDAR has also been approved for two new trust accounts in FY13 – one is an agricultural inspection and infrastructure trust fund which will be designated to animal health, IPM, spay and neuter, animal rescue/shelter, poultry testing, and the Agricultural Innovation Center. The other account is the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund – a voluntary check-off donation to be used to offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of homeless dogs and cats.

The above is just a quick snapshot of the many exciting things going on right now in agriculture and I encourage you to contact us if ever you have questions, concerns, and/or want to learn more. In the meantime, please enjoy our Farm & Market Report for upcoming events, including Food Day on October 24th (read more below and which the Department is coordinating).

Thanks to you all for your support!

Best,

Commissioner Greg's Signature

Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner

www.twitter.com/MDARCommish

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Special Guest Column

Image of Christine Clarke

by Christine Clarke

Sustainability Grows in Healthy Soil

Thank you Mr. Elmer O. Fippin. Who is Elmer O. Fippin?  He was the soil scientist who mapped and wrote the 1903 publication entitled The Soil Survey of the Connecticut River Valley.  Thanks to his groundbreaking work more than a century ago, we have the tools today to reduce the effects of drought and increase our ability to feed the world.

In 1899, Congress appropriated $16,000 to the USDA Bureau of Soils to conduct four soil surveys in the Nation. One of the four was the Soil Survey of the Connecticut River Valley published in 1903.  Charged with mapping the existing farmland and land suitable for future agricultural production, this effort speaks volumes to both the historic importance of farming in the region and the highly productive and unique soils found in the Pioneer Valley a century ago.

Now collected, managed and distributed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), soils information is the backbone of resource management and conservation planning activities that support agriculture sustainability in the Commonwealth.  The soils data for the Nation, including all counties in Massachusetts, can be found on-line through the NRCS Web Soil Survey and  the  Soil Data Access.

A viable and productive agricultural system is one that is sustainable in the face of a changing environment.  Soil is the primary medium from which our food is derived and though it is often taken for granted, there are steps we can take to enhance both the health and sustainability of the Earth’s skin.  

What is considered a healthy soil?  Generally a healthy agricultural soil is one that contains organic matter, retains water and nutrients while also allowing air and water to filter through the profile while providing a habitat for living organisms.  If all soils possessed these basic qualities, there would be fewer starving people in the world.   How can this be ?

Simply by managing soils in a way that increases organic matter – dead and decaying plants and animals – we as the stewards of the soil can have a dramatic and positive impact.  Soils with high organic matter content hold more water, much like a sponge. The organic matter holds the water for use by plants and as a result, vegetation grows and thereby reduces drought hazard. Vegetation in turn stabilizes the soil to prevent run off of particles into streams and water bodies. 

Conversely, as soil and natural vegetation is increasingly covered by parking lots and buildings, less water percolates into the ground and runs across the landscape. This water generally contains a higher degree of manmade chemicals and sediments which eventually deposit in streams, water bodies and coastal areas. The impact of Tropical Storm Irene offers a recent example of the destructive force of flood waters and the need to protect our fragile landscapes with the tools at our disposal. 

Maintaining soil health also enhances water quality, cycles organic wastes, detoxifies noxious chemicals, increases soil carbon, removes C02 from the air, saves energy from reduced fertilizer use, increases drought tolerance, improves plant health and  reduces disease and pests.

NRCS and its conservation partners in Massachusetts work locally to identify and address natural resource concerns on private lands. We provide technical assistance and financial incentives through the Farm Bill focusing on resource issues, including soil health.  By contacting the local NRCS Field office, Massachusetts farmers can explore the potential benefits of implementing a Soil Health Management System and help feed the world.   

Christine Clarke has been the NRCS State Conservationist for Massachusetts for the past six years. As State Conservationist, Clarke oversees the federal agency’s programs,operations and staff in the Bay State. Previously, Chris served as Geodata Coordinator for NRCS in Beltsville, Maryland, supporting agency policy analysis and development needs, as well as business needs, related to spatial data. Chris, who enjoys kayaking, gardening and anything outdoors, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Rhode Island in Resource Development and Soil Science, and a graduate certificate from the University of Connecticut in GIS. She is a certified Soil Scientist.

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Forefront


A Message About Mosquitoes

Image of a mosquito

“Although it is October, mosquitoes continue to be present in our environment until the first hard frost. Everyone needs to continue to take precautions to avoid getting bitten,” said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Al DeMaria. “Use insect repellant, cover up exposed skin, and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and nighttime, when mosquitoes are at their most active."

More information, including all WNV and EEE positive results from 2012, can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page at www.mass.gov/dph/wnv or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

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Energy News

CISA/MFEP Present Renewable Energy Workshop: MassCEC Announces New Renewable Thermal Energy Program

The Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and the MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP) presented a twilight workshop on renewable heating systems at Red Fire Farm in Montague on September 19, 2012. Representatives from the MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP), the MA Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and MDAR discussed technology and equipment options, drawing from farmer experiences across the state. Technologies included solar thermal, biomass and geothermal. A guided tour of Red Fire Farm’s new geothermal heat pump system for renewable heating and cooling of Red Fire’s new central refrigeration and packaging center was provided and enjoyed by the many that attended.

As well, MassCEC presented and proudly announced for the first time their new Commonwealth Biomass and Heat Pump Pilot Programs. MassCEC will implement these pilot programs, which are currently under development, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The biomass program will provide financial support for the replacement of non-EPA certified wood or coal stoves and outdated outdoor hydronic heaters with high efficiency, low emission versions, and incentives for the installation of indoor whole-house wood pellet boilers. The heat pump program will provide financial support for geothermal heat pump installations in residential, commercial, municipal, and agricultural applications and residential air source heat pump installations. MassCEC will make additional funding available for district heating projects using wood pellet or heat pump technologies at municipal, commercial and agricultural facilities. Please visit www.masscec.com/renewable-thermal for more information and to sign up for program announcements.

MassCEC also presented their recently announced launch of the first year of the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Program, a $10 million, 4.5 year program that will last through the end of 2016. The first year of the program has a budget of $1.5 million, which will support residential and commercial-scale solar hot water systems from July 2012 through June 2013.

This program can be particularly beneficial to farms across MA and MDAR along with the MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP) will be working to promote this great program to farms across the state.

For more information please visit the MassCEC Solar Thermal Hot Water website here.

BPRC&D & the MFEP Awarded NRCS 2012 Conservation Innovation Grant

Christine Clarke, Massachusetts State Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced nearly $217,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for three projects that will stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and other natural resource issues. NRCS administers CIG as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Grant recipients pay 50 percent of all project costs.

Among the Massachusetts projects selected for 2012 CIG grants was Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. in Amherst, the administrator of the MA Farm Energy Program. BPRC&D will receive $74,769 to support the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program’s effort to reduce farms’ dependence on energy and minimize greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. BPRC&D will expand on its current statewide comprehensive farm energy audit and implementation program and focus on innovative energy conservation practices not yet supported through EQIP. This will be achieved through in-depth trialing, on-farm demonstration and documentation.

“These Conservation Innovation Grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving in the Commonwealth’s farms and water resources,” said Clarke. “Nationally, CIG grants allow the best minds in America to develop unique and innovative solutions that will help make conservation more efficient in the future.”

