Youth Exhibit Opens in Hilltowns for New Year

Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western MA Youth Photographers
Opening Reception: Dec. 30th, 2012 from 12-2pm
Cummington, MA

For the month of January 2013, Hilltown Families and the Cummington Cultural Council will present a group exhibit titled Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western MA Youth Photographers, comprising of 20 Western MA youth ages 10-18. All are welcomed to an opening reception on Sunday, Dec 30 from 12noon-2pm at the Community House Gallery at 33 Main Street in Cummington, MA (rear of the Community House). Snow date: Jan. 1st from 2-4pm).

Youth participants in this group exhibit were encouraged to explore, document and share their connections to their hometowns through photographic images and an accompanying narrative. Combined, the pieces together reflect and communicate how these participating youth view and understand their local history, culture and/or community values, as well as the significance of the physical spaces surrounding them.  Participants from around the region submitted nearly 30 entries for this group exhibit.

“The aim of this exhibit was to afford area youth the opportunity to participate in a group exhibit that could aid in their learning and appreciation of their community, town and region,” explains Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families Executive Director.  “Contributors were asked to share the backstory of the images they captured from their town by using local resources, such as their town library, historical society and historical museums, or by interviewing experts and elders in their community. This was a great project for area youth to participate in community-based learning while strengthening their connection to their hometown.”

Images and narratives from this exhibit will be featured here on Hilltown Families in the months to come.  But better yet, come to the opening reception  on Sunday, Dec 30 from 12noon-2pm in Cummington and meet and greet this great group of local photographers and hear what stories they have to share.

GIVEAWAY: Gift Basket from the Old Creamery Co-Op

Old Creamery Co-Op Gift Basket Giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a gift basket from the Old Creamery Co-Op in Cummington, MA (valued at $150).  A great gift for yourself, or someone you love. Deadline to enter to win, Dec. 24th by 12noon.

This fall the Hilltowns became home to another community co-operative grocery store in Western MA: The Old Creamery Co-Op in Cummington, MA!

To celebrate this new beginning, Hilltown Families and the Old Creamery Co-op have partnered up to offer one of our readers a gift basket (valued at $150), abundant with a collection that is representative of what you will find when you visit this Hilltown gem! Details on how you can enter for a chance to win are below!

VISION OF THE OLD CREAMERY

The Old Creamery is a small country store cultivating a big vision: “…to make the world a more just, loving, and environmentally sustainable place, starting in our own neighborhood, through the vehicle of a vibrant, community-oriented retail store.”  Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley purchased the Old Creamery in 2000 and have since helped transform it into a vibrant community hub in the heart of the Hilltowns, transitioning to a community owned co-op last month!

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Alice and Karen Doherty, the co-op’s new general manager, have put together a list of great gifts you can find at the Old Creamery Co-op, gifts that reflect the co-op’s values & vision, some of which will be found in our Gift Basket Giveaway:

List of 20 Gifts You Can Find at the Old Creamery Co-op

  1. Two mugs from our crafts gallery and a bag of locally roasted Indigo coffee.
  2. Vermont-made wooden toys from sustainably harvested timber.
  3. Tessier’s maple syrup, in a variety of sizes. The quintessential New England gift!
  4. The book World Enough and Time by local author Christian McEwen.
  5. Les Costes Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the richest-flavored, most delicate, buttery olive oil I have ever tasted. For an extraordinary gift, pair it with Eiswein Vinegar with Quince from Germany, unique among the vinegars I’ve tasted.
  6. Nitty Gritty Grain Co. of Vermont bags of regionally grown cornmeal, grains, and flour.
  7. Lotus Foods heirloom rices, supporting farmers from many countries in their efforts to grow delicious and nutritious heirloom varieties using environmentally sustainable growing methods.
  8. Sap House Meadery’s assorted flavors of meads in exquisitely beautiful bottles. I enjoy the aroma as much as the flavor.
  9. Bug Hill Farm Black Currant Cordial to drizzle on ice cream, to mix into seltzer, or flavoring in a cooking sauce.
  10. Faber Castell environmentally sustainable beeswax crayons and colored pencils.
  11. One of many really cool, well-engineered kitchen tools.
  12. Assorted chocolates from all over the world; many are organic and fair trade. Put a selection together in a small basket.
  13. A colorful African Market Basket from Ghana.
  14. Beautiful bamboo kitchen towels and sustainably produced bamboo wooden kitchen spoons and spatulas.
  15. A book about canning, canning jars, labels, and a canning funnel.
  16. Wise Ways locally made herbal medicines, and skin-care and personal-care products with a book on medicinal herbs.
  17. Locally made Ooma Tesoro’s marinara sauce, and other Mediterranean condiments.
  18. Maggie’s socks, from a regionally owned company.
  19. A member-owner share in The Old Creamery Co-op.
  20. And the very last of the old-style Old Creamery T-shirts, sweatshirts, or baby jumpers.

Alice also suggests that folks think about giving nontraditionally this holiday season too! “Give the precious gift of your time,” she suggests. “Offer to accompany your friend/family member on walks in the woods, cook a meal for someone you love, or offer to teach something you know, like knitting, cooking, bicycle maintenance, or furniture repair. Take the time to write a card (make your own or buy one of our many cards by local artists). Invite your gift-recipient to accompany you to one of our many local arts venues (theater, music, dance) or to your favorite restaurant.”

The Old Creamery Co-Op is located on Route 9 in Cummington (445 Berkshire Trail Road). As you approach the Old Creamery’s white turn-of-the-twentieth-century building the first thing you notice is the sizable statue of a cow on the front roof overlooking Route 9. The cow connects us with our roots. In 1886 this building housed the Cummington Cooperative Creamery, the co-op of local dairy farmers. These co-op members brought fresh cream from their farms to be churned into butter here. At its most active, 145 dairies produced 20,000 pounds of butter per month.  Find out more at www.oldcreamery.coop.

