Hilltown Folk School Taps into Community Resiliency

Classes & Workshops Drive Self-Sufficiency Through Skill Sharing

The primary purpose of the Taproot Commons folk school style workshops is to uplift community teaching talent, and inspire perpetual creativity toward a replenishing future. Taproot is invested in making life-long learning affordable, non-competitive, non-coercive, independent from outside funding, and to the purpose of interdependence. The focus is on re-skilling, melding old and new technologies, regenerative agriculture and forestry, deep understanding of local and natural history, true arts and crafts, and embracing alternative ways of knowing in this unremitting information age.

True resiliency depends on having a wide breadth of knowledge – and lots of it. As such, community resiliency and sustainability depend not only on the knowledge and skills of individuals, but upon the knowledge and skills of a community as a whole. In Cummington, MA, Taproot Commons’ new folk school style workshops offer opportunities for community members to work towards accomplishing a goal of true community resiliency and interdependency.

Though this year marks the first of Taproot Commons’ folk school offerings, the course selection is a dream come true for aspiring homesteaders – yet is still accessible to those who are just beginning to dabble in self sufficiency. Thirty workshops have already been scheduled between now and October, and topics covered include everything from soapmaking and pressure canning to plein-air drawing and livestock buying and butchering. While some workshops offer educational opportunities that are centered around more common skills related to gardening, food preservation, and herbal medicine, others touch on much more obscure and tough-to-learn skills like saw sharpening, buying livestock, and making hay by scythe. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 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)!


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.

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Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark

Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark

Grasshoppas in the Park Before Dark is an annual outdoor performance in the parks of the Hilltowns, happening this year on 6/20 in Whately and 6/27 in Cummington.

Dancing in the park! Grasshoppas in the Park before Dark is a very family-friendly event featuring five 10-minute outdoor performances by local artists Beckie Kravetz, Josh Wachtel and Maureen Shea, as well as local children’s groups.

On June 20 at 7 PM at the Whately Elementary School, the artists will be joined by Morning Glory Girls Garland, who will perform Morris dancing (a folk dance style from the British Isles), and Play, Pause, Rewind! Both children’s groups will include Whately Elementary School students!

On June 27 at 7 PM at Pettingill Memorial Field in Cummington, come see Dolphin Dancers and Roda de Capoeira (a style that brings together dance, music, acrobatics, and martial arts).

For more information visit GrassHoppaArts.org

Hilltown Spring Festival is Fun & Educational

Learn About Our Solar System, Discover Musical Instruments, Identify Wildlife, Recycling Activities and More at the Hilltown Spring Festival

Saturday, May 14th from 10am-7pm at the Cummington Fairgrounds

Arunah Hill astronomers will lead a scale model solar system walk at the Hilltown Spring Festival, demonstrating how large our solar system is, and how very small we are! Come learn, explore and have a great time: Saturday, May 14th from 10am-7pm at the Cummington Fairgrounds

Not only will families have a fabulous time being entertain by great music on 3 stages during the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival, they will also have several educational opportunities throughout the day!  Here are just a few highlights:


Arunah Hill Natural Science Center, an educational facility for astronomy, science, and nature located in Cummington, will be at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival with telescopes and a meteorite display!  Astronomers will be on-site with solar-filtered telescopes for fair-goers to safely view sunspots and solar prominences under the guidance of experienced solar observers. The Arunah Hill staff will also be displaying a collection of meteorites, including a 120 pound iron-nickel meteorite that fell to earth more than 5,000 years ago. — arunah.org


Josh Watchtel from Radio Free Earth will be visiting the Grasshoppa Arts Initiative booth from 1-4pm with a “Musical Petting Zoo.” Josh will have a display of a variety of instruments, including a mountain dulcimer, Turkish choombush, Moroccan bongoes, guitar, space crickets, melodica, one-stringed plastic bottle plucker, and a few other instruments.  He will be sharing their history and showing kids how to make music on each one.  Families are encouraged to stop in to learn about these instruments and get a hands-on experience. — grasshoppaarts.org


Arunah Hill astronomers will lead a walk to create a scale model of the solar system. Starting with the Sun scaled down to the size of a volleyball, the walk will place appropriately sized planets at the correct “scale” distance from the sun. Earth will be the size of a peppercorn, some 26 paces away from the Sun. How far away will Pluto be? The Scale Model Solar System Walk will demonstrate how large our solar system is! It is appropriate for all ages, for anyone capable of walking across the solar system. The Solar System Walks will take place at 11:45am and 2:15pm.  — arunah.org


