Farm share: MAPC talks agriculture preservation with local growers

We held our first agricultural forum in Sudbury last night and we absolutely filled the venue!  Nearly 100 people attended the forum and the word from attendees was that it was a great success.

Staff from MAPC guided the discussion on successes and challenges to agricultural practice as well as determining ways that the agency might be helpful for the farming community in this area. A preliminary set of maps showing existing and potential agricultural opportunities was presented. The event also featured Keynote Speaker Jonathan (Jay) Healy, USDA State Director for MA/CT/RI Rural Development.

One farmer in attendance–who had appeared to have started out somewhat skeptical of our project–approached me after the event with tears and stated that it was truly the first time she felt heard as a farmer. I think that sums it up for me/ I was so happy to hear that we accomplished a very important goal of making connections with the agricultural community and making it known that we are here to help.

Next steps will include reaching out to farmers and local officials to continue discussions and determine action items for our project partners.

About the project:

MAPC’s MAGIC subregion, a group of thirteen communities northwest of Boston, received funding from the Sustainable Communities grant to develop a program that will increase the economic viability of farming in this area of Greater Boston.

This program will likely include agricultural commissions to advocate for local farms, marketing for new agricultural operations, and regulatory changes to allow for diversified operations (such as agro-tourism and “value-added processing”– means for farmers to capture a larger share of the consumer food dollar).

MAPC is seeking the expertise of project partners for assistance with multiple components of the project, including the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, Massachusetts Association of Agricultural Commissions (including all ag commissions in the Subregion), Sudbury Valley Trustees, Land for Good, Conservation Law Foundation, Tufts New Entry Sustainable Farming, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, and numerous farm owners throughout the subregion. Partnering communities include Bolton, Boxborough, Concord, Lincoln, Littleton and Stow.

–Julie Conroy,  MAPC’s  Senior Environmental Planner and MAGIC Subregional Coordinator