HOW TO WIN

We’re putting together a BUCKET LIST of things to do and places to see in Western MA with the family this winter, post-holidays (January-March). Recommend your favorite attraction, must see or must do family winter activity in Western MA, and be entered to win a gift basket from the Old Creamery Co-Op (valued at $150), filled with gift quality items and artisanal & local foods you can find at the co-op, including several from the list above. To enter to win simply:

  • POST YOUR RECOMMENDATION AS OUTLINED ABOVE IN THE FIELDS BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below.
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 at 12noon (EST).

A Weekend of Astronomy in the Hilltowns

The Moon and its Craters at
Arunah Hill Days in the Hilltowns

The Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington, MA will host a family-oriented weekend of astronomy, star gazing, nature walks, and science education on Labor Day weekend, Aug 31 – Sept 2, 2012. Several large telescopes will be available for nightly viewing of the moon, double stars, galaxies, star clusters, and other wonders of the Summer Milky Way. Experienced amateur astronomers will conduct nightly “planetarium show” under the real sky, using green lasers to orient and identify constellations for observers. — All events are free and open to the public.  Novice stargazers welcome. Evening talks are suitable for children 10 and older.  Saturday family activities begin at noon and are suitable for all ages.

Spend Labor Day weekend exploring and learning all about stars, constellations, and other out-of-this-world phenomenon. Arunah Hill Days in Cummington, MA offers a plethora of activities for families curious about astronomy (or just in search of a good adventure)! The event takes place between Friday, August 31st and Monday, September 3rd.

During the day on Saturday, Sept 1st starting at 12noon, families can participate in nature walks of the grounds at Arunah, try their hand at navigation during a GPS treasure hunt, and construct and launch their own miniature rockets!

Evening activities include guest speakers (best for older students) who will address a wide variety of topics – from the history of telescope making to the uniqueness of the planet Mercury – as well as a chance to view the sky through some of the many different types of telescopes offered for use by master stargazers, and families can even learn to locate and identify stars and constellations. Detailed information on guest speakers is available here.

Each night following evening talks, there will be post-stargazing showings of hilarious (but terribly filmed) sci-fi movies during their “Really Bad SciFi Theater” screened in the pavilion. Limited camping is available for families who wish to sleep under the stars after learning about them! Read the rest of this entry »

Great Line Up Planned for the 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival in Cummington!

Local & Regional Musical Favorites will Perform at the
6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
on May 12th, 2012 at the Cummington Fairgrounds!

Hilltown CDC has a fabulous lineup of local and regional musical favorites to perform at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 12, 2012 at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  The music begins at 11am and continues until 5pm on two stages, followed by an all-ages contra-dance from 5 to 7pm.

MISTER G (Family Concert at 11:15am)

Mister G is Ben Gundersheimer, who was awarded the first songwriting scholarship in the history of Berklee College of Music. Mister G has performed concerts and led workshops throughout the U.S., Euroope and Latin America. Thanks to his infectious songs and a dynamic live show, Mister G is one of the rising stars of the kids’ music world. Bill Childs of WRSI says, “Mister G’s music is insanely catchy, totally engaging, and a lot of fun for parents. He’s got that rare quality where kids are simply and fully connected.” – Mister G’s most recent CD, Bugs, was chosen by Parents’ Magazine as one of the top CDs of 2011. People Magazine called it “irresistible” and selected it as one of the “hottest and coolest” albums for children. – www.mistergsongs.com

THE BOXCAR LILIES (1pm)

Since they formed in 2009, The Boxcar Lilies have been wowing audiences with their standout marriage of superb songwriting and spine‐tingling, innovative harmonies. In a short time, they’ve garnered an exceptional amount of attention for their music and energetic stage presence, finding themselves playing renowned venues like The Iron Horse Music Hall and Philadelphia’s Tin Angel, or opening for legendary songwriters like Bill Staines and Lucy Kaplansky. – Sheryl Hunter of The Recorder wrote, in 2011, “There is nothing like great three part harmonies to send a shiver up your spine and create goose bumps on your skin. It is one of the loveliest musical sounds you can hear. The Boxcar Lilies has an appealing, rootsy take on music. But even more than their musicianship or strong songwriting, it’s the band’s stunning harmonies that are at the heart of its appeal.” – www.boxcarlilies.com

LUI COLLINS (1pm)

At 3pm, singer and teacher Lui Collins will also lead a Family Music Jam! We'll sing together, play instruments, do a bit of movement, maybe even dance! All ages are welcome, from grownups down to babes in arms.

Folksinger/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording since the 1970′s, earning international recognition for her music and releasing several highly-acclaimed recordings on Philo, Green Linnet, her own Molly Gamblin Music, and Waterbug. After touring nationally for several decades, she founded the educational branch of her work, now called Lui Collins’ Upside-Up Music, in 2003. Collins now divides her time between concerts, teaching, and early elementary music curriculum development. – The Boston Globe has described Lui as “one of New England’s first and brightest stars,” and Sing Out! Magazine calls her “incomparable.” Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.” Michael Devlin of Music Matters Review wrote: “…there are relatively few artists who are bringing a traditional sensibility to modern songwriting, and in the process creating new traditional music. Lui Collins is among the barefoot royalty of this group…” – www.luicollins.com

RANI ARBO & DAISY MAYHEM (Family Concert at 2pm)

At 4PM, in a hands-on workshop, we’ll make a wooden “harmonica” and a wacky, found-object drum set with percussionist Scott Kessel from the band Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem. Along with cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, pencils, and rubber bands, we’ll recycle rhythms from around the world into beats of our own — and then we’ll strike up the whole, recycled band!

