Stockbridge graduate Willie Crosby launches a business expansion!

Willie Crosby is a recent graduate of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  He also teaches a course in Mushroom Culture for Stockbridge and has supported many student projects and workshops.   Willie and Dylan Kessler are trying to expand their successful start-up business, Fungi Ally.

Here is Willie at a local farmers market….

And here is their story….
Fungi Ally is a mushroom cultivation and education business in Hadley MA co-owned by Willie Crosby and Dylan Kessler. We have been growing mushrooms and teaching people how to grow their own for the last 3 years.
 Now we are trying to build a new mushroom laboratory to provide spawn (the seed used to plant mushrooms) to our community. We are running a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for some of the expensive pieces of equipment needed in a mushroom lab. For your support we are offering great rewards like a shiitake mushroom grow kit, or a 2 hour workshop with the owners.



Young, idealistic farmers help keep agricultural land in production

Young farmers like Mulvihill are bright green shoots in a field full of old growth. Farmers, on average, are getting older, and millennials eager to get their fingernails dirty on sustainable farms are welcome.

“You’re not going into farming when you’re a young person now if you’re not idealistic,” Mulvihill said from the bed of a pickup she had loaded with hay. “It’s definitely an uphill battle.”

The average age of U.S. farmers has been climbing for decades and is now 58. A large concern is that the number of farmers past typical retirement age is growing faster than those under age 35, meaning the pipeline could be emptying faster than it’s filling up.

Organic farmers tend to be younger— 53 years old in the latest agricultural census. There is no hard count on the number of young farmers coming into the field who are either certified organic by the government or simply follow sustainable practices, like Mulvihill.

But there is broad anecdotal evidence that young farmers with an interest in growing healthy, local food are helping keep farmland in production.

“They tend to be very interested in local, they tend to be very interested in organic as the future path they want to travel on,” said Kathleen Merrigan, who traveled extensively when she was deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “They tend to be college graduates, and from a whole lot of different disciplines.”

Mulvihill, for instance, was studying environmental engineering in college when she decided farming was a better fit. In her new venture, Four Legs Farm, she raises pigs and lambs for meat shares.

Merrigan, who now runs the sustainability program at George Washington University, said while there are many young people who want to get into farming, the hard part for many of them is being able to stay in business, given steep costs of land and equipment.

Organic farms can actually provide a quicker route to profits because farmers can fetch higher prices. Premiums paid to organic farmers can range 29 to 32 percent above conventional prices, according to a study published this summer by Washington State University researchers. That means an organic farmer can make a living on fewer acres.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, 31-year-old Seth Matlick said he has been able to turn a profit on his 5-acre Vida Verde Farm, mostly by selling vegetables to local restaurants. He uses organic methods but is not certified organic.

“This year we bought a new tractor, some tools,” he said. “We pretty much doubled in size, acreage-wise. It’s slow and modest growth. But it’s manageable.”

The back-to-the-land philosophy of organic agriculture also fits in with millennials’ well-documented interest in healthy food.

“I think there’s an element of it being hip and cool … and it’s an alternative. So it’s not run of the mill. It’s about the earth,” said Nate Lewis, a 32-year-old farmer in Olympia, Washington, who is senior crops and livestock specialist for the Organic Trade Association.

In places like New York’s Hudson Valley — a region rife with development pressure — the move to keep farmland is closely linked to helping fledgling farmers. Groups have built a support system to help those new farmers succeed in a notoriously tough business.

Mulvihill grazes her animals on about 50 acres at the Hudson Valley Farm Business Incubator, a development program operated by a farming advocacy group, Glynwood. The incubator helps young farmers with guidance and training while providing farm equipment and below-market rents for three years to help them get on their feet.

Mulvihill is already looking to rent farmland elsewhere in the valley with help from a program that helps link landowners with farmers.

