Local Agricultural Fairs Showcase Rich Local Heritage

Multidisciplinary Learning Opportunities for Children

It’s almost agricultural fair time!

Much more than a midway and a ticket-per-ride miniature amusement park, Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs honor the generations-old traditions of agriculture, self-sufficiency, and resiliency in rural communities. A tradition for many generations, agricultural fairs showcase the unique skills and talents specific to rural life in western Massachusetts – and in doing so, fairs offer families the opportunity to not only celebrate local culture, but to actively participate in preserving it. The exhibition halls at agricultural fairs are always filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, homemade and home-preserved canned goods, handmade quilts and clothing, and beautiful photographs, paintings, and crafts created by local artists. With many exhibition categories reserved specifically for youngsters, exhibition halls offer families the opportunity to share their own work, projects, and produce with others – and the opportunity to share the active role that they have in preserving local culture. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Just Roots Community Farm Fosters Youth Collaboration

Innovative farm program uses accessible skillshare as community builder

Just Roots Community Farm isn’t “just” anything – never just this or just that, the farm incorporates many different projects, practices, and goals into its overarching purpose. Located on the former Poor Farm in Greenfield, MA, Just Roots works to promote knowledge of, demand for, and access to local food in Franklin County. Through a variety of offerings including community workshops, affordable CSA shares, volunteer workdays, and educational programming, Just Roots serves as a community-centered vehicle for resiliency, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and endless learning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Film Maker & Local Farmers Lead Community Conversation on Farming Past and Present

Pothole Pictures presents “Root Hog or Die”
May 17th & 18th in Shelburne Falls, MA

“Root Hog or Die” captures the lives and stories of the old time horse farmers in Franklin County in their own voices, faces, ingenious technology and well-tended land. According to Pothole Pictures coordinator, Fred DeVecca, “Rawn Fulton’s film provides a vibrant and down-to-earth historical context for the resurgence of local agriculture, CSAs and micro-farming in Franklin County today…It connects us to our neighbors, our history, the land and the farms we depend on and gives us all an opportunity to show our support for local agriculture.”

Nearly forty years after its first release, “Root Hog or Die,” the Franklin County documentary film on the last of the old time horse farmers in Western Massachusetts, re-appears on the big screen in Shelburne Falls. On Friday and Saturday, May 17th & 18th at 7:30pm, Pothole Pictures presents two screenings of “Root Hog or Die” in historic Memorial Hall Theater in downtown Shelburne Falls.

On Saturday, May 18, the film’s director, Rawn Fulton will present the recently re-mastered digital version of the original 56-minute film made in 1974, and will lead a community conversation about farming then and now together with a panel of local farmers. They include farmers and local families whose experience stretches back for generations and who are connected to many of the farmers featured in “Root Hog or Die” – Jim Wholey and the Dole family of Shelburne, and Al Pieropan of Ashfield.

Contemporary farmers with long family roots in Franklin County also include Faith and Peter Williams representing the Our Family Farms dairy cooperative and John and Carolyn Wheeler of Wheelview Farm. Newer arrivals to Franklin County farming include Paul Lacinski and Amy Klippenstein of Side Hill Farm in Hawley and David Fisher and Anna Maclay of Natural Roots CSA in Conway. New Roots brings the horse-powered farming tradition back to Franklin County in a new form – community supported agriculture. Recent Mohawk High School graduate will represent the new generation of young farmers revitalizing agriculture in Franklin County.

Read the rest of this entry »

8 Western MA Farm Programs Offer Education for Families

Learning on the Farm

Red Gate Farm is located in Buckland, MA, and provides opportunities for school groups to visit and engage in the daily life of a working farm. School groups can visit for three days, during which they take care of the farm animals, buildings and people. There is more information available at www.redgatefarm.org. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

There is no better place to learn than your neighborhood farm and no better time than the spring and summer!

Whether you are looking for a place to go with your family on the weekend, your home-schooling group during the weekdays, or a summer camp for your kids, the following list of farm based learning opportunities are great places to check out. Many of them even have programs just for adults! No need for the kids to have all of the fun.

