A farmer by trade, Bill McCaffrey’s eyes are aglow as he explains the intricate nature of how a cranberry
matures, his hands pantomiming the meandering path of a vine as it spreads and fruits within a bog. Sitting in the Beatty Hall cafeteria during a recent campus visit, he discusses how he and his family
use technology to maintain an energy-efficient farm in Taunton, Mass.
The expert way that he conveys the science behind agricultural work is befitting of someone who graduated with a Wentworth degree in Building Construction Technology in 1973 before teaching Building Construction at the school from 1976 to 1987.
“The campus has changed, but the students haven’t,” says McCaffrey. “They still work hard, and they want to learn.”
McCaffrey was drawn to the hands-on nature of Wentworth, believing it to be the vital piece of the education students receive. “Practical education is essential. A lot of schools are doing it, but Wentworth is among the best,” he says.
Wentworth also showed McCaffrey how to estimate jobs and how to balance his budget. He graduated debt free after working as a roofer during school, even redoing the houses of several Wentworth professors.
But some of his greatest joys came later in life when he returned to campus as a young professor. He greatly enjoyed educating students and Wentworth would lead him to meet his future wife, Mary, herself a student at the school.
The grandson of a dairy farmer and son of a factory worker, McCaffrey wanted to get back to his roots and work with his hands. He opened Spring Rain Farm and has been harvesting cranberries ever since. Bill and Mary’s children also tend to the farm and they have since expanded their operation to include strawberries, asparagus, and stone fruit trees. Most recently, they have started raising cows and pigs.
Spring Rain Farm also employs groundbreaking technology including sensors that report the temperatures of specific locations to mobile devices, helping to prevent cranberry and strawberry buds from freezing. McCaffrey is also in the process of connecting the sensors to a diesel pump to automatically start and stop the pump depending on temperature, saving millions of gallons of water and reducing diesel emissions.
“I really wanted to make a difference,” he says, “and teaching and the farm are ways I believe I have done that.”