MAC Newsletter

Fall Greening the School Conference on November 9
Annual Winter Conference

Try out some of these agriculture, gardening and local food resources that will enrich your classroom.

Take some time to explore the Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom website. It offers fun, interactive activities for children as well as lesson plans for teachers. All of our past newsletters are also archived. Each provides a four-page teacher resource on some aspect of agriculture, with background information, activity ideas and more. You’ll also find information on our mini-grants, workshops, conferences, teacher awards and the Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar.

The MAC website features a whole section to support school gardens. In addition to 40 garden-based lessons, there are 17 detailed “How-to-Guides for Getting Started in the School Garden.” All are available in easy to print PDF format. MAC also offers mentoring support for school gardening, and we are now taking applications for this fall mentoring. All this and more can be found on the MAC site at www.aginclassroom.org.

National Agriculture in the Classroom recently introduced an Agricultural Literacy Matrix at www.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/. It is an online, searchable and standards-based curriculum map for K through12 teachers. The matrix contextualizes national education standards in science, social studies and nutrition education with relevant instructional resources linked to the Common Core Standards. Lessons from each of the state Agriculture in the Classroom programs, including Massachusetts, will be formatted in a similar style and added to the site. This is a new resource that is still being developed, but a great way to access lessons that are tied directly to the standards you are trying to achieve in your classroom.

National Food Day on October 24th, is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy and sustainable food where local groups and organizations hold activities specifically aimed at connecting people with their food. This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable and produced with care for the environment, farm animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it. There will be a multitude of different events for you and your students to experience. Find out more at http://fooddayma.wordpress.com.

Massachusetts Farm to School is sponsoring their Annual Harvest for Students Week September 29th through October 3rd, a celebration of Massachusetts agriculture. They also offer a Harvest of the Month Campaign for school cafeterias. Find more about their programs and resources and www.massfarmtoschool.org.

 

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

During the summer, Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom conducted our 9th Annual Summer Graduate Course. Board Members Ken and Bobbie Oles led nine workshops on farms across the state. Our summer of educational programs concluded with our second Summer Conference “Connecting the School Garden to the Classroom”. It was held on August 5th at Tahanto Regional Middle/High School in Boylston, where MAC has been mentoring a new school gardens. Board member Liz Ellis, from Heifer International, led the group in preparing their own lunch with accompanying lessons connected to the curriculum standards.

Thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Trustees of Eastern States Exposition, MAC developed an interactive agricultural activity for children that will be offered in the Massachusetts Building at the Big E this September. Parents and their children will find answers to clues at the apple, dairy, honeybee, maple and farmers’ markets exhibits. MAC will also offer hands-on dairy activities for children on Massachusetts Day thanks to funding from the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board.

Last year marked the celebration of our thirtieth year of providing excellent agricultural resources and trainings that support teachers and their classrooms across the state. We spent the past year preparing for the future of this important educational organization, as we also planned for a transition in leadership that will take place in early 2015. Debi Hogan, who served as a Board member from 1986 to 1995, and since then as our Education Coordinator/Executive Director will be leaving her position in the spring. I will also step down from the Presidency in late winter, a position I have held since 2007. (And this is the third time I have been President since the organization began.) Together we have served sixty years with this special organization that we both love so much. With plenty of advanced notice, the Board of Directors has been working to ensure a smooth transition. We reviewed our programs and goals and revised our Mission Statement. We are also forming a long-range plan to guide us through the transition and several years into the future.

Marjorie Cooper, President

WHO GREW MY SOUP? & OTHER RESOURCES FROM MAC

MAC is happy to announce that, through a special printing by National Agriculture in the Classroom, we will be selling copies of “Who Grew My Soup?” by Tom Darbyshire as a fund-raiser to support our educational programs. It tells the story of young Phineas Quinn and his questions about the vegetable soup his mom serves for lunch. Phin declares he won’t slurp a single spoonful until he knows the answer to such questions as “Who grew these carrots? Who grew these tomatoes?”

