Building from the Ground Up: USDA NRCS Conservation and FSA Loan Programs


Monday, January 30, 2023


6:00pm – 8:00pm





Building from the Ground Up: This workshop focuses on USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan programs, and how they can help you make key infrastructure improvements and implement conservation practices to protect farmland. The workshop features farmers sharing about using these programs to take their businesses to the next level. The end of the workshop includes Q&A from attendees.

Link to: Fact sheet - Building from the Ground Up: USDA NRCS Conservation and FSA Loan Programs

About the NRCS and FSA presenters:

Margaret (Maggie) Hayes is a Soil Conservationist for USDA NRCS working in Worcester, Middlesex, Essex and Suffolk counties. She graduated from Northern Vermont University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. She is an enthusiastic hobby knitter and sewist in her spare time.

Alice Hurst-MacDonald is the Program Technician for the Middlesex/Essex County Farm Service Agency and has been serving in this position, helping connect farmers with FSA programs, since summer of 2022. She graduated from Salem State University in Spring of 2021 where she studied Peace and Conflict Studies and Minored in Sustainability. Her passions include sustainable agriculture, environmental justice, and exploring outside. She looks forward to working on behalf of the FSA to build beneficial, equitable, and long-term relationships with local producers from all backgrounds.

Robert Purcell currently works for the USDA NRCS as a District Conservationist covering Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk Counties. Robert graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Agriculture and Resource Economics. In his spare time you will find him either golfing, tending to his garden, or watching UConn sports.

Laura Ross has had an interest in agriculture from a very young age; although she didn’t grow up on a commercial farm, her family had a diverse “hobby farm” raising chickens, ducks, and turkeys as well as maintaining a few beehives and harvesting honey for their own uses. After high school, Laura attended UMass Amherst where she studied Natural Resource Conservation. Laura started her career with the Farm Service Agency in 2017 and have been fortunate to work in both Farm Programs and Farm Loans during her time with the agency. She began working in Farm Loans in 2020 as a Farm Loan Analyst and is currently at the tail end of her training to become a Farm Loan Officer. Laura loves working with the diverse farming community here in Massachusetts and feel that her Agency is able to make a real difference for farming operations across the state.

About the farmers sharing experiences:

Sylvain Bukasa is a member of the New American Sustainable Agriculture program. Sylvain immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 due to violence and uncertainty and resettled in Manchester, New Hampshire with his wife and son.  In his home country, Sylvain’s family grew vegetables, flowers and raised chickens. In 2012, He began farming in Dunbarton, NH through the ORIS’s farmer training program. It all started by growing food for the household, but over the past six years Sylvain has invested and increased production and sales, selling vegetables through CSA and low-income senior citizen shares, as well as wholesale contracts. Sylvain harvest and deliver his produce the same day for true farm to table experience.

Anthony Munene is originally from Kenya and migrated to the USA in 2009. After working with farm programs for refugees in Maine and New Hampshire, Anthony purchased 2 mountain farms located in Andover, NH in 2020.Two Mountain farm is founded on a vision of building a socially appropriate food system that celebrates Multiculturalism and biodiversity. In recent years Anthony has worked with NRCS and FSA to help his infrastructure development goals for food safety, season extension and transportation. As a beginning immigrant farmer, it remains Anthony’s goal to maintain ties with his cultural heritage through the production of cultural relevant food for immigrants and local communities.

Mohammed Hannan is a New Entry Graduate of 2020. He is the owner of Hannan Healthy Foods Farm. Hannan Healthy Foods is 10 acres certified organic farm in Lincoln. He grows veggies, herbs and fruits using sustainable practices. He has started the farm from scratch. He has used different funding sources to install a few infrastructures and would be happy to share with people who are interested.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award number 2021-70027-34693, as an effort to connect Massachusetts' Underserved and Beginning Producers to Safety Net and Farm Support Programs.