Farmers! Legislators! Organizations! Local Food!
If you were roaming the marble halls of the Massachusetts State House on March 26, 2014, you would have experienced a barrage of foods, sights and aromas that tout the Baystate’s finest agricultural provisions.
With 7,700 farms in Massachusetts employing 12,000 workers and 32% of them women farm-hers, there is much to celebrate. From buy-local campaigns and Farmer’s Markets to CSA’s and farmland preservation as pieces and parts of what constitutes a healthy agricultural milieu, vendors and attendees were enthused. The beauty of this event is the friendly atmosphere that pervades throughout the day. Legislators, who help create a fruitful environment for farmers and eaters alike through legislation, mingle with university staff, FFA members (formerly Future Farmers of America), turf managers, dairy owners, beekeepers and grangers.
In the Food Hall, a parade of delicious local edibles were on display, prepared by students at the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School and shared with attendees. Imagine sampling sweet maple syrup (have you tried it in milk?), ice cream, honey, turkey, lamb, cranberries, wheat, cheese, fish chowda, and so much more in one spot. If food was not appealing enough, the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association handed out a much-needed preview of spring with flowers and seedlings to eager recipients.
Did you know that more than 100 different kinds of cheeses are made in Massachusetts? That the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association represents over 1,200 beekeepers across the state? That you can visit over 100 sugarhouses in Massachusetts? Over 50 Granges are at work throughout the state focused on the joining of agriculture and education. Add in locally-grown meats, dairies, orchards, fisheries, turf farms and nurseries and it is no surprise that Massachusetts has bragging rights to some of the best agriculture in the country.
The prestigious Agricultural Day Award was presented by Mass. Farm Bureau Federation President, Rich Bonnano, to Kelly Erwin in recognition of her support for the viability and sustainability of the agriculture industry in Massachusetts as former Executive Director of the Mass. Farm to School Project. She was honored as the “Mother of Farm to School” for her heroic efforts over 12 years to bring fresh food into schools all across the Commonwealth. Well done, Kelly!