  • Winterberry Farm in Leverett, MA, is a small, family teaching farm. They have farm and fiber programs throughout the year. One of their most interesting programs is Sheep Week for kids during April vacation week. Each child is assigned a ewe and her lambs to care for during the week. The kids weigh, feed, and get to participate in all aspects of the care of their own sheep family. They even get to watch the video of their home-birth! There are also courses for adults. There are private fiber and soap making classes, as well as custom made workshops for scout groups or homeschool groups. They host camps on vacation weeks as well as Summer Camp. Learn more at www.winterberryfarm.org.
  • Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, MA offers programs for both children and adults. They run a Farm in the Garden Camp, which is a full-day summer camp for children ages 5 to 10. For adults, the choices are impressive. They offer courses on fruit production, growing with perennials, and building dry stone walls, among other things. You can learn more at berkshirebotanical.org.
  • Crimson and Clover Farm in Florence, MA hosts courses and summer camps through the Farm Education Collaborative. There are home-school programs, parent child gardening programs, an after school farm club and workshops for adults. There is more information available at www.thefarmeducationcollaborative.org.
  • Farm School in Athol, MA helps people connect with the land. Visiting schools can spend three days fully immersed in the work and life of the farm. Adults who want to learn about animal husbandry, vegetable production and homesteading skills can participate in the Practical Farm Training Program. There is even a one-room school house for middle school students. It offer a rigorous education in a joyful, beautiful setting. You can learn more about their programs at www.farmschool.org.
  • Farm and Garden Camp in Amherst, MA is a program through the Farm Education Collaborative based at Hampshire College that has an intentional focus on growing and harvesting the food we eat and fibers we use. It offers weekly summer day camp programs to young people from 4-14 years old during the months of July and August. Learn more about the program at www.farmandgardencamp.org.
  • Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA offers a Waldorf inspired camp during vacation weeks and Farm Camp during the summer. Children ages 4-15 enjoy caring for a variety of farm animals, participating in agricultural crafts and preparing their harvests in the kitchen.You can learn about it at www.hartsbrook.org.
  • Open View Farm in Conway, MA was founded in 2005 with the goal of creating a welcoming environment in which people of all ages and backgrounds could connect with nature. They have events throughout the year, including sheep shearing, work projects, and social gatherings. Open View has created an especially welcoming farm for the families of people in the LGBQT families. They have a program called CampOUT which is for children from LGBQT families to get to experience farm life and companionship. Open View farm also offers fellowships for private and public school teachers who need a retreat to create curriculum that supports Peace and Justice or Sustainable and Responsible living. You can learn more about Open View Farm at www.openviewfarm.org.

The soil is warming up for you and your children. Go and make something grow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family.  She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology.  Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.

Celebrating Sustainability and Local Food at the 7th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival

7th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival
Sunday, September 23rd

Have you ever made your own cornmeal, or dyed your own fabric using wildflowers?  Families can do all of these things and more at the North Amherst Harvest Festival on Sun, Sept 23rd from 12noon-5pm at the North Amherst Community Farm at 1089 N. Pleasant Street in North Amherst. This is a free rain or shine event (>$ parking). (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

When was the last time that you enjoyed a bike-power-blended smoothie?  Have you ever made your own cornmeal, or dyed your own fabric using wildflowers?  Families can do all of these things and more at the North Amherst Harvest Festival!

The harvest festival takes place on Sunday, September 23rd from 12noon-5pm at the North Amherst Community Farm (NACF), a farm run as a grassroots project to provide affordable, locally and sustainably grown food to the community.  The festival will include seasonal activities like hayrides and cider pressing, along with live music, local food, face painting, games, and other family activities.

A range of fun children’s activities will be offered throughout the day, including pumpkin bowling, face painting, operating a cider press and making your own smoothie using a kid-sized blender bike! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

In addition, the festival offers a plethora of hands-on opportunities!  Kids can participate in pumpkin bowling, cider pressing, using fresh local apples and a manual press to extract delicious juice.  Hayrides offer an opportunity to tour the farm fields – families can see the fields and animals, and learn about the farm’s biodiversity soil-rejuvenating practices.  There will also be hand-crank food mills on hand for families to try out making their own homemade cornmeal – kids can hand-pluck dried kernels from the cob and use their own muscle power to grind the kernels into meal… and after all of that hard work, they can enjoy a smoothie blended using bike power!