MFEP is a joint project of Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation & Development Area, Inc. and the MDAR, developed with support from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Recent MA Legislature Energy Bill & Net Metering Revisions

The recent congressional session that ended July 31st resulted in noteworthy net metering revisions as part of Senate Bill 2395, “An Act relative to competitively priced electricity in the Commonwealth.” These are:

Section 23-30, 49. Net Metering

  • Increases the total net metering cap from 3% to 6% of peak load, and exempts certain projects from the cap altogether
  • Increases the private net metering cap from 1% to 3%. Increases the net metering cap for governmental entities and municipalities from 2% to 3%
  • Exempts net metering facilities that generate a small amount of electricity from the private net metering cap. Exempts certain net metering facilities whose capacity is under 10 kW or 25 kW, depending on the circuit it will interconnect with
  • Adds anaerobic digestion to the list of allowable net metering generation facilities
  • Directs the DPU to develop an enforceable standard interconnection timeline

Please see www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02395 for the full text of the bill.

Here are links to the latest information on net metering capacity by utility from their respective webpages. Due to the recent bill, the current cap obligation for each utility is now 3% of each utility’s maximum annual peak for the private sector projects; and 3% of the same peak for state, city and town government projects.

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MassGrown & Fresher "Riding the Rails” Campaign Continues in September/October

Our third poster series of 2012 to promote Massachusetts Agriculture can be seen on the north and south station commuter rails for the months of September and October.

Funding was provided by a USDA Specialty Crop grant, along with matching funds from the MA Fruit Growers, MA Christmas Tree Assoc., MA Farm Winery & Growers Assoc., and the Cape Cod Cranberry Assoc. The posters emphasize Pick-Your-Own and Ag-tourism opportunities across the Commonwealth. If you see one, snap a picture and send to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

The MassGrown & Fresher initiative was the recent recipient of a “Bright Ideas” award from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The Center recognized 111 innovative government initiatives across the nation that demonstrate a creative range of solutions to issues. Said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the program, “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, some of our country’s smartest innovations can in fact reduce government’s size while serving our citizens more efficiently and effectively.”

*All Farm Businesses (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 and Fresher website and brochures. If you would like to be included on our map, or update your information, please click here pdf format of    1-mktg-farms-survey .pdf  for our Farm Marketing Survey. If questions, contact Rick LeBlanc, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us. Follow us on twitter @Massgrown.

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33 Grants for Environmental Improvements Awarded to Massachusetts

$375,000 have been awarded to 33 projects that will help farmers mitigate or prevent negative impacts to natural resources from agricultural practices.

Awarded through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP) grants went to farms in the towns of Ashfield, Becket, Carver, Cataumet, East Sandwich, EastTaunton, Fairhaven, Halifax, Hardwick, Hawley, Lakeville, Leverett, Middleboro, Plympton, Rehoboth, Rochester, Shelburne, Sherborn, Stow, Westhampton, Westport, Winchendon and Worthington.

These grants will fund projects such as automated irrigations systems for cranberry operations, milkhouse wastewater treatment, compost facilities, fencing, and drip irrigation. AEEP funds practices that improve water quality, promote water conservation, and improve air quality. Farmers selected to participate are reimbursed for the approved costs of materials up to $25,000.

AEEP is one of several programs within MDAR’s Division of Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance (DACTA), whose mission is to advance the conservation and utilization of agricultural resources through preservation, environmental stewardship, technology, technical assistance and education in order to enhance the viability of agricultural enterprises and safeguard natural resources. AEEP has funded 422 projects statewide since 1999, providing growers and producers approximately $5 million to address environmental concerns on their farms.

For more information on the AEEP Program, visit www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aeep. For information on the Division of Technical Assistance programs, visit www.mass.gov/agr/divisions/ag_technical_assistance.

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Compost Meeting at Great Brook Farm Discusses Revisions to Compost Program

Image of Compost Meeting Sign

Last month agricultural composters gathered at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle to share their thoughts on the future of agricultural composting in the state with MDAR Commissioner Watson. With MassDEP planning to require the diversion of food waste and organics out of the waste stream towards anaerobic digestion or composting by 2014, organics management in Massachusetts has reached an important juncture.

An estimated 25% of solid waste is composed of organic material such as food waste. Of this, less than 5% is currently diverted from the waste stream. The state has set a goal of removing an additional 350,000 tons per year (or 35% of food waste) from the waste stream for “recycling” through methods such as composting and anaerobic digestion. The target for most of the organics recycling will be large generators of food waste such as hotels, convention centers, food waste processors, and large institutions.

Image of a Compost Meeting
Jamie Doucett from MassDEP provides overview of new regulations for solid waste

To meet this aggressive goal there needs to be an adequate organics recycling infrastructure in place to handle the increased volume of materials. To help create this infrastructure MassDEP has been working over the past couple of years to overhaul its solid waste management regulations (at MGL 310 CMR 16.00), proposing the most significant changes in years. Of relevance to farmers, the proposed regulations include an exemption for agricultural composters provided the operation complies with the regulations and guidelines of MDAR. The MassDEP regulations also increase the tonnages and types of material that can be brought to farms. There are also specific provisions for on-farm anaerobic digesters not addressed in the current regulations.

Changes to Agricultural Composting Program 

To ensure consistency with MassDEP’s regulations the Department is proposing its own changes to the Agricultural Composting Program. The principal changes to the proposed Agricultural Composting regulations are:

  • Revised or new definitions including Agricultural Unit; Agricultural Materials; On-Site
  • New process for animal carcass composting
  • Increased volume and variety of waste organic materials that farms can import for composting. On a daily basis the regulations propose to allow farms to import 30 tons with a maximum of 105 tons per week
  • Requiring farmers to undergo training before receiving a composting registration
  • Defining “agricultural composting” as a process where the majority of the inputs are agricultural or the majority of the compost is used by the farm

While the increase in the volume and variety of waste materials will benefit farmers through more potential tipping fees, it also presents some challenges and concerns. Farmers need to have the right skills and knowledge, an appropriate site and the right equipment to manage larger amounts of organic materials. If more food waste is to be diverted from the waste stream to farm compost sites, there will be an increased need to train compost operators to manage this difficult-to-handle feedstock. The Department is proposing mandatory compost operator training, with possible allowances made for those who already have years of compost experience. Other changes will include more stringent record keeping of incoming and outgoing materials, clarification of what qualifies as “agricultural composting,” and revisions to the Agricultural Composting Guidelines to address the new requirements and new needs.

These proposed changes to the Agricultural Composting Program regulations (330 CMR 25.00) will go out for public comment in the near future. At this point you may provide input by reviewing our proposed approach at our compost website. Deadline for comments is Friday, October 19, 2012. Comments may be submitted to Gerard Kennedy at Gerard.Kennedy@state.ma.us.

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Must Be The Milk Billboard Campaign Kicks Off

The Ziembas from Broadlawn Farms in Adams, Massachusetts were chosen by the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board and New England Dairy Promotion Board to be featured in the first Must Be The Milk billboard campaign. The billboard was created to launch a new dairy image campaign, highlighting Massachusetts dairy farmers who not only produce a high-quality, nutritious product, but also sustain the land and wellbeing of generations to come. Billboards are posted until October 7th on I-90, I-291 and I-91 in Springfield and West Springfield.

