Popularity of Farming Soars in Massachusetts

D.C. Denison
Boston Globe

DRACUT — Midway through her first growing season, Rachael Potts, 31, pointed to long rows of thriving peppers, scallions, and Swiss chard. The tomatoes, however, have been “a challenge,’’ she admitted, adding “and the heat has had its way with my arugula.’’

Potts, who has a day job as an interior landscaper in office complexes, recently joined a surprisingly fast-growing occupation in Massachusetts: She’s a farmer.

After decades of decline, farming is resurging across the state. New farmers are graduates fresh out of college, immigrants with farming backgrounds, or former professionals starting second careers. Many begin as part-timers while hanging on to day jobs to supplement their incomes.

Those looking to make a new living from tilling the soil begin at training programs run by the state, universities, or nonprofit organizations — and the skills they learn have as much to do with running a business as with harvesting a crop.

In Massachusetts, where farmland is scarce, most lease their acreage from the state, private owners, nonprofits, or farmers with more space than they can cultivate.

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