Each activity is sure to be fun and exciting for kids of nearly any age, and each offers a unique learning opportunity.  By participating in food processing, kids can become more aware of how food products are created and the amount of effort that is necessary to produce them.  In touring the farm, they can become familiarized with farm machinery, farm practices, and farm animals, and can begin to develop a deeper connection to their food.  Bring learning full circle by enjoying a local dinner together after the festival!  For more information, visit www.nacfonline.org.

This year, NACF is collaborating with Amherst Community Connections (ACC) and Craig’s Doors, two local non-profits offering services to those in the community who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Hwei-Ling Greeney of ACC will oversee the food production for the Festival utilizing volunteers recruited from NACF, ACC, Craig’s Doors and The Amherst Survival Center. In return, a portion of NACF’s Festival proceeds will be shared between these agencies. The organizational missions of these groups all share a common concern for the issue of local food security.

Seasons at Our Table: Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Market Season

At the beginning of the summer we invited our readers to share a family recipe using fresh local produce.  Below we’re highlighting 13 submissions our readers posted, featuring local produce often bought fresh from our farmers’ markets and road side stands!  Get inspired and thinking about how you can use locally grown fresh produce for your family dinner!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kat Allen of Northampton writes: I’m not a great cook, and my husband and I don’t have much time, but we do try hard get our family eating well and to have family dinner each night and we’ve landed on something that works well for us… On a day when we do have some time, we’ll cook up a big load of veggies in a little bit olive oil – usually in a big pan on the stove, sometimes on the grill outside. When possible we’ll get our kids involved in picking out the veggies (at our CSA, at the farmers’ market, or at the grocery store), and chopping up the veggies (a two-handled rocking knife and some clear instructions makes it safe even for our 6-year old).

Then we use these veggies in a bunch of easy, quick ways throughout the week:

  • Throw it on top of whole wheat pasta – with red sauce, pesto, or just plain
  • Put it on the table with beans, cheese, and whole wheat burrito or taco shells for make-your-own burritos or tacos
  • Use it as a side dish with rice and beans (when in a real rush I buy prepared rice and beans at the Greenfield Coop) or chicken and rice (sometimes I buy a cooked rotisserie chicken)
  • Throw it on top of a pizza crust (prepared or homemade crust)
  • Mix it in a pan with eggs and milk and call it an eggs bake
  • Throw it in a pie crust (I use the prepared, roll-out kind) with eggs and milk and call it a quiche

Finally, we just throw some fresh fruit, raw veggies and milk in lunch boxes with these dinner left-overs when we pack lunches each day – viola – meals for a week!

Sandra Dias of Holyoke writes: This is a simple dish, but it’s tasty. I like to slice zucchini and yellow summer squash quite thin, mix it with some extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle it with grated asiago cheese, then bake it for a half an hour at 375F. We make this simple veggie side dish every summer on our annual trip to Cape Cod and everyone seems to love it.

Becky Castro of Northampton writes: We love fresh salads with baby spring greens topped in a warm garlic dressing… First, gather up your greens: my little ones used to love picking baby spinach, mescalin leaves, and dandelion leaves out of our garden (what ever you have growing works perfectly). Nowadays, I go to the farmers market and use whatever is in season. I still use the dandelion leaves from my yard as they are plentiful!! Then make a bowl full of greens.

Top it off with this dressing:

  • 1 head of garlic roasted or finely chopped
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 1T lime juice
  • 1/8 salt
  • 1 med. shallot, finely chopped
  • Pepper

Squeeze the roasted garlic into a pan. Add oil, vinegar, lime juice, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the shallot is softened, like 3-5 minutes. Pour the dressing on top of the greens until coated. You can also add pine nuts and goat cheese. (Once summer and fall come, add kale and beet greens. I have not tried mustard greens or swiss chard but bet they would taste yummy.). Thankfully, both of my kids love garlic and always have.

Miranda Marks of Northampton writes: When I was young, I remember standing knee-deep in rich soil, watching my mom and dad dig, plant and pull up weeds. By the end of the summer, my mom would send us out to pick tomatoes straight off the vine, and basil so fresh I could smell it as soon as I stepped out of the door.- Before my dad died after one of those sun-soaked summers, I was always focused on picking, planting and eating fresh foods. – Last year was the first time I made my own garden, and those hazy memories came back to life. One of my favorite recipes is the classic Italian Caprese, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and mozzarella. – This summer, I can’t wait to eat tomatoes that smell so good your mouth waters.