She also served one of her apprenticeships at the Westchester County farm of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, which promotes sustainable food systems. Stone Barns is putting on a young farmers conference next month that will feature presentations from young farmers like Matlick.

Matlick, who grew up in Manhattan, studied sociology at the University of Vermont and got the farming bug while working the fields in Albuquerque. Eight years into his business, he still prepares the beds, plants the seeds, weeds, harvests and delivers his goods.

“It’s kind of what we’re selling almost as much as the food itself,” he said. “It’s the intimacy and the guarantee that you’re getting hands-on really good food.”

Source URL:

ONLINE Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming

SSA Logo -- blue on white with UMASSThe UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture has offered Associate of Science degrees in “practical agriculture” since 1918.  Beginning in September 2016, we will welcome our first online class to Stockbridge by offering a fully online 60-credit Associate of Science degree in Sustainable Food and Farming!

certprogramThis program will expand upon the successful 15-credit Certificate Program in Sustainable Food and Farming which currently has more than 750 students from all over the world.  Unlike other agricultural certificate programs, students in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture may select from a diverse array of online classes from the “basics” of Soil Science and Botany to more specialized courses in Backyard Homesteading, Global Food Systems, and Urban Agriculture, just to name a few.  The full list of courses currently offered online may be found here:

Online Sustainable Food and Farming Classes

The requirements for the online degree will be comparable to the on campus A.S. program in Sustainable Food and Farming.  Students will earn academic credit toward their degree by taking high quality academic courses as well as gaining experience farming and marketing, working for non-profit organizations in food advocacy and community development, or agricultural education for example.

Applications will be available in January 2016.  To be put on a mailing list to be kept informed, sign up here: ONLINE CLASSES.


sustagSustainable farming and marketing is a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. economy. Opportunities for new farmers as well as affiliated careers in public policy, advocacy, community development and education continue to grow.

The increasing demand for local and sustainably grown food has created opportunities for college graduates who understand the unique production, processing, and marketing approaches used in sustainable agriculture today. Some people entering the field will go back to their family farms.  Many pursue specific interest in local or organic agriculture. Others will create their own opportunities in food marketing, processing, non-profit organizations, food and agricultural associations, or cooperative businesses.  Some graduates plan on homesteading while pursuing employment in other fields.

massaggieThe University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture has been at the heart of training and education in this broad network of food and farming systems since the establishment of “Mass Aggie” over 150 years ago. More recently, Stockbridge has experienced an increased demand among residential students at UMass in the Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Food and Farming.

SFFoverYearsIncreasing numbers of mid-career professionals and returning Veterans have found the 15-credit Certificate Program in Sustainable Food and Farming to be an attractive means of gaining education while earning a college credential. These students have turned to the online environment to develop knowledge and skills applicable to the diverse array of work experiences that are part of the food chain – from production, processing, and delivery to policy, regulation, and education.

The Online Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate provides a reasonable option for those who wish to study sustainable food and farming but are not ready or able to make a commitment to an on campus degree program.  Students will acquire a basic knowledge of plant and soil sciences along with training in agricultural techniques, community development, public policy, and education. The major offers flexibility in designing a personal program of study, allowing students to focus on specific career objectives.


The Online Associate of Science Degree in Sustainable Food and Farming is an academic program of the UMass Division of Continuing and Professional Education and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.   All students pursuing the degree must be admitted to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Information on the application process will be released during the fall of 2015.  Students interested in pursuing the online certificate, but not a degree may simply register with a simple form here: Register for the Online Certificate.

Tuition and Fees

All online classes are offered through the University of Massachusetts Division of Continuing and Professional Education. Most classes cost $371 per credit. In addition, there is a $45 per semester registration fee.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

collegemoneyInvesting in your education is a significant financial decision. Our Continuing and Professional Education Financial Aid Office can help make that investment a little easier through:

For more information, please contact our CPE Financial Aid Office here: Financial Aid.