Those pictured in the billboard are Mark Ziemba, Laura Ziemba, and Taylor Ziemba (the daughter).

So what’s the inside scoop? Must Be The Milk is the new campaign for the Keep Local Farms program which started in 2009 as a partnership with the New England Dairy Promotion Board, the New England Family Dairy Farms Cooperative and Vermont Dairy Promotion Council. The goals of the campaign are to:

  • Educate people about dairy farming
  • Promote the purchase of milk and dairy foods
  • Raise funds for New England and New York’s dairy farmers

More at mustbethemilk.com.

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2012 Cranberry Crop to be Plentiful

This year's cranberry harvest projected to be third largest on record

Massachusetts is expected to yield a bountiful crop of 2.10 million barrels of cranberries in 2012. The cranberries produced by Massachusetts accounted for 30 percent of the total use of cranberries in the entire U.S. – second only to Wisconsin, which produces 57 percent of the cranberries used in the United States. Massachusetts cranberries also enjoy significant export activity and represent the largest fruit crop grown in the state.

Cranberry growth started ahead of the normal season due to the early arrival of spring. Growers delighted in good conditions during the bloom and pollination phase of the season, avoided frost damage with their modern sprinkler systems when temperatures reached below freezing in late April and early May, and battled heat stress in July. Local cranberry farmers swiftly overcame any obstacles and are preparing for a fruitful harvest.

Overall, the U.S. production forecast is 7.68 million barrels, which is down a fraction of a percent from the 2011 harvest. Production is up in New Jersey, Oregon Washington and Wisconsin. Cranberries are also grown in British Columbia and Quebec.

There are a number of Massachusetts cranberry farms which offer opportunities for the public to take part in their own personal cranberry adventure. Visitors are given the rare chance to see the bog, harvest, and purchase berries and products. Many farmers host seasonal events and celebrations as well.

At Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, one can put on waders, step into the bog, and help with the harvest as part of the grower experience. Most farms host school groups, private groups, and youth organizations, and many are handicapped accessible as well. To find a bog near you visit: www.cranberries.org or www.mass.gov/massgrown.

This year marks the 9th anniversary of the Cranberry Harvest Celebration in Wareham, presented by the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association (CCCGA) and the A.D. Makepeace Company. The CCCGA was established in 1888 making it one of the country’s oldest farmers’ organizations. A.D. Makepeace Co. is the world’s largest cranberry grower, currently harvesting nearly 2,000 acres. The festival will take place on Columbus Day weekend (October 6 & 7) from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at 158 Tihonet Road, Wareham. The festival is a fun and educational family-friendly event (but no pets please) which allows visitors to engage in the unique world of cranberry-growing while enjoying the scenic outdoors.

The main attraction is the guided tour of the bog where guests can get up-close and personal with growers and their product, and the adventurous folk can take helicopter rides to get an aerial view of all of the harvest happenings. The celebration features over 50 artists and craft vendors, live entertainment, and cooking demonstrations. Kids can enjoy the pony and train rides, face painting, live bird show, pumpkin decorating, bouncy house, and much more. Food vendors will be serving up everything from cider doughnuts to stuffed quahogs, not to mention a wide array of cranberry specialties.

The event also serves as an annual fundraiser for local non-profit organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity. For more information on the harvest celebration visit www.cranberryharvest.org.

Best known as a delicious side dish to the Thanksgiving feast, there are many savory year-round recipes that use cranberries to enhance day-to-day meals. The U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee provides more information about cranberries including suggestions that help make them a part of your daily routine. Make today a holiday by incorporating them into your mealtime repertoire with recipes like Cranberry Avocado Salsa, and Grilled Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Cranberry & Sausage Stuffing, courtesy of the CCCGA. Deepen your knowledge, nourish your body, and tickle your taste buds as often as possible this cranberry season. Fresh from the bog cranberries are available for a limited time only, from the month of September to November, but can also be enjoyed frozen or dried all year round.

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New Wine and Cheese Trail focuses on Massachusetts’ Rich Culinary Offerings

Image of The Samek family and Governor Patrick
The Samek family and Governor Patrick
Image of Dave Smith and his staff from Smith's Country Cheese
Dave Smith and his staff from Smith's Country Cheese
Image of Commissioner Watson, Governor Patrick and John Samek
Commissioner Watson, Governor Patrick and John Samek talk about the economic importance of the wine and cheese sectors

In mid August, Governor Deval Patrick joined staff from MDAR, MOTT and 17 wineries, cheese makers and food businesses at Hardwick Winery to announce the expansion of the Massachusetts Wine and Cheese Trail, bringing the number of stops on the statewide trail to 29 wineries and 18 cheese businesses. The event was preceded by press tours at Robinson Farm and Ruggles Hill Creamery.

Massachusetts wineries accounted for more than $9.3 million in sales in 2010 – a $1.5 million increase over 2007. Two-thirds of sales were made directly to consumers at wineries like those included on the trail.

Today there are 25 cheese businesses – compared to 18 in 2007. In 2011, production totaled 650,160 pounds – an 11 percent increase from 2007, when the production was 586,475 pounds. About half of the cheese makers use cow’s milk, and the other half goat’s milk.

An economic study by MDAR show sales totaled $5.55 million in 2011, up from $5.12 million in 2007 – an increase of 10.5 percent. The industry employed 80 – 46 full-time and 34 part-time – workers in 2011, more than double the 38 employees in 2007. Commonwealth cheese businesses maintain some 2,014 acres of land, with 721 acres exclusively for grazing. Farmstead cheese is an important value added product for the state’s dairy farmers.

Maps of the trail can be found at wine and cheese businesses and MOTT’s Regional Tourism Councils across the state. The expanded trail is a creative collaboration funded by MOTT and their 16 Regional Tourism Councils, the Massachusetts Farm Wineries and Growers Association and the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. The Trail was designed, coordinated and distributed by MDAR’s Division of Agricultural Markets.

Massachusetts wine and cheese businesses featured their products during a reception for the Trail announcement.

Participating wineries included Amherst Farm Winery, Amherst ; Black Birch Vineyard, Southampton; Hardwick Winery, Hardwick; Les Trois Emme, New Marlborough; Mill River Winery, Rowley; Mineral Hills Winery at Goddard's Red Hen Farm, Florence; Mount Warner Vineyards, Hadley; Still River Winery, Harvard; Vandervalk Farm and Winery, Mendon.

Participating cheese makers included Berkshire Blue, Great Barrington; Nobscot Artisan Cheese at Eastleigh Farm, Framingham; Robinson Farm, Hardwick; Ruggles Hill Creamery, Hardwick; Smith's Country Cheese, Winchendon; Shy Brothers Cheese, Westport; and Uppingil Farm, Gill. Other local farm and food businesses participating included Hartman's Herb Farm and Bed and Breakfast, Barre and Rose32 Bakery, Gilbertville. More pictures of event here.

