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Conservation Showcase

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Earth Day, Every Day at NRCS

Every day is Earth Day at NRCS. This Conservation Showcase is your portal to the stories of Massachusetts farmers and forest land owners working together with NRCS and our partners to protect the nation's soil, water, animals, plants and air. We hope that through these stories, you'll understand how NRCS is helping people help the land every day in the Bay State.

A New England Cottontail rabbit.

A Bunny Tale: Working Together for the New England Cottontail on Cape Cod

Cape Cod’s beautiful seashore, inlets and coves, salt marshes and woodlands are a natural draw for year-round and vacation home owners, and tourists. The associated development is a boon for the local economy but not so good for a small, furry and quite elusive little creature: the New England Cottontail rabbit. And that has some folks quite concerned because habitat loss has New England’s only native rabbit on the brink of being federally listed as endangered.

Read more and watch three videos...

Barnstable CountyBarnstable County
(left to right) Phalla Nol, Nancy Faulkner and Jim Faulkner

Small farmers share land, a high tunnel and knowledge

Jim & Nancy Faulkner with Phalla Nol | farmers | Boxborough, Mass.

When Jim and Nancy Faulkner bought their small farm in Boxborough, Mass. in 2009, the place was a mess. Buildings were falling down, the soil was poor and the land was covered with invasive plants. Nonetheless, they wanted to turn it into a sustainable farm. Help came from two very different directions: a government agency and another small farmer.

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Middlesex County

Middlesex County

Sean Stanton

Beginning farmer seeks greener pastures

Sean Stanton | dairy farmer | Blue Hill Farm | Great Barrington

When Sean Stanton started improving the pastures surrounding his small farm in Great Barrington, Mass.,  his efforts not only benefited the natural resources of this scenic southwest corner of Berkshire County, but also diners at an upscale eatery on the lower west side of Manhattan.

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Berkshire County

Berkshire County

Hazel Holman

History and wildlife abound on Berkshire County forest land

Hazel Holman | forest land owner | Lanesborough, Massachusetts

Not every forest land owner can say that George Washington slept nearby. Hazel Holman can. The history of the 464 acres of scenic mountain top forest land she owns in Lanesborough, Massachusetts, is inseparable from its natural character. Since colonial times, people have left their mark on this land in Berkshire County. Hazel's legacy will be conservation and stewardship.

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Berkshire County

Berkshire County

Peter Talmage next to his Wetlands Reserve Program project.

Renewable energy professor renews wetlands

Peter Talmage | land owner | Northfield, Massachusetts

When Peter Talmage’s career as a professor of renewable energy and energy efficiency brought him from Maine to a college in Greenfield, Massachusetts with his wife and son, he knew that he wanted to enhance the beauty of the land that they bought in nearby Northfield and improve it as wildlife habitat. So, when his wife Chris heard about a USDA program that would guarantee its protection and provide help in restoring wetlands on the property, they were sold.

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Franklin County
Franklin County
Jim Ward in his no-till corn field

It's all about water quality at Ward's Berry Farm

Jim Ward | Ward's Berry Farm | Sharon, Massachusetts

Farming in a suburban town 25 miles south of Boston has both benefits and challenges. Those benefits and challenges result from the same thing, lots of neighbors. Farmer Jim Ward has found a way to meet customer demand, while protecting water resources; he’s adopted good soil health practices with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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Massachusetts map showing Norfolk County
Norfolk County
 Emma and Michael Banas

New England-New York Forestry Initiative project helps Goshen forest land owners

Michael and Emma Banas | forest land owners | Goshen, Massachusetts

Michael and Emma Banas never thought of themselves as forest land managers. That changed after they bought 138 acres of mostly forested land in Goshen. With a management plan and help from NRCS, the Banas' made improvements that are benefiting wildlife.

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Hampshire County
Hampshire County
Gary Randall

Redesigning a cranberry bog for the next century

Gary Randall | cranberry grower | Carver, Massachusetts

Gary Randall believes that his 13.2 acre cranberry bog in Carver, Massachusetts, is about 100 years old. He also believes that the improvements he's making to his bogs with the help of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Plymouth County Conservation District (PCCD) will ensure that it will be in production for another century.

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Plymouth County
Plymouth County
Paula Packard

Self-sufficiency and feeding people are her goals

Paula Packard | Hemlock Hill Farm | Ashby, Massachusetts

Paula Packard lost a lot of sleep buying her farm in Ashby, Massachusetts. "It took me two and a half years to buy it, to work out the deal. I think it took 20 years off my life. It's been hard but we pulled it off," says Paula Packard who, along with her husband Jeffrey, has owned the scenic 150 acre - formerly run-down - farm since 2006.

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Middlesex County
Middlesex County
Jack Lochhead

Forestry practice leads to a surprising discovery

Jack Lochhead | forest land owner | Conway, Massachusetts

When Jack Lochhead first looked into a federal government program to help him manage his forest land in rural Conway, Massachusetts, he had no idea that it would lead to a surprising discovery deep in the forest.

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Franklin County
Franklin County
Matt Rhodes

It started with a farm plan

Matthew Rhodes | cranberry grower | Edgewood Bogs | Carver, Massachusetts

When Matt Rhodes purchased Edgewood Bogs in 2005, fruit prices were down. He knew that meant the time was ripe to renovate his bogs. By planting hybrid varieties and restructuring the bogs into shapes that are more efficient to manage, Rhodes could increase production, while conserving important natural resources.

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Plymouth County
Plymouth County
John Kokoski

Direct marketing, land stewardship keep Mapleline Farm viable

John Kokoski | Mapleline Farm | Hadley, Massachusetts

"When you direct market your product, you want people to feel that it's a clean wholesome product coming from a clean wholesome environment," says John Kokoski when explaining how the assistance he's received from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped him keep his Hadley, Massachusetts, dairy farm sustainable.

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Hampshire County
Hampshire County
John and Carolyn Wheeler

Capitalizing on grass-fed beef and land stewardship

John and Carolyn Wheeler | Wheel-View Farm | Shelburne, Massachusetts

John and Carolyn Wheeler, owners of Wheel-View Farm in Shelburne, Massachusetts, are riding the grass-fed beef wave and the keys to their success are strong consumer demand and good land stewardship.

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Franklin County
Franklin County

Getting help with everyday farm challenges

Morven Allen | Maple Shade Farm | Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Morven Allen has had a purpose for as long as he can remember. "Ever since I was a little boy growing up on a farm, that's all I have ever wanted to do," says the Berkshire County, Mass., dairy farmer. "I look forward to getting up every morning at four o'clock and I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing what I am doing."

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Berkshire County
Berkshire County