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  • Writer's pictureleighdavis991

Deepening Our Roots

Updated: Apr 17

You can learn a lot about how things work in the Berkshires from our farmers and conservationists. In the forest or in the field, they know how nature works — and how to work with nature — to preserve our way of life. Given the forecasts — and evidence — of how a shifting climate could alter our ecosystem and our economy in the decades to come, we would all do well to include them in our conversations about planning for the future.

 

Our environment is gifted to us by past generations to steward for the next.

Our tradition of conservation and sustainability is one of the reasons I feel so at home and committed to supporting and protecting our environment and our farms. Not only are they vital to our economy, they are the landscape of our communities, the bedrock and backdrop that define us.


In some ways it reminds me of Connemara, the proud Irish-speaking region in County Galway, Ireland, where I lived for 12 years before moving to Great Barrington.


The landscape of Connemara is lush and rocky, peppered with generations-old family farms. My neighbors there were sheep and goats and the people and dogs that kept them safe and healthy. Every day deepened my appreciation for how hard and rewarding farm life can be, and how much it depends on protecting our fragile environment, the gift we’re all given to steward from our generation to the next.

 

The seeds that were planted in Ireland are now rooted in the Berkshires, and I am actively cultivating knowledge and insights. I am encouraged by the release of the Healey-Driscoll administration’s Massachusetts Farmland Action Plan, a long-range, strategic initiative to address the state’s farmland needs.


My deep respect for the work of farmers and environmentalists has connected me to a diverse coalition of committed activists and advocates, including: 


Last month, I was grateful to be invited to two local gatherings to hear first-hand how I can best represent our agricultural communities and the unique environment of western Massachusetts in the State House.

Greenagers Director Will Conklin and Leigh covered common ground in Dalton last month

On March 15, I attended a "Farmers and Friends of Agriculture" breakfast at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton to meet with farmers and listen to the legislative priorities of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. It was a great reminder that one of my jobs as a state representative will be to make sure the state supports the farmers who feed us, contribute to the local economy and play an essential role in our work to address climate change and mitigate its impacts.  

 

On March 22 at the Lenox Town Hall, I attended the BIFF Environmental Focus Film, Common Ground, which opened my eyes to regenerative farming. It was a joyous yet sobering exploration of the interconnectedness of American farming policy, politics, and illness; it was good to be amongst friends. I particularly appreciated the post-film panel discussion featuring staff from Roots Rising Farm and Greenagers.


My conversations last week further strengthened my commitment to farms and the environment. As your 3rd District representative in Boston, I’ll be a champion for:

  • Common sense land management and sustainable practices that protect farmers and our environment

  • Community land trusts that encourage equitable partnerships between landowners and small farmers

  • Relieving food insecurity and increasing farmland access

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