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News from the Center

Massachusetts Food System Plan logo
December 15

The Mass. Local Food Action Plan has been completed, and has been accepted by the Massachusetts Food Policy Council. After two years of work, and input from more than 1,500 people, the plan offers a set of goals and recommendations to increase production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown and -made foods, create good jobs within the food system, protect natural resources, and reduce hunger. Now, it's time to make the plan a reality.

Brook Trout, iconic Massachsuetts fish.photo USFS
November 24

AMHERST, Mass. – Now it is easier than ever to make plans to adapt to climate change. A coalition of research institutions, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the state’s fish and wildlife agency, this week unveiled a new online tool for use by local decision-makers, conservation managers, land trusts, regional planners, landowners and community leaders in Massachusetts who are interested in taking action in response to climate change. 

H. Dennis P. Rayn receives new award
November 9

Conway, NH--A new award minted the 'Dr. H. Dennis P. Ryan III Award’ was presented to its charter recipient, Dennis Ryan, of the UMass Department of Environmental Conservation (ECO), before an audience of over 200 tree care professionals, enthusiasts and researchers. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), New England. Rick Harper was also presented with the International Society of Arboriculture’s Award of Achievement for outstanding contributions to ISA.  

UAVs demonstrated by Professor Charles Schweik and graduate students, Ryan Wicks and Seth Englebourg
November 5

The 29th annual Massachusetts Envirothon kicked off in high gear on November 4 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Over 200 high school students from 22 Massachusetts communities gathered to attend educational workshops led by UMass professors, graduate students and leaders from environmental organizations throughout the state. Many of the 26 workshops were centered on this year's topic: invasive species.

Mass Ag Commissioner, John LeBeaux, Sonia Schloeman, UMass Extension and Rich Bonanno, UMass Extension
October 27

Massachusetts state officials released a plan for boosting locally grown food – the first such plan since 1974. This plan (still in draft form) presents goals, recommendations, and actions for our state’s food system that have been developed through an extensive public process directed by the Massachusetts Food Policy Council. Final edits and a thorough review is still in process. Your feedback is important. Comments will be received until Friday, November 6 at 5:00 pm. Comments will be included with responses as part of the final document when it is presented to the Council in December.

Japanese knotweed
October 27

This season presented new and recurring hurdles for the maintenance of healthy and attractive landscapes.  Factors such as variable weather and pest outbreaks have compelled changes in day to day approaches as well as modifications to longer-term management plans.  Join UMass Extension educators on November 12 at their home base – the UMass Amherst campus – for a detail-oriented day of learning about the latest management challenges and pest problems.

Carolyn Demoranville at cranberry bog
October 19

AMHERST, Mass. – This fall faculty and staff from the University of Massachusetts Amherst are presenting educational programming at the new Boston Public Market (BPM), a 28,000-square-foot, self-sustaining market featuring all locally sourced food.

The market, which opened July 30, is the first of its kind in the nation and offers products that are produced or originate from New England. Participating faculty and staff will present in BPM’s demonstration kitchen, a community engagement area that offers classes, workshops and events.

Wes Autio leads NC-140 Rootstock study
September 24

Dr. Wesley Autio of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst leads tree fruit research trials at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard Research and Education Center in Belchertown, Mass.  Professor Autio’s efforts are an important component of an ongoing large multi-state tree fruit research program supported by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that began in 1976. The project was recently awarded the 2015 Excellence in Multistate Research Award from U.S.D.A.’s Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy at a Washington D.C. ceremony.

Henry Cadorette lll receives 4-H award
September 16

The fair “run by youth for youth” just reached a milestone: fostering youth development for three-quarters of a century.  On August 15, 2015, several hundred attendees experienced classic 4-H fair events featuring goat-milking, rabbit-judging, an equestrian competition and an exhibit of local agricultural photography, among others.

Congressman Jim McGovern visits Atlas Farm with owner, Gideon Porth
August 27

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA 2nd District) has an appetite for ending hunger. In late August, 2015, he took time from his hectic schedule to tour 13 small to medium-sized farms in his district. Among agenda items, he wanted to learn what was happening with local agriculture, how people are getting fed and how he could be helpful with issues faced by farmers. McGovern easily pulls together threads of connection between healthy food as medicine, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries and sustainable agricultural economies. An aspect of several local farms that interested him is their contribution of local produce to food banks and survival centers with some farms offering discounted CSA shares to low-income people.

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