Massachusetts wine and cheese businesses can also be found by going to MDAR’s MassGrown & Fresher website. Specific wine events can be found on DAR’s “Savor Massachusetts” Culinary and Agricultural Tourism calendar and the Massachusetts Farm Winery and Growers Association website. For more information contact Bonita.Oehlke@state.ma.us.

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Hops Field Day

Steve Prouty, in green shirt, discusses his hop crop with growers, researchers and brewers.
Steve Prouty, in green shirt, discusses his hop crop with growers, researchers and brewers.

Steve Prouty, Clover Hill Farm, Gilbertville, hosted a Massachusetts Hops Field Day in his hop yard in mid August. The University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils team joined him as he discussed issues related to his ¾ acre hop field, planted with 400 rhizomes in 2011.  Fertility requirements, pest management, and best management practices were among the topics of discussions. Further conversations addressed trials and tribulations of growing hops in a humid climate, and solutions to common problems. Variety selection and updates from the UVM Extension research hop yard were highlighted.   In addition to growers from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Quebec, brewers from Wachusetts and Wormtown were in attendance.

For more information:  http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/hops_resources.htm

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MA Malted Grains: Connecting Craft Beer Fans to MA Local Ingredients

The craft beer industry continues to show strong growth in the US, and Massachusetts is no exception! A focus on local ingredients in craft beer attracts consumers and supports agricultural sustainability.

Valley Malt in Hadley, operated by Andrea Stanley and her husband, have 15 breweries participating in their “Brewer's Supporting Agriculture” (BSA) project. BSA members pay for a season’s worth of specialty malted grain as an ingredient for beer. Stanley then uses the funds to pay growers up front for their grain. In 2013 Valley Malt will have over 150 acres of grain being grown specifically for their malting operations, and plan to continue expanding.

Currently the malt house processes 8,000 pounds of malt weekly, the equivalent of 4,000 gallons of beer. The malt house could currently support about 200 acres of grain, but plans are to eventually increase production to 20,000 pounds weekly which would require 500 acres and allow the ability to yield 500,000 gallons of locally grown MA beer. Brewers can inquire about the BSA by contacting andrea@valleymalt.com. Valley Malt is looking for more growers in the region to participate in the BSA project.

To celebrate the 2nd year anniversary of Valley Malt and all of its successes, their “Barleyfest” will take place on Sunday October 21st at the Young Men’s Club in Hadley, from 1-6pm. Admission is free. “We have been working very hard and want to celebrate the fact that we have made it this far, and want to say thank you to all the farmers, brewers, and community members who have offered us encouragement and support” says Stanley. “Barleyfest is a community event that we hope brings together farmers, friends, and family for a day of fun. We will be selling only beers made with locally grown grains and hops as well as pizza made with locally grown wheat”. Her daughters’ Brownie Troop will be selling cider to raise money for UNICEF at this family-friendly event. The celebration will feature a rock climbing wall, bouncy house, live music, home brew demos, an antique tractor show, and more. Malt house tours will be available earlier in the day.

Valley Malt insures that those who venture out for the festival will have a full sensory experience of exactly what malt is, how it is grown, and how it tastes! Taking place on the same day as Barleyfest at 10am is the 5K for Farmland. This event raises money and awareness for the Kestral Trust which helps to preserve local farmlands. Free beer is offered to anyone who participates.

Currently the malt house processes 8,000 pounds of malt weekly, the equivalent of 4,000 gallons of beer. The malt house could currently support about 200 acres of grain, but plans are to eventually increase production to 20,000 pounds weekly which would require 500 acres and allow the ability to yield 500,000 gallons of locally grown MA beer.

Andrea Stanley is on the Advisory Board for MDAR’s MA Farm Breweries & Local Ingredients project that aims to increase business between Massachusetts growers and craft and through promotion to consumers. By purchasing Valley Malt’s malted grains, she believes that local breweries and those who drink their beers become more connected to their local farms and land.

“We want people to make the connection that beer is an agricultural product, just like wine, cider or milk, said Andrea. It comes from ingredients that were grown by a farmer and we want to celebrate the fact that for the first time in at least 100 years, folks can now enjoy a beer that was made with ingredients grown in our state”. In North America, all malting is done in large facilities in the West and Midwest. No chemicals and no major processes are involved here. Just steeping, germinating and drying, which takes about 8 days total.

Barley is an excellent crop for giving nutrients back to the soil and promoting sustainable farming practices and biodiversity. Using barley in a farm’s crop rotation cycle replenishes hard-worked land and protects it from erosion, in the winter time especially. The response from MA grain growers has been positive. Farmers are in favor of a healthy soil crop rotation system, and many partner with local brewers to make their own special farmhouse beers.

An example of a Massachusetts brewery using all local ingredients is Wormtown Brewery, Worcester who support hops and grain farmers in MA by featuring local ingredients in the beer. Other MA brewers who use Valley malt products include; Brewmaster Jack, Jack’s Abby, Mystic Brewery, Cambridge Brewing Co., Notch Session, and People’s Pint.

The MDAR is coordinating a “MA Farm Breweries & Local Ingredients” project that aims to increase business between Massachusetts growers and craft through promotion to consumers. MDAR was awarded funding through USDA Rural Development and FSMIP (Federal State Marketing Improvement Program), backing two key projects for support to strengthen business relations between growers and brewers and promote the industry. For more information, contact Bonita.Oehlke@state.ma.us

Valley Malt insures that those who venture out for the festival will have a full sensory experience of exactly what malt is, how it is grown, and how it tastes! Taking place on the same day as Barleyfest at 10am is the 5K for Farmland. This event raises money and awareness for the Kestral Trust which helps to preserve local farmlands. Free beer is offered to anyone who participates. www.wormtownbrewery.com/meet-the-brewer.php.

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2013 - 2014 New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide Now Available

New England State Universities Announce Release of 2013 - 2014 New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide - A Management Guide for Insects, Diseases, Weeds and Growth Regulators

Greenhouse growers throughout New England and in other parts of the country rely on the New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide as an unbiased source of detailed crop-specific production recommendations. This compendium of up-to-date information about methods and products used to manage insects, mites, diseases, weeds and algae, and regulate plant growth, is a must-have manual for professional growers. Since the last edition, several new products have become available and have been incorporated into the 2013- 2014 publication. A pest and problem identification website, developed by Guide contributors Leanne Pundt of Univ. of Connecticut, and Tina Smith Univ. of Massachusetts in the last edition of the manual, has been expanded to include even the most recent crop problems. The website (http://www.negreenhouseupdate.info/) provides photos and descriptions of hundreds of plant problems caused by insects, mites, diseases, nutritional disorders and cultural problems.

All of the Guide’s chemical recommendations are presented within the framework of sustainability. The insect/mite section, for example, has been rewritten to present an integrated step-by-step approach to managing greenhouse pests. Practical guidelines for instituting a biological control program, including use of banker plants and alternative pest control materials, are provided. The plant growth regulator (PGR) section provides details of which PGRs to use and how to apply those products to specific crops, and also explains how to manage crop growth environmentally.

The Guide is updated every two years by floriculture faculty and staff from the six New England State Universities, and is published by New England Floriculture, Inc.

