hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 27, 2014

No winter hibernation

Livestock, indoor planting keeps local farms going

It’s probably the furthest thing from most people’s minds as snow dominates the city’s landscape.

But not for farmers.

While the city’s plows continue to clear snow and weathermen yak about the frigid temperatures, local farmers’ minds are already turning to the upcoming growing season.

During the snowy months, the farmers work at alternate farming tasks and prepare for the spring and summer planting seasons. They also care for their winter products like corn silage and hay, which they sell.

And they prepare to order the goods they will need for the next growing season.

Recognized for generations as an industrial city because of its successful shoe factories, Haverhill does have a small but strong farming community. Whether plowing snow in the winter, growing corn or raising livestock at different times of the year, the city’s farmers don’t balk at their agricultural duties.

They take their farming seriously.

In a city of about 34 square miles, “We have 2,500 agricultural acres here in Haverhill and have several different types of farms right here in our own backyards,” farmer Marlene Stasinos said.

Some Haverhill farms grow produce, vegetables and commercial produce. Others grow a combination of vegetables and livestock.

Different farms prepare for the end of growing season and the approach of winter in different ways. Large farms like Rogers Spring Hill Farm cultivate corn during the growing season as a winter crop that they wholesale to local farms and animal service businesses during the cold season.

At the end of every growing season, crews from Rogers farm cut and bale the hay that they store for their winter customers such as livestock farms and animal shelters.

“We store the corn silage in the silos at Ward Hill yearround,” said farm owner Steve Rogers. “It’s one of our winter income sources while we wait for the growing season.’’

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