Friday, October 2, 2009

News from Mass. and Vermont

Land in Massachusetts is highly vulnerable to development. One way that some farms have been successful in keeping their land in agriculture is by converting to wineries, and by incorporating agritourism. The Boston Globe featured several Massachusetts wineries in an article by Brian Benson. A quote from the article: “For me, it was whatever we could do to preserve the farm,’’ said Adelman of his decision to switch from baling bundles of hay to harvesting rows of grapes. “We were just trying different things to see what’s sustainable these days to promote local agriculture, open space, and conservation practices.’’ -------------------------------------- Adams Farm, a five generations-old Vermont agritourism farm, is closing. Here's the sad story, by Jaime Cone from the Brattleboro Reformer. And here, an excerpt:

Mancivalano said that agritourism can be a sustainable business in Vermont and that it was only her own special circumstances that prevented her from keeping her head above water in these challenging financial times.

She said that while agritourism is a relatively new term, the practice has been a part of her family's farm for generations.

The Adams family started the farm in 1865. In the beginning it was a very typical Vermont farm, she said -- very diversified.

In the 1880s, it became trendy for wealthy people from New York City to visit the country, Mancivalano said, and the farm was opened up to boarders who wanted to escape city life and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh food.

In 1970, Mancivalano's parents purchased the farm and decided to close it to the public in order to focus on the dairy business. They began hosting sleigh rides in 1979 when dairy prices began to drop, taking skiers for rides through the woods on snowy evenings when they returned from the slopes.

The idea was a success, and in three years, the family bought two additional teams of Belgian draft horses to accommodate the growing number of visitors.

"We've been doing that ever since," Mancivalano said. Her father, now 69, still does the sleigh rides though it's becoming difficult for him.

Jill Adams Mancivalano sits with her dog Jed with the Adams Farm in Wilmington in the background. (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)

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