The 2013-14 edition of the Guide will be available to attendees of the New England Greenhouse Conference at a special conference price of $25 per copy. After the conference, it will be available for $40 per copy via the Northeast Greenhouse Conference website. November 7-8, 2012, DCU Center, Worcester, MA www.negreenhouse.org.

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Wildlife Habitat Grants Available for Landowners

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) invites farmers, woodlot owners, and other private landowners who want to actively manage their property to benefit wildlife to apply for a Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) grant. LIP is designed to reimburse private landowners up to 75% of the total project cost of managing lands to improve habitat for declining types of wildlife in the Commonwealth. The application deadline is October 12, 2012.

Eligible applicants must be able to successfully complete their proposed project by June 30, 2013. State and municipal agencies are not eligible for this funding. A link to the LIP information and application documents is posted at www.mass.gov/masswildlife. Contact Mike Sawyers, LIP Coordinator at 508-389-6387.

Since 2005, MassWildlife’s Landowner Incentive Program has funded 157 LIP projects and provided technical assistance to private landowners from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. Past projects have benefited a wide array of species-at-risk across the Commonwealth from enhancing beaches for shorebird breeding habitat to protection of grassland-bird breeding habitat to rare turtle habitat maintenance. Through this program MassWildlife has contributed close to $3.5 million for the conservation of declining species on private land over the program’s 6-year history.

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Massachusetts Exhibitors ‘Fair’ Very Well at the Big E

Exhibitors in the Massachusetts Building ‘faired’ very well with record number of visitors attending this year’s annual Big E located at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass Despite several not-so sunny days, the Massachusetts Building was filled with visitors purchasing a wide array of products from braided rugs made at Thorndike Mills of Palmer  to enjoying apple crisp found at the New England apple booth. At the end of the fair, it was noted that approximately 3,744 treated themselves to Finnish pancakes at the Poultry Booth and 8,234 lobster rolls devoured from the Massachusetts Grange Booth.

Over 60 Exhibitors and Entertainers participated in the Massachusetts Day event held annually during the Big E.   The day's events highlighted an array of the Commonwealth's commerce, tourism and agricultural interests and a number of awards were presented to the winners of the Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Amateur photography contest, student winners of the Massachusetts 'Fuel Up to Play 60' poster contest and recognition of the annual ‘Massachusetts Wall of Fame for 2012’.   Al DiCarlo and Gina DiCarlo will accept the recognition honor on behalf of Rose DiCarlo, who recently passed away.  Rose spent over 20 years working in the Massachusetts Building for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) at their informational booth.  Rose truly depicts the intent of the award.  The ‘Wall of Fame’ honors those who have gone above and beyond to make the Massachusetts Building so successful and enjoyable to visit.2012.

The backyard of the Building is beautifully landscaped for fair visitors to enjoy.  Featured this year, a beautiful water/plant display courtesy of Smith Vocational, a 32 foot agricultural mural leant  by the Hatfield Agricultural Advisory Commission, and a Christmas Tree display complete with a 10 foot balsam exhibited by the Massachusetts Christmas Tree Growers Association.  In collaboration with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and 'Big Belly' Solar Trash Compactors, six solar powered trash compactors have been dispersed throughout the Massachusetts Building grounds for use by fairgoers during fair.

The Massachusetts Building is located on the Avenue of States of the Big E - an attraction that features replicas of the original capital buildings of each New England state. Managed year-round by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Building was the first state replica to be built and was dedicated in 1919 by then Governor Calvin Coolidge and marked the official launching of the Avenue of States. More pictures here.

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2013 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendars Now Available

In its thirteenth year, the 2013 "Celebrating the Seasons of Massachusetts Agriculture" calendar was unveiled and released on Massachusetts Day (Sept. 20) 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.

This year's photograph winners were honored on Massachusetts Day at the Big E, September 20, where they were presented with complimentary calendars, and an award certificate by MDAR’s Commissioner, Greg Watson. Pictures from MA Day festivities here.

2013 Calendar Winners (pictures posted here):

  • January - Monica Howe, New Braintree - Barn at sunset at Sunny Side Acres,  New Braintree
  • February - Susie Mulliken, New Braintree - Two horses at Trium Searah Farm, New Braintree
  • March - Jane Lyon, Easthampton – Maple syrup at Ledgeline Farm, Chesterfield
  • April (and cover) - Kristen Schartner, Bolton  - Bumble bee on apple blossom at Schartner Farms, Bolton   
  • May - Debi Hogan, Seekonk – Siberian Iris at Tranquil Lake Nursery, Rehoboth
  • June - Rich Antinarelli, Dedham - Cow at the Natural Resources Trust of Easton in North Easton
  • July - Joshua Goldstein, Amherst – Traditional Hay Tedding at Amethyst Farm, Amherst           
  • August - David Cawston, Roslindale – Horse Team at Marshfield Fair           
  • September - Christopher Kieffer, Salem – Wine Grapes growing at Alfalfa Farm Winery, Topsfield
  • October - Chris Clegg, Seekonk - Rainbow Carrots at Four Town Farm, Seekonk          
  • November - Emily Dines, Williamsburg - Corn Cobs at The Village Green, Williamsburg
  • December - Seth Cranston, Ashfield – Sunrise at Cranston’s Christmas Tree Farm, Ashfield MA     

Honorable Mentions : Christopher Kieffer, Salem , Peg Mallett, Wayland , Becky Prior, Watertown , Patricia Norton, Boylston, Michelle Hirlihy, Shrewbury, Dorrie Holmes, Granville, Kristen Schartner, Bolton

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. Note to farms and businesses: You 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 sponsored months of the calendar; MA Maple Producers, MA State Grange, MA Farm Bureau, MA Flower Growers, MA Nursery & Landscape Association, MA Dairy Promotion Board, MA Farm Bureau, MA Fairs Association, MA Fruit Growers Assoc., MA Christmas Tree Association, and the MA Farm Wineries and Growers Association.  

Keep visiting farms and clicking your cameras away for next year’s Photo Contest held in the spring!

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Upcoming Events


Public Meeting - Emerald Ash Borer in Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Berkshire Atheneum, One Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 – 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Old Sturbridge Village, Visitors Center Theater, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA

At these meetings, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the USDA’s Forest Service will address the implications surrounding the recent discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in western Massachusetts.

Central to these meetings is the issue of establishing a quarantine boundary within the state that would restrict the movement of certain wood products under certain conditions. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session, and general feedback will be elicited to help guide the state’s actions as it moves forward with responding to the discovery of this destructive pest.

If you have questions about the public meeting, please call 617-626-4974 or email DCR.Updates@state.ma.us. Click here for the MA Introduced Pests Outreach Blog.

