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.
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.
At their fourth-generation orchard in Deerfield, Tom, Becky and Ben Clark are helping to preserve far more than apples. Clarkdale Fruit Farms hasn’t changed much in 94 years. That’s the way Tom Clark likes it. His customers, who travel miles for heirloom fruit and small-batch ciders, like it too.
Mothers going without… so their children can eat. Parents working round the clock… and then see no alternative to fast foods. Women returning home from correctional programs… without the skills to prepare meals for their families. This is the face of hunger and nutritional need—and these are people that UMass Extension serves daily from its Nutrition Education Program regional office on Wilbraham Street in Springfield.
Back in the 1960s, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) got its start by knocking on doors—literally. The very first EFNEP Nutrition Educators, recruited from the communities in which they lived, spent their days going door to door, fresh groceries in hand, introducing themselves to low-income homemakers with the words “I’m from UMass, and I can show you how to get more food for your money.” One homemade chicken dinner later, and another family was on the road to healthier eating.