More than 200 vegetable farmers, agriculture students, and other members of the Bay State’s agriculture community attended two free workshops designed to help improve the soil’s capacity to function as a vital living system that sustains plant, animal and human health.
Extension in Western Massachusetts
About Western Massachusetts
The western region of Massachusetts is composed of Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The largest city in the region is Springfield, located in Hampden County, along the Interstate 91 corridor on the Connecticut River.
Many tomato growers are finding it impossible to catch up with the harvest after a blight ruined their crops. “It has been very serious, particularly for organic farmers,” said Ruth V. Hazzard, vegetable specialist for the UMass Extension, explaining that the fungicide they can use for late blight is more limited and not as effective in controlling the spread of the disease as those that can be used more broadly by non-organic farmers. The blight is affecting farmers and home gardeners in Massachusetts.
Area farmers are once again on the front lines of weather patterns that in recent weeks have brought cooler, rainier weather to the region. That’s translated into problems for some growers of potatoes and tomatoes as well as for those growing vine crops such as pumpkins and squash, says University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension vegetable specialist Ruth Hazzard. (Daily Hampshire Gazette, 8/22/14)
A “beehive of activity” had the campus “abuzz” on April 23 at one of the public events held during Pioneer Valley Bee Week, a western Massachusetts initiative to raise awareness about bee health, bee hives and bee habitat. The event was also one in a series of 2014 events commemorating a century of Extension service and education across the nation.
In 1974, UMass Extension vegetable specialist John Howell visited area farmers to talk them into coming to Gothic Street on Saturday mornings to sell their produce directly to customers at a little thing he was trying to start called a farmers market. Forty years later they are celebrating success as one of the first in the state.
Looking for a breath of spring somewhere… anywhere? Visit Durfee Conservatory’s new website as well as the greenhouses! This information-packed website with lovely floral images will help you remember that spring is arriving soon. The Durfee Conservatory is a bit of a hidden gem right on campus. For 147 years, this site has offered visitors a delightful way to experience exotic, home garden, bonsai and other fascinating horitcultural gems plants up close.
While much has changed since Gretchen May first started coming to work in the courthouse in Greenfield for the Franklin County Extension Service in 1977, a lot has stayed the same. While the geography and the subject areas of May’s work have changed over the years, her overall goals and style of work have remained consistent. “My work has always been centered on responding to people’s needs. We learned what was needed and then went out and helped people.
In early November, on the first really nippy day of autumn, Brian Yellen leads a small group down a gently sloping path in Mohawk Trail State Forest in Franklin County, in northwestern Massachusetts. Dried leaves from the large oaks and maples crunch under foot and visible breaths float on the cool air as they head toward the Deerfield River. It's a diverse group of men and women representing expertise in geology, conservation, ecology, town government and regional planning (plus several kids and two dogs).
Many baby boomers grew up with the idea that 4-H was a great program for teaching kids how to farm. In our minds, we carry images of young children proudly holding blue ribbons won for their healthy calves and sheep at the county fair. This, we think, is 4-H.
Not so fast.