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When I tell most people that I work supporting local farms, they often assume that I’m twiddling my thumbs through most of the winter, which couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the busiest time of year for us over at SEMAP and all of our hard work really translates into some great events!
Throughout the month of February we’ll be hosting three different Farmer & Chef Networking events. These are a great opportunity for growers and buyers to meet, discuss, and learn. We’re partnering with WhatsGood, who will demonstrate how their mobile platform can make buying and selling local goods easy. The Trustees are hosting us at three great locations. I hope to see many of our Vine readers in attendance!
The end of the month will be our 9th Annual Ag & Food Conference. With over 25 workshops for farmers, gardeners, foodies, and kids, there really is something for everyone. The Livestock Institute, formerly SEMALA, will be providing us with a great Livestock Track this year. We’ll also have some fantastic farm business and marketing courses, health and wellness courses, opportunities for farmers to earn pesticide credits, and a local lunch. Early bird pricing only runs until February 7th. Register Now!
In addition to those events, we’re already thinking about our 2nd Annual Farm to Tapas. Save the Date! Sunday, July 31st. Be there or be square. More details to come.
Also, we’re compiling a list of farms for our 2016 Local Food Guide. Check our 2016 Members Page; if you don’t see your farm or business listed, your membership is not current and you will not be listed in our Food Guide. Please make sure to renew membership here by April 15th to be included!
BOSTON – December 23, 2015 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $300,000 in grants to support the efforts of six Buy Local organizations for projects which seek to connect food producers to their surrounding communities in Western, Central, Northeastern and Southeastern Massachusetts.
“Buy Local organizations are committed to the idea that knowing where your food comes from makes both good health and economic sense,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through these grants, this administration demonstrates its commitment to supporting a sustainable local food system while at the same time generating consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products.”
“The Buy Local program ensures that Massachusetts residents have access to nutritious, locally grown products, and provides opportunities for continued economic and agricultural development throughout the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The grants awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration will provide farmers and food producers with the resources necessary to make nutritious, locally-sourced food options available statewide.”
The Commonwealth’s Buy Local organizations, originally formed to identify and address marketing challenges in specific geographical communities across the Commonwealth, have grown to be known as a sustainable business movement that includes innovative marketing and educational programs.
“This grant funding will allow our regional Buy Local partners to continue to work with DAR to promote and support local agricultural businesses while also ensuring consumers will have access to nutritious Massachusetts grown products,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux.
The following six projects have been funded through this year’s grants:
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) – $69,250 – SEMAP will enhance and strengthen the market position of local farmers and fishermen in Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties through collaborative projects, including networking events for local food buyers and producers, and distribution of printed materials as well as efforts to expand the existing local food curriculum in Martha’s Vineyard schools.
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – $59,250 – CISA will increase cash receipts for food producers in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties through design and distribution of printed and electronic educational and informational materials with a new marketing campaign called “local food for all.” CISA will collaborate with Buy Local organizations across Massachusetts.
Central Mass Grown (CMG) – $59,000 – CMG will showcase the agricultural assets of Central Massachusetts locally and state-wide to put more local food on consumers’ tables and increase farmers’ cash sales. Projects will engage Central Massachusetts farmers, restaurants, retailers, distributors, and community supporters via an outreach and promotion campaign.
Northeast Harvest – $51,000 – Northeast Harvest will promote agriculture, aquaculture, and farmers’ markets in Essex and Middlesex Counties. Projects will increase the recognition of Massachusetts agriculture and aquaculture via technical assistance, multi-media communication and industry events.
Sustainable Business Network (SBN) – $34,500 – SBN will produce the 7th annual Boston Local Food Festival in September, 2016, which attracts over 40,000 attendees and engages a diverse local and sustainable group of food producers and food vendors from across the New England region.
Berkshire Grown – $27,000 – Berkshire Grown will provide business assistance to food producers in Berkshire County, and increase both the amount of land being farmed and the number of farmers on the land, through collaboration with Berkshire Agricultural Ventures.
“The Buy Local program helps to sustain the region’s economy by encouraging Massachusetts residents to purchase locally-grown products from farms, farmers’ markets and other food producers that are based right here in the Commonwealth,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “This grant funding will go a long way towards educating the public about the importance of buying local and supporting the state’s agricultural businesses.”
“I applaud the administration’s commitment to the Buy Local movement and know these funds will be used wisely and effectively in Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire Counties,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “Buy Local organizations like Berkshire Grown and CISA consistently support local farmers, producers, and consumers in a sustainable, locally focused manner and these grants will be very beneficial to helping along those worthwhile efforts.”
“The Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership, through the Buy Local grants, has been able to bolster the local economy while providing consumers with fresh, nutritious food grown right in their community,” said State Representative Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth). “A majority of the farms in Massachusetts are family-owned. They are mostly small businesses which continue to be an important economic engine in the Commonwealth. The Baker-Polito Administration has recognized this fact and has continued to support this important and historically significant industry.”
“Buying locally grown food benefits the Commonwealth in many different ways. Massachusetts residents are able to enjoy fresh and local foods, while boosting the state’s farming industry and helping cut carbon emissions,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “The Buy Local program does a fantastic job of promoting buy local initiatives and I am proud to be a supporter.”
“We are so pleased to receive this vital grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources,” said Philip Korman, Executive Director of CISA. “These funds will enable CISA to encourage more of the 700,000 residents of our region to support local agriculture and support collaboration of all ‘Buy Local’ organizations in the state. The impact will be tremendous with more farmers able to make a living and more residents buying from their neighbor farmers, and the result will be stronger farms, local economies and communities.”
Buy Local groups across the Commonwealth offer members and consumers a variety of resources. From technical assistance information to marketing assistance; consumers, farmers, and food producers alike can find resources to help them grow, buy, cook, and eat wholesome locally grown products.
I am excited to be hired as the new Executive Director of the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership. I realize it’s the traditional thing to say, but when I have such a tapestry of farms and diverse array of farmers across the region to work with, it is amazingly true. After the first six weeks on the job, talking to farmers across Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth counties, I have begun the groundwork necessary to represent and promote farming and local food production in our part of the state. I can see the diversity of needs and levels of experience.
I bring to the job a passion for agriculture as well as 25 years of organizational experience. Working for non-profit scientific organizations, I have a diverse array of management skills and a ‘big picture’ understanding of agriculture and the environment in a global context. On the home front, I raise Nigerian Dwarf goats for milk and show, run a livestock 4-H group, have nine years’ under my belt on the Falmouth Agricultural Commission, sit on the board of the Barnstable County Agricultural Society and helped re-establish the Falmouth Farmers’ Market all of which help me to appreciate the needs of farmers across many scales. Read more →
BY KAREN SCHWALBE
Growing local food doesn’t always look like you would expect it to look. There can be seeds, rows, transplanting and harvesting – and yet aquaculture might not be what first comes to min
d. However, the similarities to a vegetable farm or a vineyard become startlingly apparent when you see the operations at Island Creek Oysters (ICO) in Duxbury. From the preparation of the nutrients (algae) for the seed (oyster spat) to transplanting (in cages) and harvesting, the procedures are comparable, as are the vagaries of weather, effect of growing conditions and influence of markets.