Major Massachusetts Supermarket Chain Participates in Partners with Nature Program

AMHERST, Mass. - Shaw’s Supermarkets, which operates 25 stores in Massachusetts, has become a participant in the Partners with Nature program, a state certification program that recognizes growers who use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques to cultivate their crops.

IPM is a method of farming which reduces pesticide use by making crops less inviting to pests, by encouraging natural predators and parasites, and by carefully monitoring pest populations so that crops are sprayed only when pests are present in damaging numbers.

Partners with Nature, the first IPM certification program in the country, is a joint program between UMass Extension, the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Crops grown according to specific IPM standards are certified by the state as "IPM-grown" and qualified growers may use the Partners with Nature logo in marketing their produce.

This year, 44 farms across the state are participating in the Partners with Nature program, which includes eight crops: strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, cole crops (such as broccoli and cauliflower), peppers, pumpkins, and winter squash.

"We commend Shaw’s for featuring Partners with Nature produce this season," says Jonathan Healy, Massachusetts commissioner of food and agriculture. "They recognize both consumer demand for environmentally friendly products as well as the efforts of Partners with Nature farmers to produce high-quality products while protecting our environment."

Shaw’s will display the Partners with Nature logo for produce supplied by participating growers. Informational brochures provided by UMass Extension will also be available.

UMass has pioneered new methods of replacing pesticides with less expensive and more environmentally sound alternatives since 1978. As a result, Massachusetts growers have reduced their use of pesticides by 25 to 75 percent.

Shaw’s Supermarkets, founded in 1860, currently operates 121 stores at locations throughout New England and is a wholly owned subsidiary of J Sainsbury’s of London, England.