Harvest New England Conference
By Megan Denardo, Program Specialist
The 2017 Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show was held in Sturbridge, MA on March 7-9. Staff from the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP) were invited to exhibit and speak at this conference, as part of a multi-state panel titled Farm Energy 101. The MFEP offers a range of services to farms to reduce energy consumption and produce renewable energy and is administered by the Center for EcoTechnology. They took this opportunity to continue their outreach to as many farms in Massachusetts as possible.
At the trade show portion of the event, agricultural producers and other businesses related to agriculture circulated in the conference center. Vendors, showcasing everything from locally made ice cream, to solar panels, to compostable flower pots, mingled with organizations such as USDA Rural Development, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). This was followed by lunch, a buffet showcasing local produce and foods made with locally grown eggs, meat, and maple syrup.
During the Energy 101 breakout session, representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont spoke on a panel about the programs assisting farms in their states. A USDA representative provided a brief overview of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides funding to farms for energy efficiency projects. This was a great opportunity for agricultural producers to learn more about how they could not only maximize energy use on their farms, but also leverage grant funds to help pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In addition, the panelists were able to connect and learn from each other’s programs on how to best serve farms and farmers in their home state.
If you are interested in energy efficiency or renewable energy on your farm, contact the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program at 413-586-7350 extension 382 to get started today! If you farm is located in another New England state, contact us and we will direct you to the appropriate program for your state.