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Executive Director

Kendra Murray
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12/11 NORFOLK COUNTY POTLUCK CANCELLED
Unfortunately, we have to cancel our Norfolk County potluck. We understand it's a busy time of year for everyone and we plan to reschedule for 2015!
SAVE THE DATE
1/10, NOFA/Mass Winter Conference, Worcester, MA
1/26
, SEMAP Winter Networking Meeting
3/1, SEMAP Ag & Food Conference, Bristol Aggie, Dighton, MA

DECEMBER 2014

Since taking the position of Executive Director in late September, I've had the great fortune to visit many farms and meet farmers and growers from Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk Counties. The positive energy is palpable. It seems everyone in local agriculture is excited about SEMAP, what we are doing, and where we are heading, and I want to thank all of you who have welcomed me and provided words of support and encouragement. Looking toward to 2015, I'm sure great things are ahead for us.

 

Truly, one of my favorite parts of this job has been outreach. That outreach has taken various shapes (visits to farms and markets, attending Farm Bureau and other stakeholder meetings, potlucks, etc.), but one facet of that outreach I particularly enjoy is writing the monthly SEMAP Spotlight. It's given me an opportunity to drill down and highlight what makes agriculture in Southeastern Massachusetts: its great variety. Whether speaking with folks from Dufort Farms in Rehoboth or Chris Smith from C.N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, I've learned that there's a great diversity of experiences (and, obviously, products). Despite that great diversity, these farms and other successful ones across our region have at least one thing in common: they develop a fierce, longstanding loyalty within their customer base. Whether it's direct sales at the farm or at markets, people come back. They bring their children, and then their children come back. The cycle continues.

 

That's why, for this month's Spotlight, I'm hoping you can help me. I wanted to talk about Christmas trees but, the more I've spoken to people, the more I realize that buying the season's Christmas tree is a family tradition for so many. It's like Sunday dinner. You go to the same place to buy it (at roughly the same time of the month), decorate it with the same music and eat the same holiday cookies while you're doing it. Holidays are about building memories, so I want to know where you buy your Christmas trees and I want you to share your Christmas tree memories. It could be trees shipped down from Nova Scotia and sold at local farms and stands. It could be a cut-your-own from Southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island. Either way, please share with us via Facebook and, more importantly, share the memories, joy and spirit that make the holidays so special.

 

-Jason

BuyLocalBUY LOCAL BLURB

The holiday season is upon us (already?) and I just wanted to encourage everyone to buy local this December. Whether it's some local wine, sweet treats, or jam, there are plenty of options for nice gifts and stocking stuffers. Although you may not think of December as the time to be buying local produce, there are still a few winter farmers markets going on. Those are a great place to find, not only local food, but great crafts, artwork, soaps, and many other great gifts made by local artisans. When you at the market, don't forgot to order your holiday turkeys and get some local cheese for your any seasonal parties you might be hosting.  

 

On another note, just some things to keep on your radar:

 

Unfortunately, a law allowing farmer-wineries to sell their products directly to retailers will be expiring in a few weeks, with new law coming into place on January 1st. This could be detrimental to many small businesses in our area and across the state. Wineries would be required to sell their products to retailers and restaurants through a 3rd party distributor. Because many local vineyards and ciderhouses deal with relatively small volumes, many distributors would be reluctant to pick up their business. You can read more here. Make sure to contact your representatives and get them to support legislation to address this! 

 

Also, mark your calendars! Our Winter Networking Meeting is January 26th and our Ag & Food Conference is March 1st. These are both fantastic events and I'm looking forward to seeing many friends and supporters of SEMAP.  

  

Farmers:  

The USDA has extended the deadline for applications for the Dairy Margin Protection Program to December 19th. Dairy producers are encouraged to act now to protect their businesses against unpredictable market swings and to take advantage of increased protections offered in the first year of this program. You can calculate the best level of coverage for your dairy here. Comments can be submitted online and more details about the program can be found here.

Additionally, the New Bedford Farmers Market is looking for farmers and vendors for 2015. All inquiries can be brought to Kim Ferreira at [email protected] or 508-789-4969.  

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

-Kendra
VeggieFarmingVEGETABLE FARMING by Derek Christianson
Before moving to Dartmouth, I used to spend my winters milking brown Swiss cows at Hawthorne Valley Farm in New York (our veggie team would assist with the herd in December, January, & February.  Putting in 16 hour workdays in the deep winter, amid a ever changing landscape of snow & ice brought renewed appreciation for a bit of downtime commonly found on vegetable farms during these winter months.  I've always had tremendous respect for dairy farmers and I reckon it's worth celebrating one of the newer dairy producers in the region (just over the RI line)... Sweet & Salty Farm is producing terrific seasonal yogurt from their small jersey herd.  Lee's, in Westport, has just a few quarts remaining, so better act fast otherwise you'll have to wait 'til the cows freshen again in March.  Beautiful yellow cream top yogurt, delicious!