Ellen Moriarty of Hampden writes: Our family loves veggie pizza on the grill all summer! It has been so much fun for my daughters Hannah and Gracie to work together to create awesome tasting & healthy pizzas. Hannah is our self taught, in-house dough expert. Gracie kicks it into high gear pretending she is an Italian pizza chef. She has the apron, the hat & the accent!

  • Begin with your favorite pizza dough and roll it out.
  • Brush one side with olive oil & sprinkle with salt and pepper, grill for a couple of minutes. Brush the top side with olive oil and flip.
  • You can pre-grill some of the veggies, we like our crunchy so we start piling them on.
  • Tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, spinach, summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, garlic and your favorite cheese. Cook for a few minutes & enjoy.

Gracie says, “We’re eating a rainbow!” We really enjoyed our fresh, colorful, local veggies from C&C farm last year. Ciao Bella!
Beryl Hoffman of Florence writes: We often make a crustless quiche, and it tastes great with local fresh vegetables in the summer. You can add any vegetables to this recipe — we usually put in spinach and zucchini. And sometimes even my son will try it!

Crustless Quiche:

  • some veggies: 1 zucchini shredded, a couple handfuls of spinach, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • some grated cheese (cheddar works well) blended in and some on top

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden on top. Enjoy!

Jackie MacNeish of Ashfield writes: One summer, my grandmother planted a garden full of nothing but basil, garlic and tomotoes. I remember being confused in the beginning of this garden why it only had three ingredients. Later, when we harvested our first batch of each, my grandmother lined the grandkids up in the kitchen and gave us each a task: wash, peel, chop, slice, puree. I was the washer usually! The kitchen would start to smell of mouth-watering pesto. We’d have pesto pasta that night for dinner, but we’d also have frozen pesto to last for the rest of the year! Yum!

Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: CSM Share from Goldthread Herb Farm

Enter to Win a CSM Share from
Goldthread Herb Farm in Conway

Share a folk remedy you like to make in the summer months using fresh herbs & plants and be entered to win a large CSM Share from Goldthread Herb Farm in Conway, MA. Deadline to enter: Monday, July 2nd, 2012.

This summer Goldthread Herb Farm in Conway, MA is embarking on their fifth season of providing Community Supported Medicine (CSM) Shares to the community… and Hilltown Families has a large share (enough for a family of 3-4, valued at $250) to giveaway to one lucky family! Details on how you can enter to win are below and deadline to participate is Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by 7pm (EST).

ABOUT GOLDTHREAD FARM’S CSM SHARES

Goldthread Farm’s fresh-from-the-field CSM shares contain herbs and remedies for a host of commonly encountered conditions such as colds, flus, sore throats, coughs, digestive issues, sleep improvement, skin conditions, children’s health, and more. Their CSM shares offer handcrafted medicines, tea blends, honeys, elixirs and flavorful culinary spices.  Their two seasonal pickups include a unique opportunity to meet their plants, sip freshly brewed herbal tea and participate in an in-depth herb walk and educational session at their farm in Conway, MA.  Alternatively, shares can be picked up at their storefront in Florence, MA. In addition to their large shares, they also offer and small share (perfect for 1-2 people).

ABOUT GOLDTHREAD FARM

Goldthread Herb Farm is a medicinal herb farm located in the Hilltowns in Conway, MA. The farm is situated on a south facing hilltop, surrounded by hundreds of acres of mixed conifers and hardwoods, teeming with wildlife, and blessed with abundant streams and brooks. Their goal is to provide a source for organically grown and sustainably wild harvested medicinal plants and plant preparations that are of the highest quality and crafted with the greatest care and attention to detail. In Florence, MA they have a full-service apothecary and clinic stocked with organic medicinal herbs and local products fresh from their farm. Visit GoldthreadApothecary.com for more info on their CSM and classes, or call 413-587-0620.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a Large CSM Share from Goldthread Herb Farm in Conway, MA for the 2012 season is as easy as 1-2-3(4)!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • SHARE A FOLK REMEDY YOU LIKE TO MAKE IN THE SUMMER MONTHS USING FRESH HERBS & PLANTS below (one entry per household);
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, July 2nd, 2012 by 7pm (EST).