This previously unavailable book is being offered in a soft-cover edition, and can be purchased from MAC for $15 with an additional $3 for shipping and handling. This is a great way to support MAC and also to add a useful resource to your classroom, school library or local library. Send to MAC at P.O. Box 345, Seekonk, MA 02771

MAC also offers three printed manuals for sale.

Purchase School Gardens & Their Community Partnership Manual for $10.


Our Farm Field Trip Manual is $12,

and Eight Lessons about Agriculture & the Environment Manual is $5.

2014 MAC TEACHER OF THE YEAR

MAC is proud to announce that Jane Lucia has been chosen as our Teacher of the Year for 2014. Jane is a 7th Grade Life Science Teacher at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton. She has been a keen supporter of MAC since she took our Summer Graduate Course in 2006, often bringing other teachers with her to our workshops and conferences. She readily shares with other educators the many ways that she uses agriculture and gardening to teach her students about science, food and sustainability.

Jane Lucia is our 2014 Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year.

The school garden, now in its eighth year, serves as an outdoor laboratory for middle school students during class time as well as a growing group of high school students eager to grow food sustainably during their time outside of class. The faculty celebrate the harvest each year by working with students school-wide to prepare the produce. It is a way for the students to reflect back to when they put the seeds into the ground that produced the fall harvest.

In 2013, Jane hosted a STEM workshop in her school garden as part of our summer workshops on the farm. Participants learned how she uses a cold frame in the spring as well as low tunnel garden beds in the fall for season extension. They also observed the many ways the garden offers opportunities for problem solving through creative use of low and high technology engineering skills and mathematics to grow and preserve. Jane also taught three workshops on embryology and cooking in the classroom for our winter conferences.

Congratulations Jane! Read more about Jane and her classroom and school garden on MAC’s website under Awards, and learn how to nominate someone for our 2015 Award.

MAC MINI-GRANTS

In November of 2013, the MAC mini-grant committee awarded a $1,020 grant to the Smith Leadership Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester to support their organic community garden. Students studied composting, soils and how plants grow, while making connections to science, math and English. They also learned how to preserve their fruit and vegetable harvest, and then sold it at the local farmers market. We applaud their gardening efforts!

Any Massachusetts teacher or school can apply for a mini-grant to support their agriculture in the classroom efforts. Each year MAC awards mini-grants, usually in the amount of $300 to $500, to teachers for agricultural education projects. Proposals are due the first of April, September and November. To receive a copy of our mini-grant guidelines, visit our website or send a letter to MAC. Click here to read more about our mini-grants, review guidelines or read about past winners.

 

By Christopher Szkutak,
MAC Technical Associate, Massachusetts Certified Teacher & Massachusetts State Grange Legislative Director.

With increased public interest in the source of food and local agriculture, this is a good time to discuss facts about agriculture in today’s world. Increased interest presents the perfect opportunity for educators to help students learn more about agriculture in Massachusetts. There are many sources of information for students, however not all of these sources are equally credible. We will be relying on cited sources to provide facts about what agriculture looks like in Massachusetts today.

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts a census of agriculture. The most recent census was conducted in 2012. We will delve deeper into the 2012 census to explore what the data tells us about agriculture in Massachusetts. But first let’s take a look at the region as a whole. The following information is extracted from Farm Credit East’s Financial Partner Magazine Summer of 2014. It explores Eleven Myths about Northeast Agriculture.

Eleven Myths About Northeast Agriculture

Myth #1: The family farm is dying and agriculture is dominated by corporate farms. According to the 2012 census, 96% of farms in the northeast are owned, at least 50%, by persons related by marriage, blood or adoption. Many farms are still owned and run by small families. In some cases, larger families have chosen to organize as a limited liability partnership company to ensure that the next generation can more easily transition into the farm business.

