Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Governor Deval L. Patrick
Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett
Press Release Contact: Amy Mahler — 617-626-1129 or email@example.com
Agricultural Officials Encourage Residents to “Gift Local” this Holiday Season
2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar, specialty foods, holiday plants are among locally produced items available for giving
BOSTON – Friday, December 19, 2014 – With the holiday season upon us, the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) reminds consumers to “gift local” this year by buying local food, decorations and other products when selecting holiday gifts or preparing holiday meals.
“Massachusetts growers and specialty food producers offer an exciting range of seasonal items, perfect for holiday gift giving and decorating,” said DAR Commissioner Grege Watson. “Buying local promotes Massachusetts family-run businesses and stimulates the economy across the Commonwealth.”
Below are some ideas for local gifts and foods for your holiday celebrations and feasts.
The 2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar makes a great gift. The $10 calendar features the winning photos of Bay State farming from the department’s annual photo contest. The proceeds benefit Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit organization that works with teachers to develop classroom curriculum. The calendar features a winning photograph each month, plus several honorable mention winners. To view and purchase the calendar, click here.
The Massachusetts Specialty Foods Association offers “The Flavors of Massachusetts” gift baskets. Available in several sizes, assortments include Massachusetts sparkling cider, fruit jams and jellies, honey, maple syrup, cranberry chutney, candies and more. View baskets here.
Holiday & Winter Farmers’ Markets:
Forty-one winter farmers’ markets offer a variety of locally grown, produced and prepared food, bread, chocolate, cider, wine and cheese, as well as hand-crafted gift items and holiday decorations made by local artisans.
Many communities organize holiday farmers’ markets; find one on the MassGrown & Fresher Culinary & Agricultural Events Calendar.
Massachusetts growers produce half a million poinsettia plants annually. These holiday season favorites are available in traditional red, white, pink and bi-color from local independent garden centers, farm stands and florists. Find a local garden center here.
Plan a trip to a Massachusetts Christmas tree farm, where families can choose ready-cut trees or harvest their own. Many Massachusetts Christmas tree farms also offer wreaths, swags and centerpieces made from locally grown evergreens. Massachusetts Christmas tree plantations also help preserve open space and provide habitat for wildlife. Some farms sell out early, so call ahead to confirm the availability of trees. Find a fresh-cut tree farm here.
Twenty-three farms across the state produce more than 600,000 pounds of farmstead cheeses, as well as barrel-churned butter. Around 24,500 gallons of milk from over 400 cows and 180 goats go into making local varieties of camembert, blue, cheddar, Gouda, chevre and other cheeses. Learn more about Massachusetts cheese makers here.
Toast the holidays with wine made with Massachusetts-grown grapes and other fruit. There are 34 wineries across the Commonwealth, producing about 200,000 gallons of chardonnay, pinot noir, Riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot Blancpinot gris and other varieties annually. Wines made with fruit such as cranberries, apples, raspberries, strawberries and pears add unique local flavor. Learn more about Massachusetts wineries here.
Make a locally raised turkey the centerpiece of your holiday feast, available at more than 20 turkey farms across the Commonwealth. In 2012, Massachusetts farmers raise approximately 12,000 turkeys annually and sold whole turkeys, gravies, turkey pies and other value-added turkey products. Find a farm that sells turkeys here.
The Patrick Administration is committed to growing the agriculture economy. More than $55 million has been invested in the APR program, resulting in the permanent protection of more than 180 farms and more than 10,000 acres. In addition, $7 million has been put towards farmer training, business development, on-farm energy efficiency and more. The Commonwealth has also launched one of the nation’s first state-funded urban farming initiatives, ranks fifth in the nation for direct market sales, hosts 134 farmers’ markets that accept SNAP and since 2007 has seen a 95 percent increase in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and growth in agri-tourism sales of 127 percent.
DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr and follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.
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View downloadable photographs on Flickr:…………….. www.flickr.com/photos/masseea/sets/
Visit the Energy Smarts blog:……………………………… www.mass.gov/blog/energy
Visit The Great Outdoors blog:….………………………..www.mass.gov/blog/environment
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