(Assabet Valley culinary arts students with Governor Charlie Baker at Agriculture Day)
Locally-grown food took center stage this week as Massachusetts celebrated Agriculture Day at the State House. The annual event is a collaborative effort between the Massachusetts Promotion Board, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets.
Governor Charlie Baker attended the event, and encouraged Massachusetts residents “to support our local farmers and food producers and purchase Massachusetts grown and produced products whenever possible.”
The Baker-Polito Administration declared April 5, 2016 as Massachusetts Agriculture Day, and honorary citations were presented to the Eastern State Exposition (The Big E) in recognition of its centennial celebration this September, and Norfolk Country Agricultural High School in recognition of its 100 year anniversary.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said that by declaring Massachusetts Agriculture Day, “we hope to recognize and raise awareness of the importance of our many farmers and food producers.”
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton called Agriculture Day “a great opportunity to discuss issues specific to the agricultural industry, which is a vital part of the state’s economy and provides clean, healthy food to Massachusetts residents.”
There are approximately 7,700 farms in Massachusetts maintaining almost 523,000 acres of open space. These farms employ some 28,000 workers and contribute about $492 million to the state economy. Massachusetts is ranked fifth in the United States for direct market agricultural sales, according to the Division of Agricultural Markets.
Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux said, “Together with many of our agricultural partners, we gather to recognize accomplishments, identify challenges and prepare for a successful growing season.”
Agricultural Day awards were presented to State Representatives Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville), Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) and Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington).
Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation President Edward Davidian said, “We are looking forward to a productive year working with our growers and state representatives to strengthen and maintain our agricultural heritage.”
For the concluding reception in the Great Hall, culinary students and instructors from the Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Program prepared and presented a “Taste of Massachusetts” menu, using products donated from approximately 40 farms and food producers across the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism maintains a culinary calendar of food-related activities taking place in Massachusetts throughout the year.