Symposium aims to connect Berkshire farmers with landowners


PITTSFIELD -- Area agricultural groups want Berkshire farmers working more land in an effort to boost the local food economy.

On Saturday, a collaboration of nine organizations, led by Berkshire Grown and Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires will conduct a Farmland Access Symposium at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.

The forum aims to eventually link farmers with landowners considering options for farming on their land, according to organizers.

"If you own land and want someone to farm it, we'll have a list of resources and service providers," said Berkshire Grown Executive Director Barbara Zheutlin.

"This event is the next stage toward a more sustainable regional food economy," noted Billie Best, president the Community Land Trust's board of trustees.

Best said more than 100 people already have registered for the four-hour event, which includes panel discussions by several farmers, some of whom lease land for farming and the finance and legal aspects of leasing property for agricultural purposes.

The keynote speaker is Kathy Ruhf, a national leader in farmland access and currently the executive director of Land for Good in Keene, N.H., an organization devoted to hooking up farmers with owners of potential farmland.

Producing more food it in the Berkshires won't drive down the cost, Best said, but it will help lessen the dependency on trucking in food from around the country.

"We haven't been under pressure to produce our own food," she said, "but recent weather events that have impacted regions that produce our food means we need to increase our capacity to grow our own."

To reach Dick Lindsay:,

or (413) 496-6233

If you go ...

What: Farmland Access Symposium

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield.

Registration: Required at


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