April 28, 2015

National Sustainable Ag Coalition: New AG CENSUS Highlights

RoosterThe National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides a summary of what the NEW Agriculture Census reveals: Read here.  While the word census sounds dull – imagine a SNAPSHOT of LOCAL FOOD, and BEGINNING FARMERS, and FOOD,

Who is The National Sustainable Ag Coalition?  The NSAC is a coalition of organizations that advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.  Berkshire Grown participates in the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group which works with NSAC.

The NSAC summary on Organic Food and Local Food  is here and the section on Local Food is copied below:

& for “What does the new ag Census reveal about the next generation of farmers and the future of agriculture?” click

Local Food

Direct to Consumer Agriculture

Sales of agricultural products through direct-to-consumer outlets such as farmers markets and roadside stands have grown rapidly over the last decade. In the 2002 Census, direct-to-consumer sales equaled $812 million, climbing to $1.3 billion in the 2012 Census, an increase of 60 percent.  Additionally, the number of farms selling directly to consumers has increased from 116,733 in 2002 to 144,530 in 2012.  When compared with the 2007 Census, the current Census shows an increase of 8 percent for the number of farms selling directly to consumers and 5 percent for the sales in dollars of directly marketed agricultural products.

Direct to Retail and Value-Added

For the first time, the 2012 Census provides a more detailed glimpse into local food marketing, providing categories such as direct-to-retail marketing, production and sales of value-added commodities, and marketing through community supported agriculture (CSAs).

For CSAs and direct-to-retailer marketing, many of the top 10 states, such as California, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, were the same ones that were among the top 10 states for the number of organic farms or organic sales.  In the direct-to-retailer category, however, southern states also make a strong showing, with Texas, North Carolina and Virginia making the top 10 list, while Texas and North Carolina round out the top three states after California for CSA marketing.  In the production and sales of value-added commodities, the southern states dominate, with Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia among the top ten states.

The Importance of Data: Local Data Initiative and Organic Data Initiative

All farmers, regardless of production practices and supply chains, need sound market information about the state of agriculture, consumer trends, government assistance programs, and the agricultural products they produce to understand the shortfalls and opportunities in the agricultural marketplace and to maintain and strengthen the viability of their farms.  The 2014 Farm Bill provides several ways for USDA to collect valuable data to help not just farmers, but farming-related and food businesses, policymakers, and planners make sound policy, business, and marketing decisions.  NSAC, along with allies and partners, advocated for the following Farm Bill data initiatives:

  • Organic Production and Market Data Initiative funds basic data collection activities on organic agriculture. NSAC helped to ensure a restoration of $5 million in mandatory funding in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Additionally, the recent farm bill directs USDA agencies that collect data on the organic sector to coordinate with agencies that may be able to use the data, such as the Risk Management Agency’s need for data on organic crop prices.  This pricing information would allow them to develop better crop insurance policies that reflect the organic premium and more fairly and effectively cover the costs to producers of organic crop loss.

  • Local Food Production and Program Evaluation Initiative is a new initiative that directs USDA to collect data on the production and marketing of locally or regionally produced agricultural products, monitor the effectiveness of programs designed to expand local food systems, and identify barriers to local and regional market access due to regulations aimed at small-scale producers.  While NSAC is pleased that the initiative, which we championed in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, made it into the final Farm Bill, we are disappointed that no farm bill funding was provided for these additional data collection activities.  The launch of this critical new data initiative will depend on funding being secured through either the annual appropriations process or a future farm bill.


Taste Berkshires dark gray








Click for TasteBERKSHIRES

The Berkshire Visitors Bureau new focus for 2014 is Taste Berkshires, and we’re happy to see Berkshire Grown members featured! Their first spotlight article takes a look at Cricket Creek Farm, Chocolate Springs and Table Six restaurant at the Kemble Inn. Looking forward to more local food heroes in future Taste Berkshires posts!

MORE INFO at the Berkshire Visitors Bureau

A farmer writes in Huffington Post:

Rafi at BG table












Berkshire Grown: A Case Study of an Organization Vital in Creating a Local Food System
(Huffington Post) by Rafi Bildner – With a staff of just one full and two part-time employees (along with a dedicated volunteer board), Berkshire Grown has established itself as a true umbrella organization for local food in Western Massachusetts. They provide essential resources for small farmers, and have created a true brand for local food in the region. While they do an incredible job, they’re not unique: Organizations like Berkshire Grown operate all over the country, filling a key role in our national small-scale food system, making them bedrocks of the “local food” movement. Yet while the latest Farm Bill continues to provide substantial resources for large, commodity-producing farms, it does not do enough for small (and sustainable) operations, that could most use the support.