Seed catalogs continue to fill the mailboxes, as new varieties are vying for a place in next year's planting plan.  If you are a vegetable grower, no doubt you've heard the question, what do you do in the winter?  I've always found it a somewhat strange notion that harvest work and planting is nearly the limit of tasks folks can grasp for vegetable farmers.  The wintertime, sure it provides space and time for some well earned relaxation, but it's also a time for clean-up, maintenance, planning, accounting, learning, reviewing the season, and a whole host of tasks which make the dark season too short.  Not to mention the tasks associated with winter growing, season extension, and year round marketing which fill the calendar.

If you are like me and running a bit behind schedule than you are just getting started with a thorough review of the growing season.  To make things short & sweet I have a basic one page template for my crop review with room for 4 crops.  Each crop gets a grade for the season with space for production notes and ideas for the next growing season. I'll spend a quick moment during a lunch break reviewing a set of crops, typically we would do this with our field crew beginning in September and search for opportunities for improvement.  Cross referenced with a list of improvements noted during the season (on an "Improvements" clipboard), field notes, and pictures from the season we can do a pretty good job of capturing the long list of ideas...  For Example:
  • "Crop:  Garlic Scapes, Grade:  B  2014 Review:  We weren't aggressive enough harvesting scapes once the harvest began, subsequently quality diminished and we left some scapes out of our marketing plan and in the field.  2015 Ideas:  Start "scaping" when scapes are still immature, a week earlier than past years to ensure that we harvest a bulk of the scapes in their prime.  Include Garlic Scape Pesto recipe in CSA newsletter."   

I like the paper trail this creates, b/c it's easy to reference from one season to the next and hold ourselves accountable for implementation of the best ideas...

Each fall I spend a bit of time searching for a couple of good winter reads, which will expand our field on knowledge on the farm and hopefully provide a few good ideas for the new season.  This year I'm spending time with 3 books: 

  • Jean-Martin Fortier's The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower's Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming.  Jean-Martin & his wife have made their living on a micro-farm outside Quebec (~1.5 acres) for the past decade and I was eager to follow up on some of his efficiency tips which he has described in past issues for Growing For Market. Although the information in this book will be most suited to other small, intensive producers there are plenty of ideas which may translate across scale and/or fit into one aspect of your operation.
  • Reading Fearless Farm Finances:  Farm Financial Management Demystified , published by MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services) just a few years back, is providing a valuable opportunity to review our farm's accounting and record keeping systems.  Fearless Farm Finances is a nice complement to Richard Wiswall's The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook and includes some great real world examples from highlighted farms.
  • The 3rd book on the list for this winter, is hot off the press and written by SEMAP board member Andy Tomolonis, Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space.  Small scale hobby producers are abundant in Southeastern Massachusetts and Andy's book provides a valuable overview of common practices and considerations, especially well worth the read for folks who are entering farming from other careers and/or fitting farming work around their full-time job.
As we look ahead to the new year, there is a diverse crop of learning opportunities just waiting to be harvested, including:  The always terrific NOFA/Mass Winter Conference on January 10th in Worcester, the 2nd Annual Grower Meeting sponsored by Progressive Grower on January 16th in Taunton (call 508-273-7358 for details & to register), and our SEMAP Winter Networking Meeting on January 26th. 

Hope you'll make plans to join us on the 26th.

-Derek

EventsUPCOMING EVENTS

New England Farmer Union (NEFU) 5th Annual Convention - Navigating Change in New England Agriculture    

December 11-13, 2014, Portland, ME
A great convention filled with informative workshops, panel discussions, and guest speakers.

Understanding Loan Opportunities for Farms
December 15, 2014, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA
This session will provide information on the range of loan programs and business assistance that farm lenders offer, how different lenders work together, and what they each look for in applicants.Participants will be invited to take part in brief "speed-dating" meetings with lenders for personalized assistance. Dinner will be served.
SAVE THE DATE!

