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Success Stories

Conservation Showcase

This Conservation Showcase is your portal to stories of Massachusetts farmers and forest land owners working 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.

Bill Rose portraitWorcester County, Mass.

A symphony of songbirds at Red Apple Farm

Early one morning, in the summer of 2018, Bill Rose was walking through a forested area of his family’s farm in Phillipston, Mass. The area had been clear cut as part of a forest conservation project. With just six to 10 trees per acre left standing and scattered brush piles everywhere, the land looked very different than before the cut. But, it wasn’t what he was seeing that got Rose’s attention. It was what he was hearing. He whipped out his smartphone and started recording video, narrating as he scanned his surroundings. “I'm down here on the brand-new oak regeneration cut. And, with this brand-new cut, I think you can hear what it does: I'm bringing all the birds in. What a symphony, huh?”

Rebecca Perry, owner of Sabatia Flower FarmBarnstable County
Barnstable County

Energy conservation blooms on Cape Cod

In the cold of December, when most Massachusetts farmers are done for the season, Rebecca Perry is just beginning to plant her crop of lilies at Sabatia Flower Farm in Marstons Mills on Cape Cod. In a 5,000 square foot heated greenhouse, she grows some 22,000 oriental lilies between December and November each year. And along with the delicate flowers come some hefty energy bills.

Jennifer Christian and Matt Churchill, owners of Pariah Dog Farm in Falmouth, Mass.Barnstable CountyBarnstable County

Conservation nets better irrigation, saves money and doubles growing space

Matt Churchill & Jennifer Christian | Pariah Dog Farm | Falmouth, Massachusetts

Filling up 500-gallon water tanks with a garden hose overnight, then hauling them out to the field the next morning is not the easiest or most efficient way of irrigating crops. Yet, that’s how Matt Churchill and Jennifer Christian, owners of Pariah Dog Farm in Falmouth, Massachusetts, were doing it. That is until they got help from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Cynthia Henshaw, Executive Director of the East Quabbin Land TrustHampshire CountyHampshire County

Fire sparks new life on an old farm

East Quabbin Land Trust, Frohloff Farm | Prescribed burn

When the East Quabbin Land Trust purchased the 90 acre Frohloff Farm in Ware, Massachusetts in 2010, the first order of business was to get a forest stewardship plan. The farm hadn't been managed as farmland in many years and invasive species like glossy buckthorn, multiflora rose, bittersweet, and honeysuckle, were taking over. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provided financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to implement their forest management plan and restore wildlife habitat. A key component of the plan was opening up the forest canopy with fire.

Amanda Barker, Farm Manager, Nuestro Huerto Community FarmWorcester County, Mass.Worcester County

Helping an urban farmer connect people with food

Amanda Barker | Nuestro Huerto Community Farm, Worcester, Massachusetts

When Amanda Barker arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2009 to start graduate school she knew that she wanted to grow food and build community. Seven years later, she is one of the nation’s urban agriculture pioneers. As Director and Farm Manager of Nuestro Huerto Community Farm, Barker and her corps of volunteers are raising vegetables, fruit, herbs and greens on a third of an acre behind a church in Worcester’s south end. In addition to the usual challenges that go with farming, urban farming brings its own unique concerns such as security. But, Barker’s biggest hurdle was inadequate irrigation. The drip irrigation system that she connected to the church’s water supply wasn’t getting enough water to the crops. So, she contacted the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for help.

Jay GalushaBerkshire CountyBerkshire County

No-till: It’s just so easy

Jay Galusha | Fairfield Dairy Farm | Williamstown, Mass.

The 400 acres of hay land and 220 acres of corn at Fairfield Dairy Farm in Williamstown, Mass. are set among sweeping vistas of the Berkshire hills. The beauty belies the challenges faced by the five generations of the Galusha family who have farmed this rugged land.  Jay Galusha, who, with other family members, milks 240 cows, has found a solution with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Read more, watch a video and view a photo gallery...

Samantha Whittier

Worcester County, Mass.Worcester County

This isn’t farming like Grandpa used to do

Samantha Whittier | Whittier Farm | Sutton, Mass.

In the summer of 2015, Samantha Whittier’s dad, Wayne, signed up for aerial cover crop seeding offered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The conservation practice involves a helicopter swooping over corn fields, releasing winter rye seed from a hopper swinging beneath the chopper. To a bystander, it might look like an air show or a crime scene investigation, but it’s actually a very controlled seed application that uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the helicopter’s flight path and precisely map where seed was distributed. With a retail farm store that’s open daily and fields that are very visible to their neighbors, the Whittiers knew that some public education was in order.

Read more, view a photo gallery and watch a video...

Lisa and Frank Kokoski of F&L Farms in Ware, Massachusetts.Hampshire CountyHampshire County

Small Farm, Big Conservation Success

Frank and Lisa Kokoski | F&L Farms | Ware, Massachusetts

Frank Kokoski and his daughter Lisa established F&L Farms in 2004, starting small with chickens, pigs and a few cows. The farm, located in Ware, Massachusetts, a small rural town located in Hampshire County at the southern end of the Quabbin Reservoir, grew quickly with additional livestock being added each year and with a small land base, so did the livestock’s impact on the farm’s natural resources. After a few years raising livestock, Frank and Lisa realized they could use some help and contacted NRCS for conservation planning and program support.

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Al Rose, owner of Red Apple Farm

Worcester County, Mass.Worcester County

Helping a Massachusetts apple farm be red and green

Al Rose | Red Apple Farm | Phillipston, Mass.

Al Rose and his wife Nancy, who operate the fourth generation Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, Mass., have introduced an innovative growing system just a stone’s throw from the the oldest McIntosh tree in commercial production in New England. To ensure success in an area that sees its share of dry summers, Rose sought the help of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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A New England Cottontail rabbit.Barnstable CountyBarnstable County

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.

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

Middlesex CountyMiddlesex County

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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Sean Stanton

Berkshire CountyBerkshire County

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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Hazel Holman

Berkshire CountyBerkshire County

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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Peter Talmage next to his Wetlands Reserve Program project.Franklin CountyFranklin County

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.


Jim Ward in his no-till corn fieldMassachusetts map showing Norfolk CountyNorfolk County

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.


Emma and Michael Banas Hampshire CountyHampshire County

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.


Gary RandallPlymouth CountyPlymouth County

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.


Paula PackardMiddlesex CountyMiddlesex County

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.


Jack LochheadFranklin CountyFranklin County

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.


Matt RhodesPlymouth CountyPlymouth County

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.


John KokoskiHampshire CountyHampshire County

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.


John and Carolyn WheelerFranklin CountyFranklin County

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.


Berkshire CountyBerkshire 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."