Eastern Massachusetts CRAFT

Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training

Welcome to the website for the Eastern Massachusetts Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT). Our mission is to promote:

Training of farmers, farm workers and apprentices in the craft of small-scale sustainable agriculture with emphasis on food production. Through the collaboration of many farms, we provide a broader learning experience than can be received on one farm alone.

Exchange of ideas among farm people. Our goal is to increase the skill base in sustainable agriculture.

Community of farmers, farm workers, and others who are interested in local agriculture. We support peer-based education to help farmers connect with others who share similar goals.

“CRAFT is a free, collaborative group.  There is no membership, no bylaws, no heirarchy, no fees.   No one “owns” CRAFT and the group is responsible to and for itself.   There’s nothing to buy, no marketing strategy, no overhead.  We are here in the simplest possible terms to educate, support, and train one another because we believe the sharing information and skills is the best farm insurance policy.” Verena Wieloch, Gaining Ground, May 2010

From April through October farmers, farm workers and apprentices from CRAFT farms gather at one farm for a visit and/or workshop. Each visit includes an overview of the farm as well as a discussion about one or two specific topics. CRAFT discussions are also scheduled November through March if there is sufficient interest.

Topics that have been discussed at past CRAFT farm visits include:

  • Accessing land
  • Apprenticeship orientation
  • Beekeeping
  • Budgeting for a market garden
  • Cover crops and rotations
  • Greenhouse operation
  • Growing beans in the northeast
  • Irrigation systems
  • Pest and disease management
  • Pigs
  • Processing chickens
  • Rotational grazing and small-scale livestock
  • Soil and fertility management
  • Tree fruit
  • Tractor maintenance and safety
  • Weed management
  • Whole farm systems

Off-season CRAFT gatherings usually take place at a grower’s home and include a good deal of socializing and eating as well as lively discussions. Farm tours don’t usually take place during the winter. Past off-season CRAFT agendas have included:

  • CRAFT planning meeting
  • Farm budgets
  • Hiring and labor management
  • Pricing and standards for CSA, retail and wholesale markets
  • Small-scale intensive growing
  • Discussion of favorite varieties