The Newburyport Farmer’s Market has turned out to be a spectacular weekly event – making it very hard to park within a mile of the Tannery every Sunday Morning.
Each time, visitors can obtain the rich bounty from our local farms.
But the entire market would have been a non-starter if the local real estate boom hadn’t collapsed back in 2008. As the economy begins to slowly gather steam, the same dire situation could resurrect itself and we could lose our regional agriculture.
Our historic city has been in an envious spot because our architecture is so beautiful downtown framed by our vast open spaces. We are a very European city because our geography and preservation of farms allows clustering of development on the ridge and open spaces surrounding. But these are not only conservation areas for wildlife or recreation but are filled with working farms.
Farming is not glamorous – it is a whole lot of labor combined with expensive machinery and tools – all three (labor, equipment and facility) are a painful combination in our economy with no guarantee of getting a sufficient price to cover expenses. (Let alone making a profit)
All a developer had to do in the past was to come by and setup a purchase and sale agreement dangling cash sometimes in the millions – promising to make all that pain go away.
The result is there for all to see – the creation of urban sprawl and the loss of our farms. (NEVER to get the open space back.)
But our farms are as much a part of our community as the Custom House and the Statue of George Washington. One of the oldest farms in America with continuous ownership since colonial times lies inside the border of the City of Newburyport! Arrowhead Farm tucked away quietly near the State Park.
Tendercrop has managed to turn local agriculture into a booming and diversified business and our smaller farms such as Colby and Woodman as well as the farms in outlying areas have had a rebirth.
Mostly due to three things: One, special tax-preference through Chapter 66A that allows them breaks; two, preservation easements that in effect bar the sale to developers of protected land and three, the creation of CSA’s (Cooperative Shares of Agriculture) that allow ‘shareholders’ to join a club and who become the recipients of the products at a set price. These CSA’s plus the explosion of farm markets have revitalized an industry that was dying. Even the fishing industry has learned a lesson from the farms by creating CSF’s.
Be sure to support our local farms. Those who wish to be ‘green’ can put away the paint brushes and support the true saving of energy by buying local…and what better way than to visit our local farms.
Tendercrop has come to be the closest I have ever seen of an agricultural grocery store while Colby’s new farm stand has been a smashing success.
Let’s keep it going – Cider & Cider Donuts for all!