This week, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern hosted the 7th Annual Agricultural Tour to meet with farmers, agricultural producers, non-profit farming organizations and community development corporations in Central and Western Massachusetts to highlight the success of our region’s agricultural industry, its role in growing the local economy and addressing issues in farming.
I am so thankful Bardwell Farm was chosen as one of the stops on the tour. It was amazing really, the congressman spoke directly to me, listened to my story and the battles that beginner farmers go through on a daily basis. Even though I was blessed with land and equipment, farmers who are just starting out struggle to purchase and maintain those things. Also, if you take into consideration how young farmers have to somehow break into wholesale and retail markets, it's really-really tough. My hope was to bring some kind of awareness to all of this. We farmers have to stick together, we are a dying breed.
The tour started with a brief introduction and a surprise. What I thought was going to be the congressman and a couple of staff turned into 20, including folks from the USDA, CISA, NRCS, support staff, local businesses and farmers, and several media organizations. I talked about the history of Bardwell Farm, what inspired me to go into farming and why I love it so much.
After we walked one of our fields and I explained why we like to grow smaller settings of a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of just one really large crop. I also talked about the importance of timing settings so our farmstand stays stocked all season with plenty of product.
We moved onto education and farming, collaboration between farmers, farmers helping farmers, and marketing with social media and competing in the digital marketplace.
I expressed the desire to expand my operation and the congressman and his staff brought many ideas to the table including grants to help with solar energy, greenhouses and the possibility of opening a farm store.
The tour ended at the farmstand so we could show our finished product and hard work. We took a group photo and almost everyone purchased something. It was kind of funny, our regular customers were there too and wondered what was going on, it was awesome and I enjoyed every minute of it!
I want to thank U.S. Representative Jim McGovern for including Bardwell Farm in the tour. I also want to thank the congressman, his staff, the agencies and all the other folks who genuinely listened to everything I had to say and providing new ideas that would improve my operation.
All-in-all it was such an amazing experience and I am very thankful and proud.
A heartfelt thank you to my grandfather and mentor Cory Bardwell for teaching me to farm. I wish you were here today to see all of this.
A huge thank you to all the farms who help me everyday, especially you Tony, your guidance and friendship is important to me.
Thanks to Rick at Rocket Strategies for pushing me, creating a solid marketing plan and making me look good on the interwebs everyday... you're crazy.
A special thank you to farmhand Kaitlyn for your friendship, support, hard work and always making everything just so. The stand looked beautiful today (all the while battling a bee sting). Farmers til' the end!
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