For Immediate Release - September 06, 2011

Agriculture Officials and the MBTA Team Up to Promote Massachusetts Agriculture

Massachusetts officials kick off two-month campaign to get T riders to farms, farmers' markets, fairs and orchards

BOSTON - September 6, 2011 - With the fall harvest getting underway, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares today joined Acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis at Copley Square to kick off a campaign aimed at steering MBTA commuters to local farms, farmers' markets, agricultural fairs, pick-your-own orchards and aquaculture sites.

The event highlights an advertising campaign that began on the MBTA's Orange and Red Lines in mid-August and is slated to run until mid-October. In July, the MBTA agreed to showcase on the two rapid transit lines DAR-developed ads that incorporate a Quick Response (QR) code. Developed in Japan in the mid-1990s, QR codes work similarly to supermarket bar codes. Once scanned with a smart phone, the code immediate directs users to the website that corresponds with the particular QR code.

When the DAR code is scanned, users are directed to the agency's MassGrown & Fresher website - a one-stop portal for Massachusetts agriculture. The site has an interactive map that draws from the Department's extensive databases of agri-tourism destinations. For those who don't have a smart phone, the MassGrown & Fresher website address is also displayed on the ads. The QR codes featured in DAR's ads are integrated into eye-catching farm-themed designs.

"This is an excellent opportunity to connect people via public transportation to the various farmers markets, and agricultural spots throughout the Commonwealth," said MBTA Acting General Manager Jon Davis. "We are in the customer service business and with this partnership we are providing access to these great destinations."

Among all state departments of agriculture in the US, Massachusetts' DAR is the first adopter to incorporate a QR code into its outreach material - with the first one appearing on its 2011 agricultural fairs brochure.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, whose departments include DAR, promotes social networking media, mobile applications, QR Codes, and other technologies as a cost- and communications-effective ways to educate consumers about the programs and services its agencies offer. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts received the 2011 National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) Award of Excellence in the social media category of its annual Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards for its use of blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other social media by state agencies.

The MBTA is equally a proponent of innovative technology to improve communication with customers.

Former MBTA General Manager and new MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey spearheaded innovative customer service programs including the award-winning "Where's the Bus, Subway, and Commuter Rail" Open Data Initiative to encourage development of smart phone applications at minimal cost to the MBTA. The Open Data Initiative alone has led to the creation of more than two dozen mobile apps for smart phones and other hand-held devices, giving thousands of commuters real-time information on transit services.

"For those who may not have a car to get to some of those destinations, there are more than 20 farmers' markets within walking distance of the MBTA's four major metro lines," said DAR Commissioner Soares. "Including the planned Public Market in Boston that will be right next to the Haymarket T stop, we hope that every rider on the T will get to know all of our state's agricultural go-to places."

DAR plans to expand its campaign with the MBTA in 2012 to include the commuter rail and Green Line.

Farmers' markets accessible by other T lines appear below.

Red Line:

MarketT Stop
Boston/Dewey Sq.South Station
Cambridge CenterKendall Square
Cambridge/Central Sq.Central Square
Cambridge/Charles Sq.Harvard Square
Cambridge/Kendall Sq.Kendall Square
Dorchester/AshmontAshmont
Dorchester/Fields CornerFields Corner
MiltonAshmont, then Mattapan Trolley to Milton
QuincyQuincy Center
Somerville/Davis Sq.Davis Square

Orange Line:

MarketT Stop
Boston/City Hall PlazaState Street
Boston/Copley Sq.Back Bay Station
CharlestownCommunity College
Jamaica PlainGreen Street
Jamaica Plain/Community ServingsStoney Brook
Jamaica Plain/Loring-GreenoughGreen Street

Green Line:

MarketT Stop
Allston/Union Sq.Warren Street
Boston/City Hall PlazaGovernment Center
Boston/Copley Sq.Copley
Boston/Prudential CenterCopley
BrooklineWebster Street
Boston UniversityB.U. Central

Blue Line:

MarketT Stop
Boston/City Hall PlazaGovernment Center
RevereRevere Beach

For a complete list of Massachusetts farmers' markets visit www.mass.gov/massgrown.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.

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