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem will play from their award-winning family CD, Ranky Tanky!  The Boston Herald hails them as “One of America’s most inventive string bands,” and they deliver here with a rollicking ride through American musical history, from 200-year-old Georgia Sea Island tunes to Texas swing, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, and the Funky Meters. Armed with voices, hands, boxes and tin cans, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem prove that people have never needed fancy instruments to make music — and that when we do it all together, it’s magic. With bass, fiddle, guitar, ukulele, banjo and the 100% recycled “Drumship Enterprise,” this fun-loving band will have you & your kids dancing, shaking, clapping — and making more music than you knew was in your bones!  Ranky Tanky won a  Parents’ Choice Award in 2010. The citation said, “Forget the kids, you’ll want this album for yourself. The fact that your children will absolutely love it will be the icing on an already delicious cake.” - www.raniarbo.com

MISTY BLUES (3pm)

By day, Gina Coleman works in the admissions office and as the coach of the women’s rugby team at Williams College. But at night, she goes into a phone booth, changes her outfit, and comes out as a blues singer in the tradition of classic blues divas like Big Mama Thornton, Dinah Washington, and Georgia White. For the last three years, Coleman has been the lead singer of Misty Blues. Coleman is an expressive vocalist with a big low end and colorful upper register. Working with Coleman are some of the Berkshires’ finest musicians, including guitarist/vocalist Jason Webster, bassist/vocalist Bill Patriquin, drummer Mike Basiliere, harmonica player Matthew Swanson and guitarist Jeff Dudziak. – www.mistyblues.org

THE PRIMATE FIASCO (3pm)

The Primate Fiasco uses the instrumentation of a New Orleans street band (sousaphone, banjo, brass, woodwinds, drums) but plays music that you wouldn’t expect. They can keep a dance party pumpin’ on a sidewalk or from a stage. From their Grammy nominated kids album to their cult following of hippies and hipsters to their indie and folk following, the Fiasco scene is open to all demographics. You may see them on stage or you may see them parading through a festival campground. Either way, you’ll be smiling and moving your feet.  Jeff Giles of Dadnabit writes, “Trust me: you’re a Primate Fiasco fan. You just don’t know it yet.” - www.primatefiasco.com

TONY VACCA (4pm)

At 2pm, percussionist Tony Vacca will also lead a hands-on session. Learn to play a "World Music" percussion composition by listening and playing back what you hear. All ages and skill levels are welcome. The instruments usually include djembe drum, balafon, tuned bells, shekere, talking drum, gongs and drum set. Instruments will be provided, and you are welcome to bring your own as well.

Tony Vacca is an innovative American percussionist. Over the course of his career, he has made a habit of pushing the already adventurous conventions of World Music into new territory, both as a soloist and as the leader of his World Rhythms Ensemble. His solo performances are a nearly non-stop athletic spectacle of percussion music and spoken word, incorporating a world of percussion traditions that includes African, Caribbean, Asian and Middle-Eastern influences. He has recorded and/or performed with a wide range of musicians. These include pop icon Sting, Senegalese Afro-pop star Baaba Maal, jazz trumpeter and World Music legend Don Cherry, poet Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets, Senegalese hip-hop stars Gokh-bi System, and Massamba Diop, Senegalese master of the tama or talking drum. – www.tonyvacca.com

Other musical acts include the Northampton-based band AstroBeast (4pm) and the Amherst-based band Who’da Funkit (2pm). – See you there!!!

Puppets at the Hilltown Spring Festival!

PachaMama Puppets on the Lawn
6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds, Cummington, MA
May 12th, 2012

The Hilltown CDC’s 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will be on Saturday, May 12 at the Cummington Fairgrounds! 2,000 people are expected at the Hilltown Spring Festival this year and entertainment will include musical performances and workshops, exhibits by artists and craftspeople, displays by local businesses, food from local vendors, a family contra-dance, kids-made craft bazaar, children’s activities and much more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

PachaMama Puppet Theatre of Haydenville will be at the 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival on May 12th, 2012 at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  At noon, the Great PachaMama and her troupe will perform “The Waltz of the Polar Bear,” leading into the Maypole dance.  Later, children will have the chance to make puppets similar to those made at PachaMama’s Puppets in the Woods Summer Arts Camp.

Beth Fairservis, PachaMama’s director, loves to make puppets, both big and small. She says, “I always find it amazing that, as I start working on a puppet, a personality begins to emerge, and it leads me to finish the puppet as if it knows who it wants to be!  

“When I make a giant puppet, I work with lots of clay. Clay moves so easily in my hands and lends itself to making very expressive faces.  Over the clay face, I layer paper mache.  When it’s dry, I remove the paper from the clay, paint and mount the paper mask on a puppet body, and voila…a new being is ready to perform. Working with natural materials is an essential part of my work as an artist.

“In fact, PachaMama, the name of my theatre company, means “Mother Earth” and is spoken with great reverence by the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and elsewhere in South America. My puppet plays and my puppetry camps for children emphasize reverence for our mother planet and learning to listen deeply to her through all of our senses, especially our hearts!”

The Hilltown Spring Festival, produced by Hilltown CDC, is a simultaneous music festival, food festival, children’s festival, art and craft festival, sustainability festival, and more… MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Mark Your Calendars for the 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival: May 12th!