Seasons at Our Table: Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar Season

At the beginning of Maple Sugar Season we invited our readers to share with us how Maple Sugar Season gets their family outdoors and participating in the harvest with their community. We also invited them to share their favorite recipe that they like to make for/with their family breakfast/brunch hour.

The feedback was warming and the recipes delicious and inspiring!  Here are recipes our Western MA friends and neighbors had to offer:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When asked how the Maple Sugar Season gets their family outdoors and participating in the harvest with their community, our readers had much to share:

Stephanie Billings of Florence writes: “My children’s preschool takes a field trip to the Hadley Sugar Shack every sugar season. Joe gives a great tour to the kids and adults that includes science, maple facts and hands on demonstrations. It’s a great way to integrate nature, science, and local food awareness. During the sugar season we try different sugar shacks as a great way to explore the valley and experience spring.”

Beth Caissie of Greenfield writes: “I mark the end of winter by the first buckets and tubes I see attached to maple trees on the side of the road. I love to take my family for hikes during this (sometimes muddy, sometimes icy) time of year to look for hidden sugar bushes deep in the woods. The first time I found the tangle of plastic tubes running from tree to tree far from the road, I was exploring the Quabbin Reservoir. We also love to head to the sugar shacks for a meal this time of year, and stock up on syrup, which we do buy by the gallon.”

Rebecca Heath of Pittsfield writes: “We love maple sugaring season… as a family, including our 93 year old grandmother, we head to Ioka Valley Farm for their delicious farm fresh breakfast. Our favorite of course is the fresh boiled maple syrup but they also have the best maple butter…MMMM….this year my husband and four year old daughter tapped the trees on our land. It was amazing to watch her learn which one’s were maple trees by the bark they have. She helped use the hammer and hang the bucket and to her surprise sap started immediately flowing. We don’t have any fancy boiler so we boiled it outside and it took forever but the finished product we are so proud of. It is a great family memory that we will continue each year. So important for our children to learn about trees, animals, plants and our food. Each time we eat our pancakes with our own maple syrup I will think of those memories. It’s priceless.”

Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: CSA Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm

Enter to Win a Farm Share from
Crimson & Clover Farm this Summer!

Enter to win a Small Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA for the 2012 season by sharing a family recipe you're looking forward to preparing this spring with fresh local produce, embellished with the story behind this favorite dish! Deadline: April 16th.

Locally grown food is a great community connector! This past winter families could enjoy Winter Farmers’ Market all throughout Western MA while connecting with friends and neighbors during these often festive weekly markets.  And during the growing and harvest season Farmers’ Markets happen nearly every day of the week and have quickly become places the community not only shops for fresh produce and local products, but a place they can enjoy a summer morning or evening together listening to music, enjoying coffee or dinner, and chatting with local farmers.

But Farmers’ Markets aren’t the only way the community can connect with their neighbors while supporting local farmers… Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is another fabulous way families can support and participate in our local food culture.  By purchasing a CSA share, shareholders pledge their support of a local farm and receive weekly shares of fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, honey, eggs, dairy and meat products.  For a list of CSA’s in the Pioneer Valley, check out CISA’s list of local farms.

SEASONS AT OUR TABLE

Hilltown Families is currently working on a project titled, Seasons at Our Table, inviting our readers to share recipes and stories inspired by our local food culture. Hilltown Families sponsor, Crimson & Clover Farm, a community based farm on the Northampton Community Farm land, is partnering with us in this project by offering an incentive to our readers to share their favorite stories and best family recipes. Share a family recipe you’re looking forward to preparing this spring with fresh local produce, embellished with the story behind this favorite dish, and be entered to win a Small CSA Share from Crimson & Clover Farm, a $375 value!  Deadline to enter to win: April 16th by 7pm (EST). Details on how to enter to win are below.

CRIMSON & CLOVER FARM

Crimson & Clover Farm

Crimson & Clover Farm is a community based farm located on the beautiful Northampton Community Farm in Florence, Massachusetts.  They grow vegetables, fruits and flowers for a Community Supported Agriculture Program and for farmers’ markets.  Welcoming and encouraging community involvement with the farm, they offer weekly volunteer workdays, farm celebrations and educational opportunities.