Earthwork programs of Williamsburg will be offering several educational opportunities during the festival. Learn the art of fibers and make a hand crafted gift, experience the lost art of firemaking with hands-on demo, and increase your awareness of wild life. Check their schedule when you arrive for several activities, including: Native Crafts and Skills Working with Fibers; The Art of Making Fire; The Art of Fox Walking and Owl Vision; and The New Bird Watching and Storytelling. — earthworkprograms.com


Judy Pasko from Cummington Wildlife invites families to stop by her booth for wildlife games and learning.  She will be offering two games, one involving “match the pawprints to the animal” and a wildlife trivia question game for all age ranges. The primary mission of Cummington Wildlife is to give treatment to orphaned, injured, or ill wildlife with the goal of releasing the animal back into the wild. Families can stop by throughout the day to learn about communities living with wildlife. — cummingtonwildlife.com


Hampshire Regional’s Coordinated Family & Community Engagement Outreach booth will be promoting literacy by offering free books for kids and a springtime art activity for them to “make and take.” Balloon sculptor from Ed Popielarczyk’s Magical Moments will be there to entertain the kids while they pick out a book and make art. — In addition to supporting early and family literacy, families can find out about local resources that assist in accessing a variety of services, including vouchers to help pay for child care, contact information for area child care providers and medical professionals, and referral information for Early Intervention programs, along with a free Parent Resource Manual that highlight many area services for children and families.


The RH Conwell Community Education Center invites families to stop in to make crafts out of recycled materials, a simple opportunity for kids to learn about recycling while celebrating their inner artist. — For 70 years this hilltown school located in Worthington, has thrived on a combination of widespread community support and a strong belief that it takes an entire community to raise and educate children.  The genesis of this view stems from the teachings of Russell H. Conwell, the founder of Temple University, who was born in Worthington in 1843. — www.conwellcec.org

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Bag-Sew Builds & Connects Community from Berkshires to the Valley

Sewing Marathon Creates 485 New Bags for the Bagshare Project!

Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:

"It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags," writes Amanda.

Hello Bag Sharers,

The Bag Share Sewing Marathons were a roaring success! I sewed for 24 hours straight. By 3 in the morning I felt like I was inside a giant sewing machine and there was nothing outside of it. By 7:30 a.m. I emerged from the church to see a brilliant rainbow over the fields and the rushing sound of the Westfield River. It was beautiful. Then off to a delicious breakfast compliments of The Old Creamery.

I sewed 118 bags and Amanda sewed for 19½ hours and sewed at least 30 of her special art bags.

Here’s some of what Amanda wrote about The Bagshare Project:

“It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags. But I can’t help being even more inspired by the way Bag-Sews build community. It was so wonderful meeting smart, creative, sustainability-oriented individuals from our sister hilltowns to the south. I hope we can do more of this pan-hilltown organizing and cross-pollinating. It’s important to work on sustainability issues within our particular communities, but I think we also need to begin thinking about how to create the regional unity to make all of Western Mass (and beyond!) sustainable.

“The Bag-Sew events are one feature of Bag Shares that distinguish them from the reusable bags that “big box” stores now commonly sell. Whereas the latter bags are mass-produced in far off factories by anonymous workers, Bag Share bags are produced by local residents who are learning new skills, expressing their creativity, and making new friends. “

More Successes:

  • Kathi from Simmons Furniture in Pittsfield headed up a satellite marathon for Berkshire Organics.  They sewed 50 bags.
  • Diana Fabig was sewing in solidarity at home and sewed 10 bags.
  • The total for Cummington with about 25 people attending throughout the 24 hour period was 425 bags.
  • The full total was 485 bags plus lots of new friends and community connections.
  • And potential landfill fabric was collected using people’s commutes from Pittsfield to Springfield.

So to recap: I recommend marathoning! Staying up sewing with friends for 24 hours was fun and gave me a renewed appreciation for our world. Leaving to sew in the light of early morning, continuing into the darkness of night and then becoming aware of the light again gradually blending with the darkness into the next morning punctuated by the sounds of sewing!

Photo credit: (ccl) Andy Melton

Focus on Sustainable Living at the Hilltown Spring Festival

Sustainable Living Vendors Welcomed at the
5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds, May 14th

Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Greenfield Solar Store

Greenfield Solar Store join the Hilltown Spring Festival last year, with displays of solar panels and fielding questions about solar energy. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

2,000 people who are interested in sustainable living in all its forms will be attending the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Do you have something to tell them? Do you have something to sell them?

Join providers of solar energy equipment, sellers of hybrid cars, providers of energy efficient lighting, local organic farmers, providers of energy efficient windows and window treatments, providers of composting toilets and of wood-burning furnaces.

