The Commissioner of Agriculture of the Mass. will conduct an annual tour of Berkshire County farms next week

John Lebeaux’s visit to the state’s largely rural westernmost county is being hosted by Berkshire Grown.

“Berkshire Grown is one of nine ‘buy local’ organizations in the state of Massachusetts, and our organization supports local agriculture and food in the Berkshires,” said Executive Director Margaret Moulton.

Moulton says Berkshire Grown is eager to show Lebeaux how state funding is used in the region.

“The other thing we’re trying to highlight this year is our own program, which is called Farm to Food Access, which is really focused on both supporting local farmers and getting their local food to them. in large quantities to pantries, food access sites. , community kitchens, meal programs all over the county,” she told WAMC.

The first of three farms the commissioner will visit is Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, which participates in the Farm to Food Access program by supplying produce to Berkshire County Elder Services and the Berkshire Dream Center.

“This is a fourth generation farm currently owned by Ruth and Dicken Crane,” Moulton said. “And they contracted with farmer Kate Pike and Chelsea Vigue to really reinvigorate their vegetable farming program and also expand their CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, farm actions program. And they got money to put two new overhead tunnels that extend their growing season into early spring and late fall.

The tour continues with Robinson Farm in Becket. Moulton says David Robinson is the only black farm owner in the Berkshires he knows of.

“He’s a retired rodeo rider, and he’s ridden and competed all over the country for decades,” she said. “And he retired to his family farm that his great-grandfather bought, 160 acres, in 1906. that land and added to it. He literally reclaims that land as pasture, where he starts a herd of oxen , both herding and meat production. He does it all on his own. He’s an amazing person and he really uses his knowledge of big animals, bull management, horse management and transfers them into raising these animals. And the relationship he has with these gigantic oxen… It’s like pets.

The last stop will be at Woven Roots Farm in Tyringham.

“It’s a diverse vegetable farm that’s very, very community-involved, and they’ve been on this site, I think, for about 10 years now,” Moulton said. “It took them a very long time to find land to be able to farm as their own important land. They built a house there, they have a long-term lease on the farmland, and they have a lot of state money and other grant income for a new barn they are building that is so beautiful. It’s like a little chapel in praise of agriculture. So we’re going to see this barn project, have lunch , visit the vegetable fields and talk to them about their experience and connection to the community and what they are doing for low income families to connect them to local nutrients…dense food and the land that grows it .

Massachusetts Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux’s visit to the Berkshires is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20e. The visit is not open to the public. You can find WAMC’s coverage of their 2021 Berkshires tour here.

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