October 4th, 2019
Frost warnings might put an abrupt ending to this part of the growing season but these past few weeks have been idyllic. Most of the growing season was unremarkable – no floods, no droughts, but still too hot at times. Finally, summer is winding down, cranberries are ramping up, and finally local apples! Is it cool enough for soup yet? Not for me. I’ve got beef stew on the stove.
It’s been good to finally get out and visit farms – there is always too much paperwork. One common theme I’ve heard as I have visited is the issue of labor – how to find people, how to keep people, and how to afford the help needed. As Massachusetts’ push for a living wage butts up with the low price for food, farmers are getting caught in the middle. I’ve heard farmers trying lots of innovative things. Let us know what has worked and what your struggles are – we are planning our winter workshops and labor is definitely on the docket for more discussion. We’re also planning on a workshop focused on finances and budgeting with the Young Farmer Network and a series on how to work with wholesalers.
If you are farming on plots under five acres but your total acreage is more than five acres, please read the update from the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative later in this issue of “The Vine”. There is current legislation to extend the benefits of lower agricultural property tax valuation under MGL Chapter 61A to non-contiguous parcels under the same ownership. The Collaborative is looking at the scope of the issue and what appropriate minimum gross income should be. Please comment to Jeff Cole at the Collaborative.
Karen Schwalbe, SEMAP Executive Director