Join local restaurants selling their tastiest dishes, local non-profits talking about their services, local artists and craftspeople showing their work, and local musicians entertaining on three stages.

Business Expo Barn at the Hilltown Spring Festival

Thousands of visitors visited the HSF last year, visiting sustainability vendors in the barns and open fields. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Help our Western MA community to buy local, eat local, save local, stay local! Be part of a great event and meet 2,000 new customers!

Complete information and registration forms are at www.hilltowncdc.org, or call or email Seth Isman at sethi@hilltowncdc.org or 413-296-4536 ext. 112.

Have questions about the Hilltown Spring Festival?

Earth Hour Concert & Kids’ Dance Party in the Hilltowns

Sarah Stockwell-Arethen of Cummington, MA writes:

Earth Hour celebrates a worldwide commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of our home. Along with millions of others around the planet, we will douse the lights (at 8:30 pm) for one hour. Please bring a candle IN A JAR if you have one!

In these uncertain times of volatility in the climate, the economy, and politics world-wide, our local communities are ever more important to our well-being and to our future.  On Saturday, March 26th, we will celebrate local community and local food in a truly embracing Hilltown event.  Come to one or all: Kid’s dance (5pm), Potluck (6pm) and Concert (7:30pm) at the Cummington Community House. 33 Main St. Cummington, MA

We will dance!  We will eat and talk!  We will make music!  We will hear plain talk about our food supply — both the disturbing realities and also the actions we can all take that will improve our community’s food resilience and make us less reliant on distant, and ultimately uncertain, commodities.  Foods that are sometimes needed right where they are grown.

5pm – KID’S DANCE PARTY: Radio Free Earth and Maureen Shea. Radio Free Earth dubs its style Crossover Music because it’s paradoxically acoustic and electric, rootsy and innovative, funny and serious, and politicaland spiritual. Josh and Rob provide the music, Grasshoppa Maureen Shea leads the dance scores. All ages! (>$) www.radiofreeearth.com

6pm – POTLUCK/NETWORKING: Bring food to share — all welcome.

7:30pm – EARTH HOUR CONCERT: Sarah Stockwell-Arthen with Josh Wachtel, Sean Kimball and Heather Cupo. Sarah sings songs which are rooted in the land, ancestors and our deepening connections to the Earth (oh, and you will also laugh). Join us for music and some vital food for thought from Kathy Harrison (on strengthening our food resiliency) and Sarah Fournier-Scanlon (on creating a local “foodshed” — land to table — in the Hilltowns). For the networking table, please bring fliers or info about what’s happening with sustainability and community in your corner of the Hilltowns. Children in quiet mood are welcome to the concert (there may even be a back room space for quiet play). For more info email: music@sarahstockwell.com. or go to www.sarahstockwell.com (>$)

8:30pm – EARTH HOUR: Earth Hour celebrates a worldwide commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of our home. Along with millions of others around the planet, we will douse the lights (at 8:30 pm) for one hour. www.earthhour.org. Please bring a candle IN A JAR if you have one!

This program is supported in part by grants from the Cummington, Windsor, Worthington, and Chesterfield Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. http://www.massculturalcouncil.org

(Photo credit: (ccl) theqspeaks)

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.


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.

Hilltown 24-Hour Bagshare Sewing Marathon this Spring!

Sewing Marathon: Sew Bags for the Ten Bagshare Locations in the Valley, Hilltowns and Berkshire County

Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:

threading the needle

24-Hour Bagshare Sewing Marathon begins Saturday, April 16th at 7:30am. Sign up to participate or organize a marathon in your area!

The Hilltown 24-hour sewing marathon will be at The Village Church and Hilltown Sewing Center on Main Street in Cummington, MA on April 16th—17th from 7:30am to 7:30am the following day. There will be six 4-hour shifts with at least one experienced bag sewer to head up each shift. Please let me know if you can head up a shift.

The idea is to sew as many strong and quality bags as possible in the time allotted.  • No rules. • Sew tags on existing bags. • Make kits ahead of time. • Just use scrap fabric is the main thing. • Sign up for a shift. • You don’t have to stay for the whole shift. • No sewing experience is necessary.

Here are the shifts:

  • 7:30am—11:30am
  • 11:30am—3:30pm
  • 3:30pm—7:30pm
  • 7:30pm—11:30pm
  • 11:30pm—3:30am
  • 3:30am—7:30am (Insomniac shift! This is a very popular shift. Barbara and I are already signed up for it. Bring your jammies! The Creamery will be supplying Rattlesnake Brew coffee to keep the sewers going.)

The Creamery will open early for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 17th to feed the bag sewers!


