Final Day: Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

The morning began in our fourth hotel in six nights. It was great to wake up in the Hampton Inn — Boston Logan Airport hotel, rested and ready for our last day, especially after that nightmarish traffic jam in the tunnels yesterday afternoon. We lost Pauline (didn’t really lose her as we knew where she went — to the airport, unlike Gene Ross on Day 5) so we were down to fourteen. Complimentary breakfast (and coffee) was consumed, a head count was performed, and off we went to catch shuttles to the “T”, Wood Island station. Hampton Inn did us a super solid by giving us essentially a chartered shuttle ride to the T station (thanks Adrianna!). We got our T tickets, then jumped on the Blue Line to State Street, transferred to the Orange Line, and finally got off at North Station for a short walk to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) building. The unexpected morning kindness got us to our final destination 45 minutes early. We proceeded to take advantage of our time by going to Parziales Bakery and trying some cannolis. Yummy!

Our first meeting was with Ron Hall — Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (APRP) Manager, Jarred Kennedy — Agriculture Conservation & Technical Assistance Division head, and Ashley Randle — (MDAR) Assistant Commissioner. The APRP is a voluntary program which is intended to offer a non-development alternative to farmers by placing a permanent “agricultural use only” restriction on the property deed. It does this by offering a one time “sandwich” payment to make up the difference between the future development value and the agricultural value of their lands. In turn, the farmer agrees to have a permanent deed restriction which strictly limits any detrimental future use of the land for any activity that would have a negative impact on its agricultural viability. This program has a similar intent to our own Important Agricultural Lands program, however, it may be worth while to explore offering possible options similar to the APRP based on the success of the APRP which has over 700 participants totaling over $400 million.

Our last official group activity was a guided tour of the Massachusetts State House (their State Capitol). Our tour guide was a charming young woman who was a history buff. Our tidbit takeaways were: 1) The origin of phrase “It costs an arm and a leg,” and 2) “Red Tape.” Apparently portrait painters (150 years ago) were paid by the number of limbs that were to be painted, hence “arm and a leg.” As for “Red Tape,” proposed legislation was bound with red ribbons which no one was allowed to preview leading to the “Red Tape” colloquialism.

The end of this tour also meant the last of our official visits for the national trip. With a tear in our eyes, we took off our name tags for the last time and handed them to Chris. We also said goodby to Sarah who left us to go back to her parents house so she could attend a weekend Patriots game, and Nick who was going to spend some time with area friends. That brought our numbers down to twelve. With the rest of the afternoon off, the group scattered to the Massachusetts winds. Some went to eat lunch at the “Best Pizza” in the US (according to Trip Advisor) and then onto the downtown Boston sights, some went to visit other friends, and some went back to the hotel to decompress and relax and do a final pack.

We eventually all made it safely back to the hotel for our final night at the Hampton Inn. The group heading back home was whittled down to ten as Chris and Will extended their stays. The morning rush to the airport was significantly busier than yesterday and it took three shuttles to get the ten of us to the airport where we got an early feel of home when we boarded Hawaiian Airlines for an eleven hour, non-stop flight to Honolulu. Landing brought a final round of hugs as six of us headed for baggage claim (five + Gene Ross), and the other four to their respective gates for the last leg to their respective islands.

See you all in October!!!

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