6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds
May 12th, 2012

The Hilltown CDC’s 6th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival will be on Saturday, May 12 at the Cummington Fairgrounds! 2,000 people are expected at the Hilltown Spring Festival this year and entertainment will include musical performances and workshops, exhibits by artists and craftspeople, displays by local businesses, food from local vendors, a family contra-dance, kids-made craft bazaar, children’s activities and much more.

Here’s a recap from the last two years at the festival:

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NEW THIS YEAR

New this year is an Emerging Artists Stage for musicians who have had little public exposure and have made little income from their music.  Samples of their music will be juried by professional musicians, and up to eight emerging artists will be chosen to perform two songs at the festival.  The music played must be original, and must be family-friendly (no “metal”, no “thrash”).  There is a $5 fee for submissions and interested artist can email to festival@hilltowncdc.org or mail P.O. Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012 by March 23. Include names, instruments, and a brief biography.

Also new this year is a family contra-dance from 5 to 7 PM (beginners and children always welcome)!

JOIN US: VOLUNTEER, SPONSOR, DISPLAY

Support for the Hilltown Spring Festival is provided by thirteen Local Cultural Councils; by local business sponsors; and by the exhibiting businesses.  All proceeds will contribute to the work of Hilltown CDC, including support for small businesses and support for low and moderate income Hilltown residents.  Interested in being a sponsor, vendor or volunteer? Contact Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org and join our team!

History Comes Alive in the Hilltowns for Bryant Day

Bryant Day Celebration in Cummington
Saturday, July 16th from 7am-4pm


Cynthia Sommer from The Trustees of Reservation writes:

The fourth annual Bryant Day, held at the Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA, is scheduled for July 16 from 7 AM to 4 PM, adding another year to the tradition of celebrating William Cullen Bryant, the famous 19th century poet, newspaper editor, and conservationist, and his passion for the art of the word. The first Bryant Day was celebrated in 1894 on the 100th anniversary of Bryant’s birth and hundreds spent the day listening to poetry, music, and speeches.

This July 16th event will capture the same spirit of the first celebration. Former Poet Laureate and Cummington resident, Richard Wilbur, will be reading from his new volume, Anterooms, and other selected poetry. Nancy Childs will begin the day with a guided nature walk in search of plants and birds that inspired Bryant’s poetry. In the afternoon, festivities kick off with music from Steve Bushway and Max Cohen, playing violin and fiddle music. All are encouraged to bring a picnic, sit on the Homestead lawn, and relax with the music. This year’s lecture will be by Ed Faits and Dan Carnevale of Arunah Hill Natural Science Center and entitled Topics in Astronomy. Following the lecture Prakasa Yoga studio will provide an introduction and demonstration of Anusara yoga. To wrap up the day, Arunah Hill will return for a moon viewing by telescope at the Bryant Homestead beginning at 9 PM.

Tours will include an art exhibition inspired by Bryant’s poem, “A Summer Ramble,” sponsored by the Sohn Fine Art Gallery of Stockbridge. Refreshments will be sold by the Chesterfield Grange and the Bryant Homestead Committee will provide free popcorn and hand-cranked ice cream. Admission is $6/car for non-Trustees members.

Additionally, there will be a special exhibit at the Bryant Free Library and the Cummington Old Creamery Grocery will be offering Bryant Day specials. Special tours of the Homestead are scheduled from 12 – 1 PM and again from 3 – 4 PM. Feel free to explore the property, once the country estate of William Cullen Bryant, and now one of more than 100 special places managed by The Trustees of Reservations. The complete schedule is found at www.thetrustees.org. Information may also be obtained by calling 413-532-1631 x13.

Read the rest of this entry »

Morris Dancers, May Pole & Solar Powered Music on 3 Stages at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival!

Update: Joining the festival this year will be the Juggler Meadow Morris Men and the lovely ladies from the Wake Robin Morris Dancers!
Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Morris dancers, maypole, solar powered music on 3 stages, local food, family activities, and much more! Find it all at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Please join us on May 14th, 2011 at the Cummington Fairgrounds for the Hilltown Spring Festival! There will be music on 3 stages, healthy local food, children’s activities all day long, displays by businesses and artists, a Focus on Sustainability, dancing around the Maypole at 12:30 with Morris dancers.

JOIN US! There are still opportunities to display your work, promote your business, or volunteer to help out. Some businesses are signing up to sponsor the event, others are signing up to display their products and services, and many are offering raffle prizes. And volunteers are signing up to help us build stages, direct vendor traffic during morning setup, and encourage recycling during the day. Last year, we reduced our waste stream by 30% by recycling paper, plastic, metal, and compost. This year, with your help, we can do even better.

Performers who are already scheduled include: The Nields (kids show), Tony Vacca (world music percussionist), Swing Caravan (alt-jazz quartet), Gaia Roots (vocals and percussion), string band Appalachian Still, singer/songwriter Laura Wetzler, Misty Blues (blues you can groove to), the Dave Bartley Trio, Pat and Tex LaMountain, Boxcar Lilies, and popular children’s performers Mister G, and Ben Rudnick & Friends. One of the three music stages will be devoted to family music all day long, but families and children will enjoy all the music being performed.

Local food highlights confirmed so far include: fresh wood-fired pizza from The Baker’s Oven of Colrain, fried rice, lo mein and spring rolls from the Goshen Snack Bar, bratwurst and hot dogs from Elke’s Catering of Worthington, and Bart’s Ice Cream.

For more information, or to participate, go to http://www.hilltowncdc.org, email Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org, or call Seth at 413-296-4536 ext. 112. We look forward to seeing you at the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14th, 2011, at the Cummington Fairgrounds!

Co-Op Conversations First Tuesday of the Month

Nearly 100 people Engage in Co-op Conversations!