We invite you to organize your own marathon in any increment so people travel shorter distances to participate. The marathon can be organized as a 4-, 8-, 12-, 16-, or 24-hour marathon. We encourage ride sharing, car filling, carpooling, bike driven and human power to get to the marathon!

For now e-mail me to sign up and let me know if you are organizing a marathon in your area. Remember yours can be any amount of time you want. I hope that they all can be on the Saturday/Sunday before Earth Day so the bags can re-supply the 10 locations as an Earth Day action.

Let me know your thoughts. This is a FUN thing!

Photo credit: (ccl) Leia Barker

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!)


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

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.

Cows, Crowds, and a Creamery Celebration

The Old Creamery Celebrates Ten Years

Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley celebrated their 10th year of ownership of the Old Creamery, a landmark in the hilltowns! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On September 19th, 2010 the Old Creamery in Cummington was alive with activity.  Alice Cozzolino and Amy Pulley celebrated their 10th year of ownership of the store with deep appreciation and gratitude for the support of area businesses and residents.

More than a hundred people turned out for this special celebration. Friends and neighbors enjoyed Creamery made pizza, cake, and tastings of other Creamery favorites, tasty samplings from other local food producers including Bart’s Ice Cream, Dean’s Beans Coffee, Sidehill Farm Yogurt, Ooma Tesoro’s Marinara Sauce, and home made mozzeralla from Fiore di Nonno.

An exciting line up of events kept the crowds coming throughout the day including: several local musicians, cider making, juggling lessons, book signings with local authors, a magician, and a visit by Moo the Magical Milking Cow.

The celebration was also an opportunity for the community to learn about the exciting plans to transition The Old Creamery to a community owned co-op. The Creamery started as a cooperative in 1886, and now more than 114 years later is coming full circle. Co-op Board members were available all day to answer questions, listen to ideas and concerns, sign up new Member-Owners, and share their enthusiasm.

Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Cow! Celebrate the Old (and New) Creamery …

Alice and Amy of the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA write:

Stop by the Old Creamery on Sunday, September 19 between 9 AM and 7:30 PM for an in-store celebration. We will be thanking this amazing community for the past 10 years, and will honor the wonderful group of people who have emerged to carry the vision into the future through the plan to create the The Old Creamery Co-op.

A diverse schedule of events include:

  • visit from Moo the Magical Milking Cow
  • magic and juggling
  • taste delectable just-made fresh mozzarella by Fiona di Nonno
  • musical entertainment by several well know local musicians
  • local author readings and book signings

See more details about what is happening by viewing the schedule of events here: We hope you will stop by and stay a while.

The effort to become a member owned Co-op is well underway and our Co-Op Board of Directors will be on site all day to answer questions and listen to your concerns and ideas.

Read the rest of this entry »

It Takes a Village is Serving Up Soup to Raise Funds

Maureen Shea of Cummington, MA writes:

Family-friendly fundraiser in Cummington to support It Takes a Village. Click to see larger image.

I’m wearing my ‘It Takes a Village‘ hat here to let you know about our fundraiser on Saturday, September 25th. ‘It Takes a Village’ matches a volunteer with a family for weekly home visits for the first three months after a baby is born. In the ten months since we began, we have served fourteen families with a roster of over twenty volunteers. Our fundraiser, called Soup, will take place at the Cummington Community House from 5-8pm, and we hope to raise $500 to reimburse our volunteers for travel and childcare costs while visiting their Village families. At Soup, several Village volunteers will be serving delicious soups made from the bounty of their gardens. Bring your own bowl! Buy a raffle ticket to win a beautiful bowl made by a local potter! There will also be an activity table for kids to make pinch pots that we will glaze, fire and return to the kids before Christmas.

Please come for a quick bowl of soup after the Hilltown Olympics in Goshen, or before the Ashfield Film Festival! We would love to see you. If you would like to hang out all evening, we would love that, too!

For more info contact Maureen Shea at (413) 634-5431 or email her at info@itavillage.info

The Old Creamery Turns 10!

Amy & Alice of the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA write:

Greetings Dear Community!

Ten years?!?   Yes!  It has been ten years since we embarked on our Old Creamery adventure.  Come celebrate with us on Sunday, September 19th.  We deeply appreciate your support over the past decade and want to take a day to have some fun and express our gratitude to you, our amazing customers.  Please drop by for free Creamery made pizza and cake (as long as it lasts).  Swap your favorite Creamery story with a neighbor.  We will have short music sets with some of our beloved local musicians, tastings of favorite Creamery foods, samplings by  local food producers, and other surprises and delights.

