Boston Local Food Festival

Presented by Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts

MDAR and the Boston Local Food Festival

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is one of the oldest departments of agriculture in the U.S. Its interests lie in two broad areas: regulatory and promotional. On the one hand it deals with animal health (rabies) and crop and pest services (Asian Longhorn beetle). On the other it deals with agricultural conservation and technical assistance (grants for farm energy enhancement projects) and agricultural markets (farmers markets and CSAs). As such, it’s a great resource for the many farmers who participate in the Boston Local Food Festival, and someone from each division is represented there each year.

To find out more about MDAR, I spoke to Anna Waclawiczek, chief of staff for administration. She says that MDAR loves the attention that the festival brings to locally grown and produced food. The more people that become aware of the importance of it, the more likely it won’t be just a trend that goes away, but a part of the fabric of what is Massachusetts. Already, direct sales are very successful in the state—we’re seventh in the nation for farmers markets.

To help connect consumers with farmers, MDAR has created the Massachusetts Grown and Fresher website, which just won a “Bright Ideas” award from the Ash Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And to help consumers know that what they’re buying is locally grown with the best management practices, MDAR, in partnership with the industry, has created the Commonwealth Quality program—a voluntary certification program for produce, forestry, aquaculture, and lobster (and soon, dairy).

“There are real opportunities for young people looking at agriculture today,” Waclawiczek says, and MDAR is there to help them, with business training, grants, and marketing materials. MDAR helps farmers to expand their income stream, by encouraging urban agriculture, crop diversification, agritourism, and an extended growing season with rooftop gardens and hoop houses.

In partnership with farmers, MDAR hopes to continue to preserve the “intangible value of what open working landscapes provide: quality of life.”

This post was written by Brenda Pike of Pragmatic Environmentalism, go check her out! 

Posted by: Nicola on October 10, 2012 @ 2:51 pm
Filed under: Blog,Boston Local Food Festival