Saturday December 1, 2012

Agriculture in the Berkshires is as old as the Berkshires itself, and for it to continue in the face of all the challenges facing farming today, the Berkshires will have to pitch in. It is more than worth the effort, and the new Keep Berkshires Farming initiative should play a key role in helping farmers survive and thrive.

The Keep Farming movement began a decade ago in the nearby Hudson Valley, and Keep Berkshires Farming, which kicked into action Thursday (Eagle Nov. 28), is an offshoot of a volunteer initiative begun two years ago in South County by the Great Barrington Agricultural Commission. It is expanding countywide with the assistance of the Glynwood Center in Cold Spring, N.Y. and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Farming has gotten a huge boost in the Northeast in recent years by the movement toward locally grown food on the part of shoppers, restaurants and their patrons, who know it to be healthier and more flavorful than food shipped in by mass producers. According to Keep Berkshires Farming, most food consumed in the Berkshires is transported 1,500 miles, which means it is processed and often frozen. Fresh, locally grown food can contribute to a reduction in the county’s troubling obesity problem. These benefits aside, local farms also contribute to the aesthetic beauty of the Berkshires and protect land from development.


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The group’s Central Berkshire initiative will begin work on a survey to determine agricultural and food needs and how best to serve them. For information on volunteering or in the effort as a whole visit www.keepberkshiresfarming.org or www .facebook.com/KeepBerkshiresFarming. If it is good for farming it is almost assuredly good for the Berkshires as well.