Myth #2: Farming is dominated by ‘factory farms’. While it is true that the size of the family farm has grown, it is because farmers require larger amounts of land to generate the profits required to sustain their businesses. Most farms in the northeast region are not factory farms. In fact, 99.7% of farms in the region generate less than five million dollars in sales, annually.

Myth #3: Agriculture would be better without the growth of commercial farms.
While the size of farms have increased over time, the increase is mostly due to the nature of agriculture. It is a small margin industry, that requires large amounts of investments that cut into profits. The market requires increased production to sustain a business and a living wage, thus necessitating larger amounts of land.

Myth #4: Farmers are dependent on government payments to make a living. According to the 2012 census, only approximately 19% of farmers in the region received payments from the government. With an average payment of just $8,100, it is clear that these government payments were not the sole reason for farm profits. In fact, most farms are not eligible for direct payments and those northeast farms that do receive payments are usually reimbursed only for their conservation or environmental investments.

Myth #5: Family farming involves one family per farm. While there are some farms that are operated by a single family, many farms involve multiple families and generations of families. Obviously the larger the farm, the more help is needed to manage and maintain it. Not only does multiple families farming together increase the efficiency of farm operations, it also allows for the greater knowledge sharing that is vital for those who will manage the farm in the future.

Myth #6: Most farmers are old. The 2012 census tells us that the average age of the principal operator of a farm in the northeast is 57.6 years old. This can be a bit misleading at first glance. Commercial farms make up 70% of farms in the region, and most of these farms are multi-generational. That means that there are farmers in a wider set of age brackets that are not accounted for in that number. There are many younger farmers who are either working alongside their parents or other family members or starting out on their own.

Myth #7: There are too many senior farmers. The census also showed that 30% of northeast farmers are over 65. This causes some people to believe that we will soon run out of farmers. While we know this is not true because of the tendency to have multiple generations on one farm, it also does not take into account the value that older farmer bring to their farms. Not only do older farmers possess knowledge that can be passed on to future generations, they are a vibrant aspect of farm life.

Myth #8: Nobody gets into agriculture anymore. Facts show that 19.5% of farmers in the northeast region have been farming for less than 10 years. The last four years have seen an increase of roughly 1,248 farms each year. This percentage does not even include the many young farmers who are working on farms owned by other family members.

Myth #9: There are few women in agriculture. Although the census shows that 23% of principal operators are female, this number is deceiving. In many cases women are also equal business partners with their spouses, having managerial responsibilities. In general, the number of women in agriculture is on the rise, with many women working on the farm while their spouses are employed off the farm.

Myth #10: Small farmers only farm to make a living. The census defines a small farm as one with less than $250,000 in gross sales. The motivation for establishing a farm of this size is difficult to quantify. However, farming solely for profit is not necessarily one of them. The census shows that 65% of small farmers lost money in 2012, with an average loss of $4,035. In these cases the farm is not the only source of household income. Whether it is the passion for a specific crop or way of farming or the desire to eventually build a bigger farm, small farmers have more than profit on their minds when they begin farming.

Myth #11: Farmers no longer own much of the land they farm. In the northeast region, 74% of land is owned by farmers. The other 26% is rented. Farmers control a majority of the land they farm, although many new farmers rent land in order to firmly establish themselves before buying more land.

2012 Census - Massachusetts

Now that we have taken a broader view of agriculture in the northeast region, let’s hone in on the Commonwealth and explore the current state of agriculture in Massachusetts. There are currently 7,755 farms in the state, occupying 523,517 acres of land. The average farm is 68 acres. The number of farms has increased by 0.8% since 2007 and represents a 28% increase since 2002.

According to the 2012 census, 80% of farms in Massachusetts are owned by single individuals or families with the other 20% being held by partnerships, corporations or other cooperatives. The percentage of family farms has fallen slightly since the 2007 census, but still hovers around the 80% mark.

