Agriculture continues growing in Massachusetts

There are about 7,700 farms statewide

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Earth Day is this weekend, and state officials are celebrating the many farms across the state.

Massachusetts Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux visited Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst Thursday. The farm participates in the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) program. “The state came up with agricultural restrictions mainly to keep the land out of development,” Lebeaux explained. “I think that serves the whole community.”

Money from CISA helps places like Simple Gifts Farm, which provides vegetables for 300 families who’ve purchased shares in the produce grown on this Amherst farm. Co owner Dan Tepfer explained that this helps their customers “get a little more insight into how much work it is and the uncertainty of it. We give people a variety of all the vegetables they would expect to get.”

Jeremy Parker Plotkin told 22News that they “have been truly inspired by the amount of support we have here in the community for what we do. We have a tremendous base of supporters who really value what we do.”

Lebeaux said that there are about 7,700 farms statewide, and the outlook for agriculture in the state is excellent. He said that there are more farms now than ever before, with many small farms providing a greater variety of produce.

Highlighting Hampshire County agriculture is one phase of the Earth week tour hearing from farm owners and helping them overcome their concerns.