Demand for fresh, local greens in winter is limitless, and production is not nearly meeting demand, representing a huge opportunity to increase financial sustainability of individual farms and food systems. Currently, there is a gap in knowledge across our region about occurrence, biology, and management of downy mildews of winter greens, and we are lacking for modern, efficient leafy greens production systems. These two factors are limiting farm revenue and profitability, and limiting consumer access to fresh, local greens year round.
Small dairy farms face particular challenges as costs of production often exceed the set federal price for fluid milk. However, consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for local dairy products, providing emerging market opportunities for small dairy farms. In Massachusetts, a significant barrier for dairy farmers hoping to capture this premium is lack of access to scale-appropriate fluid milk processing facilities. This project engages stakeholders to identify operational feasibility, market potential, and barriers to access institutional markets.
This project investigates new sustainable markets for New England seafood. Climate change challenges the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of New England's seafood industry. A warming Gulf of Maine compounds the complex puzzle of ecosystems, fish population dynamics, and catch limits for specific fisheries. Cascading effects on fishermen, seafood processors, markets, and restaurants provide a network of challenges that are difficult to disentangle.
Producing shelf-stable acidified canned foods can help to add value to produce and introduce new markets, extend the agricultural season, and reduce waste. However, to successfully sell and distribute shelf-stable products, such as salsas, sauces, and/or acidified pickled products, processors must comply with the Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR114).
The development of shared-use processing spaces has created new opportunities for small and emerging food businesses to develop and create new products. However, this audience has historically had challenges navigating food safety regulation and compliance, and there is a strong lack of educational materials and training to support them.
Many small and medium producers and processors are affected by the recent implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation as the existing training does not address how to determine compliance and assumes that small and medium food processors (SMPs) begin training with a base level of food safety knowledge that many SMPs do not have. This project develops accessible, scale-appropriate, motivational mixed-media content to provide SMPs with the information they need to better understand how to implement Preventive Controls (PC) in their food businesses.
There is an opportunity for farmers to meet growing demand for local foods and increase farm profitability by entering a new market for retail sales of frozen value-added products. In particular, farmers could capitalize on opportunities provided by recent investments in regional food processing facilities by freezing produce for retail sales in winter.
The Brassica Pest Collaborative (BPC) is a project funded by Northeast-SARE that brings together Extension educators and researchers from UMass, UConn, UNH and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to collaborate on research and education to improve management of this suite of insect pests.
In 2018, Extension personnel from the Universities of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island documented production practices and took soil and leaf samples from 20 tomato high tunnels in those 4 states, with support from the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers' Association. Soil and tissue samples were analyzed at the Universities of Maine and Massachusetts labs. Here are some guidelines for optimizing tomato production based on the data collected.