The market value of all agricultural products produced in the state has risen to approximately $500 million, a slight increase from 2007. The $500 million breaks down to approximately $100 million in livestock and poultry and $400 million in crops, including nursery crops. Nurseries and greenhouses continue to be the largest agricultural industry in the state with a market value of $144,188,000, with fruits and berries coming in a close second with $125,585,000. Not surprisingly, the top three fruits grown in Massachusetts are, in order, cranberries, apples and blueberries.

The census also breaks down livestock inventory that was reported in 2012. According to the census, there were 35,703 head of cattle in the state. That population represents a 23% decline since the 2007 census. Of the total cattle, 12,500 were milk cows and 6,240 were beef cattle. In terms of herd size, 61% of farmers with cattle in Massachusetts have less than 9 animals in their herd. There were found to be 11,151 hogs and pigs living in the state, with 79% of farmers having less than 24 animals. The number of sheep and lambs, and the number of farms with them, increased since the 2007 census. The sheep and lamb population grew 6% from 11,787 in 2007 to 12,504 in 2012. This jump also resulted in a 10% increase in wool production with current production at 70,127 pounds of wool. These animal statistics reveal an important fact, the trend toward smaller farming in the state. We have seen an influx of new farmers with small farms and only a few animals.

What do farmers in Massachusetts look like demographically? Although a majority of farmers are men, there has been an increase in the number of women who are classified as the primary operator of the farm. The number of women has increased 13% over the last five years, from 2,226 in 2007 to 2,507 in 2012. The average age of a principal operator in Massachusetts is 57.8 years old. However, the percentage of younger people farming has increased as well. There has been a 22% increase in the number of principal operators under 25 and 23% increase in the number of principal operators 25 to 34 years old. The number of older farmers has increased as well. This is not surprising, understanding that people live longer today and that many farms are multi-generational.

County Level Analysis

Now that we have taken a look at agriculture at a regional and state level, let’s delve deeper into agriculture at the county level. The map below shows the state of Massachusetts broken down into counties. In each county you will find icons representing the three most important agricultural industries in that county.

FARMERS MARKETS & CSA'S: GROWING TRENDS

Two areas of agriculture in Massachusetts that are growing exponentially are the Farmers Markets and Community Supported Agriculture farms. As consumers demand more local and sustainable food, options such as these, that allow for greater connections to the local farmer have become more popular.

Farmers Markets provide the opportunity for farmers to bring their products directly to consumers for purchase, and to interact directly with their consumers. There are more than 250 farmers markets in Massachusetts. In some cases, local farmers bring foods from their farms to a local farmers market, while others travel from rural areas to the city to sell their products. Some farmers markets are sponsored by towns, while other are sponsored by local organizations that work to provide local food to their communities. Some markets also allow non-food related items to be sold, creating a space for local artisans and craftspeople to sell their products as well.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a different concept that is also growing within the state. The basic premise of a CSA is, that members of the community pay to become shareholders of the farm. In exchange they are provided with a benefit, such as a box of produce per week during harvest. This allows for a constant revenue stream for the farmer, while also sharing the risk with others. If there is an issue with the crops, the investors do not get the promised produce. Indian Line Farm in South Egremont, Massachusetts was home to the first CSA in 1984. Today, there are more than 1,000 CSA’s nationwide. Although every CSA operates differently, all provide the opportunity for members to share in the bounty of their local farm, whether it is meat, vegetables, herbs or ornamental flowers.

CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE

Sometimes when people think about careers associated with agriculture, they limit themselves to the vision of the farmer, who works the land and raises crops and animals. While farmers are an important aspect of agriculture, there are a wide variety of different careers that are part of the agricultural industry. Here is just a sampling. How many others can you name?

