New England History and Chocolate are Celebrated at the Historic Deerfield Museum in February

Bring the Family to the Historic Deerfield Museum
7th Annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration
February 13th, 2010

Looking to satisfy both the history buff and the sweet tooth in you? There is no better way than to enjoy a fun-filled day with sweet chocolate aromas, captivating lectures, and most important-chocolate treats! The seventh annual American Heritage Chocolate Celebration at Historic Deerfield on February 13, 2010, is an exploration of everything chocolate including a sumptuous array of gourmet chocolate desserts, foods, and beverages.

The 2010 Chocolate Celebration will include a range of informed presentations on the history of the favorite food including a special presentation by Curator of Historic Interiors, Amanda Lange. Lange’s talk titled Sweet Concoctions: A History of Chocolate in Early America will feature her research used in the recent chocolate anthology Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage released earlier this year by by Wiley Press.

In addition, Bob Heiss, food professional and owner/proprietor of Cooks Shop Here in Northampton, MA, will give a special talk and tasting titled Exploring and Tasting a Favorite Treat. And Eric Whitacre, Executive Director of the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society, will speak about his efforts to create a museum devoted to the history of chocolate mills in early America.

To really have the full chocolate sensory experience, visitors can visit with Susan McLellan Plaisted, Proprietress of Heart to Hearth Cookery, as she roasts cacao beans over the open hearth and grinds them on a stone metate.

Historic Deerfield guides will also present highlights tours of the Museum’s Attic focusing on collections associated with the preparation and serving of stimulating beverages, such as tea, coffee and chocolate. See master silversmith Steve Smithers as he works to recreate a silver chocolate pot from the Historic Deerfield collection. Taste American Heritage Chocolate, and create your own Valentine using decorative papers.


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Western Mass Families & Neighbors Gather for World Wide Grassroots Demonstration International Climate Action Day in Western Mass

This past Saturday, families and neighbors from all over Western Massachusetts gathered to take action in a world wide grassroots demonstration on climate change. Several of these events in Western Mass were posted here.

On this day, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis. Over 15,000 photos have been submitted so far!  See them all on Flickr.  Discover more about here.

Many images of actions taking place right here in our home state of Massachusetts where submitted. As I looked through the photos I was so happy to see many familiar faces in several of the images.  The commitment of our local families, especially on such a terribly rainy day we had this past Saturday, is fantastic! I put together this collage of wonderful images of local Western Massachusetts families and neighbors taking action and being part of a global message to address climate change: International Climate Action Day in Western Massachusetts

Images pictured from left to right, top to bottom are labeled below.  Click on the label and it will take you to the image on the Flickr site and will include any descriptions of their events submitted with the photo.

  1. Montague, MA – Montague Neighbors
  2. Lenox, MA – Evergreen Environmental Club
  3. Monterey, MA
  4. Greenfield, MA – Climate Carnival at Greenfield HS. (photo credit: Daniel A. Brown)
  5. Old Deerfield, MA – Sarah Pirtle Concert
  6. Deerfield, MA – Eaglebrook School
  7. Northfield, MA – (photo credit: Maribeth Dawkins)
  8. Ashfield, MA
  9. South Hadley, MA – Mosier Science Buddies Program
  10. Northampton, MA – Laural Park
  11. Amherst, MA – Amherst College (photo credit: Jessica Mestre)
  12. Northampton, MA – N’hampton Climate Action (photo credit: David Solfiell)
  13. Sunderland, MA – Sunderland Kindergarten (photo credit: Susan Breines)
  14. Amherst, MA – Amherst 350 Committee
  15. Williamstown, MA – Williamstown Elementary School (photo credit: Cheryl Sacks)
  16. Cummington, MA – 350 Neighbors (photo credit: Richard Shephard)
  17. Great Barrington, MA – (photo credit: Jamie Goldenberg)
  18. Cummington, MA – 350 Neighbors (photo credit: Richard Shephard)

Homeschool Harvest Day at the Historic Deerfield Museum

Homeschool Harvest Day at the Historic Deerfield Museum

Kids can weave on a loom, learn how farm families lived in the early 1800's, take a 19th-century school lesson, cook on an open hearth, and much more. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Homeschool families are invited for an educational celebration of the fall harvest on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009.


  • Go on an agricultural walking tour, card wool, weave on a loom, and help hearth cooks make seasonal foods.
  • Visit the Sheldon House to see how a farm family lived between 1790 and 1810.
  • The Wapping Schoolhouse will be open for early 19th-century lessons.
  • Enjoy a scavenger hunt in the Flynt Center of Early New England Life.
  • Bring a picnic, and have your lunch near the Cooks’ Garden.

Homeschool Harvest Day will be from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on September 16, 2009 at the Historic Deerfield Museum in Deerfield, MA.  Pre-registration is required. Please email Claire Carlson, Education Program Coordinator or call 413-775-7217.

Valentine’s Day ’07

Hilltown Families Spend a Cozy Winter’s Day in Historic Deerfield

Discovering Colonial America in Deerfield

Faith Deering demonstrating a variety of natural fibers used in Colonial America. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Saturday, Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, MA, hosted A Cozy Winter Day at their Hall Tavern. Many Hilltown families gathered together to experience some of the rich history of early New England. The day’s presentations included a hands-on approach to illustrate the homestead activities in which early settlers may have participated, such as sewing, cooking, storytelling or singing songs. Families passed the blustery winter afternoon as early New Englanders did.

Weaving on a loom. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Faith Deering did a wonderful sewing demonstration for small groups of families. She present a variety of natural fibers that were used to sew with, including wool, cotton and flax. Children were shown how to card wool, got to see how cotton was grown and view flax before it was processed into fiber.

Families also had the opportunity to see how wool was spun on a spinning wheel. The process of shearing sheep and explanations on why some wools were different colors was shared, and many questions answered. Once the steps from wool to yarn were completed, children got the chance to weave finished threads on a real loom. Samples to take home were passed out.

Cooking demo over an open heart fire. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Participants also had the opportunity to learn about quilting and make their own small quilt to take home. Fabric was available to paint followed by a demonstration on assembly and sewing. Kids loved making their own special quilts for their dolls or stuffed bears at home.

Around lunchtime a cooking demonstration over an open-hearth was offered. Kids watched how cooks made gingerbread, pies and soups over an open fire. Everyone had a chance to make their own gingerbread cookies to cook in the fire.

Musician Tim Van Egmond performed winter-themed songs and told stories. Encouraging audience participation, Tim sang folk songs, played a variety of instruments, including the hammered dulcimer, and told engaging tales.

The day was well spent in Historic Deerfield. Families were engaged the whole day through and children were afforded a wonderful opportunity to look at the ways of life for early New Englanders. The next family activity that will be offered at Historic Deerfield is All About Maps on March 31st, 2007. This will be a workshop for families, offering map-related activities, including how to make your own map.

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