As a special thank you to those of you who have joined us as Founding Member-Owners of The Old Creamery Co-op, we are offering a 10% Member-Owner discount, all day September 19, on everything in the store except hard liquor, tobacco products, and newspapers.  If you join as a Co-op member-owner any time that day, you will be eligible for the 10% discount!  Co-op Board members will be on site all day to answer questions, listen to ideas and concerns, sign up new Member-Owners, and share their enthusiasm.

Next week we will send a schedule of events for the in-store celebration; until then, mark the date on your calendars.  We hope you will all join us on the 19th to celebrate what we have all created together here at The Creamery.

Thank you all for 10 years of your business, for your support and kindness, for showing up at coffeehouses, films, tastings, and other events, and for the deeply satisfying richness of sharing daily lives.

142nd Annual Cummington Fair (August 26th-29th, 2010)

The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country
Right in the Heart of the Hilltowns

The 142nd Cummington Fair, a four-day agricultural celebration right in the heart of Western MA, is this weekend!  The fair starts Thursday night (4-9pm) when families can buy a $10 wrist band for the kids to ride the midway unlimited all night long (or until they’re too dizzy to stand).  Added bonus, it’s Night for Trucks too.  Makes for a loud evening, but great for kids who love trucks!  There will also be a Circus Thrill Show and events in the Fun House Tent.

Friday is Cruise Night. It’s also Children’s Night where families can buy discounted tickets for the rides, which in the past meant 1/2 priced tickets for the rides on the midway. In years past we’ve been able to use any left over tickets for the rest of the weekend (so buy extra if you’re coming back with the kids!).  Other highlights on Friday night include the Circus Thrill Show, Demolition Derby, Bux The Balloon Man, Spaghetti Dinner, and youth Sheep & Cattle Show.

Saturday is Old Fashion Fair Day.  Families can come early and stroll around in the morning looking at the antique tractors, watch the 4H kids proudly share their animals, visit the petting barn, and check out the craft barn.   After 11am the shows begin.  This year Rick Adam, One Man Band, Hansen’s Spectacular Circus Thrill Show, Dux The Ballon Man, Jose’ Duddy and Allegheny String Band will be giving shows all weekend long.  As well as the Draft Oxen Pulls and the Ox Teamster Challenge.

The community Roast Beef Dinner’s first seating happens around lunch time and then again as an early dinner.  There are also an abundance of food vendors selling all sorts of culinary fair delights.  In the afternoon hours, in between shows and performances, families can check out the exhibitor hall and see all the glorious produce local gardeners have grown and crafts artisans have made.  After the dinner hour families can check out the Skid Steer Rodeo and join in square dancing with the Bob Willie & Friendship String Band. Then in the evening there will be fireworks, rain or shine!

Sundays are great days too!  It’s Senior Citizen’s Day, an excellent opportunity for grandparents to take their grandkids! The Western Mass Lumberjack Championship happens in the morning, and later in the day is the Draft Horse Competition, Firemen’s Muster, Antique Car Parade and the community turkey dinner.  Johnny Mystic Magical Entertainment happens throughout the day, and the midway and rides are open from 11am-8pm.

Admission to the fair for kids under 10 get is free, and their adult companions only pay $8. Kids ages 10-16 are $4. There is also the option of buying a 3-Day pass (save $4 per adult) or a 4-Day pass (save $7 per adult). You also have to pay for parking, anywhere between $3-$5 per car.  So carpool if you can to save a few extra dollars.

The Cummington Fair is held every year at the Cummington Fairgrounds (97 Fairgrounds Road, Cummington, MA).  It’s located one mile off of Route 9 from the center of Cummington, or 5 miles off of Route 143 from the center of West Chesterfield. Map/Direction.


I’ve linked to several state fair lesson plans below for families looking for curriculums they can use with the abundance of agricultural fairs that happen in and around Western MA:

Free Farm Fresh Veggies Today in the Hilltowns

HUGE Donation to the HHuGE Wagon!
By HHuGE Coordinator, Janet Henderson

If you can use some FREE farm fresh (very fresh!) beautiful veggies that are locally grown, stop by the HHuGE wagon today (Saturday, 7/31/10) between 9 AM and 8 PM in the parking lot of the Old Creamery in Cummington.

There are TONS (OK, a slight exaggeration) of green peppers, LOTS of salad greens, lots of dandelion greens!, and a moderate amount of chard, baby orange and yellow carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash, and a lesser amount of celery.

Remember, the HHuGE wagon has new hours: Friday evenings between 5 and 8 and all day Saturdays from 9 until 8.

If your garden is producing more than you can handle, remember you can also bring your extras to the HHuGE wagon during those same hours. We are happy to have whatever you have too much of! Share the bounty!

