Western Massachusetts Regenerative Food System

western mass reg food system logoThe Western Massachusetts Regenerative Food System (WMRFS) is a newly established collaborative network of organizations, institutions, and individuals working together toward economic, environmental, and social justice through the regenerative production, distribution, and equitable access to good food. Housed within the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter (NOFA/Mass), the WMRFS seeks to increase the well-being of all residents by establishing food and farming systems that ensure access to good food while building healthy soils and creating economic opportunities through practices that are ecologically sound and socially just. The WMRFS is part of a regional 30×30 vision to reach 30% regeneratively produced and equitably accessed food by 2030*. 

WMRFS’s current work includes: 

  • Building equity in accessibility of regeneratively grown food.  
  • Organizing farm tours and engaging community members in hands-on projects  
  • Holding workshops and educational opportunities on topics such as urban garden installation, food forests, rotational grazing, foraging, growing and using herbs and fungi, turning lawns into meadows, building garden infrastructure with sustainable forestry techniques, cooperative ownership structures, and nutrient density 
  • Working with partners to develop models for safe and equitable use of existing community commercial kitchens to increase economic opportunity and food security.  
  • Exploring workshops and educational applications of regenerative food systems with topics such as urban garden installation, food & forest health, rotational grazing, foraging, growing and using herbs and fungi, using “invasive” species, nutrient density and soil health, cooperative ownership structures, added value products, and food and resource distribution

Through this work NOFA/Mass and WMRFS hope to empower communities in Western Massachusetts to harness the potential of an ecologically sound, socially just regional food system, with the intention to connect and collaborate with the greater bioregion.  

Regenerative systems are ones that aren’t just sustainable, but actually allow the cycle of life to continue to regrow, emerge, thrive, and replace systems that no longer serve us nor the generations to follow. They increase the production and quality of soil, food and materials in an ecologically sound manner and give back to the Earth and to the people for years to come. In turn, these systems also regenerate the social and economic elements of our lives. Regenerative food systems are not simply regenerative agriculture; rather, they are a way to grow, distribute and recycle our food and material resources. 

Western-Massachusetts-Regenerative-Food-System workshopIn order to address the faults and possibilities of our current food system, we look to place-based emergence as a guiding approach to shifting the paradigm of food production and land use patterns. This includes honoring the possibilities that present themselves in the diversity of landscapes and neighborhoods and allowing the people, flora and fauna of that space inform our collectivized strategy for regeneration. Together, our community partnerships can share solutions and resources as they pertain to new and learned approaches to farming and stewardship including physical needs such as infrastructure and soil regeneration, and social needs such as collective decision making and network building. We organize fieldtrips and work days to learn from each other and help one another. 

*30×30 goals and metrics: Adapting to and mitigating climate change, encouraging native perennial plants, investing in food sovereignty and social justice, increasing accessibility to land and promoting stewardship, expanding greenspace and community gardens, investing in soil health and ecosystem function, creating a vibrant and prosperous marketplace, growing culturally diverse foods, enhancing distribution networks and food accessibility.

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