A Flats Mentor Farm grower tends Asian crops growing in a high tunnel put in place with NRCS assistance.
The near-record snowfall in Massachusetts this winter did not deter farmer Pa Thao. In fact, it strengthened his resolve to make sure that nothing happened to the high tunnel that he put up last fall, so that it would be there when he’s ready to plant mustard greens and pea tendrils in the early spring. Every day Thao, who is from Laos, in tropical Southeast Asia, trudged across the frozen field with a shovel to clear snow away from the structure. Read more »
USDA Rural Business Administrator Judy Canales joined State Director Jay Healy recently for discussions about, and tours of, three Rural Development financed projects currently underway in Massachusetts. Their first stop was at Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, where the Administrator led a roundtable discussion about USDA’s renewable energy initiatives and celebrated the installation of a new, 900kW wind turbine at the ski area.
Rural Development provided Berkshire East a loan guarantee through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The funds were used, in conjunction with commercial financing through Greenfield Savings Bank and State Clean Energy Center grants, to purchase and install the wind turbine at the family-owned ski area. Read more »
USDA Forest Service Smokejumpers are trained to climb trees in case they, or their supplies, land in them. When Smokejumpers aren’t fighting wildfires, the USDA Forest Service calls on them to use their tree climbing skills to complete a variety of natural resource management projects, such as harvesting pine cones and constructing owl nesting boxes.
While many USDA Forest Service employees spend their summers working as Smokejumpers fighting wildfires in the west, they in turn spend their falls in the east working as Beetle Busters, helping the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) combat the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Read more »
Fifteen hardy New Englanders stood in the cold November rain recently to watch the demolition of one of the largest dams ever to be removed in Massachusetts. The crowd was made up of representatives from a diverse group of public and private partners that have been working together toward this day. The removal of the Briggsville Dam in Clarksburg, a small town near the Vermont border, will restore the North Branch of the Hoosic River. Read more »
November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month and a fitting time to highlight USDA Rural Development’s recent projects on tribal lands. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts, are the direct ancestors of those who helped the Pilgrims on their arrival to New England over 400 years ago. Thanks to recent financing from USDA Rural Development (USDA RD), a means to preserve their culture and conduct tribal operations will soon improve dramatically. Read more »
FNS Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa judges tomatoes at Tomato Festival in Boston
Recently tomato farmers from across the Bay State converged on Boston City Hall Plaza seeking top tomato bragging rights at the 26th Annual Tomato Festival. I joined a panel of food writers, chefs, cookbook authors, grocers, and state officials as we readied our score sheets. Read more »