Please bring your own bags or other containers.

Happy eating!

Old Creamery Co-Op Welcomes Founding Member-Owners!

On behalf of the Old Creamery Co-op Steering Committee, Kimberly Longey of Plainfield, MA, writes:

Greetings: Just 6 months ago we gathered in Cummington to launch the effort to transition the Old Creamery (Cummington, MA) into a community owned cooperative. Today we’ve reach a major milestone – we are now welcoming founding member-owners to join the Co-op!

By joining now you will help us keep the momentum building and move us closer to the goal of purchasing the Old Creamery store from Alice and Amy. Your support will ensure that our vibrant local store remains in service to this community for years to come.

Read the rest of this entry »

HHuGE Wagon Update: New Hours & Volunteer Opportunity

HHuGE Wagon Hours Are Changing!
By HHuGE Coordinator, Janet Henderson

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Hi! I am Janet Henderson, the new Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE) Wagon coordinator, and I am writing to let you know that, because the produce in the wagon is not lasting in this heat (and other issues), the hours the wagon is open are changing.

The new hours are:

  • Fridays from 5pm-8pm
  • Saturday from 9am-8pm

If you have extra produce to leave off at the wagon, please do so during these times. And, please, regardless of whether you have anything to donate, do take advantage of the large amount of produce that is being left and take whatever you can use. The produce is available to all.

Also, please let others know about the new hours. I don’t want people to be frustrated going there only to find it closed. I will also post the new hours on the wagon.


If you would be available to help open the wagon on Friday evenings (around 5PM) or to close it on Fridays (after 8PM) or to open it on Saturday mornings (before 9AM), please let me know (bellajanet27@gmail.com). I could use the help. Opening the wagon should only take a few minutes, but closing it may take a little longer, since any wilted produce needs to be removed and any bags, boxes, buckets, etc. need to be tidied. The main qualification for this volunteer opportunity is dependability.

Thank you for helping to make the HHuGE wagon a success in providing free fresh produce to people in the area!  Find out more about HHuGE at www.HHuGE.org

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!

Hilltown Home Garden Exchange Wagon Reopens at the Old Creamery in Cummington

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Make 2010 a HHuGE Success for Food Security in the Hilltowns!
By HHuGE Coordinator, Kathy McMahon

The Hilltown Home Garden Exchange (HHuGE) ‘wagon’ is open once again! Thanks to Steve Yoshen (built the wagon), Leni Fried (artistic fruit and veggies) and the Goodtime Stove Company (wagon wheel provided), our ‘wagon’ is all ready to open up once again! Thanks to the Old Creamery for hosting it again this year! We’re hoping an early start will encourage folks to drop off extra seedlings and cuttings to produce even MORE food for our area!

Want to volunteer or coordinate volunteers for your church or organization? It is easy to open and close the wagon, and takes only a few minutes each day! If you will be driving by the Old Creamery in Cummington, MA (or on Route 9 and 112), why not agree to open or close it for a few days or a week? You get to see what great stuff has been dropped off!

Chesterfield Fourth of July Parade Beckons us once again!.Will you join us (in costume or not)? Handing out veggies and flyers announcing HHuGE is loads of fun!.Just ask the carrot, apple, farmers and other veggies that danced last year!

That’s all for now. Thanks for your interest in Hilltown Food Security!

Do you grow fruit or veggies at home? HHuGE will bring together
 Hilltown residents who want to share, learn, and encourage growing food at home and want to distribute their excess bounty throughout the Hilltowns via their HHuGE Garden Wagon. Find out more about the Hilltown Home Garden Exchange at www.HHuGE.org, or contact Kathy McMahon at 634-0002, peakshrink@peakoilblues.com
(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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.

[rockyou id=70920227]
(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

Suggested Events 05/15/10-05/21/10

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Discover fun and educational events happening this weekend in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.


Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.


Saturday, May 15th, 10am-7pm. The family-friendly Hilltown Spring Festival happens at the Cummington Fairgrounds.  A daylong celebration of Hilltown music, arts, culture and community featuring 15 musical acts on two performance stages, including kids concert with The Primate Fiasco and headliner Charles Neville.  There will be children’s activities all-day, local food and local brews, arts and crafts and a sustainable living expo. (Listen to PSA)

Sunday, May 16th, 2pm. Matinee family concert with Brady Rymer at the Iron Horse in Northampton.  Part of Spare the Rock’s No Nap Happy Hour SeriesMore info here.