They are offering our readers a Small Farm Share ($375 value) which will feed up to two people.  Their vegetable options change through the season, starting with more leafy greens in the early season and more roots and summer type vegetables as the season moves along. The Small Farm Share is a great option for smaller families, couples, individuals, or folks trying out a CSA share for the first time. In addition to a Small Farm Share the winning shareholders will have access to their Pick-Your-Own garden where families can pick many other crops like strawberries, cherry tomatoes, flowers and much more. Find out more about their farm shares at www.crimsonandcloverfarm.com.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a Small Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA for the 2012 season will be super fun for all foodies and families who love to cook & eat together!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • SHARE A FAMILY RECIPE YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO PREPARING THIS SPRING WITH FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE, EMBELLISHED WITH THE STORY BEHIND THIS FAVORITE DISH below (one entry per household);
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, April 16th, 2012 by 7pm (EST).

Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms

Farmageddon: The Unseen War on
American Family Farms

Screenings in Western MA

Kristin Canty, a small farm advocate and mother of 4 kids from Concord, MA, is the Director/Producer of Farmageddon; The Unseen War on American Family Farms.  When one of her children was sick with asthma and multiple allergies as a preschooler, and medications offered no relief, she turned to raw milk and helped her young child recover. Since that time she has been buying most of her groceries from local, organic farms.

When Kristin discovered that co-ops and small farms were getting raided by the government, she decided she would  make a film about what was happening in hopes that local citizens would become small farm advocates too.

Screenings of the documentary film, Farmageddon, are scheduled for Western MA:

  • Thursday, September 22nd @ 7pm
    Beacon Theater, Pittsfield, MA
    Presented by Berkshire Organics
  • Monday, October 17th @ 7pm
    Images Cinema, Williamstown, MA
    Presented by Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)/ Mass Raw Milk Network
    www.imagescinema.org
  • Sunday, November 13th @ 7pm
    Academy of Music, Northampton, MA
    Presented by Grow Food Northampton

Western MA Farming Resources  (add more in the comment field below):

Grow Food Northampton Host Area Premiere of “Fresh”

Local premiere of Fresh to benefit the Northampton Community Farm!

The film Fresh celebrates the innovative farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Grow Food Northampton hosts the area premiere of this inspiring film at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, MA on Friday, November 5th at 7pm.  All proceeds go to buy prime farmland in Florence, MA for the establishment of the Northampton Community Farm.  .


First few scenes in this trailer could be considered graphic (honest, yet graphic). Please review trailer for appropriateness before allowing young children to view.

The film Fresh celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, Fresh features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, a 2008 recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant and recently named one of Time’s 100 most influential people; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatin, made famous by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the best-selling book by Michael Pollan, who is also featured in the movie; and, Kansas City supermarket owner David Ball, who is challenges our Wal-Mart-dominated economy every day by stocking his stores with products from local suppliers.

Fresh is more than a film; it is a reflection of a rising movement of people and communities across America who are re-inventing our food system, communities like Grow Food Northampton. Fresh celebrates the food architects who offer a practical vision of a new food paradigm and consumer access to it. Encouraging individuals to take matters into their own hands, Fresh is a guide that empowers people to take an array of actions as energetic as planting urban gardens and creating warm composts from food waste, and as simple as buying locally-grown products and preserving seasonal produce to eat later in the year.

Throughout the film, we encounter the most inspiring people, ideas, and initiatives happening around the country right now. At the Growing Power urban farm in Milwaukee, Will Allen is turning three acres of industrial wasteland into a mecca of nutrition for his neighborhood. In Kansas City, we witness David Ball revitalize his community, turning the modern concept of the Supermarket on its head by stocking his stores with produce from a cooperative of local farmers. And, we journey to Joel Salatin’s farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to witness his methods for closing the nutrient cycle, allowing cows, chickens, pigs and natural grasses to flourish and produce without ever an ounce of chemical fertilizer or industrial animal feed.
FRESH tells the stories of real people, connecting audiences not with facts and figures or apocalyptic policy analysis, but with examples of personal initiative and concrete ways to engage in a new food model.

Mark your calendars: Friday, November 5, 7pm at the Academy of Music. Tickets $8 can be purchased at Serios, Cup & Top, State Fruit Store, Cooper’s Corner, or Broadside Books. Also available at the door. Contact Grow Food Northampton
for questions: info@growfoodnorthampton.com.