● Advertising / Marketing
● Chemical Engineering
● Construction
● Biologist / Genetics
● Veterinarian
● Statisticians
● Horticultural Therapy
● Education
● Policy Design / Advocacy
● Banking / Finance
● Insurance
● Health Inspector
● Forestry / Tree Care
● Scientist / Engineer
● Agribusiness
● Journalist
● Landscaping
● Nurseries
● Technology
● Pest Management
● Aquaculture /
● Hydroponics

THE AGRICULTURAL CENSUS

The agricultural census is a survey of agriculture in the United States that is conducted every five years, specifically in years that end in two and seven. The most recent census was commissioned in 2012, with the results being released in 2014.

All people who receive the census form are required by law to respond to it. The government defines a farm, for census purposes, as a place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

The survey asks questions about characteristics of the principal operator and what is produced on the farm, as well as income and expenses. Initially the Ag-census was conducted at the same time as the population census, every ten years with the first census of agriculture carried out in 1840. In 1997, the task of collecting census data was transferred from the Census Bureau to the Department of Agriculture.

The census is important because it provides comprehensive data on agriculture, broken down to the state and county level. Farmers can use this data to further understand how their own operations fit with other farmers in their area. This helps them to make decisions about the future of their farms. Legislators can also use this data to shape agricultural policies and programs.

Thank you to the Massachusetts Trustees of Eastern States Exposition for supporting the development of this Teacher’s Resource on Agriculture in Massachusetts Today.

AGRICULTURAL FAIRS

Agricultural fairs are an important part of the annual calendar for farmers and rural communities. They offer an arena for competitive exhibits, which in turn lead to product improvements, educational opportunities and implementation of new technologies. These fairs also provide a venue for youth organizations, inspiring passion through hands-on experiences with farming. Finally, they are a way for the community to come together to celebrate, share and learn, while connecting to their agricultural roots.

More than 3,200 fairs are held across the country each year. In keeping with historic traditions, these agricultural fairs offer farmers an arena for competitive exhibits that showcase the best agricultural and domestic products of the community, region or state. These competitions, along with exhibits and demonstrations, lead to product improvements and advancements in livestock, horticulture and agriculture. Educational opportunities abound with special emphasis placed on activities such as 4-H, FFA and similar youth development programs.

The prime purpose of all agricultural fairs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the promotion of agriculture. They also provide an annual celebration for the community to come together and have fun, while they share and learn. Fairs offer a wonderful way to enjoy the richness and variety of what the state and world has to offer. There is sure to be a fair in your local town or county. Plan to visit one this fall. Better yet get involved as a volunteer or an exhibitor. There is something for everyone at the fair!

LESSON IDEAS

Visit a local farm and talk with the farmer about what it is like to run a farm. Have students write a short essay describing what they learned. Alternatively, have them create a “Know Your Farmer” brochure that could be used to educate the community about the farms in town.

Have students select an agricultural career of interest. Encourage students to do research on that career and create a display board outlining the different aspects of their selection. Have a career fair where other students can walk through and learn about agricultural careers.

If your school has a school garden, have the students develop a brochure advertising the garden, including who maintains it and what you grow. If you do not have a garden, have students develop a brochure for a garden your school would like to have.

Bring in a variety of fruits and vegetables. How many are grown on Massachusetts farms? Have a tasting party. Research the nutrients in each of these fruits and vegetables. Can you find a recipe for each?

Ask students to develop and administer a survey designed to find out what consumers are looking for when buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Discuss how advertising and product presentation affect the sale of foods. How would you advertise locally grown foods?

Have students research what is required to start a Farmers Market. What would they want to see at their market? How much would it cost to run it? Who would they get to help them?