And if you have question about using veterans benefits, please contact UMass Office of Veteran’s Services at or 413-545-5792 or see:


Online Associate of Science students will be assigned a specific adviser to help you select courses and make progress toward graduation.

Online Course Delivery

Courses taken online are equivalent to the same courses taken at the UMass campus in almost every way including: assignments, learning objectives, discussions, projects, exams, and the degree of rigor. The online learning environment provides opportunities to interact with other students from around the world as well as the course instructor. The “classroom” environment is engaging and dynamic and a community of learners often emerges during the class.  Technical support for online education is available “24/7”, when you need it!  As an online student you can “go to class” anytime, check out the course readings, chat with fellow classmates post comments to a threaded discussion board, submit assignments, and work on projects. Instructors make every effort to provide a meaningful educational experience using the online format and do so in a way that works for busy adults.

Technical Requirements

onlinelearnIn general, to be successful accessing an online class you must:

  • have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows) with at least 128MB RAM (256MB preferred)
  • be familiar with basic computer skills
  • be connected to the internet
  • have an e-mail program and account (provided)
  • have at least a 56 kbps modem (DSL or Broadband Cable recommended)
  • have a Java capable browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari)
  • have an up to date antivirus program

For details on accessibility and software suggestions, see: Technical Requirements

Proposed Graduation Requirements

    Sustainable Food and Farming – A.S. Degree Proposal
A. General Requirements
MATH 104 (3) or MATH 101/102 (4)
ENGLWRIT 111 or 112 (3)
STOCKSCH 105 – Soils (4)
STOCKSCH 108 – Botany (4)
B. Agriculture Requirements
Two Plant and Animal Production Systems Courses (6-8)*
Two Economic and Social Systems Courses (6-8)*
Three from either category (9-11)
No more than 6 credits at the 100 level
*Must be at 200 level or higher
STOCKSCH 198F – Sustainable Food & Farming Internship (3)
C. Professional Electives
Select from the approved lists below or request alternatives
Minimum of four Plant & Animal Production Classes
with at least one of the four being a pest course
Mimimum of one Economic & Social Systems Course
Minimum total = additional credits to total 60

Approved Courses

Plant & Animal Production Systems
STOCKSCH 117 – Agricultural Chemistry (3)
STOCKSCH 119 – Homesteading (3)
STOCKSCH 120 – Organic Gardening & Farming (4)
STOCKSCH 186 – Introduction to Permaculture (3)
STOCKSCH 265 – Sustainable Agriculture (3)
STOCKSCH 286 – Permaculture Design and Practice (3)
STOCKSCH 297R – Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably (3)
STOCKSCH 320 – Organic Vegetable Production (3)
STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Sustainability (3)
STOCKSCH – Integrated Pest Managment (3) to be developed
Economic & Social Systems
ACCOUNTG 221 – Intro to Accounting (3)
MANAGMNT 301 – Intro to Management (3)
MARKETNG 301 – Fundamentals of Marketing (3)
STOCKSCH 258 – Urban Agriculture (3)
STOCKSCH 288 – Land Use Policies and Sustaianble Farming (3)
STOCKSCH 287 – Farm Planning, Marketing & Mgt. (3)
STOCKSCH 355 – Community Food Systems (3)
STOCKSCH 386 – Sustainable Site Planning and Design (3)
STOCKSCH 387 – Global Food Systems (3)
STOCKSCH 397 NP – Nonprofit Mgt of Comm. Food Programs (3)
STOCKSCH 397 SP – Social Permaculture for Food Justice (3)
STOCKSCH 397 FV – Postharvest Handling Fruits/Vegetables (3)
Practica and Related Experiences
STOCKSCH 196 – Independent Study (1-6)
STOCKSCH 298 – Practicum (1-6)
STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Success (3)
STOCKSCH 398B – Agricultural Practicum (1-6)

Vamos a Cuba!