Northampton Community Farm

Vision for a Community Farm in the Pioneer Valley

Grow Food Northampton envisions a community farm to include CSA’s, microdairy, farming microenterprises, farm store, community garden plots, apprentice trainings, workshops, community celebrations, school programs and camps right in Northampton, MA. You can help to make this happen!

Grow Food Northampton plans to purchase 117 acres of prime farmland in Florence (walking distance from town center, near Meadow and Spring Sts.). Read more here.

They will be having their LAUNCH EVENT on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2nd at the Elk’s Lodge in Florence, MA from 4-8pm. There will be a historic walking tour at 4pm at the Historic Ross Homestead at 123 Meadow St. in Florence. At the same time there will be kids activities, family music, and time with the farmers at the Elk’s Lodge. At 5pm dinner will be served and there will be speakers and more live music and dancing to follow.

Learn more, get inspired, and have a great time building community together! This is a free event with encouragement to donate what you can to help Grow Food Northampton meet its fundraising goals.

Q&A: Where’s Your Favorite Apple Orchard in Western MA?

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield, MA offer PYO apples. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Does anyone have suggestions for favorite apple orchards in the area?

  • Maureen Cooper MacPhail responds: Echo Hill in Monson, MA
  • Rebekah Markham responds: Quonquont Farm in Whately, MA
  • Lauren Abend responds: Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, MA. Pick-Your-Own Organic; as well as, unpasteurized cider.
  • Lisa Fedora Lansing responds: Outlook Farms in Westhampton MA & Atkins Farm in Amherst, MA.
  • Jenna Smith responds: Lakeview Orchard in Lanesboro, MA, and they have awesome fresh apple cider donuts!
  • Jennifer York responds: Sentinel Farm in Belchertown, MA on Cottage St.
  • Christine Hebert responds: Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, MA

Grow Food Northampton

Meg Taylor of Williamsburg, MA writes:

Grow Food Northampton envisions a community farm to include CSA's, microdairy, farming microenterprises, farm store, community garden plots, apprentice trainings, workshops, community celebrations, school programs and camps right in Northampton, MA. You can help to make this happen!

Some of you may already know about the local nonprofit, Grow Food Northampton, and their plan to purchase 117 acres of prime farmland in Florence (walking distance from town center, near Meadow and Spring Sts.). If you read the Gazette, it is starting to get some press and you will see more in the upcoming months. The vision is to create the Northampton Community Farm on this land which will include a vegetable/flower CSA (which plans to sell shares for spring 2011), potentially a grain and meat CSA, microdairy, other farming microenterprises, a farm store with local products, and community garden plots. The vision also includes a farmer apprentice training program, adult workshops, community food celebrations, school programs, and future farm camp site. In addition, the abutting land will have hiking/biking trails along the Mill River connecting to Look Park and recreation fields for youth sports. This new public space will have a significant positive impact on the Northampton community as well as throughout the region.

I have been involved with Grow Food Northampton since last fall and I am writing to encourage you all – but especially those folks who live in Florence, Northampton, Leeds, or Williamsburg/Haydenville to make a donation (of any size!) towards the purchase of this agriculturally and historically rich land. Grow Food Northampton is 1/3 of the way to reaching their fundraising goal of $461,000 by January 31, 2011. If the remaining funds are not raised, the Northampton Community Farm and its programming will not happen as envisioned. Every donation counts! It’s easy to donate on their website.

Opportunities like this do not come around too often for a town and this is one you can be sure will leave a lasting impression on the food, farming, and community landscape of Northampton. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more info or would like to become involved with the exciting work of Grow Food Northampton. Volunteers for upcoming events are always welcome! And please forward to anyone you think might be interested.

Learn more at: growfoodnorthampton.com

The Future of Agriculture

The Future of Agriculture: Forum & Film

FARMING FORUM

On Thursday, May 13th at 7:00 pm, CISA is hosting a Local Food and Agriculture Forum at the Northampton Senior Center (67 Conz Street) to discuss the important role consumers, farmers and local government play in supporting a healthy, sustainable and thriving local food system.

Please join CISA staff, Rep. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington), Rep. John Scibak (D- South Hadley), Cris Coffin of American Farmland Trust and other local legislators and agriculture experts for a discussion about the challenges facing local farms as they work to grow food in the Pioneer Valley.