 

AGRICULTURE IN MASSACHUSETTS TODAY RESOURCES

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
www.mass.gov/agr

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Pages
* Local Farm MAP
www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map.htm
* CSA Farms
www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/csa_farms.htm
* Agricultural Fairs
www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/fairs-directory.htm

USDA Census of Agriculture
www.agcensus.usda.gov

National Agricultural Statistics
www.nass.usda.gov

Farm Credit East, ACA
Financial Partner Magazine (Summer 2014)
www.farmcrediteast.com/industry-support/fp-magazine.aspx

UMass Agricultural Data
http://ag.umass.edu/ma-agricultural-data/agricultural-census

Massachusetts Association of Roadside
Stands and Pick-Your-Own

www.massfarmstands.com

Massachusetts Young Farmers Coalition
www.youngfarmers.org/tag/massachusetts/

Massachusetts Buy Local Organizations
Berkshire Grown
413-528-0041
www.berkshiregrown.org
Buy Fresh (Essex County)
www.buyfresh.org
Community Involved in Sustainable
Agriculture ( CISA)
413- 665-7100
www.buylocalfood.org
Island Grown (Martha’s Vineyard)
www.islandgrown.org
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) 508-999-8000
www.semaponline.org
Farm Fresh (Rhode Island)
www.farmfresh.org

Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs
www.mafa.org
The Big E www.thebige.com/fair/
The Topsfield Fair www.topsfieldfair.org

Massachusetts Farmers Markets
www.massfarmersmarkets.org

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project
http://nesfp.org

Women in Agriculture Network
www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/workshops-and-assistance/women-in-agriculture-network/

 

Educational Resources

 

 

National Agricultural Statistics Resource
www.nass.usda.gov/Education_and_Outreach/

National FFA Ag Census Resources
www.ffa.org/FFAResources/ffalearn/agcensus/Pages/Lesson-Plans.aspx

Information for this Teacher’s Resource was taken from the references listed above.

Thank you to the Massachusetts Trustees of Eastern States Exposition for supporting the development of this Teacher’s Resource on Agriculture in Massachusetts Today.

This educational newsletter on Agriculture in Massachusetts Today was written by Christopher Szkutak, MAC’s Technical Associate and Certified Mass. Math and Political Science Teacher.

WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES

GARDEN SKILLS WORKSHOPS AND DEMONSTRATIONS FOR THE SCHOOL GARDEN

Spend an educational and fun day brushing up on your gardening techniques and learning new activity ideas for school gardens on Saturday, October 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Common School in Amherst. Twelve workshops and demonstrations, to support successful efforts in the school garden, will be held throughout the day, including soils tests, building cold frames and garden beds, fall crops, garlic, square foot beds, mulch and more. Free and open to all with registration. Thanks to the Common School & Bramble Hill Farm for hosting this event and to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources for sponsoring the workshops. Read More about the Garden Day.

FALL “GREENING THE SCHOOL CONFERENCE"

Our 6th annual Fall Conference for Educators will be held November 8th at Clay Science Center of the Dexter & Southfield Schools in Brookline. The theme is “Greening the School.” All workshops will focus on composting & healthy soils; school gardening; natural resource conservation, and nutrition & local foods. The $50 fee includes a breakfast snack, lunch, all materials and ten professional development points with a related classroom activity.

Four concurrent sessions will be held throughout the day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a choice of five workshops in each session, offering how-to tips, specific lessons, hands-on activities, curriculum connections and much more. The conference is held in conjunction with Allandale Farm, which lies adjacent to the school.

The Clay Center for Science and Technology is a state-of-the-art astronomical observatory and learning center. Allandale Farm is Boston’s last working farm. It practices growing methods that meet organic requirements, produces compost, offers CSA shares, a farm market and locally grown and artisan foods. Tours of the school and farm will be available during the day.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, proud supporter of MAC’s Greening the School conference, is changing the way people think about and eat fast food by serving food made from ingredients sourced with respect for the land, the animals, and the farmers who produce the food. Visit www.chipotle.com to learn more. Whole Foods Markets is also providing sponsorship support again this year. A limited number of registration Scholarships are available for new and urban teachers and farm educators. The full schedule, registration and scholarship details can be found on MAC’s website. Read More about the Fall Conference.

ANNUAL WINTER CONFERENCE

MAC’s Annual Winter Conference is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2015. We are looking for a new home for the conference which offers 24 workshops across four sessions. We also welcome suggestions for workshops that you would like us to organize or that you might present. Read More about our Annual Winter Conference.

