The Boston Globe is reporting that small farms catering to the local market so far seem to be largely immune from the effects of the economic crisis and great recession.
Despite consumers generally tightening their belts, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources says growing demand for farmers markets and other local food programs. Staff at the department have called the movement a “renaissance” and now say agriculture is one of the bright lights in the current economic decline.
Meanwhile the USDA’s 2007 agriculture census backs up this optimism at the state level. They found that the number of farms in the state grew by 27 per cent over a five year period.
Farmers in the area say the cost of the food they produce might be higher, but frequently they’re running operations, like U-pick berry farms, that are as much tourist attraction as anything. During tough economic times, they explain, these operations offer cash-strapped families with an inexpensive outing.
For farmers who aren’t interested in running an operation with a lot of retail traffic through it, the state agriculture department says Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers’ markets remain a strong and viable option for marketing.