Friday, May 14th at  Elmer’s in Ashfield: Cream of Broccoli & Cheddar soup; Platter of Salad Nicoise with Grilled Ahi Tuna; Mixed greens, tomatoes, Nicoise olives, capers, hard boiled egg, baby potatoes, green beans, cannelloni beans, and red onions; Pan-seared Ahi tuna. BYOB 628-4003

Saturday, May 15th at Bread Euphoria in Haydenville: Local Shredded Pork, Braised Greens, and Macaroni and Cheese.  Open mic! Beer & wine available. 268-7757


Saturday, May 22nd, 9am-4pm,Chester on Track 20th Anniversary in Chester, MA.  The annual Chester Railway Station celebration will include a parade, helicopter rides, train show, craft fair, live entertainment, a blacksmith, historic re-enactments, live steam and classic-car displays, and more! Dine in a wooden boxcar, ride on a wagon, tour the Keystone Arch Bridges. For more information, call 354-7878, or visit chesterrailwaystation.org

Sunday, May 23rd, 2pm, Academy of Music, Northampton CARTOON-A-PALOOZA to benefit the renovation of the Forbes Library Childrens and Teens area. Enjoy a special screening of award-winning animation by Mo Willems, from Sesame Street and Nickelodeon shorts to Carnegie Award-winning adaptations of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny, and the world premiere of the adaptation of The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog! Mo Willems, a 3-time Caldecott honoree and Northampton resident, will be on hand to answer questions after the screening, and will be signing limited-edition Forbes Library posters featuring Elephant and Piggie.  To purchase tickets, visit the Forbes website or the Academy box office. (Listen to PSA)


SPONSORSHIP, ADVERTISING & ANNOUNCEMENTS: Deliver your message to a large local family based audience while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Advertise your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement here in the Bulletin Board section of our List of Weekly Suggested Events. – SPONSORSHIP: Interested in supporting the work of Hilltown Families?  Find out how to be a sponsor! Inquiries can email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for details

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: On June 4th, Chris Smither will be performing a Friday night fund-raising concert at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School … and Hilltown Families has a 4-pack of free tickets along with a signed CD to offer one lucky person! Deadline to enter to win is 05/28/10. Click on banner to find out how you can enter to win.

LOCAL MAMAPRENUER  FEATURED NATIONALLY:  Congrats to Hilltown Families Listserv member and local mamapreneur Angie Gregory for having her business, Mother Herb Diaper Service, featured in Mothering Magazine this month!

KIDS & DRINKING: Does restricting R-rated movies really affect kids’ drinking? A new study from Dartmouth College shows that kids whose parents restrict R-rated movies drink less, and start drinking later.

WORST TOY: Nickelodeon’s AddictingGames.com Wins CCFC’s TOADY Award for Worst Toy of the Year

RECYCLING: There will be an Electronic Recycling Collection May 15th, 2010 from 9-12 at Smith Vocational High School. The location is 80, Locust Street, Northampton. The collection is open to the public- you do not need to be a Northampton resident. Recycling fees run between $2-$10 and benefit Northampton Public Schools. There is no charge to recycle printer cartridges or cell phones. we are unable to accept refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, or any appliances containing freon at this collection. Co-sponsored by the Northampton DPW, the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and WRSI. Special thanks to Duseau Trucking

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS: Want to buy a home but don’t know how or if you can afford it? Hilltown CDC, on behalf of the Town of Chesterfield, offers FREE, one-on-one, pre-purchase counseling and First-Time Homebuyer workshops. Many first-time homebuyers come into the process with a lot of questions and anxiety. People may worry that their credit isn’t good enough or that they don’t have enough savings, or they may just not know where to start. Both pre-purchase counseling and a First Time Homebuyer workshop can help dispel those concerns.  Contact Bea at 296-4536, ext 115 or beavh@hilltowncdc.org for more information, or look on the Hilltown Families Community Bulletin Board for more details.

MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Uncle Rock has released a new family CD, The Big Picture, and we have a copy to giveaway to one luck family!  Click here to find out how you can win a copy of his newest release! Deadline to enter to win is May 17th by 7pm (EST).

ANTI-BULLYING STATE LAW PASSED: While many may already be aware that the Massachusetts legislature passed a law, you might not already know about this website. In addition to the new law, the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library contains additional legal resources on everything from cyberbullying, stalking, hazing and an “Eyes On Bullying” toolkit for caregivers and parents to use in child care programs, afterschool programs and camps.

