Increasing the use of sustainable forestry by farmers who have woodlots
This project is designed to recruit farmers with woodlots interested in managing their forests sustainably and increasing farm income through green-certified forestry activities. The project is a collaboration with Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and the University of Massachusetts. Interested farmers who own over 20 acres of woodlot will learn about the benefits of sustainable forestry and marketing their forest products through membership in the Massachusetts Woodlands Cooperative (MWC). Farmers interested in joining MWC will have access to cost-share funding to develop forest management plans that meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards or to upgrade existing plans to this standard – both of which are prerequisites to MWC membership. Once farmers have their FSC-certified forest management plans in place, they may begin marketing forest products through MWC at a 10% increase over prevailing stumpage prices.
Of the 80+ farmers who participate in this project, 40 will agree to adopt sustainable forestry practices and apply to have their forests green-certified through the Massachusetts Woodlands Cooperative. Within one year of joining the Cooperative, these 40 participants will develop forest management plans that meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards and begin marketing forest products through the Cooperative at 10% increase in revenue over prevailing stumpage prices.
We currently have identified approximately 100 potential farmers to participate in this program. Much of this list was developed through collaboration with Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). In order to engage the group and increase awareness of this project, we submitted press releases to local newspapers. Stories ran in the Greenfield Recorder and other small, local periodicals such as the Shelburne Falls Independent. Other organizations also published articles announcing the project in their newsletters, such as CISA, NOFA/MA, the MA Farm Bureau, and the Hilltown Community Development Corporation. This coverage has produced additional interest in the program and expanded our list of potential farmers.
We have conducted three group sessions describing the benefits of sustainable forestry, Forest Stewardship (FSC) certification, and Cooperative membership. Twenty-nine farmers have participated in these sessions.
A July 18, 2005 event at Hall Tavern Farm was announced in local newspapers and invitations were sent to the entire list of potential farmers. More than 100 interested community members attended, demonstrating the growing interest in a value-added business based in sustainable forestry. Of these, approximately 12 were farmers. This event highlighted the Cooperative and its efforts to put more money in the pocket of landowners through value-added production from the sustainable management of woodlots. The SARE program was addressed specifically as an opportunity to involve farmers in the Coop by providing a cost-share for forest management plan development or upgrade to FSC standards. From the 12 farmers that attended this event, five expressed interest in joining the Cooperative.
A September 21, 2005 meeting was held at Hall Tavern Farm. Invitations were sent to farmers and a press release was sent to local media to announce the program. Along with the benefit of managing woods to FSC standards, benefits of Cooperative membership were discussed, including the potential to increase income from stumpage sales at 10% over prevailing market prices. The SARE program was addressed specifically as an opportunity to involve farmers in the Coop by providing a cost-share for forest management plan creation or upgrade. From the five farmers that attended this event, three expressed interest in joining the Cooperative.
A September 28, 2005 meeting was held at Hall Tavern Farm. Invitations were sent to farmers and a press release was sent to local media to announce the program. The agenda for this event followed that of September 21. Twelve farmers attended this event and several had participated in programs on July 18 and September 21. From the group of 12 farmers, three expressed interest in joining the Cooperative.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Seven farmers have currently submitted applications for membership and have been invited to join the Cooperative, agreeing to use sustainable practices to manage their woodlands. This adds 782 acres to the Cooperative’s land base. One of these new members joined in time to have their forest management plan reviewed and added to the FSC certification pool in 2005. The other six will be part of the 2006 certification pool.
Several discussions are occurring on a one-on-one basis with farmers who have attended an event and have expressed interest in joining the Cooperative. These individualized meetings allow us to address the specific concerns of potential members and answer the questions that are applicable to their individual situation. For example, one of the farmers interested in the Cooperative owns a portable sawmill and is interested in selling rough-sawn lumber to the Cooperative in addition to stumpage, thereby capturing a greater margin of the value-added to their logs for their farm business. Following these discussions, this farmer has applied and been extended the invitation of membership to the Coop. It is very important that group