SUMMER GRADUATE COURSE

2015 Summer Graduate Course held in conjunction with Fitchburg State University. Participants must attend eight workshops on farms, keep a journal and develop three lesson plans, presenting one to their colleagues. Read More About our Summer Graduate Course.

MAC's School Garden Mentoring Program Has a Few Openings For New Schools.

Apply Now!

For the past three years Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom has been mentoring new schools through their start up phases of school gardening. This fall we still have a few openings for schools wishing to start new school gardens, those in the beginning stages, and those wishing to re-vitalize their programs. Mentored schools are a part of our program for two years, and receive an initial consultation, followed by seasonal visits from us, as well as on-going phone and e-mail support and a stipend to help them buy some supplies from a local garden center to help get their garden in the ground!

The application period is currently open, and spaces will be filled on a rolling basis, until the end of September. To apply you must be working within a Massachusetts elementary or high school, and you should e-mail our garden mentoring coordinator Alice a short paragraph describing your current situation and your hopes for your garden program. For more information about the program please visit: http://www.aginclassroom.org/School%20Gardens/mentoring.html.

2015 MASSACHUSETTS AGRICULTURE CALENDAR

The 2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar will be unveiled at the Big E in September. Show your enthusiasm for agriculture while you support MAC, recipient of all proceeds. Each calendar month features a photo portraying a farm or farm product, and offers agriculture and conservation facts and events. Calendars may be purchased from MAC for $10 each or at a discount of $5 each for 5 or more. The twelve Massachusetts Calendar Contest winners featured in the 2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar will be posted on MAC’s website. Order Calendars or View Images from the 2015 and Past Agriculture Calendars.

Calendar of Events

September 12- 28 - The Big E: Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield. Children’s Activities in the Massachusetts Building sponsored by MAC. Visit www.thebige.com.

September 27 & 28 - North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival, Orange, 10-5, $5. Visit http://garlicandarts.org.

October 1 - Massachusetts Green Careers Conference in Marlborough. Visit www.MassGreenCareers.org.

October 3 to 13 - Topsfield Fair - 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For information, visit www.topsfieldfair.org.

October 4 - 5 - Heifer International’s Global Harvest Festival. 10 - 4 at Heifer Farm in Rutland. $10 per car. For information, visit http://www.heifer.org/what-you-can-do/experience-heifer/heifer-farm/events.html

October 11 & 12 - 11th Annual Cranberry Harvest Festival, Wareham, 10 - 4, $10. Visit http://www.cranberries.org/festival/festival.html.

October 24 to 25 - Bioneers by the Bay Conference - Connecting for Change in New Bedford. Visit www.connectingforchange.org.

November 11-12 - New England Sustainable Agriculture World Group Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY at www.nefood.org.

January 15 - 3rd Annual Farm to Cafeteria Conference at Worcester State. Visit www.massfarmtoschool.org.

RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS

“School Gardening Blog” from MAC at http://aginclassroom.org/School%20Gardens/blog.html.

Garden Based Lesson Webinars starting 9/11, free from City Sprouts, for all interested in connecting gardens to curriculum. Register at www.citysprouts.org.

Food Label Quiz - Being Label Able tests student knowledge of how to read a food label at http://utah.agclassroom.org/htm/student/webquests/

4-H Virtual Farm offer visits to fish, dairy, poultry, horse, beef or wheat farms at www.sites.ext.vt.edu/virtualfarm/main.html.

Sammy Soil Coloring Book and other resources from the USDA at www.epa.gov/gmpo/edresources/ssoil.html.

Feed the World Challenge where students compete to develop a clean technology solution at www.cleantechcompetition.org.

October is Farm to School Month, Activities Binder on-line at www.farmtoschool.org/resources.

Cranberry Lessons & Resources from Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association at www.cranberries.org/cranberries/teachers.html.