NOFA/Mass Winter Conference

Saturday, January 10th, 2015  

Join NOFA for over 60 workshops, exhibits, and an all-day seminar and keynote by Greg Judy, rotational grazier and carbon sequestration advocate. It's fun for the whole family! The children's conference (ages 3-12) provides a lively, interactive way for kids to get educated. Lots of do-it-yourself workshops keep teens active and engaged.

Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Saturday, January 10th, 2015  
This conference brings together farm to cafeteria advocates - farmers, food service professionals, educators, policy makers, public health advocates, community organizers, youth leaders and more - for a daylong event with workshops and panel discussions addressing a wide variety of farm to school topics including: local foods procurement and promotion; experiential food and nutrition education; food, farm, and nutrition policy; growing for the institutional market; state, regional, and local networking.

Farmland Seeker Forum
Monday, January 26, 2015 
Searching for farmland? Join us for an afternoon of learning on topics including finding and analyzing land, land tenure options and lease language, legal help, and a farmer panel reflecting on experiences leasing farmland. The forum will be followed by our Winter Networking Meeting.  

 

Monday, January 26, 2015     

Our annual winter networking meetings offer opportunities to connect with your fellow growers, new potential buyers, chefs, eaters, and meet new faces in Southeastern Massachusetts. These meetings also offer a chance to become familiar with SEMAP's educational offerings and membership benefits, and typically feature a guest speaker. You'll leave with a list of attendees and contact information. Light refreshments provided. We will also be having our Annual Meeting where you can come and join the Staff and Board of Directors as we chart out the course of SEMAP for 2015 and beyond.
   

New England Grows 

February 4th to 6th, 2015

Learn about the latest design, products, technology, and consumer trends! Exchange ideas with your green industry colleagues and make great deals! New England Grows is renowned for its world-class education offerings and innovative trend spotting.

 

Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing and Trade Show

February 25th and 26th, 2015

This unique marketing conference offers New England growers sessions on new marketing ideas, promotion, business planning, ag-tourism, managing farmers' markets, agriculture commissions, and more. There will be multiple educational and networking opportunities along with a Trade Show.  

 

SEMAP 2015 Ag & Food Conference

Sunday, March 1, 2015 

Workshops for farmers, gardeners, and consumers. Featuring a local lunch and Agricultural Service Provider & Business Trade Show.  Registration opening soon.    

 

Sustainable Business Network Local Food Trade Show

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The 2015 Local Food Trade Shows are designed to facilitate connections and stimulate business relationships between producers and wholesale buyers of local food, with a focus on specialty crop food products in Massachusetts. This event is ideal for restaurants and institutional buyers interested in trading with local food suppliers and who desire to buy more locally produced products from growers, fishermen, and value added producers from Massachusetts and New England.  

Resources
RESOURCES

The Online Farm Guide  

Farmers: Keep your farmfresh.org listing up-to-date! The online farm guide, farmfresh.org, is a go-to for anyone looking for local foods, beverages and farm fun. Eaters: Visit www.farmfresh.org to find local food near you.   

 

The Beginning Farmers Network of MA has resources for beginning farmers, including an ever-expanding calendar of events statewide, helpful tips from guest bloggers, a jobs board, and a referral network. Get in touch or check out the BFN/MA site today to find the help you're looking for. See links to Young Farmer Nights (RI & MA super fun farm visits!) and New Entry's brand new publication, An Entrepreneur's Guide to Farming in Massachusetts.    

It's taken a while, but our brand new edition is finally here! Our next publication be in spring of 2015. Members joining SEMAP between now and December 31st will automatically be eligible for listing in our next Local Food Guide. The guide will contain SEMAP member farms and local food businesses, as well as a list of winter farmers markets, farmstands, & CSAs in our region.
Current, up to date listing of markets across southeastern Massachusetts

2014/2015 Winter Markets
No need to let the cold keep you from buying local!
JobsJOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Mass in Motion New Bedford is currently looking to expand and diversify the New Bedford Farmers' Market for the 2015 season. MiM NB will be hiring a Market Coordinator and creating a token system so all vendors can accept SNAP benefits and credit/debit cards. The Downtown Market runs Thursdays, 2-6 and the Brooklawn Park Market runs Mondays, 2-6. If you are interested please contact Kimberly Ferreira at 508-979-1500 or [email protected].

CISA Is still accepting applications for Whole Farm Planning for beginning women farmers
. Holistic Management International's program is an opportunity for women who have been farming for under ten years to gain skills and build a network of other women farmers. The course touches on a variety of topics, including business planning basics, marketing, goal-setting and financial planning, time management, reading the landscape, land and infrastructure planning, leadership and communication skills.
   

GoodFoodJobs.com 

 

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