You are invited to join us on an exciting new winter session food systems course offered by UMass in Cuba!

cubaFood Systems in Cuba

Production, Logistics and Marketing

…will be offered from January 2 – 18, 2016.

Learning Objectives:
• Learn about food production and marketing in Cuba.
• Learn how to assess the viability of a production and marketing system in any setting.
• Demonstrate cultural understanding through direct interaction with people involved in agriculture.

Other Program Inclusions:
• Visa and charter flight support and coordination
• Pre-departure support and materials from Spanish Studies Abroad
• Opportunity to improve Spanish proficiency during homestay with full board

For more details and information on how to apply – contact:

Dr. Frank Mangan
Phone: 413-545-1178

Stacy Lutsch
Phone: 413-545-1208

See the syllabus below:

SYLLABUS – Food_Systems_Cuba

cuba2This class satisfies core “Agricultural Science and Practice” requirements in the UMass Sustaianble Food and Farming B.S. degree program.

Young Family Farmers a Growing Trend

By JAMES HEFLIN – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

familyfarmMany parents can’t get their kids to eat their vegetables. Mountain View Farm owners Liz Adler and Ben Perrault, on the other hand, have to retrieve their daughter, Ollie Perrault, 8, and son, Nate Perrault, 5, from their fields in Easthampton where the kids can often be found, muddy feet and all, munching away at lettuce, peppers or ground cherries they’ve just plucked.

familyfarm2“They don’t want me to do anything to it,” Adler said. “They want just a pepper or a tomato, just like it is. Sometimes I come outside and say, ‘Get over here! We’re going to eat lunch,’ and I have to remind myself that they’re standing there with raw kale — they’re actually eating lunch already.”

Adler, 36, and Perrault, 35, have been together and involved with farming for about 17 years. They met in eastern Massachusetts and lived in several places as Adler pursued her Continue reading Young Family Farmers a Growing Trend

Get Involved

getInvolved.83113726_stdStudents in the Sustainable Food and Farming major in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture have the opportunity to “learn by doing” – one of Levi Stockbridge’s favorite sayings.

Toward that end…. here are a few opportunities to GET INVOLVED!

Local Hero Intern with CISA

cisaThe Local Hero internship is a great way to learn about CISA’s work and what it takes to run a Buy Local campaign.  CISA works with over 200 farmers and an additional 100 plus businesses who participate in our Local Hero program. This spring we will be in the middle of our annual membership drive and providing technical assistance workshops, resources and one-on-one support to farms and businesses.  We are looking for someone who is organized and interested in these topics to:

1) Perform outreach/support to Local Hero restaurant members;
2) Assist in data entry and analyzing surveys from wholesale growers, technical assistance workshops, and our year-end evaluation;
3) Research for specific topics of technical assistance needs;
4) Calls and outreach to Local Hero members; and
5) Tabling and outreach for CISA and the Local Hero program.

– See:

UMass Permaculture Garden Volunteers

Volunteering in the permaculture gardens is a great way to meet awesome people and get the chance to gain hands-on permaculture gardening experience. We are eager to teach if you are eager to learn! Come see our 1/4 acre garden, home to over 150 different species of plants!  Earn credit by committing to work either Monday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30am – 11:00 am (3 hours total per week).  Apply TODAY by sending an email to

Small Ones Farm – Amherst, MA

smaloneOur internship programs offer a variety of hands-on work and training experiences on our working farm.  Interns have the opportunity to assist with core farming tasks under the supervision of experienced farm staff.  We seek mature college students who have a genuine interest in sustainable farming, are willing to tackle a range of farm tasks, are able to work both independently and on a team, are able to handle physically challenging outdoor work in all kinds of weather, and are reliable (i.e., arrive on time, maintain a consistent schedule, etc.).   For more information, see:

Abundance Farm – Northampton, MA

Abundance Farm is currently accepting applications for three different internships (one to focus on vegetable production (sept-oct and march-may), one on our fruit orchard (sept-nov, march-may) and a third to focus on media and marketing (march-may).  Click on these links to find out more about each internship.