We are so excited about the level of interest in the Old Creamery Co-op. Nearly 100 people turned out for six lively “Co-op Conversations” held over the past two months. These small group meetings provided a great forum for members of the Creamery Co-op board of directors to provide an update on how things are going with the transition to a community-owned Old Creamery.

Each meeting was highly interactive – full of questions, ideas and information, and of course great refreshments. We shared what we have learned from our customer surveys, a staff survey, and an outside market study, including evidence that the Creamery is a valued resource now, has great potential to serve the community for a long time, and needs to make some changes to product offerings, service, retail space and parking in order to better meet community (and Co-op member) needs.

We talked about changes that have already been made in the Old Creamery because of the enthusiastic feedback from well over 300 survey respondents. We hope you will notice the addition of breakfast sandwiches to the deli menu, the new weekly sales specials, the new in-store signage, and the re-organized bulletin boards.

A dedicated group of people is currently working with a volunteer architect to develop plans for physical improvements to the building and grounds. The work will improve the space and experience for customers in the store, as well as provide better work flow for staff. We will also increase the shopping space. We hope to unveil the plans for the “New Old Creamery” in the coming weeks.

Throughout these Co-op Conversations people asked, “What can I do to help?” The answers are easy. Do more of your shopping at the Old Creamery and keep telling us what we need to do to make that happen! Help us get more Founding Member-Owners for the Co-op by telling your friends and family about our exciting venture and what you love about the Old Creamery. (The number of founding memberships is a sign of necessary community support and an important indicator of the future viability of the Co-op.)

These Co-op Conversations were so helpful to the Co-op Board, that the board has decided to hold one each month for the foreseeable future. The conversations are open to all and will be held on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM in the Sustainability Library over the Old Creamery. Registration is required. Please RSVP to outreach@oldcreamery.coop to attend any of these sessions.


Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-op every third Wednesday of the month.

Artisans, Vendors & Volunteers Wanted for 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Hilltown Spring Festival will Celebrate Hilltown Life on May 14th!

The Old Creamery cooks up shrimp shish kebabs on an open grill during the 2010 Hilltown Spring Festival - just one of the many delicious food options offered by local food vendors last year. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) is signing up local artisans, businesses, non-profit organizations and volunteers for the 5th annual Hilltown Spring Festival, to be held Saturday, May 14th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cummington Fairgrounds.

Last year’s Festival drew 2,000 people for an all-day celebration of regional arts, culture and sustainability. This year’s Festival will feature 20 performances by area musicians on three stages (including the Hilltown Families Family Stage!), specialty food and drink from hilltown vendors, children’s activities all day long, and a “sustainable living” exposition.

The Festival is looking for:

  • Vendors of products and services that make our lives more energy-efficient and our communities more sustainable;
  • Artists and craftspeople who want to display and sell their work;
  • Other businesses who want to reach 2,000 prospective customers in one day;
  • Local food vendors;
  • And volunteer captains to help the Festival succeed.

Recycling Captains from Wahconah Regional High School joined the HSF team of Volunteer Captains, helping to make the 2010 festival a great success! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

“The Hilltown Spring Festival is a chance to connect with 2,000 people who care about the quality of life in the Hilltowns,” said Seth Isman, Hilltown CDC’s Economic Development Director and Festival coordinator. “The Festival will highlight regional businesses involved in alternative energy, organic farming and other kinds of sustainable living.”

Registration forms are available from Hilltown CDC; email sethi@hilltowncdc.org or call 413-296-4536 ext. 112. The deadline for reserving a space is April 22.

ABOUT THE HILLTOWN CDC

Hilltown CDC is a 30-year-old community development agency working to improve the quality of life of hilltown residents by addressing economic, housing, educational, social and community needs while preserving the rural character of the area.

The Hilltown Spring Festival is supported in part by grants from the Local Cultural Councils of the towns of Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Middlefield, Plainfield, Washington, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Windsor and Worthington—local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Beat Cabin Fever at the Old Creamery!

Cure the Winter Doldrums at the Old Creamery

Did you know the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA offers a diverse array of fun free events for everyone?  We encourage you to check out our Community Calendar for all scheduled events from now through June.

The first Friday of every month is Games Night in the cafe.  Bring your family, your friends and your  favorite games to share or use games provided by the Old Creamery.  The Old Creamery provides complimentary popcorn and beverages and schedules this event to start early enough, 6:30 pm, so that children will be able to get their parents home at a reasonable hour.  Games Night is full of fun, laughter and good cheer for all ages.

The second Thursday of the month is Film Night in the Sustainability Library on the second floor of the Old Creamery. Films begin at 7 pm. A series of films is planned on a variety of topics associated with environmental sustainability and critical ecological and social problems.  Discussions in a supportive environment follow each film and complimentary refreshments are served.

The Old Creamery Coffee House tradition continues on the third Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm.  Our community is rich with local artists and the Old Creamery is thrilled to showcase their talents in the café.  Consider coming a bit early to enjoy a dinner from the deli before the show begins.  Baked treats and beverages are available for purchase throughout the evening.

The popular Tastings are held once a month during late winter and spring, on Sunday evenings in the café.  Each month participants learn about and taste samples of some of the special products that the Old Creamery carries.  This year’s series includes tasting of chocolate, olive oils, vinegars, wines, and cheeses.  This series is very popular so pre-registration is required and donations are accepted to help defray the cost of the event.

Along with these Old Creamery sponsored events, the Creamery also hosts the Sustainability Library and the Wholesale Food Buying Club upstairs on the east side of the 2nd floor.  The sustainability library is full of books related to the topic of living sustainably.  These books are available for loan to anyone in the community and there are comfortable chairs that welcome anyone who wants to sit and read in the library.  The Wholesale Food Buying Club has ordering information in the library.  The food deliveries are left in the kitchen upstairs.  Feel free to ask Alice or Amy for assistance if you’re not clear how to use the system.

The Old Creamery is an incredible resource for our community and this is one of the prime reasons for the effort to keep the Old Creamery in the community as a community owned cooperative.  The Old Creamery Co-op is committed to continuing the tradition established by current owners Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley of creating and nurturing community.  For more information about the Old Creamery Co-op, join us for one of these  community  events or visit www.oldcreamery.coop or contact me at cherylann@oldcreamery.coop.


Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-op every third Wednesday of the month.

Save the Date for the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival

Save the Date for the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
May 14th, 2011

Save the Date: May 14th, 2011. Volunteer and business opportunities are available. Call the Hilltown CDC at 296-4536 for more info.

The Hilltown CDC’s 5th annual Hilltown Spring Festival, a celebration of Hilltown life, will take place on May 14, 2011, at the Cummington Fairground. Mark the date on your calendar, and tell your friends. Two thousand visitors came through the gates last year.

This year the Hilltown CDC celebrates its 30th Anniversary! Festivities will include music, dance and children’s activities all day; food and drink provided by Hilltown restaurants; sales and displays by Hilltown artists and crafters; the Kids’ Craft Bazaar; and Hilltown businesses showing their products and services. The emphasis will be on sustainable living, with demonstrations, information, and festival-wide recycling. (Last year we recycled 30% of all trash; we can double that this year!)

VOLUNTEER & BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES:

The Hilltown CDC is looking for volunteers to help with set-up and recycling at the fairground on May 13 & 14th. If you can help, or if you would like to highlight your business at the festival, call Seth Isman at 413-296-4536, x112, or email sethi@hilltowncdc.org. Ask your friends how much fun they had at last year’s festival!

Support is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and many Local Cultural Councils; by local banks and other sponsors; and by the exhibiting businesses. Admission price helps support the work of Hilltown CDC, including business development, housing rehabilitation, support programs for low income local elders and families, and the Hilltown Food Pantry.

Seven Principles of Cooperatives

Why a Co-op in Cummington?

In the first few months of working as the Outreach Coordinator of the Old Creamery Co-op I’ve been asked many times, “Why a Co-op?  Why not just keep the Old Creamery as a private business with new owners?”  Well, good questions!  And while we’re at it, “What is a Co-op?”

There are many types and sizes of cooperative businesses and most are structured as for-profit businesses.  Whether it is a small worker owned co-op (like Collective Copies),  a financial organization (like Greenfield Cooperative Bank), or a large producer co-op (like Pachamama Coffee Company), all co-ops have many of the same characteristics as traditional business, and they are unique in several important ways.  One of the biggest and most important differences is that they are democratically controlled by their member-owners, usually on a one-membership/one-vote basis. The fundamental principle of cooperatives is voluntary and open membership.

Another important difference is that co-ops are not motivated by profit alone.  Instead, co-ops exist to provide high quality goods, services, and support and to meet the needs of their members.  The very first co-op was started in Rochdale England in 1844 by a group of 28 weavers and other artisans.  At this time, the advent of mechanization was forcing many skilled workers into extreme poverty. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers was formed when these workers banded together to open their own food store so that they would be able to purchase food they could no longer afford. — Read more about the history of the cooperative movement on Wikipedia.

Co-ops are also formed by businesses that come together to meet a common need.  The Old Creamery started in 1886 as a Co-op of local dairy farmers who needed an affordable and accessible way to churn their dairy cream into butter.  Cabot Cheese, sold today at the Old Creamery, is produced by Cabot Creamery a 1,200 farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate New York.

All cooperatives adhere to Seven Principles:

     

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
  7. Concern for Community
  8.  

Co-ops are families, friends, and neighbors who come together to support each other.  Co-ops support the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.  Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others both locally and globally.

So, why a co-op in Cummington?   Read the rest of this entry »

The Goings-On at the Old Creamery Co-Op: A History

Holy Cow! A Creamery Co-Op!

The Old Creamery in Cummington, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The Old Creamery in Cummington began its long presence in the Hilltown community as The Cummington Cooperative Creamery in 1886.  At that time, a co-op of dairy farmers brought fresh cream from their farms to be churned into butter.  During the Co-op’s most active period, 145 dairies produced 20,000 pounds of butter per month. With the advent of widespread refrigeration and motor trucking in the 1940’s, the needs of the community changed and The Old Creamery began a long legacy of transforming itself to respond to those changing needs.

The Old Creamery has at times been a restaurant and at times a general store.  In 1988, the Berenson family merged these two functions when they purchased the building and business and made major renovations including the addition of the sunny café area.  Current owners, Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley, purchased the Old Creamery in 2000 and have worked to transform it into a vibrant community hub in the Hilltowns where people love to gather year round to sample the Old Creamery’s delicious fare, shop for groceries, visit with friends, grab a quick breakfast or cup of coffee, read the paper, or more recently surf the internet.

When Alice and Amy began to think about transitioning the Old Creamery to new ownership, they wanted to insure that it would continue as a place dedicated to the needs of the Hilltown community.  Thus began the dream to return the Old Creamery to its cooperative roots.  On January 31st this year, Alice and Amy held an open community meeting to discuss their co-op idea and gauge the response of the community.  The response was overwhelming.  Over 300 community members attended the meeting.  A steering committee was formed and began to work enthusiastically on pursuing the plan.

Throughout the spring, the steering committee made site visits to other local co-ops including Berkshire, Wild Oats, Greenfields Market, Leverett, and Putney VT.  They put together business and communications plans, analyzed the financial history of the current store, created future financial projections, and compiled estimates for purchase and start-up costs.  On July 30th, the founding member-owner drive was launched with a goal of signing up 300 founding member-owners by December 31st.  This goal was reached on October 21st, more than two months ahead of schedule!

On August 6th The Old Creamery Co-op was incorporated as a legal entity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the steering committee became the Co-op’s first Board of Directors.  The Board of Directors is now engaged in developing a business plan and in raising equity through continuing to sign up founding member-owners — and through grants and loans to the co-op.  There are new founding member-owner goals:  350 by Dec 31, 2010 and 500 by the summer of 2011.  Currently there are 336 founding member-owners.  If you would like more information about what the Co-op is doing, please visit our website www.oldcreamery.coop or email the Co-op’s Outreach Coordinator cherylann@oldcreamery.coop Stay tuned for more exciting news to come!


Old Creamery Co-Op by Cherylann Richards

Cherylann Richards is the Outreach Coordinator for the Old Creamery Co-op and writes about the ongoing adventure of working to transition the locally beloved Old Creamery in Cummington into a community owned food cooperative. Cherylann is a past employee of The Old Creamery and completed her Masters of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School this past May.  She is in the process of becoming an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a board certified chaplain with the ultimate goal of working as a medical chaplain.  Cherylann loves Old Creamery made chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and all things outdoors; cross country skiing at Notchview, hiking or swimming with her dog Tula, camping, and bicycling.- Check out Old Creamery Co-Opevery second Wednesday of the month.

Kids’ Dance Party in the Hilltowns

Kids’ Dance Party with Radio Free Earth

Free Kids’ Dance Party happening in the Hilltowns this Saturday evening, December 4th at 7pm at the Cummington Community House (33 Main St.).

There will be live music with Radio Free Earth and dance scores led by Maureen Shea of the Grasshoppa Arts Initiative.

Come early (6:30pm) to learn the dances.  All ages welcomed.  There will be snacks served and lots of hopping, strutting and dancing around!

Supported in part by the Cummington Cultural Council.

Community Holiday Potlatch in the Hilltowns

4th Annual Community Holiday Potlatch
Saturday, November 27th, 2010 in Cummington, MA

The 4th Annual Community Holiday Potlatch happens on Saturday, November 27th, 2010, at the Cummington Village Congregational Church from 10AM-2PM. All are welcome to come share.

(Potlatch: A word of Chinook origin that means GIVING)

Join the community at the Fouth Community Potlatch for this new (but very OLD!) concept in gift giving at the  Village Congregational Church in Cummington, MA on November 27th from 10am-2pm. This is holiday fun with your neighbors, with more sharing and less consumption. It will even clean out your closet and save you money!

The Potlatch idea is based on a tradition of native tribal chiefs competing to see who could be the most generous. It’s an odd idea (to us!) but the “winner” was whoever gave away the most stuff. Here is the our community version:

Come to the Potlatch with as many GIFT QUALITY (IMPORTANT — if it belongs at the thrift shop, bring it there, please!) items that you already have but do not need, are not using or even plain just don’t like. Ever popular are books, toys and games, music, clothing (new quality only) and gadgets. They don’t have to be perfect or in a box, you just have to know they would make a great gift for someone else. We will display them at the Potlatch for others to choose as a gift they would like to give for the holidays. And of course, while you are there, pick out anything you see that you might like to give. All items are given and taken freely. No money is involved.

Hot drinks will be offered. Each year, food for sharing spontaneously appears. So if you are wondering, “Would it be appropriate to bring a plate of cookies?” YES!

Although we would love to see you, if you would just like to contribute “re-gifting” items but can’t be there on Saturday, Novemeber 27th, we will accept drop-offs. Please send an e-mail to corvus57@yahoo.com so a time can be arranged.

Sponsored by: You and Your Neighbors

Historic Adventures on Grandparent’s Day in Berkshires & Hilltowns

Grandparent’s Day Celebrated in the Hilltowns and Berkshires

Join The Trustees of Reservations at four historic houses for Grandparents Day, Sunday September 12. Special activities for grandparents and grandchildren will be offered at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, the Naumkeag House & Gardens in Stockbridge, the Mission House in Stockbridge, and the Ashley House in Sheffield. On this day, Berkshires residents of all ages will receive free admission.

Ashley House is Sheffield, MA

On Sunday Sept 12, begin your day with a visit to the Ashley House, opening at 10am. Visit the oldest house in the Berkshires at 117 Cooper Hill Road in the Ashley Falls section of Sheffield and enjoy two great stories of freedom. Special activities available for young and old alike on this day will include Colonial games and activities, and readings from the newest children’s book about Elizabeth Freeman (Mumbet) and her journey from slavery to freedom at the Ashley House over 200 years ago. While you are there, stop by the Bartholomew’s Cobble nature center next door to explore the natural world. According To Trustees educator Tammis Coffin, “The amazing story at The Ashley House is the stand that Mumbet took for her freedom, 80 years before the start of the Civil War. Slavery was outlawed in Massachusetts well before the rest of the country.”

Mission House in Stockbridge, MA

Starting at 11am, the Mission House will be open, along with the Indian Museum. Here, right at 19 Main Street in Stockbridge, is the place to explore Mohican culture with child-friendly displays, articles of buckskin clothing that can be tried on, and activities for children, ages 5 and up, including “make your own pocket sundial.”  There is also the Mohican Quest walking adventure – ideal for families with children ages 9 and up. According to Coffin,“The Mission House Indian Museum is small, but our visitors are discovering that it is a great place for kids!”

