8 Family-Friendly Farms for Pumpkin Pickin’ in Western MA


Where’s a good place to pick pumpkins with the kids in Western MA?

  • Patricia McCarthy Krutiak recommends, “Whitney’s Farm Stand. Route 8. Cheshire, MA.” (Berkshire Co.)
  • Heather Dunham Katsoulis recommends, “Westview Farms Creamery in Monson (Hampden Co.); Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown (Hampshire Co.); and Fletcher Farm in Southampton (Hampshire Co.).
  • Jessica J Logsdon recommends, “Whitney’s Farm in Cheshire.” (Berkshire Co.)
  • Nancyjo Craig Rongner recommends, “We always go to McCray’s Farm in South Hadley. You can visit the animals, grab ice cream or lunch, and head out to their pumpkin patches via wagon ride. Mt. Tom provides a really pretty fall backdrop as the leaves change.” (Hampshire Co.)
  • Rebecca Sutton Heath recommends,” Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock… hay rides pumpkins, animals and games… oh, and corn maze- so much fun!” (Berkshire Co.)
  • Kate Erickson recommends, “Fletcher Farm in Southampton off Route 10. Free hay rides and a kid play area.” (Hampshire Co.)
  • Amanda Florek recommends, “We are heading to McCray’s Farm this weekend!” (Hampshire Co.)
  • Heather Richardson recommends, “Randall’s Farm and Greenhouse in Ludlow.” (Hampden Co.)
  • Rebecca Trow Addison writes, “I haven’t found any places in the Greenfield/Amherst/Northampton areas.”
  • Anna White recommends, “Howden Farm in Sheffield, MA.” (Berkshire Co.)
  • Jo Buswell Sauriol recommends: “Westview Farms Creamery.”

Add your suggestions in the comments!

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Weekdays in Western MA: October 9 – 13, 2017

JOIN OUR TEAM! Hilltown Families is currently recruiting our newest Interpretive Writer and Development & Sales Officer. Click on the banner above to see the full job descriptions, as well as a slew of other available volunteer and intern positions. We look forward to hearing from our community!

Weekdays in Western MA:
October 9 – 13, 2017

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long! Each weekday we feature community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners.

Select the day of the week and find events that support your interests through community engagement!

Monday, October 9, 2017
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Friday, October 13, 2017

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

See your banner here! Sponsor Weekdays in Western MA!





Library Events Support Chemistry, Physics, Forensics & More this Summer!

Statewide Summer Learning Programs Offer Developmental Advancement

This summer, libraries across the state are offering an innovative summer reading program to young readers. Titled Fizz, Boom, Read!, the program supports the development of reading and literacy skills, while also allowing participants to explore the intersection of science and the humanities. By combining science with reading, libraries are encouraging children to explore the world of non-fiction writing- opening up endless possibilities for learning and satisfying science-based curiosity. Read the rest of this entry »

It Just Got Easier to Shop Local in Massachusetts!

Just Look for the Seal of Commonwealth Quality


Families can look for the "Seal of Commonwealth Quality" at farm stands, farmers' markets, and retail and wholesale locations beginning January 2011.

On September 28th, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) along with farm, fishery and forestry leaders announced “Commonwealth Quality,” a joint initiative that will promote local agriculture and help families identify products that are produced, harvested and responsibly processed in Massachusetts. Central to the initiative is a licensed “Seal of Commonwealth Quality” which will distinguish Massachusetts products that meet comprehensive program requirements as well as federal, state and local regulatory regulations. The seal will appear on certified Massachusetts produce, dairy, seafood and lumber products at farm stands, farmers’ markets and retail locations across the state.

“For consumers, the Commonwealth Quality seal will allow them to recognize products from local growers who maintain practices that are safe and environmentally friendly,” said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. “For Massachusetts growers, Commonwealth Quality provides a marketing opportunity to increase their ability to meet growing consumer demand for local products. It is the ultimate win-win.”

Most state agriculture label programs do not necessitate that a product or business meet specific standards to qualify for use of a promotional logo. Commonwealth Quality establishes a clearly defined set of standards for program participants. This highly structured program and the collaboration behind it represent a significant advancement over traditional state label programs. As a result, families will be able to easily identify and enjoy certified products, knowing they are grown, harvested and processed in Massachusetts using practices that are safe and environmentally friendly.

