AMHERST, Mass. - Eleven Massachusetts strawberry farmers have been recognized by a state program that promotes environmentally-friendly farming practices. The program, known as Partners with Nature, is a certification program for growers who practice integrated pest management (IPM), a system 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. "IPM has allowed strawberry growers to reduce their use of pesticides by about 30 percent," says William Coli, UMass Extension IPM coordinator.
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. "My customers really appreciate knowing that the strawberries they pick have been grown this way," says Jim Ward, of Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Mass.
Partners with Nature participants are listed below.
Western Massachusetts: Warner Farms in Sunderland; Nourse Farms in Whately; Koran’s Farm in Monson; Cecchi Farm in Feeding Hills;
Middlesex County: Parlee Farms in Tyngsborough; Sunshine Farm in Framingham;
Worcester County: Foppema’s Farm in Northbridge; Indian Head Farm in Berlin; Breezy Gardens in Leicester;
Norfolk County: Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon;
Dukes County: Morning Glory Farm, Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.
"We commend the efforts of Partners with Nature farmers in producing high quality, great-tasting local strawberries while taking steps to protect our environment," says Jonathan Healy, Massachusetts commissioner of food and agriculture. "These farmers are truly farmers with vision."