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Posts tagged: Massachusetts

Beginning Farmer Seeks Greener Pastures, Sustainable Future

NRCS District Conservationist Kate Parsons discusses pasture management with Sean Stanton. NRCS photo.

NRCS District Conservationist Kate Parsons discusses pasture management with Sean Stanton. NRCS photo.

When Sean Stanton started improving the pastures surrounding his small farm in Great Barrington, Mass., his efforts not only benefited the natural resources of this scenic southwest corner of Berkshire County but also diners at a Manhattan restaurant.

That’s because he supplies the Blue Hill Restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village with pasture-raised beef, veal and pork, as well as eggs and farm-fresh tomatoes. At Blue Hills Farm in Massachusetts, a herd of 20 or so cattle feed in a field skirted by the Appalachian Trail and the rolling Berkshire hills.  Some of the farm’s products stay in the Berkshires and some make their way to bigger markets less than three hours away in the Big Apple. Read more »

The Kindergarten Initiative: Connecting Students and their Families to the Worcester Food Environment

Kindergarteners, family members, and teachers from Grafton Street School in Worcester, MA touring the REC’s Organic Farm with Mass. Farm to School Project’s Kindergarten Initiative program.

Kindergarteners, family members, and teachers from Grafton Street School in Worcester, MA touring the REC’s Organic Farm with Mass. Farm to School Project’s Kindergarten Initiative program.

Massachusetts Farm to School Project and the Worcester Public Schools are helping kindergarteners understand how and where food is grown. They are teaching children about nutrition through local food tastings, farm and farmer visits, cooking demonstrations and take home produce. The Worcester Kindergarten Initiative is running at nine elementary schools in Worcester, MA, for the 2013-2014 school year! We are pleased to share this piece from the Worcester Kindergarten Initiative Evaluation and Education Specialist, Isabel Burgess.

Guest post by Isabel Burgess, Worcester Kindergarten Initiative Evaluation and Education Specialist

“This is so cool! Our first ever farm!” These are the sounds of kindergartners from Worcester, MA stepping onto one of the Regional Environmental Council’s YouthGROW farms. The farm is small – a vacant lot sandwiched between triple-deckers – but the students are thrilled. They spend the morning taking a tour of the farm; hearing about the youth farmers that manage the space; taste-testing chard and collards straight from the soil; and planting seeds of their own. The family members that joined their children on the trip are also excited to explore. They cannot believe that the farm is there – smack in the middle of the city, so close to where they live. Read more »

What does Maple Syrup Have in Common with an Invasive Insect?

Two Asian longhorned beetles on maple tree

Two Asian longhorned beetles on maple tree

Today is National Maple Syrup Day!  So, what does maple syrup have in common with an invasive insect?  Well, if the insect is the Asian longhorned beetle, then they both can come from maple trees.  Obviously, we want the maple syrup and not the invasive beetle.  But who cares?  And why should anyone care?  Well, I care and here’s why:

Not only do I work for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency that is actively fighting known infestations of Asian longhorned beetle in three different states, but I also am a native of Vermont. Read more »

Conservation Innovation Grant Helps Cranberry Farmers Conserve Water, Shield Fruit from Cold

Growers load cranberries after a harvest at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, Mass. Photo by Jeff LaFleur of Mayflower Cranberries used with permission.

Growers load cranberries after a harvest at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, Mass. Photo by Jeff LaFleur of Mayflower Cranberries used with permission.

It’s tough to imagine the Thanksgiving celebration without turkey, dressing, and most importantly, the cranberry sauce. To keep this holiday staple safe from the cold and ready for harvest, farmers apply water to cranberries on frosty nights.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association worked with growers to install automated sprinkler systems that conserve water and trim costs.

With the automated system, cranberry growers can control sprinklers from a computer and turn on and off sprinklers with a simple button. Traditionally, the different systems had to be turned on and off manually, wasting time, money and water. Read more »

High School Students Discover the Forest

In July, 19 students from Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island participated in the week-long “Discover the Forest” camp, the first forestry camp for high school students at the University of Maine.

In July, 19 students from Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island participated in the week-long “Discover the Forest” camp, the first forestry camp for high school students at the University of Maine.

When you invite high school students into the woods, you set the stage for wonder, excitement and endless questions.

Organizers for “Discover the Forest,” a new venture sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Maine, also hope that, in addition to learning about the forest, participants will discover career opportunities and set the stage for a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the future. Read more »

Speak Up: You Can Help Protect America’s Hardwood Trees against the Asian Longhorned Beetle!

An invasive ALB perched on a branch. August is "Tree Check Month" when adult ALB like this one can be easily spotted on or around hardwood trees. Photo by R. Anson Eaglin.

An invasive ALB perched on a branch. August is "Tree Check Month" when adult ALB like this one can be easily spotted on or around hardwood trees. Photo by R. Anson Eaglin.

From the moment an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infests a tree, there is no cure. No amount of treatments will drive this deadly pest from the comfort of America’s heartwood, leaving thousands of trees dead and dying in the northeastern U.S.  However, as bleak as this may sound, there is a way to stop this beetle, but we need your help.  The American public could be one of the ALB’s greatest opponents, and in stopping the beetle you can help save trees.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the U.S. Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy, and American Forests held a joint news conference at the National Press Club on July 29, 2013 to urge the public to report signs of the invasive pest that threatens recreational areas, forests, and suburban and urban shade trees.  These agencies have named August “Tree Check Month” in order to encourage the public to examine their trees for signs of ALB. Read more »