All interested students should reach out to our Farm Manager, Tory Field at

Fungi Ally Apprenticeships

Fungi Ally is a mushroom cultivation and education business based out of Hadley MA. We currently grow about 150 pounds of shiitake and oyster mushrooms and are moving into a new warehouse space. This fall we will be building new grow rooms, lab space, and continuing to provide mushrooms to local farmers markets, co-ops and grocery stores.

We are looking to hire two apprentices for the fall of 2015.

  • The apprenticeship will run from September 2015-January 2016
  • Between 20-40 hours per week. A weekly stipend depending on the hours agreed upon.
  • Involved in all aspects of running a small mushroom farm

Contact Willie Crosby at;

Volunteer at All Things Local – Downtown Amherst

atlAll Things Local is a cooperative market which provides opportunities for local farmers and crafters to sell their products for a fair price.  Volunteers are needed to help with promotion, education, and managing the store.  Please fill out this survey so we can meet the cooperative’s needs while making the best use of your time and skills! We need your help to make this cooperative successful, and we sincerely appreciate your contribution! Thank you in advance.

If you have questions regarding volunteering, please contact Allison at


For more information on internship and apprentice opportunities, see:

Finding Good Work in Sustainable Food and Farming

And to get credit for these opportunities, contact John Gerber before September 18, 2015 for fall semester!

UMass Keeps Bees!

BEE4_INTERIOR-1540x1026Meandering the Renaissance Center’s Great Meadow on a sunlit summer afternoon, you might spy three squat maroon and white structures near the central copse of trees. As you draw closer, you notice the air traffic and soft drone of golden, fuzzy honeybees on their foraging missions.

These structures are the new hives of the UMass Bee Club, currently 100 students strong and growing. Many members, such as incoming president Alexandra Graham, joined because of their concern over threats to the bee population, and the future diversity of our food supply.

“I first became interested in bees a few years back when I learned about colony collapse disorder and started Googling,” relates Graham. “Turns out bees are the coolest ever, and I immediately fell in love. So as soon as I found out about UMass beekeeping I jumped right in.”

IMG_3168The Great Meadow backs up to the Agricultural Learning Center, a demonstration facility that allows students to get hands-on experience with bees.  (Click here for a story on the Stockbridge Pollinator Garden).

Massachusetts Agricultural College was the first college to offer a formal beekeeping program. When Butterfield was still a field, and Orchard Hill an orchard, the eastern edge of campus buzzed with fifty working hives and a dedicated Apiary Laboratory.

But after the last beekeeping professor retired in the late 1960s, the program went dormant. The tradition was revived when founder Eamon McCarthy-Earls ’15, a backyard beekeeping enthusiast, arrived on campus. He founded the club in 2012, at first working with entomology research hives.

Beekeeping is a practice passed down through generations. As many lifelong apiarists are aging, in order to ensure the survival and diversity of healthy populations of bees, “to have youth interested in beekeeping right now is really important,” remarks Jarrod Fowler ’14G, pollinator expert at the Agricultural Learning Center.

The club’s goals are to establish a sustainable productive apiary on campus, create a resilient modern beekeeping program, and optimize the already pollinator-friendly Great Meadow as a pristine meadowland with even greater forage for bees.

But for the short term, says Graham, “we’re just caring for the hives and inspiring more people to learn about bees. We’re excited to be able to offer hands-on experience to our members.” She adds, “eventually there will be honey, and honey means extracting and filtering and bottling and all sorts of other fun things.”

Both on campus and culturally, says Earls, “we’re revitalizing a cultural heritage.”


NOTE:  To join the club, “like” them on Facebook or contact them at; The Stockbridge School of Agriculture plans on offering a new course called Practical Beekeeping in the spring of 2016.  Watch for STOCKSCH 166.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers