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UMass groups to look at how New England can produce half its own food by 2060



Tuesday, April 21, 2015
AMHERST — Local food advocates will meet in the Cape Cod Lounge of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Union building Tuesday to discuss the fate of locally produced food in the second half of the 21st century.

By 2060, they hope that half of the food consumed in New England will be grown in the region as well, and will be discussing how that can take place.

Amy Henrikson, a UMass junior majoring in sustainable food and farming and one of the organizers of the event, said New England currently produces less than 10 percent of its own food.

As the drought conditions in California have continued, Henrikson said it has become even clearer that New England needs to grow a larger share of its own food.

“We could never be completely sustainable, but it is possible to get to half,” she said.

The land exists to produce that amount of food, but more farmers are needed to tend it, she said.

Durham, New Hampshire-based Food Solutions New England, a sponsor of the event, created a booklet entitled “A New England Food Vision.” According to the booklet, 50 percent of the food New England residents eat could be grown on 6 million acres, or 15 percent of the region.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of the region would remain forested and there would be adequate room remaining for residential, commercial and industrial development.

“In this omnivore’s delight scenario, the region grows most of its vegetables, half of its fruit, some of its grains and dry beans, and all of its dairy, beef and other animal products — about half of New Englanders’ food,” the report states.

Representatives from Food Solutions New England, UMass Dining, the UMass student farm, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association based in Shelburne Falls and the program director of Henrikson’s program, Professor John M. Gerber, will be at the event.

“Food Solutions New England has estimated that 50 percent is possible,” Gerber wrote in an email to the Gazette.

He added, “This will allow us to keep our money circulating within the local economy while supporting new business development, reduce the carbon footprint caused by long distance transportation and support ecologically sustainable small farms.”

The event will be from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@gazettenet.com.