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Berkshire Farms Forever

Posted Friday, October 6, 2023

Generous, multigenerational, community-minded farmers are building environmental and social resilience in the Berkshires

Sharon Wyrrick started Many Forks Farm, in Clarksburg, in 2012. Using a Community Supported Agriculture farm share model, she offers seasonal shares of vegetables for weekly pick-up June through October. Members can pick herbs, flowers, and berries and are welcome to walk the farm trail to observe wildlife and enjoy the beautiful views.

Sharon's plan was to farm for a decade or so, and then convey the farm to some then-unknown farmer, whom serendipity would deliver.

Last year, she met Molly Comstock, who had been looking for a secure location for her successful Colfax Farm. Like so many farmers, Molly has struggled with the skyrocketing cost of farmland, which threatens traditions of farming and local food in the Berkshires.

It is an understatement to say farmland is growing more expensive. In fact, Massachusetts currently has the fastest-rising farmland prices in the United States.

A generation of Berkshire farmers are aging out of the profession. Many have a need to fund retirement or provide for heirs, and ample potential to sell their farmland for residential or commercial uses. Younger farmers struggle to secure farmland at reasonable prices. This combination creates a tremendous threat to the culture of local food in the Berkshires, community health, and food security, all amid climate change, which has severe impacts on farmland.

The Berkshire Farms Fund: BNRC has long helped farmers conserve their land and now, together with generous community members, we are launching the Berkshire Farms Fund. Many Forks is the first farm BNRC will purchase in advance, protect with permanent agricultural conservation restrictions, then sell to a new farmer. Through the Fund, BNRC will provide a critical bridge, keeping the farm in agriculture forever and enabling a new farmer to get a foothold with the support to succeed.

Molly is thrilled to be considered as the next caretaker of these lands, to which Sharon has applied regenerative agriculture practices focused on cultivating nutrient-dense food, building soil health, and sequestering carbon.

From Sharon’s vision to Molly’s readiness, and with people like you who choose to buy CSA shares or donate to farmer-support efforts, together, we can protect the future of Berkshire farmers and farming, one farm at a time.