hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 27, 2014

No winter hibernation

Livestock, indoor planting keeps local farms going

(Continued)

Some Haverhill farmers earn part of their annual income as contracted snowplow drivers. For example, the Rogers farm has been hired by the city to plow snow since the 1930s.

Stephanie Lesiczka at Wally’s Vegetables said that during the winter, her family also turns to snowplowing for work. But because their in-season business is produce, they begin seed purchases almost immediately after a growing season ends.

“That’s the only way we can get the quality seeds that we want for the next season’s crop,” she said.

They also use the winter to start growing plants, which they will transplant outdoors when the warm season begins.

Farmers represent only about 1 percent part of the city’s population. Yet, Haverhill residents have a lot of exposure to the farming community through local farms that run Community Supported Agriculture programs. Those programs sell fresh produce in season from the farms and participate in Haverhill’s popular summer and winter farmers markets.

Two state organizations actively promote small farmers like those in Haverhill.

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture has started a buy-local promotion encouraging residents to purchase produce from their local farmers. Some Haverhill farms participate in that program.

Other support comes from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation.

“The farm bureau is trying to promote the oh-so-real quote, ‘No Farms No Food,’ ‘‘ Stasinos said. “We have a lot to offer to make our city sustainable and can help the growth of Haverhill.’’

The farm bureau recently won a zoning regulation change for small farms in suburban settings like Haverhill.

The state’s zoning regulations formerly prohibited roadside farm stands for farms with fewer than five acres. The bureau won a change that reduced the farm size to two acres. Now smaller farms can sell their produce at roadside stands.

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