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Pioneer Valley Local First

Daniel Finn of Pioneer Valley Local First in Hatfield, MA writes:

Our support of local businesses is not about protectionism; we can -and should- help take care of the rest of the world. This is why we worked with Northampton Fair Trade to make Northampton, MA the 6TH Fair Trade Town in the United States (please see www.mafairtrade.com). However, if we are going to not just survive, but thrive during these economically and environmentally un-stable times it is going to be the people, businesses and organizations here in the Pioneer Valley that will mostly make it happen. We have to find the ways to take care of each other and by doing so we will all be better off.

During the past four years we organized the Think Local First Contest to encourage people to shop with local, independent businesses here in Western Massachusetts, and while we aren’t organizing this contest this year we still wish and hope that all of you are thinking local first. Even without the great prizes we gave away in previous years, the benefits of supporting local businesses to our community and local economy are still huge!! Coming this Spring we will be putting out a Pioneer Valley Wide Directory of Local, Independent Businesses. In addition, to helping people find what businesses here in Western Massachusetts are locally owned and not just in our locale, there will also be a lot of information about the benefits to our community from shopping locally, information about sustainability, renewable energy, local food and Fair Trade products as well.

There are also a couple of events I want to help pass along:  Read the rest of this entry »

Think Local First for a Stable Economy

Kids Sell Their Kids-Made Crafts


Last Friday, Hilltown Families and CAM sponsored a Kids-Made Holiday Bazaar at the Children’s Art Museum in Shelburne Falls, coinciding with the town-wide Moonlight Magic Celebration. Kids ranging from ages 4-13 participated in the event, giving them exposure to the field of cottage industries. Each young vendor sold and bartered their kids-made crafts, rewarding them for their creative pursuits.

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For both Rafael (age 13) of Northampton, MA, and Meghan (age 11) of Goshen, MA, this wasn’t the first experience with a craft fair. Meghan expressed her excitement of being able to sell her sculpy clay and beaded jewelry, clothespin people, and cards in a craft fair that was just for kids. “The last craft fair I participated in was all adults and I felt so out of place,” she commented.

Having a venue for kids to get crafty while having a real world experience and exposure to commerce through the artisan field was the mission of this event. A big congratulations to all vendors for making it a success. And a hearty thank you to everyone who stopped by to shop locally, supporting the event. Hilltown Families and CAM look forward to hosting this event again next year!

Big doings this weekend in Ashfield!

Read more about Crafted in the Village.Notes from Nan: Big Doings This Weekend
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati


So, here at the Culinary Institute of Elmer’s (CIE), we’ve engaged the services of a second chef, Mr. Jim Dion, formerly of Gypsy Apple in Shelburne Falls. How, you ask, do we get all of the fabulous restaurant people from Shelburne Falls to come and work with us at Elmer’s? I do not know! But I am darned happy about it! Jim and Mary have been collaborating on dinners and last Friday night Jim took us on a culinary tour of Asia that was outstanding. I ate two plates full. This week we’re going to Greece with Jim’s Mediterranean Platter!

This Friday’s Menu (11/30/07)

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Shop Local This Holiday Season … AND WIN!

4th Annual Think Local First Contest

PV BALLE 4TH ANNUAL THINK LOCAL FIRST CONTESTThe Pioneer Valley Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (PV BALLE) 4TH Annual Think Local First contest will be running through the end of this year. As an incentive to get folks to support local, independent business in the Hilltowns and Pioneer Valley, over 90 local businesses have donated more than 130 gift certificates that value nearly $4,000 to PV BALLE’s contest this year. Visit www.pvballe.org to find out how you can participate.

It’s all Local, it’s all Real, it’s Just like your Grandparents used to Live!

Notes from Nan: Crafted in the Village
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Black Magic necklace by Cassie Nylen GrayChildren's Accessories by Tony(a) LemosEnjoy an old-fashioned kind of Christmas
this weekend
in Ashfield

Crafted in the Village

A Weekend-Long Celebration of
All Things Fun About the Holidays!

  • Willie Gray's Barn by Walt CudnohufskyShop for hand-crafted, well-made works of art and usefulness at sites throughout the village
  • Choose and Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree
  • Visit the Congregational Church’s Fair-Trade Bazaar
  • Eat at one of 3 Locally-Owned Restaurants
  • Find Cool Stuff at a Real, Old-Fashioned Hardware Store
  • (and since it’s on the weekend, you don’t have to go to school, which is a GREAT thing about the Holidays!)

It’s all Local, it’s all Real, it’s Just like your Grandparents used to Live!

Shopping for a Christmas tree at Cranston's Christmas Tree FarmDecember 1st and 2nd

From 10 am – 5 pm

Elmer’s Store has Information and Maps on where to Go
(413) 628-4003

Ashfield, Massachusetts
At the Corner of Routes 112 and 116 in Western Mass.

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