Mixing It Up: Connecting Farmer And Landowner
Picture this: a mixer — what they used to call dances — with farmers on one side of the hall, landowners on the other. They’re staring at each other. Who’s going to be the first to ask someone on the other side to dance?
Fortunately, we’re not talking junior high sock hop, so there probably won’t be any wallflowers at Berkshire Grown’s Farmer-Landowner Mixer next week. The area’s biggest local farming cheerleader has plans to spark some connections between those who want to farm and those who have the land to farm on.
“We’ve been trying to do this for years,” said Berkshire Grown’s director, Barbara Zheutlin. “Matching farmers and landowners is something that the Columbia County Land Conservancy does really well, and we’ve been learning from them.”
On October 28 in Williamstown and October 29 in Great Barrington, these mixers will connect farmers seeking land with established farmers and farmland. The free events (which include a light supper and beer) will offer information and resources to help sustain and increase farming in the Berkshires. A panel of speakers from several land trusts, foundations and like organizations will get the conversations going. The events are part of the Berkshire Farmland Initiative, co-sponsored by Berkshire Grown, The Carrot Project and Land For Good in partnership with Berkshire organizations committed to supporting farming in the Berkshires, including the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College.
So far, the response has been good, Zheutlin says. She was receiving emails from farmers and landowners whom she didn’t know, who aren’t members of Berkshire Grown — and if she doesn’t know them, that’s a good indicator of the number of people out there ready to farm more, start farming or sell off some land.
“We’re attending because we’re looking for land to make hay on for our cows,” says Suzy Konecky, manager of the creamery at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown. “Open farmland can be hard to come by around here. A lot of farmers are on the lookout for more. I just hope landowners will be coming to the mixer!”
Deadline to RSVP (to reserve dinner) is October 24. Email Barbara@berkshiregrown.org and let her know if you are a farmer seeking land, transitioning, or a landowner.
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