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MDAR Ag Business Training Courses Gear Up

MDAR's Agricultural Business Training Program responds to these and other planning needs by raising awareness and providing a forum for feedback and support . More than 475 agricultural enterprises have completed one of  three MDAR course formats for different stages of farm development.   Before completing an application, please review the individual course descriptions for relevance and pre-requisites:

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PVGrows Fall Forum

Tuesday, October 16, 2012, Springfield, MA

Registration is now open for the PVGrows Fall Forum! A Food-Secure Pioneer Valley – from Our Fields to Our Tables is the theme of the PVGrows Fall Forum. The Forum will feature projects which seek to increase the capacity of regional food production while simultaneously supporting individual and household food accessibility and affordability. Interactive sessions are designed to connect you to organizations with food security challenges and solutions similar to your own. The Forum will also provide an opportunity to comment on the Food Security Plan for Hampden & Hampshire Counties, now being drafted by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC). And as usual, the Forum includes structured networking, opportunities for collaboration, and a locally grown lunch! Learn more at www.pvgrows.net.

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MA Farm Winery and Growers Association Features Their First Wine Festival!

Please join the MFWGA on October 14, 2012 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Marshfield Fairgrounds as they proudly sponsor of the 2012 Massachusetts Wine Festival. "The farm wine industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the Commonwealth," said Kim LaFleur, Executive Director. " This event will feature award winning, locally produced wines. It's a great opportunity to see what the buzz is all about!"

There will be an opportunity to enjoy award winning wines produced by local farm wineries. Regular admission includes a souvenier wine glass and wine tastings and all wines will be available for purchase by the bottle. The featured wineries include:

  • Amherst Farm Winery - Amherst
  • Coastal Vineyards - South Dartmouth
  • Hardwick Vineyard & Winery - Hardwick
  • Mineral Hills Winery - Florence
  • Mt Warner Vineyards - Hadley
  • Still River Winery - Harvard
  • Travessia - New Bedford
  • Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod - Truro
  • Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery - Westport

Vendors will also feature some of Massachusetts' finest artisan bakers, cheesemakers, chocolatiers and specialty food producers. Live music will be performed by jazz musician Charlie Apicella. The event will also feature a winemaking competition for professionals and amateurs. Please contact masswinery@gmail.com for entry information and well as details about attendance. The Festival will be held rain or shine!

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First Annual Barley Fest

Come celebrate the harvest! Please join the first annual Barley Fest at the Young Men’s Club in Hadley, MA on October 21, 2012 from 1:00 pm-8:00 pm. Join craft beer drinkers and Pioneer Valley families to gather, have fun, and learn about the local ingredients that go into local beers. This event will be free. Beer served will have at least 90% Hadley grown ingredients in them. Food served will also have local ingredients. Beer and food will be available for purchase at a reasonable cost. Visit the open house at the malt house, hear live music, and savor wood fired pizzas with local wheat, sample beers and Hadley grown grain,and see home brew demos, antique tractor show, Hadley grown produce for sale. www.valleymalt.com.

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National Food Day - October 24

Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. It happens on Wednesday, October 24, 2012.

Massachusetts Food Day will be celebrated by hundreds of organizers and thousands of participants working to bring the message of choosing healthy, locally produced food and advocating for policies that support productive and respectful food systems.

Events ranging from community potlucks, “Eating Real” school challenges, film screenings (Food Focused/policy based documentaries), and farmers’ markets festivals, gleaning events, food demos, family dinners with food focused discussion, and so much more! Your friends and neighbors are organizing in creative ways to share the message with others; that there is a way to eat healthier and support our local farmers/producers who work hard making every day- Food Day.

In Massachusetts, over 200 schools have signed up to take the “Eat Real” challenge! We look forward to more participants getting involved in their own way, to reach their community at large, setting the stage to continue the conversation well after Food Day on October 24. To get involved, contact rose.arruda@state.ma.us and visit www.foodday.org.

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New Entry Farm Business Courses

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will be offering two versions of its flagship Farm Business Planning Course this fall and 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 production or livestock husbandry plan.

Apply now for the fall session of either the classroom-based or the online Farm Business Planning Course! Select the learning style (classroom or online option) and enrollment timing (fall or winter) that works best for you.

Option 1: Classroom-Based Farm Business Planning Course

Dates: Wednesday evenings, 6-9 pm. Course is held in the fall (October 24 – Dec. 12) and winter (Jan. 9 – Feb. 20), 155 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA

Course fee: $400, or sliding scale based on tuition scholarship application ($80 - $400), Application Deadline:  for fall course - October 12, 2012. For more information and to apply to the classroom-based course in Lowell, please visit nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu.Questions? Email Sam Anderson at sanderson@comteam.org or call 978-654-6745.

Option 2: Online Farm Business Planning Course

Dates: Fall session full, but next session starts in Jan.; winter session:  January 6 – March 16
Flexible schedule and location with 1 mandatory in-person orientation session to be held in downtown Boston, MA. Course fee: $500, or sliding scale based on tuition scholarship application ($100 - $500). For more information and to apply to the online course, please visit nesfp.nutrition.tufts.edu/training, Questions? email Maura Beaufait at maura.beaufait@tufts.edu or call 978-654-6745.

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Making Land Available for Farming Sessions

Making Land Available for Farming Session is essential for our community’s agriculture. Having a farmer on your land can be rewarding for you, too.  At this information session, we will go over the basics, including finding and working with a farmer, information on leases, legal aspects, and community considerations.

Workshop #1: Presenters include the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Concord Agriculture Committee, and landowners and farmers directly involved in leasing farmland.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 7:00-8:30 pm , Concord Town House, 22 Monument Square, Concord, MA 01742, RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/ConcordWorkshop. For more info. contact Becca Weaver, Farmland Matching Service, Coordinator, Bweaver@comteam.org or 978-654-6745.

Workshop #2: Presenters include Becca Weaver (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project), Kathy Rhuf (Land for Good), Vanessa Johnson (Essex County Greenbelt), beginning farmers, and landowners.

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Alfalfa Farm, 267 Rowley Bridge Road, Topsfield, MA 01983
RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/TopsfieldLandLease. For more info. contact Becca Weaver, Farmland Matching Service Coordinator, Bweaver@comteam.org or 978-654-6745.

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Top Reasons Why You Should Attend Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo

November 7 and 8, 2012, DCU Center, Worcester, MA. This biennial event is co-sponsored by New England Floriculture, Inc, a group of grower representatives from the Northeast, augmented by University and Cooperative Extension Staff in CT, MA, RI, VT, NH, ME, and NY.

Here are some of the top reasons why you don’t want to miss this conference:

  • Attend educational workshops on a wide range of topics for both growers and retailers from leading experts from the industry and academia on the latest on biological controls, pest and disease updates, greenhouse culture, retail marketing, business management, plant nutrition, plant growth regulators, and alternative crops and uses for your greenhouses in the off season.
  • A total of 11 one hour presentations (credits vary by state) will be offered for the six New England states plus New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Please check the schedule on the program brochure, as some of these presentations are at the same time.
  • Dedicated tradeshow time to visit with over 120 innovative exhibitors and gather information on products and services that will benefit your business.
  • Time to network with others in the industry, to share ideas and build relationships.
  • Obtain your copy of the 2013-14 edition of the Guide that will be available to attendees of the New England Greenhouse Conference at a special conference price of $25 per copy.

Greenhouse growers throughout Connecticut rely on the New England Greenhouse Floriculture Guide as an unbiased source of detailed crop-specific production recommendations. This compendium of up-to-date information about methods and products used to manage insects, mites, diseases, weeds and algae, and regulate plant growth, is a must-have manual for professional growers. It is updated every two years.

