State launches mental health program for Massachusetts farms


The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is investing in mental health funds for the state’s farms with weekly training sessions.

What you need to know

  • Massachusetts will begin sessions of the Agricultural Community Mental Health and Wellness Program in January 2023
  • The program is free to register on the state’s website with in-person sessions to be held in West Springfield, Southboro and locations in eastern Mass.
  • The goal of the program is to provide language, context and resources to improve conversations about mental health
  • Research into the mental health needs of the farming community began in the fall of 2021 for this program and was made possible through a $500,000 federal grant

We spoke to a local farm owner who says a lot of the stress farmers face comes from things they can’t control and it’s great to highlight mental health for the farming community.

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Tricia May owns Spring Ridge Farm in Boylston, MA with her husband Mike. They partner with local vendors, bakers and farmhands to provide produce for restaurants and their community.

“The lion’s share of our sales is direct sales,” Tricia Maysaid. “We have a few restaurants that we work with, but they are primarily direct-to-consumer.”

According to MDAR’s Ashley Randle, Massachusetts has more than 7,000 farms, most of which rely on direct sales like Spring Ridge.

“From Berkshire County to Barnstable County we have a wide variety of farms,” ​​said MDAR Deputy Commissioner Ashley Randle. “And really one of the key features of Massachusetts agriculture is our direct-to-consumer sales.”

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May says farmers face an endless number of stressors, but many are brave enough to run business as usual for the people who rely on them.

“When I was a kid, all this mental health stuff, you tried to pretend like — sweep it all under the rug,” May said. of the year, the time of day, the pandemics of the world – you still have to eat. So it’s a fundamental thing, we still have to make it happen.”

The state has spent the last year developing wellness training sessions by talking to the farming community about their needs.

“The survey work and the focus group really helped inform the training we’ll be launching in January,” Randle said. “Which we will hold across the state as well as virtually to ensure they are accessible.” not only to farmers, but also to the organizations and stakeholders that support our farming community.”

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Both Randle and May agree that mental health is an investment that can benefit any industry.

“I think it’s really good that it’s such a common thing to talk about today that everyone,” May said, “everyone could benefit from some good guidance and investment in mental health.”

Agricultural Mental Health training sessions will run weekly from January to March.

Registration information can be found at state website.

MDAR asks everyone to share and support their local farmers.


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