Tag Archives: farming

Wowza! My tomatoes are getting bigger!!!

Not these, silly readers!


I’m talkin’ my baby tomato plant I was given four weeks ago! It is shooting straight up to my kitchen ceiling! Its fruit secretly blossoming in its slender shoots …


When I got her she was so teeny! See her on my kitchen window-sill with her kid brother, in the green pot, a pretty blue dish to collect the run off???


I gifted her bro to a friend. Now it’s just “Stella” (yes, sometimes I name my plants!) Soon I’ll have to move her, for the last time, to a BIG POT I have waiting for her …


Yes, you can be a gardener in Worcester’s ‘hoods…enjoy God up close… I’m getting more pretty petal babies this afternoon. Placing them in da other window. This one is getting a little crowded!


… Or you can buy FRESH TOMATOES and delicate flowers from Worcester County farmers AT REC FARMERS MARKETS (Beaver Brook today!):

Farmers Market 1-1

– pics/text: Rosalie Tirella

Great learning opportunities! From Mass Farm to School Project


From Mass Farm to School:

Greenfield Community College Offers Summer Courses in Sustainable Agriculture for Students and Teachers 

Greenfield Community College is offering summer courses for high school students and teachers in Organic Gardening, Intro. to Sustainable Farming Skills, and Developing Curriculum in Sustainable Food Production.

To learn more about the program for teachers, CLICK HERE! 

Raised Bed Workshop at Gore Place

May 21

In this workshop, long-time farmer Scott Clarke will demonstrate techniques for planting flowers and vegetables in a raised bed.

Learn how to lay out a square-foot garden, choose plants that are good companions, make use of vertical space, and plant directly into a bale of hay.


Explore ways to develop the soil without the use of synthetic fertilizers so that your soil can feed the plants and vice versa.

Attendees will receive a coupon for the annual Spring Plant Sale on May 27-29.  $25 per person, $20 for Members.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets!


Healthy Food Fuels Hungry Minds: A Stakeholder’s Conference for School Food

June 1

Harvard University, Cambridge

In this second stakeholders annual conference, join parents, providers, policy makers and advocates as we work together to understand the current climate of school food and develop collaborative ways to to champion and support change.

CLICK HERE for registration & Full Conference Agenda.

17 reasons to eat “green” on this St. Patrick’s Day!



In the past, eating green foods for St. Patrick’s Day meant eating green-colored mashed potatoes and cabbage alongside a hunk of ham or corned beef—and a bottomless mug of green beer. Now, there’s more to eating green than just using food coloring. If you want to eat “green”—on St. Paddy’s Day and all year round—you should choose “green” vegan foods. I’m not just talking about spinach, broccoli, and lima beans, either. I’m talking about veggie burgers, pasta primavera, hummus wraps, potato croquettes, vegetable curry, and other tasty vegan foods. Not only are they humane and healthy, they’re also easier on the environment.

Consider the following 17 reasons to ditch the smoked neck and opt for smoky vegan sausage instead:

A Worldwatch Institute report shows that a staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.

According to National Geographic, the average vegan indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water a day less than someone who eats the typical American diet.

Overall, it takes about 11 times as much fossil fuel to produce a calorie of animal protein as it does to produce a calorie of plant protein.

An Oxford University study suggests that meat-eaters are responsible for almost twice as many dietary greenhouse-gas emissions per day as vegetarians and about two-and-a-half times as many as vegans.

According to the Pew Environment Group, the 523 million chickens raised and killed each year in Delaware and Maryland alone generate enough waste to fill the dome of the U.S. Capitol about 50 times, or almost once a week. The manure is sprayed on fields and often seeps into our waterways.

The 10 million hogs in North Carolina alone produce as much fecal waste in a day as 100 million humans.

A Duke University Medical Center study shows that people living downwind of pig farms are more likely to suffer from mood disturbances, nausea, headaches, respiratory problems, and other health problems.

Farmed animals — and not humans — are fed more than half of the crops grown in the world. It takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of chicken meat, 7.3 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of pork, and 20 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef.

Vegfam estimates that a 10-acre farm could support 60 people by growing soy, 24 people by growing wheat, or 10 people by growing corn—but only two by raising cattle.

Researchers from UC-Riverside say that cooking just one charbroiled burger causes as much pollution as driving an 18-wheeler for 143 miles.

An Environment America report indicates that Tyson Foods and other chicken producers pollute our waterways more than ExxonMobil, DuPont, and U.S. Steel Corporation combined

It takes about 85,000 gallons of water to produce a ton of vegetables, but roughly 4 million gallons of water are needed to produce a ton of beef.

Animals raised for food consume the majority of the water in the U.S. Just one pig consumes 21 gallons of drinking water per day, while each cow on a dairy farm drinks as much as 50 gallons a day.

The Environmental Working Group says that every 2.2 pounds of canned tuna produces 13.4 pounds of greenhouse gases.

Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution estimate that seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them.

The sheer number of farmed animals killed for food in the U.S. alone—approximately 9 billion cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys a year—makes it impossible to raise them all on small organic farms.

The United Nations has said that a global shift toward a vegan diet is vital if we’re to alleviate world hunger, conserve fossil fuels, stop forest destruction, and combat climate change.

If you haven’t already stopped eating animal-based foods, why not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by going truly green? It’s easy. PETA offers free recipes and tips on how to go vegan.

By going vegan, you’ll help save not only the environment but also the lives of many animals. Oh, and if you want to enjoy some green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, there are countless vegan options. It’s fine to get out the food coloring for those.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

This Saturday! At Worcester State University! All-Day Organic Farming conference!

large_Ben Burkett image
Conference Keynote Speaker Ben Burkett


THIS Saturday,  January 16

(All day)

Worcester State University

Join us on January 16 for our annual one-day conference, which features 70 workshops and exhibitors; keynote speeches with Ben Burkett, family farmer and member of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives; children’s conference and more.

Keynote SpeakerBen Burkett

Ben Burkett is a fourth generation family farmer, who serves as the State Coordinator for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives.

In 2014 he was awarded a James Beard Leadership Award. His cooperative provides watermelon and other southern grown fruits and vegetables to the communities of Boston. Burkett provides technical expertise to small-scale farmers, farmers with limited resources, and ranchers in rural communities.

He also assists farmers in implementing agricultural marketing/production and coordinates land retention. Burkett serves as the president of the National Family Farm Coalition and numerous boards of directors and has traveled to Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe, exchanging knowledge and information with small-scale farmers.

Conference Schedule:

7:30 am

Registration/Exhibitors open (free tea and snacks for registrants)

9 am – 5:15 pm

Children/Teen Program

(Children/Teen program & Seminar follow same schedule as workshops)

9 – 10:30 am

Workshop Session 1

11:00 am – 12:15 pm

Annual Meeting and Keynote Address: Why Family Farms Matter

11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Organic catered lunch

1:30 – 3 pm

Workshop Session 2

3 – 3:45 pm

Break – Visit our exhibitors

3:45 – 5:15 pm

Workshop Session 3

6:00 pm

Exhibits Close

6:00 – 7:30 pm

Post-Conference Organic Dinner with Keynoter: Intimate conversation around Mr. Burkett’s 7 year carbon sequestration trials

Beginning Farmer Fall Workshop and Winter Conference Scholarships
These scholarships provide Beginning Farmers (farming 10 years or less) with a 50% discount on NOFA/Mass Fall Workshop and Winter Conference registration.

Workshops (workshop descriptions)

All workshops are approved for AOLCP accreditation.

The following workshops are approved Continuing Education Units. Each workshop is equal to 1.5 hour credit. To receive credit the Certified Crop Advisor must sign in at workshop:

New Plant Nutrient Regulations

Making Major Money with Minor Crops: Producing Profit on the Edges

Plant Disease Update: 2015 Year in Review

Effective Pricing Strategies for Local Markets

How to Run Your Own Payroll

Assessing & Managing Agricultural Risks on Your Farm

Five Steps to a Food Justice Farm

Biopesticides: How, When and Why to Use Them

Maximizing the On-farm Benefits of Cover Crops

Vegetable Pests and Diseases in Urban Areas

CLICK HERE to register and for more information!

The Boston Globe ran …

… a terrific series on ALL THINGS FOOD: the politics of it, the fads … Get the “scoop” here!

Is farm-to-table just a fad?

Amid this resurgence, it’s easy to forget that farm food was not always a luxury item but something fundamental.

By Kathy Gunst

A YOUNG MAN with a slightly wild beard, wearing a blue and black flannel shirt, makes his way through the crowd of partygoers. In his hand he carries a silver tray. “Would you care to try a French breakfast radish?” he asks the guests dressed in white pants and designer dresses. “They were picked just about an hour ago.”

I’m at a farm-to-table dinner on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a gorgeous summer night, the sky streaked with shades of fluorescent pink and orange. Close to 50 people are gathered outside the weathered barn. Despite the mud and dirt in the barnyard, many of the women are wearing heels, while the men soil their Topsiders. These farm-loving friends have each paid $125 to attend this dinner.

The radishes come with no sauce or fancy sea salt. A diminutive woman standing next to me looks at the tray of radishes as if she’s falling in love. “Is that the most precious thing you’ve ever seen?” she says to no one in particular. “What an adorable little radish.” And with that she pops the little baby right into her mouth. …

CLICK HERE to read the entire article and the several others that comprise this excellent series!    – R.T.

To help birds weather climate change, stop eating them

By Paula Moore

A sobering report released earlier this month by the National Audubon Society warns that half of all bird species in the U.S. and Canada could be on the brink of extinction if we don’t take steps to mitigate climate change. As warming temperatures alter birds’ habitats and migratory routes, some 300 species of birds in North America—from bald eagles to Baltimore orioles—will be forced to find new places to live, feed and breed. Those who can’t could become extinct.

Here’s one thing that everyone can do today to help our free-roaming feathered friends: stop eating their cousins—farmed chickens—and other animals. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions is caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. The fastest, most effective way to combat climate change is with diet change—by going vegan.

We have no time to waste. In the same week that the Audubon Society released its report, the United Nations’ meteorological advisory body announced that the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached a new high in 2013—just under 400 parts per million.

That’s the threshold that “climate scientists have identified as the beginning of the danger zone,” Princeton University geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer told The Washington Post. “It means we’re probably getting to the point where we’re looking at the ‘safe zone’ in the rearview mirror, even as we’re stepping on the gas.”

The United Nations has urged a global shift toward a vegan diet, and Ilmi Granoff from the Overseas Development Institute has said that the “fastest way to address climate change would be to dramatically reduce the amount of meat people eat.”

The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that if Americans did nothing but replace one meal of chicken each week with a meal of veggies and grain, “the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.”

Our outsized appetite for meat also takes a tremendous toll on the land, water and other resources that wild birds (and all of us) need to survive. According to a new Worldwatch Institute report, it takes more than 15,000 liters of water to produce just 1 kilogram of beef and 3,300 liters to produce 1 kilogram of eggs. Compare that to just 255 liters of water per kilogram of potatoes.

The tons of manure produced on factory farms also wreak havoc on the environment. The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science gave the Chesapeake Bay a health grade of “C” for 2013, and William Dennison, a vice president with the center, says, “To be blunt, it’s the fertilizer and chicken manure that’s causing the problems there.” Manure-laden runoff from supersized farms—such as those housing hundreds of millions of chickens along Maryland’s Eastern Shore—creates algal blooms in local waterways, which leads to oxygen-depleted “dead zones.” Eastern Shore poultry farms produce 1.5 billion pounds of chicken manure every year.

But for those who would lament the loss of mountain bluebirds and purple finches, there’s another reason not to eat chickens: The birds on our plates are every bit as intelligent and interesting as the birds we watch in our backyards. When not confined to factory farms, mother hens lovingly tend to their eggs and cluck soothingly to their unborn chicks. Studies have shown that these smart, inquisitive birds have good memories and that they can learn basic math skills. They develop lasting bonds with their companions and pass cultural knowledge down through the generations.

If we care about protecting some birds, we should care about protecting them all. No one needs to eat chickens—or any other animals—in order to thrive, and we and the planet would benefit from leaving them off our plates

It’s “Massachusetts Harvest for Students” week! Sept. 30 – Oct. 4! See Worcester events!

Celebrate the Local Harvest

Schools serve up healthy local foods to students

BOSTON – Fall in Massachusetts is peak harvest time: apples and pears are ripening in the orchards and vegetables are ready in the fields. Students throughout the Commonwealth will be savoring these locally grown foods as part of the 7th annual Harvest for Students Week September 30 – October 4, 2013.

During Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, schools and colleges promote the local harvest and serve fresh, nutritious meals prepared with foods produced by Massachusetts’ farms. It’s a time for institutions to highlight their successful locally grown food initiatives or to purchase and offer locally grown products for the first time. In addition to serving a wide range of Massachusetts grown foods in the cafeterias, school activities during Harvest for Students Week will include visits from local farmers, school garden activities, sending home local produce “goody bags” to families, and corn shucking with students.

Harvest for Students Week was created by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, which coordinates it each year in collaboration with partners like the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, and the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week is a delicious celebration of our local harvest and the relationships that have developed between school food services and farms all over the state,” said Kelly Erwin, Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. “Bringing local foods into cafeterias ensures that ALL young people, regardless of circumstances, have access to healthy, delicious, locally grown foods.”

Studies show that students who are served fresh, locally grown items tend to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables. Farm to school connections are making a positive difference at a time of concern about childhood obesity and local food security, while simultaneously improving the local economy and opportunities for Massachusetts farms.

Mass. Harvest for Students Week will be widely celebrated throughout the state, where the number of public school districts reporting they preferentially purchase locally grown foods has grown from fewer than 20 in 2004 to more than 230 in 2012. A majority of these districts report they increased the amount of their locally grown food purchases during 2011-2012. The number of farms reporting they sell directly to school and college cafeterias has also grown steadily, to 114 in 2012.

For more information, visit www.massfarmtoschool.org or call 413-253-3844.

The Massachusetts Farm to School Project offers individualized assistance and group trainings to farms, food distributors, food service operations at schools, colleges, and other institutions that are interested in establishing sustainable purchasing relationships. Since 2004, the Project has been promoting the consumption of locally grown foods in schools and other institutions, for the good of our children, our communities, and our economy.

How Schools and Colleges Across the State Plan to Celebrate Mass. Harvest for Students Week 2013

If your city or town is not on this list, contact your area school or college food service director to find out what their plans are.

Amherst – UMass Amherst will host local farmer visits and fresh, local produce sampling all week in dining halls, In addition, guest chef Ross Kamens, founder of Revolutionary Food will visit and cook on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Cambridge – On Thursday, October 3, Peabody School will be celebrating Harvest Week with a ribbon cutting for a new salad bar featuring local produce.

Chicopee – Chicopee Public Schools will be serving local produce from Czajkowski Farm daily and farmer Joe Czajkowski will come for lunch one day. Students will also go home with grab bags of local produce, recipes and Farm to School materials to share with their parents.

Franklin – Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School will be offering a special locally-grown dish and inviting local farmers. They will also be having on the last Friday of each month a local politician come in to serve with us. The students will make posters and we will be having a recipe contest in the later months.

Groton – Groton School will be featuring three to five local products every day to be used at each of the meal periods during the week. Look for menu items such as grilled vegetable frittata using local produce, eggs, & farmers cheese for breakfast. Locally raised turkey with grilled peaches at lunch and local roast pork & paula red applesauce with local blueberry pie for dinner.

Mendon-Upton – Schools will be offering locally grown apples, pears from Lanni Orchards at school lunches during that week.

Waltham – Healthy Waltham will be providing zucchini and summer squash grown at Waltham Fields Community Farm to the public schools. They will end Harvest Week by opening the farm to the public with lots of fun activities.

Williamsburg – Students from the Anne T. Dunphy School (currently under construction) will sell the garlic that they planted last spring at the Burgy Farmer’s Market on Thursday October 3rd!

Worcester – Chandler Elementary School students participating in Mass. Farm to School Project’s Worcester Kindergarten Initiative will be joined by the Regional Environmental Council’s Mobile Farmers Market and volunteers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. They’ll be doing fun vegetable activities and handing out local pears for students to take home.

Worcester – Assumption College will host a week of events featuring local farmers and the foods they grow.