Don’t miss the opportunity to network with growers and other colleagues, hear the latest updates from nationally recognized speakers and visit the trade show. For information about the 2012 Northeast Greenhouse Conference Program, contact: Cindy Delaney, Delaney Meeting & Event Management, 1 Mill Street, Suite 301, Burlington, VT 05404, Phone: 802-865-5202, Fax: 802-865-8066 Email: info@negreenhouse.org, www.negreenhouse.org to view the program brochure, obtain information on lodging, download the registration form or register online.

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USDA News


USDA Grants Awarded to Promote New Economic Opportunity for Farmers and Ranchers through Local and Regional Projects

Over 130 Projects Connecting Farmers with New Markets - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan recently announced over $9 million in grants to organizations across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to initiatives that bolster the connection between agricultural producers and their consumers while improving access to healthy food and strengthening local economies. Merrigan made the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) awards announcement while speaking at the Project for Public Spaces Annual Public Market Conference.

This year's funding includes:

  • More than 40 projects that connect farmers and ranchers to new customers by establishing new markets and other retail outlets, community supported agriculture programs or extend the market season;
  • Seventeen projects that will support the use of new delivery approaches such as online and mobile markets, broadening the customer base for several businesses;
  • Thirteen projects that reinforce USDA's commitment to new and beginning farmers and ranchers, increasing opportunities, training and support for those just getting started;
  • Twelve projects that focus on initiatives that support American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, and new opportunities for Latino, refugee and immigrant farmers;
  • Ten projects that will help hospitals and health care organizations improve eating habits in their communities through education and the direct marketing of fresh local produce; and
  • Nine projects that support agritourism, bringing visitors and consumers to farms and ranches.

Three awards to Massachusetts: 
$30,852 to Essex Agricultural Society dba Northeast Harvest, Topsfield, MA, for providing wireless Electronic Benefits Transfer machines to five farmers markets that do not have them, increasing sales at the markets and providing Federal benefit recipients access to healthy, locally grown food.

$77,010 to Regional Environmental Council, Inc., Worcester, MA, to: 1) improve the Main South Farmers Market with various management, marketing and training programs; 2) extend the market’s reach in neighborhoods with an additional 15 stops by the mobile market; and, 3) provide each farmers market and mobile market location with terminals to accept EBT, SNAP, WIC and senior coupons.

$53,302 to Nuestras Raices, Holyoke, MA, to build the capacity of an existing farmers market in a food desert, establish a new mobile market to serve the food desert community, provide nutrition education and outreach to consumers, and promote and advertise the markets to build opportunity for beginning refugee and immigrant farmers as well as existing farmers. Complete release here.

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NRCS Awards Conservation Innovation Grants for Three Massachusetts Projects

Christine Clarke, Massachusetts State Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced nearly $217,000 in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) for three projects that will stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and other natural resource issues.

NRCS administers CIG as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Grant recipients pay 50 percent of all project costs. The following Massachusetts projects were selected for 2012 CIG grants:

The Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. in Amherst will receive $74,769 to support the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program’s effort to reduce farms’ dependence on energy and minimize greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. BPRC&D will expand on its current statewide comprehensive farm energy audit and implementation program and focus on innovative energy conservation practices not yet supported through EQIP. This will be achieved through in-depth trialing, on-farm demonstration and documentation.

The UMass Cranberry Experiment Station in Wareham will receive $74,025 to demonstrate the efficacy of automated irrigation cycling for cranberry frost protection and to develop best management practices. The goal is to increase the use of automated irrigation cycling in cranberry frost protection, which has the potential to decrease water use, fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

The Town of Wellfleet will receive $68,205 for a demonstration project designed to increase wild aquaculture productivity and measure water quality improvements in Wellfleet Harbor. Oyster propagation and salt marsh restoration will increase the sustainability and volume of commercial oyster harvest, as well as naturally disease-resistant spawning stock. The project will also demonstrate low cost water quality improvements and the application of new side scan sonar technology for population assessment.

“These Conservation Innovation Grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving in the Commonwealth’s farms and water resources,” said Clarke. “Nationally, CIG grants allow the best minds in America to develop unique and innovative solutions that will help make conservation more efficient in the future.

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Federal Crop Insurance Reminders

UMass Extension Center for Agriculture logo RMA logo

Sales Closing & Policy Change/Cancellation Deadlines
Producers wishing to purchase Federal Crop Insurance or producers currently insured who want to make changes to their existing policies are reminded of the following deadlines:

  • November 20, 2012 - Apples, Cranberries & Peaches
  • November 30, 2012 - Cultivated Clams (Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket & Plymouth Counties Only)
  • January 31, 2013 - Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) & AGR-Lite (Existing Policies)
  • March 15, 2013 - AGR-Lite (New Policies), Corn, Fresh Market Sweet Corn, Potatoes & Tobacco and most other spring planted crops

Producers currently enrolled should contact their agent to make changes to an existing policy. Producers wishing to purchase Federal Crop Insurance should contact an authorized agent at: http://www3.rma.usda.gov/apps/agents/index.cfm .

Reminder to Report Crop Damages Promptly
Insured producers are reminded to monitor their crops for insurable damage. throughout the growing and harvesting season. If you find damage notify your crop insurance agent within 72 hours of discovery, 15 days before harvesting begins and within 15 days after harvesting is completed on the insurance unit. Two other important reminders:

  • Direct marketed crops must have a yield appraisal before they are harvested, if loss is anticipated.
  • Do not destroy crop evidence that is needed to support your claim without clear direction, in writing, from the insurance adjuster.

UMass Extension works in partnership with the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to educate Massachusetts producers about Federal Crop Insurance and Risk Management Programs. For more information, please visit www.rma.usda.gov.

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In Every Issue


Classified Ads

  • The non-profit organization, Grow Food Northampton, will lease in 2013 small plots (.25 to 1.5 acres) of in-town, prime farmland for intensive commercial farming at their 121-acre Northampton Community Farm, in Florence, MA. Seek lessees who have two years minimum commercial growing experience, a solid farm business plan, and alignment with Grow Food Northampton’s goals for sustainable community agriculture. Applications due November 1st. Please email info@growfoodnorthampton.com for a full application packet and go to www.growfoodnorthampton.com to learn more.
  • 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.
  • The Happy Chicken Tractor Day Care for Chickens. Durable, mobile chicken tractor. Provides safer daycare for 8-10 hens. Rolls easily around the yard on 10-inch wheels. Welded aluminum frame is built to last. Includes shade/rain cover, 10-inch wheels perch, wood-frame doors, ground stakes and Tag-Along waterer. Assembles without tools. Made in Massachusetts. thelittlechickenfactory.com
  • FOR SALE: Miniature sheep (Ouessant/Shetland crosses) -- 50-70 lbs, 22-23 inches at the shoulder - 1/3 to 1/2 the size of regular sheep. Robust, easy to handle and great for small acreage. Many colors, lovely wool for spinners. Suitable for use with herding dogs, as horse companions, for vineyard/orchard weed control and lawn mowing. www.bretonmeadowfarm.com, 781-259-0563
  • Seek Project Coordinator: for newly released online consumer marketing program PlantSomethingMA.com.  This position offers great variation and an opportunity to work from your own office.   We are looking for a person who can bring multiple skills to our program; someone who is able to multi task easily and communicate effectively. A successful candidate will be working within a non-profit/committee setting and must have strong computer, organizational and communication skills.  Preference will be given to those individuals with social media, website and marketing experience. Details here.