Cultivating a Sustainable Food System

GreenLivingSeminar2014Thursdays at 5:30  at Murdock Hall, Room 218 MCLA in North Adams, free and open to the public
Creating Sustainable Food Systems

For more information 413-662-5303413-662-5303 Elena Traister

If you miss this first of a series, watch online.

Thursday March 6 at 5:30Susatainble Business as a Vehicle for Social Change

Thursday March 20th at 5:30

Current Status of Farming in Berkshire County

Melissa Adams, Keep Berkshires Farming Program Coordinator and Sarah Gardner, Williams College Center for Environmental Studies Associate Director.

Click on the poster for details.

Courses Thursdays at 5:30 through April: 4/24/14.

2014 Maple Recipe Contest

maple syrup buckets severalThink beyond the pancake: Submit your favorite maple recipe!

For hundreds of years Massachusetts sugarmakers have been making pure, sweet, all-natural maple syrup, and cooks have been using it for baking and cooking in endless ways. Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes! This delicious, all-natural sweetener can be used in marinades, in baking, and for many other cooking purposes. Now you could win a prize if your recipe featuring 100% pure Massachusetts Maple Syrup is the best!

To coincide with our annual March is Maple Month celebration, Massachusetts Maple Producers Association is holding a contest and inviting anyone in Massachusetts to let us taste your most creative and delicious creations. The contest will be held at Williams’ Sugarhouse in Deerfield, MA, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18. Contestants will bring their dishes to the event and our panel of judges will taste and choose the winners.

Contest Rules

  • Entries may be submitted in three categories: Main dish, Side dish, Dessert
  • Entries will be judged based upon taste, originality, and visual appeal.
  • Each entry must include pure Massachusetts Maple Syrup as an ingredient.
  • The recipe must not have knowingly been previously published and the right to submit the recipe to the contest must not be restricted in any way.
  • Recipe submissions may be published by the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association in electronic or paper form, with credit given to the contestant.
  • Each entry must be brought to the contest, to be held at Williams’ Sugarhouse at 491 Greenfield Road (Routes 5/10) in Deerfield, MA, by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.
  • Entries must be presented as a completed dish, with enough quantity for four judges to taste. Facilities to warm entries will be available at the contest site.
  • Submissions must include the name of the recipe, a list of ingredients with standard U.S. measurements for each, and complete, step-by-step cooking instructions.
  • Contestants must submit entries to info@massmaple.org or Mass Maple, PO Box 6, Plainfield, MA 01070 before Friday, March 14 at midnight. Entries must include contestant’s name, address, phone number, and email address, as well as the recipe(s) being submitted. Submissions can be emailed to info@massmaple.org or mailed to Mass Maple, PO Box 6, Plainfield, MA 01070.
  • Contestants must live in the state of Massachusetts.
  • Prizes will be awarded in each category, and an overall winner will be chosen as well. Prizes include: gift certificates for meals at Ioka Valley Farm, South Face Farm, and Gould’s Sugarhouse; pure Massachusetts maple syrup; and a grand prize of a night at Parker’s Bed & Breakfast and Sugarhouse.

Please contact MMPA coordinator Winton Pitcoff at winton@massmaple.org or 413-628-3912 with questions.

Buy Locally Grown

old chatham cheeseEven in winter you can support local farmers by purchasing cheese, meat, root vegetables and more.

Last Holiday Farmers Markets Dec. 14 -15, Join us!

HFM 2013 header

Saturday December 14  in Great Barrington from 10 – 2 pm at Monument Valley Middle School

Sunday December 15 in Williamstown from 10 – 2 pm at the Williams College Towne Field House

Many many thanks to our sponsors!

HFM 2013 Sponsors

Keep Berkshires Farming Central Berkshires Nov. 14th

CENTRAL FLYER community forum 11-14-13November 14th, from 7 – 8:30 pm

Trinity Episcopal Church’s Parish Hall, Walker Street, Lenox, MA

How are we going to scale up local agriculture in the Berkshires?

Keep Berkshires Farming Northern Berkshires Action Plan

Community Forum flyer north11-7-13Join us on Thursday November 7th

All Saints Episcopal Church, 59 Summer Street, North Adams, MA 7-8:30 pm

Food Week

Food week Check out the wide variety of activities in and around Berkshire County during Food Week!