WANTED: LOCAL/REGIONAL BULLYING PREVENTION RESOURCE: Strategic Planning Initiative  for Families and Youth (SPIFFY) is compiling a bullying prevention resource list for schools and community agencies, and they are looking for local experts who can offer technical assistance around bullying prevention using evidence-based strategies. They also are looking for groups who have successfully used evidence-based strategies/curriculum to create a positive and welcoming school climate.  Please send any recommendations to Sue Cairn at scairn@collaborative.org

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Congratulations to Amanda Saklad and Suzanne Holt of Belchertown, MA. Both families have won a family 4-pack of tickets to see Brady Rymer at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Sunday, May 16th at 2pm, along with a signed copy of Brady Rymer’s newest CD, “Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could.”

GREEN BURIAL: The Green Burial Committee of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Mass will be hosting an information session at Green Field Market on Sunday, May 16th from 2-4pm. Find out what a green or natural burial is, why you might like to have one, where the nearest green cemeteries are located, and how to help start a green cemetery here in Western Mass. Call Carol for more info 774-2320.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: The Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society needs animal care volunteers. Positions and available times vary. Call 548-9898 to discover volunteer opportunities.

SUBMIT A VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Looking for volunteers for your non-profit, service organization or not-for-profit event? Post your “call for volunteers” on our Community Bulletin Board for profile consideration.


Hilltown Family Variety ShowHFVS airs every Saturday from 9-10am, and encores air on Sundays from 7-8am, on 103.3FM WXOJ Northampton, MA.

Tune in on Saturdays from 9-10am, or listen to our podcasts HERE. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • HFVS Podcast

    PODCAST: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!


    • Amherst: 8:30-11am on the Town Common
    • Holyoke: 9am-1pm at the Wistariahurst Muuseum. 322-5660
    • Worthington: 9am at the Historical Society building


    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Farmers’ Market | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns

    Saturday – 5/15

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan on the HFVS! Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) offers 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    10am-7pm – HILLTOWN SPRING FESTIVAL: The 4th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival, a daylong celebration of Hilltown music, arts, culture and community, will take place at the Cummington Fairgrounds, featuring 15 musical acts on two performance stages, including headliners Charles Neville, The Primate Fiasco and Swing Caravan, all-day children’s activities, local food and local brews, arts and crafts and a sustainable living expo. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    10am-12Noon – PARENTING SOCIAL: “Color Play,” a program for families parenting children of color, will take place at the Forbes Library Community Room. Color Play is a monthly social and craft for families raising children of color (all ages). Transracial adoptees and LGBTQ families are strongly encouraged to join. Come celebrate spring and make a Wild Flower Seed Ball. 658-5096 mocai.org Northampton, MA (FREE)

    11am-2pm – DOG ADVENTURES: Join the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society’s Bark in the Park at Forest Park. Bring your dogs and join local celebrities for music, demos, parade, and more. 781-4000 x364 www.dpvhs.org Springfield, MA (FUNDRAISER)

    11am – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: Margaret Wise Brown Day at the Eric Carle Museum with special studio activity, readings in the library, family concert with Uncle Rock and films in the auditorium. 658-1100 www.carlemuseum.org Amherst, MA

    11:30am – FAMILY PERFORMANCE: Happy Dan the Music Man will perform a family music show at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    12Noon-3pm – OPEN HOUSE: Montague Farm Cafe at Montague Farm Zen House. 367-5275 Montague, MA

    12Noon-5pm – ART ADVENTURES: Canal Gallery’s Artists’ Market, between 2 canals next to the Childrens’ Museum. This Artist Market comes alive with music, food, and color. Inspired by markets of a 100 years ago; also those in warmer more colorful places and early Americana circuses & carnivals. 532-4141 Holyoke, MA

    12:15pm – SPRING DANCE: Dance around the Maypole at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Hosted by EarthSpirit of Worthington, the community maypole dance will be accompanied by traditional rhythmic stepping by multiple teams of Morris Dancers. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    1-4pm – BIKE ADVENTURES: Baystate Village Bike Bonanza happens with bike tune ups, decorating, safety clinics, games and prizes at Maines Field (570 Riverside Drive) Northampton, MA (FREE)

    2pm – FAMILY CONCERT: The Primate Fiasco will perform psychedelic dixieland for kids at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    2pm – UKULELE WORKSHOP: Bring your ukulele to the Hilltown Spring Festival and join in a community jam and workshop.  Cummington Fairgrounds. Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fees Applied)

    6pm – CONCERT: Charles Neville will be the final act at the Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds.   Click here to see all the great music to be heard during the festival, including Swing Caravan, The Primate Fiasco, Academy Freightshakers, Gaia Roots, The Shapeshifters, and more! Cummington, MA (FREE, Parking Fee Applies)

    7:30pm – COMMUNITY DINNER: Burgy Bullets Annual Chicken BBQ with live music at 12 Laurel Road.  268-3226 Haydenville, MA ($)

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