This is a great opportunity to participate in a conversation about the future of agriculture and the importance of local agriculture to our health, our climate and our local economy. This event is free and open to the public.

A FARM FOR THE FUTURE

In the meantime … If you missed the Farm Film Festival last month and didn’t get a chance to see the BBC documentary, “A Farm for the Future” is a great film to watch.  The film is broken up into several segments on youtube, with the first 10 minute segment being presented here.  A free public screening on June 4th in Northampton, MA. (details below):

In this film, “Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.

“With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family’s wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year’s high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.

“Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.”

LOCAL SCREENING OF A FARM FOR THE FUTURE

Grow Food Northampton and Transition Northampton will be co-sponsoring a local food potluck, CSA tour, and screening of this excellent film on Friday, June 4th May 28th at 6pm at Town Farm in Northampton, MA.

Following the film, Lilly Lombard will share the vision and work of Grow Food Northampton, especially their campaign to purchase 100 acres of prime farmland (the Bean/Allard land) to create a model site for sustainable community farming and farm education.

Food, Inc.: Special Benefit Screening in Amherst for CISA

Food, Inc.: Discover What “Big Agriculture” Doesn’t Want Farmers to Tell You

Tomorrow, Monday June 29, at 7:00pm at the Amherst Cinema there will be a special screening of Food, Inc. to benefit Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), followed by a discussion panel.

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here. (Director Robert Kenner. 94 mins, Rated PG)

Opens June 26, 2009 at Amherst Cinema in Amherst, MA.  Showtimes: Friday 6/26 through Thursday 7/2 – 2:15pm, 4:15pm, 7:00pm, 9:15pm.  Plus Saturday 6/27 and Sunday 6/28 – 11:45am. NOTE: Monday 6/29 9:15pm show moves to 9:45pm. Baby-friendly Show Tuesday 6/30 2:15pm

REVIEW BY VARIETY: With a constituency limited to anyone who eats, “Food, Inc.” is a civilized horror movie for the socially conscious, the nutritionally curious and the hungry. Yes, it has a deceptively cheery palette, but helmer Robert Kenner’s doc — which does for the supermarket what “Jaws” did for the beach — marches straight into the dark side of cutthroat agri-business, corporatized meat and the greedy manipulation of both genetics and the law. Doc biz may be in the doldrums, but “Food, Inc.” is so aesthetically polished and politically urgent, theatrical play seems a no-brainer, though it won’t do much for popcorn sales.  Read the rest of this entry »

Growing the Valley

Growing Strawberries (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

Growing Strawberries & Bee Balm in the Hilltowns. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

Winton Pitcoff of Plainfield, MA writes:

Growing the Valley is a new online forum for farmers and gardeners in the Pioneer Valley and Hilltowns to share ideas and resources. It’s a place to go to ask questions, help others find solutions

Divided into categories – livestock, crops, classifieds, events, etc. – users can post questions or ideas, and other members can respond. The sky’s the limit as to what can be discussed. This is now the place to go with questions and ideas like:

  • How do I deal with an egg-bound hen?
  • Does anyone have second-cut hay for sale?
  • I’ve got a manure spreader for sale.
  • What kind of soil is the best for planting eggplants?
  • Which seed catalogs have seeds for purple carrots?
  • Where can I buy raw milk?
  • What kind of fencing is best for goats?
  • Here’s a link to a great article on grazing.

This forum is brand new, and will only be as good as the people who join and use it. Please take a look, post some questions, see if there are questions already there that you’d like to respond to.

Free Green Living Seminars and Workshops through April at MCLA

Good Food: Sustainable Agriculture for the 21st Century

Beets at the Florence Farmers Market
The public is invited to attend a series of 12 free Green Living seminars and workshops at the Berkshire Environmental Resource Center (BERC) at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, MA.  The series is titled, Good Food: Sustainable Agriculture for the 21st Century. and is aimed to inform students and the community about why and how to increase the sustainability of our food system.

“I encourage area residents to attend these ‘Green Living’ lectures and workshops as we collaborate together as a community for a sustainable future,” said Elena Traister, MCLA professor of environmental studies.

The series begins with “Pruning Fruit Trees” tonight at 5:30pm will continue on Thursdays through April 23. For more information, go to www.mcla.edu or contact Elena Traister at (413) 662-5303.

%d bloggers like this: