Welcome to UMass Extension Urban Agriculture, a program dedicated to supporting and enhancing urban farming in Massachusetts. Urban Agriculture has a rich history in our state, with roots dating back to the Great Depression and beyond. Over the years, the residents of many cities and towns have benefited from and been witness to the innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness of urban farmers who are independent entrepreneurs, members of mission-driven organizations, volunteers, and more. In addition to growing and providing fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits, these groups and individuals also create community and contribute to restoring justice and equity in one of the most basic requirements of human survival - food.
Urban agriculture (simply defined as farming in cities) has many similarities to traditional farming and farming methods. However, due to space restrictions, municipal laws, soil and light limitations, and other obstacles, engaging with agriculture in cities like Springfield, Lawrence or Boston presents a unique set of challenges. We are excited to be part of your urban farming journey and look forward to supporting you in your endeavors. Welcome to our community!
UMass Agriculture Extension is here to help urban farmers in several ways:
- Educational Resources
We provide educational resources for urban growers of all sizes and all crops. Our goal is to assist you with staying informed about the best horticultural practices and technology for a sustainable agriculture that is productive and beneficial to people and the environment. Over time, this website will provide a growing set of offerings developed by UMass and others with relevant expertise. We will also share educational information via social media and email news (see below).
- Consultations and Site Visits
The UMass Extension Urban Ag Team is available to address your questions and make site visits as needed to urban farms in Massachusetts to advise on how you can best utilize UMass Extension services on a broad range of issues. If you request a visit, we will be in touch with you as soon as possible to determine how we can best answer your questions and arrange for a visit for more detailed information and assistance.
- Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing
Our Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory offers services to help you understand the health of your soil and fertility needs of your crops. We can assist in interpreting results and recommendations for your urban farm.
- Plant Diagnostic Services
Our Plant Diagnostic Laboratory offers identification services and management recommendations for plant diseases, as well as insects and weeds. This can help you address issues promptly and effectively, ensuring the health and productivity of your crops.
Mentor Farm Program
We are pleased to announce the UMass Extension Urban Ag Mentor Farm project, a recent initiative created by UMass Extension specifically for the urban ag community across Massachusetts. This program is designed to empower urban farmers and foster sustainable agricultural practices while improving outcomes for everyone growing in urban landscapes. Drawing inspiration from the successful UMass Extension Vegetable Program’s Mentor Farm initiative, our program aims to work closely and intensively with three different urban farmers/projects each year, providing sustained engagement with Extension staff and services and helping them tackle their most challenging issues over a sustained period. Mentor Farms also receive a $2,000 stipend and $500 in diagnostic services. Our goal is to enhance the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and other sustainable farming practices across various urban farm business models. By taking part in the program, you will not only receive personalized on-farm training and consultation, but we will assist you to be a mentor to other urban ag projects and farms, sharing newfound knowledge and experiences with employees, service providers, and the broader urban farming community.
Apply for the first year of the Urban Ag Mentor Farm program! The deadline for application is Thursday, February 29, 2024. A PDF version of the application is available in Spanish for reference in filling out the online application (solicitud_para_grajas_mentoras_2024-espanol.docx). If you need assistance in another language, please email us at email@example.com to explore support options.
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UMass Extension is grateful for support of this initiative by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Northeast SARE) program under subaward number SNE23-004-MA-AWD00001024.