Author Archive | Barbara Ballinger

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Barbara Ballinger interviews Ag Commissioner Gregory Watson

Growing Interest in Agriculture:
Planting a Healthy Future for Massachusetts Farming

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Childhood backyard vegetable gardens and fruit trees can make an enormous difference in planting career roots. Just ask Gregory C. Watson, the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner, who also served under Governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld. Watson’s long connection with the land and appreciation of agriculture began during his childhood with his grandmother’s vegetable garden and fruit trees and an uncle’s working farm. His own hands-on experience started in 1978 when he worked with urban community groups and rural farmers to develop a network of farmers’ markets in Boston. In his tenure as commissioner, he has helped to make Massachusetts the first state to establish a dairy pricing system. Here, he talks with Edible Berkshires writer Barbara Ballinger about state farming trends.

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How do you envision the state’s farming future?

Based on trends today, I think we’ll continue to forge creative partnerships that leverage funding, expertise and resources to benefit sustainable agriculture in rural as well as urban areas. Key components are best farming practices that “cultivate” soil conservation, disease/weather resistant hybrid plants and continued diversification so farmers can modify their business plans based on consumer, energy and environmental demands.… Read the rest

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THE AGRICULTURAL GOV

Deval Patrick talks about farming, gardening, cooking, eating, and sharing Don’t be fooled by the natty suit. The 71st governor of Massachusetts, Deval L. Patrick, is a farmer at heart. It wasn’t the cute chicken motif on his tie that gave him away when he lunched with Edible Berkshires at Nudel restaurant in Lenox, but his boundless enthusiasm about helping farmers throughout the state and in the Berkshires where he and wife, Diane, own a second home. In fact, he’s often referred to as “The Agriculture Governor” and proud of it. He even was spotted at a recent lecture about how to raise backyard chickens, though he says his motive was sheer enjoyment rather than to give away eggs to Democratic fundraisers. After lunching together, we can confirm another moniker: Foodie. He’s eager to eat unusual and different foods, especially those locally grown, and sample what’s on your plate as well as chow down his own choices.
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