Roughly 90% of the farms in Massachusetts are family owned businesses. Many of those farms are multi-generational as well, and that gives you a sense of how important farms and farmers are to our communities: they employ local people, are good stewards of the environment and provide an important product for their fellow citizens. I’ve recently been reminded of just how important it is to maintain that community. Sure, everyone has their own business or interest but, in the interests of sustaining local agriculture, we have to come out of our silos and band together.
A cohesive agricultural community, working both on a municipal, regional and state level, is the reason why we are blessed with a growing farming community and an abundance of locally-sourced products. That didn’t come overnight. Since the 1980s, farmers and growers have been working hard, advocating at the State House and forming agricultural commissions at the local level and advocating for important policies to help preserve and expand agriculture, particularly “right-to-farm” bylaws. According to MDAR, as of the end of last year, “162 towns have established AgComs, and 141 towns with Right to Farm Bylaws”. These mechanisms have been invaluable in not just supporting and expanding agriculture, but also protecting it. AgComs specifically have offered a method for town governments and farmers to interface, resolve disputes and build a greater understanding of each other’s responsibilities and challenges. It’s not a coincidence that Massachusetts agriculture is on the rise. Read more →
If you go by the numbers, Norfolk County has the least amount of farms in Massachusetts outside of Dukes, Nantucket, and Suffolk counties. The number of acres farmed is comparatively lower than many other counties, as is the median size of farm. True, numbers don’t lie, but they don’t always tell the full story. While the scale of agriculture may not be as great as other counties, Norfolk certainly makes up the difference in diversity and quality. A trip to Ward’s Berry Farm is all you need to understand that.
Located in Sharon, its over two hundred acres sprawl across several lots and streets and yet, very quickly after arriving, you feel right at home. Wandering in the greenhouse area, a young farmhand in his early 20s struck up a conversation about what’s starting to grow after a long winter thaw. His youthful enthusiasm wasn’t an anomaly, and it wasn’t restricted to the young people I met. Ward’s is certainly large but, at its core, it is a family farm…and families care. Read more →
Longnook Meadows Farm is a small organic vegetable and fruit farm nestled in the heart of the National Seashore in Truro MA, one mile from the Atlantic Ocean and one mile from Cape Cod Bay. They sell their vegetables to restaurants and stores and at their farmstand and local farmers market.
They are seeking a farm assistant for the 2015 growing season for a wide range of work. Read more →
Monday, June 29th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Friends Academy, 1088 Tucker Road, Dartmouth, MA
Steve Walach will give a guided tour of the Friends Academy garden with a running commentary about the Academy’s strategy of triple-cropping, including a fertility plan plus handouts for crop rotations. Participants will practice with various tools, especially those not generally used by home gardeners. By June 29th the garden should be fully planted with the second crop rotation. Although by late June Friends will not be using row cover, it will be beneficial for participants to take a stab at setting up a bed by inserting hoops and overlaying Agribon row cover — and securing it. Steve Walach teaches English and organic gardening at Friends Academy. He also regularly presents garden workshops at NOFA conferences and several other venues. Over the past 20 years he has grown vegetable crops in Miami, Florida and New England. Steve has a fairly large backyard garden, but school gardens are his primary focus. The Friends Academy school garden is set on one-eleventh of an acre. For the past three years, it yielded more than 5000 pounds of produce each year. 2014 was their best year at 5951 pounds, which is a rate of more than 65000 lbs/acre.