Naumkeag House and Gardens in Stockbridge, MA

Naumkeag House and Gardens will be open from 10-5pm. Just half a mile uphill from the Red Lion Inn at 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, lies a magical 50-acre landscape that is a place of magic and beauty for children, with enclosed garden walls, water features, a round moon gate, a Chinese Garden, whimsical fountains, pools, runnels, and the famous Blue Steps. Among the activities offered for children with their grandparents or parents on this day include “Kipper” (a backpack of clues, games, and art projects that take families all around the gardens. Children of all ages enjoy following Kipper’s trail through the gardens, peeking into places best seen from a lower perch, spying places and items that hold special appeal for our young visitors,” states Henry.

William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA

Round out your day of history with a trip to the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, open from 1-5pm. It’s a one hour drive from Stockbridge, in the heart of the hilltowns. Take Route 9 east from the Berkshires almost to the Old Creamery in Cummington, and follow signs to 207 Bryant Road, Cummington. Visit the rambling farmscape that was home to America’s first romantic poet. Young and old alike will enjoy learning about the poet’s unusual life.  All ages will be delighted by a walk along the Rivulet Trail, where stand large trees, the stream that Bryant loved and wrote about, and poems posted along the way. And there will be a chance to try out (for free on this day) activities with the children’s “I Spy” activity backpacks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark in the Hilltowns

Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark:
An Outdoor Performance Event
Monday, June 28th @ 7pm in Cummington

Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark, a family-friendly outdoor performance, will take place at Pettingill Park in Cummington on Monday, June 28th at 7pm. Bring a picnic!

The Grasshoppa Arts Initiative includes 6 hilltown artists who provide arts programming in local schools. The Grasshoppa artists are:

  • Patrick Crowley (contact improvisation)
  • Beth Fairservis (MOEJO puppets)
  • Beckie Kravetz (mask and sculpture)
  • Lita Lundeen (weaving)
  • Josh Wachtel (music)
  • Maureen Shea (dance improvisation and choreography)

In its first year of operation, the Grasshoppa Arts Initiative has offered workshops in schools in Cummington, Shelburne Falls, and Williamsburg.

On June 28th, the Grasshoppas will present an outdoor performance event in Pettingill Park in Cummington featuring many of the Grasshoppa artists with special guests. ‘Grasshoppas in the Park before Dark’ is inspired by ‘Dusk Dances’, a performance event that originated in the parks of Toronto, Canada.  Maureen Shea participated in ‘Dusk Dances’ for several years in Ottawa, Canada, as a choreographer, performer and co-producer and was inspired to bring a similar event to the Hilltowns.

Five performances pieces will be shown during ‘Grasshoppas in the Park before Dark’:

  • ‘Firefly’ (Lita Lundeen)
  • ‘Mother Earth births a Rainbow’ (MOEJO puppets)
  • ‘Studies 1-10, except 5, 6, 7′ (Maureen Shea)
  • ‘Trees’ (The Dolphin Dancers, Beckie Kravetz masks, Maureen Shea, Josh Wachtel)
  • Improvisation by Patrick Crowley

The event will last one hour and will take place rain or shine. While the event is free, contributions are welcome and a hat will be passed at the end of the evening. This is a family-friendly event. Bring a picnic!

Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair This Weekend in the Hilltowns

Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair
Memorial Day Weekend in the Hilltowns

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair on May 29th & 30th, 2010, at the Cummington Fairgrounds in Cummington, MA. One of the oldest of all the New England sheep fairs, the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair is a fun and affordable way to spend a day with family and friends discovering one of the oldest industries in the world.


| View Show | Create Your Own
(Photos credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Shepherds, spinners, weavers, and other fiber artists come from all over the Northeast to demonstrate their skills and sell their handmade fiber products. But the sheep are the real stars of it all, and there will be hundreds of them attending, both meat and wool breeds. They will be joined by a host of other fiber animals, including angora rabbits and goats, llamas, and maybe even a yak or two!

Other festival highlights include sheep dog trials, spinning and weaving contests, a fleece sale, fiber workshops, a shearing service, live music, and workshops for kids (see below). Breakfast and lunch items will be available at the food booth, including the popular lamb bits. Admission is free, however you must pay for parking.

Activity Highlights for Families:

  • Sheep Dog Trials
  • Make Knitting Needles for Kids
  • Learn to Spin for Kids
  • Kool-Aid Dyeing for Kids
  • Needle Felting For Young People
  • Felting Treasure Bags for Kids
  • Tree Branch Loom Weaving for Kids
  • Felted Flowers and Animals for Kids
  • Click here for a full schedule

Keep it Local: 2010 Hilltown Business Directory

Hilltown Business Directory to List 350 Local Businesses

The annual Hilltown Business Directory, published both in print and online by the Hilltown Community Development Corporation (HCDC), a community non-profit in Chesterfield, MA, is preparing its expanded 2010 edition.

The Hilltown Business Directory will list 350 local businesses in 20 towns, by category, by name, and by town. This 160 page reference book will be used all year by local residents. The Directory makes it easy for residents to support their neighbors by using locally available products and services, thereby strengthening the hilltown economy and preserving and creating local jobs.

The 2010 Directory will be mailed in early January to every one of the 13,000 households in 20 towns, including

  • Ashfield in Franklin County;
  • Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington in Hampshire County;
  • Blandford, Chester, Montgomery and Russell in Hampden County;
  • Becket, Hinsdale, Otis, Peru, Washington and Windsor in Berkshire County.

The online version of the Hilltown Business Directory is available all year at www.hilltowncdc.org.

Listings and ads must be received by September 25. More information, and space reservation forms, are available at www.hilltowncdc.org, or by calling 413-296-4536.  Read the rest of this entry »

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