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
4Great Barrington Green Drinks Discussion, at the Route 7 Grill, from 5:15 on. Given the unwelcome news that a serious threat to ash trees was just found in the Berkshires, we will be discussing forest health and invasive bugs with our guest Ken Gooch, Forest Health Program Supervisor, who tracks the spread of critters like the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle in MA. Fall is the right time to look for evidence of these newcomers, and Ken will show us what to look for, and how. The why is obvious: these two bugs kill trees outright and have to be located to keep them from devastating forested lands, and urban neighborhoods, too, as happened in Worcester. Please also plan to stay and have dinner! No better BBQ anywhere in the Berkshires. Green Drinks is a monthly social event hosted by the folks who create Orion magazine for people like you and I interested in everything from environmental education to local agriculture, the arts, green business & design, and the ways all of these intersect. www.greendrinks.org.
10Making Land Available for Farming is Essential for our Community’s Agriculture - 7:00-8:30 PM, Concord Town House, 22 Monument Square, Concord, MA. Having a farmer on your land can be rewarding for you, too. At this information session, we will go over the basics, including finding and working with a farmer, information on leases, legal aspects, and community considerations. Presenters include the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Concord Agriculture Committee, and landowners and farmers directly involved in leasing farmland. RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/ConcordWorkshop. For more info contact Becca Weaver, Farmland Matching Service, Coordinator, Bweaver@comteam.org or 978-654-6745.
13MA Agriculture in the Classroom Offering a Day of Garden Skills Workshops & Demonstrations for the School Garden, 8:45 am to 3 pm at the NE Small Farm Institute in Belchertown.  This education event is free and open to all educators with registration.  Twelve or more workshops will be held on the half hour throughout the day.  This is a great opportunity to brush up on your gardening skills and also learn how to make connections from the garden to the classroom. View the workshop and demonstration schedule here.
13Northeast Highland Cattle Association Fall Show, 10 am, Mallory Arena, Big E Fairgrounds, W. Springfield, MA. Spectators welcomed, free admission. www.highlandcattle.org/nehca/
16PVGrows Fall Forum - A Food-Secure Pioneer Valley – from Our Fields to Our Tables is the theme of the PVGrows Fall Forum, Springfield, MA. The Forum will feature projects which seek to increase the capacity of regional food production while simultaneously supporting individual and household food accessibility and affordability. Interactive sessions are designed to connect you to organizations with food security challenges and solutions similar to your own. The Forum will also provide an opportunity to comment on the Food Security Plan for Hampden & Hampshire Counties, now being drafted by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC). And as usual, the Forum includes structured networking, opportunities for collaboration, and a locally grown lunch! Learn more at www.pvgrows.net.
16 & 17Public Meetings - Emerald Ash Borer in Massachusetts
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Berkshire Atheneum, One Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 – 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Old Sturbridge Village, Visitors Center Theater, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA At these meetings, the Massachusetts DCR, MDAR, USDA APHIS, and the USDA’s Forest Service will address the implications surrounding the recent discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in western MA. Central to these meetings is the issue of establishing a quarantine boundary within the state that would restrict the movement of certain wood products under certain conditions. If you have questions about the public meeting, please call 617-626-4974 or email DCR.Updates@state.ma.us. Click here for the MA Introduced Pests Outreach Blog.
21First Annual Barley Fest, Young Men’s Club, Hadley, MA from 1 pm-8 pm. Join craft beer drinkers and Pioneer Valley families to gather, have fun, and learn about the local ingredients that go into local beers. This event will be free. Beer served will have at least 90% Hadley grown ingredients in them. Food served will also have local ingredients. Beer and food will be available for purchase at a reasonable cost. Visit the open house at the malt house, hear live music, and savor wood fired pizzas with local wheat, sample beers and Hadley grown grain,and see home brew demos, antique tractor show, Hadley grown produce for sale. www.valleymalt.com.
22Making Land Available for Farming is Essential for our Community’s Agriculture - 6:00-8:00 PM, Alfalfa Farm, 267 Rowley Bridge Road, Topsfield, MA. Having a farmer on your land can be rewarding for you, too. At this information session, we will go over the basics, including finding and working with a farmer, information on leases, legal aspects, and community considerations. Presenters include Becca Weaver (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project), Kathy Rhuf (Land for Good), Vanessa Johnson (Essex County Greenbelt), beginning farmers, and landowners. RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/TopsfieldLandLease. For more info contact Becca Weaver, Farmland Matching Service, Coordinator, Bweaver@comteam.org or 978-654-6745.
24Attracting and Conserving Natural Enemies in Plant Production Yards and Greenhouses, 9:30 AM - 3:30 PM, Publick House, Sturbridge, MA. Registration/Details: http://extension.umass.edu/floriculture/. Featuring John Sanderson, Cornell University and Brett Blaauw, Michigan State University. Free biological control agents to man-age pests are as close as your own production yards. Learn about natural enemies native to the northeast, which flowers enhance natural enemies and how to attract and conserve the biological control agents that are already in your area. 4 Pesticide credits. Sponsored by UMass Ext. and UConn Ext.
31UMass Extension's Green School - Every two years, UMass Extension offers its popular Green School, a comprehensive 12-day certificate short course for Green Industry professionals taught by UMass Extension Specialists and University of Massachusetts faculty. This year, Green School will be held Oct. 31 - Dec. 12, 2012, twice weekly from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Holiday Inn, 265 Lakeside Ave., Marlborough, MA. This course will not be offered again until 2014. Pre-registration required, as space is limited! http://extension.umass.edu.
31“Local Food: Innovative Marketing Strategies and Options” workshop will be offered by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative  Extension on Wednesday, October 31, Portsmouth Country Club, Greenland, NH (Southeastern corner of NH). Brochures and details here.
November
7 & 8Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo - DCU Center, Worcester, MA. Keynote Presentation: Why Color? by Katy Moss Warner. Katy Moss Warner will share her experience bringing color to the forefront in the gardens of Walt Disney World in Florida. Pesticide recertification credits will be available for many of the educational sessions. Details at www.negreenhouse.org.
10MAC's Fall "Greening the School" Conference for Educators, at the Clay Science Center of Dexter & Southfield Schools in Brookline, from 8:45 am to 3:30 pm. Tours of the School and Allandale Farm and a choice of concurrent workshops during four workshop sessions. Each will focus on gardening at the school; composting and healthy soils; natural resource conservation or nutrition and local foods. The $50 fee includes lunch, all materials and ten professional development points with accompanying classroom activity. Read more about the conference here.

For a complete ongoing List of Events and Workshops, click here and bookmark.

*** 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, Gregory C. Watson, Commissioner

Boston Office:
251 Causeway St., Suite 500,
Boston, MA 02114
617-626-1700, Fax: 617-626-1850
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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 30 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.

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