Commissioner Scott Soares
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
Recently, our colleague Rick LeBlanc staffed the MassGrown tent at West Brookfield’s 9th Annual Asparagus and Flower Heritage Festival on the town common. Asparagus is one of the first harvests of spring and is much enjoyed for its delicate flavor. Studies have also shown that the stalks are high in antioxidants and a good source for folic acid and potassium.
What started out as a small event with a dozen or so vendors in 2003 has now expanded to more than 100 local growers and artisans participating this year. Festivities included performances by local musicians Dick Chase and Samantha Gillogly, a frog jumping contest, children dancing around a May pole, and most importantly – lots of asparagus along Asparagus Alley including asparagus chowder, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, and asparagus chicken wraps.
Many people in the know associate asparagus with the Pioneer Valley, but when you look at the history, its roots are in West Brookfield. It’s said that a Dutch Consul, Diederik Leertouwer, came to Massachusetts and New England in 1790 to promote trade. After making his home in West Brookfield, Mr. Leertouwer purportedly had asparagus roots shipped from Europe so he could grow and enjoy one of his favorite vegetables. Every year since, asparagus patches crop up each spring around the Foster Hill area of West Brookfield.
This festival is among many of its kind that have an agricultural theme and which are popping up across the state.
June 4: Dairy Day at Drumlin Farm
June 4-5: 9th Annual Apple Blossom Bash
June 18: Strawberry Soiree at Red Fire Farm
The View from Massachusetts posted on Sep 17
While Massachusetts can claim significant success in urban river revitalization, dam removal, cranberry bog naturalization and stream flow restoration, globally there are daunting challenges to restore highly impacted or vanishing ecosystems that will test the acumen of ecologists, engineers and politicians for years to come.
2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September posted on Sep 12
September’s photo contest winner was Gary Kamen, who photographed Mount Warner Vineyard in Hadley. Mount Warner Vineyards is a farm-winery located in Hadley, a small town in the beautiful Pioneer Valley. Operated by Gary and Bobbie Kamen, their philosophy is to recognize the unique characteristics of …Continue Reading 2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: September
Calling All Shuckers! posted on Sep 3
Do you know where the oysters you ate at the raw bar last night were grown? Do you know how oysters are grown? Oysters naturally inhabited the eastern coast dating back to the 1700s, but due to over-harvesting, disease, and habitat loss, wild oysters have …Continue Reading Calling All Shuckers!