Student farmer plants his future
When Keith Boyle ’10S ’12 was in seventh grade, his parents helped him land a job in a cranberry bog near his home in southeast Massachusetts. “I hated it. I absolutely hated it,” he says. “But I stuck with it and here I am now.” When he is not studying or in class, Boyle tends two cranberry bogs with a combined 13.5 acres that he hopes to buy someday.
Despite his early aversion, he has developed a deeper appreciation for the work. “For one thing, I love being outside — rain, shine, or snow, it doesn’t matter,” he says. It also helps that he likes cranberries. “I love all cranberries, chocolate covered cranberries, or in cranberry bread.” Furthermore, cranberry growing can be profitable. Boyle learned the many facets of creating bountiful bogs at UMass Amherst and during several internships.
He began his agricultural education at Norfolk County Agricultural High School, earned an associate’s degree at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and is now completing his bachelor’s degree. Boyle has had internships at the UMass Cranberry Station, for commercial growers, and now works for Satucket Cranberries LLC, which owns the bogs he oversees. For the spring 2011 semester, Boyle created a 3.5-acre bog in Hanson overlooking Indian Head Pond. He planted a high-yield vine that has the potential to produce more than 400 barrels of cranberries per acre. “This internship has helped me get ahead of the game,” says Boyle. He also manages a 10-acre bog in East Bridgewater.
After earning his Stockbridge degree, Boyle was uncertain about continuing his studies. He explains that mentors, former employers, and faculty members encouraged him to return to UMass Amherst. “If the industry crashes, I have a degree behind me,” he says. “It gives me a lot more options.”