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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.

Recent cooler, rainier weather in Valley creates problems for some crops

August 22, 2014

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)

Bee Smart, Amherst!

May 6, 2014

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.

Durfee Conservatory Sports New Website

March 20, 2014

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.

Reflections on 36 Years of Extension Work

December 18, 2013

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.

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

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).

21st century 4-H

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. 

Stewarding the Land

Standing on North Pleasant Street at the corner of Presidential Drive in Amherst, Massachusetts, your eyes are invited to span the wide expanse of a peaceful hayfield across the street. Now close your eyes and image a herd of creamy Jersey cows grazing on that hillside. Insert barns, a milking parlor, several homes, smaller farms to the right, hard-working farmers and farm hands and you will begin to understand the beehive of activity that took place on this field from the late 1800’s until 1964.

Research, Fieldwork, Scholarship

With the inauguration of its innovative Extension faculty positions, the Center for Agriculture is further bridging the gap between lab, classroom, and field. Eight professors join the cadre this year, bringing the current total of Extension faculty members to 14 and adding weight to UMass Amherst’s capacity to bring research-based solutions to critical real-world problems in fields such as green building, food production, and ecosystem management.