Oak & Acorn: Basil Pesto & Peas

Summer foods that are easy to grow and that kids love.

One of the foods that we love to make a lot in the summer is basil pesto. We grow a lot of basil in our garden and at this time of the year it’s very abundant. We also are very lucky that many of our farmer friends hand off some of their extras to us. I love the taste and smell of basil…it’s one of my favorite culinary herbs! It works in so many dishes and also goes well in some fruity summer drinks. Just last week, we added basil to some seltzer water with simple syrup and sour cherries that we picked from a friends tree in their backyard. It was delish!

The past couple weeks we have also been eating lots of peas, in particular sugar snap peas which happens to be a favorite snack in our house. We also picked lots of shell peas from a farm we have a CSA share with, shelled them and froze them for future use. It takes a little time to do this, but it’s always nice to have these preserved in the freezer for when a recipe calls for them, like pesto!

See our recipe for basil pesto and pasta with peas

Just Roots Community Farm Fosters Youth Collaboration

Innovative farm program uses accessible skillshare as community builder

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

Read the rest of this entry »

GIVEAWAY: CSM Share from Goldthread Herb Farm

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

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

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


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


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


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

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

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

Q&A: Share Your Love for Your Local CSA


(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Have you signed up for your local CSA yet? CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) are great ways to get fresh local fruits, vegetables and other farm products while supporting local farming. Tell us about your favorite CSA here in Western MA, and what you love about your local farm share.

  • Tinky Weisblat writes, “We go to Wilder Brook Farm in Charlemont. It feels like family—and you can pick your own food out so if you don’t really need four heads of lettuce that week you don’t take them!”
  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “We love Brookfield Farmin South Amherst. We love biking to pick up our share every week in the summer. We love seeing friends and neighbors there. We love the all-natural, no-sugar-added popsicles that they sell at the farm store. We love buying local milk and yogurt there too. We love pick-your-own strawberries, herbs, edamame, and more. We love visiting with the chickens and pigs. When my parents come visit, and we take them to Brookfield, they tell us that it feels like they are on vacation!”
  • Dan Finn writes, “If you are a member of UMass Five College Federal Credit Union they will give you a 0% loan for six months to help pay for a CSA. Pretty cool!”
  • Kathie Crivelli writes, “Riverland Farm in Sunderland, Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Next Barn Over in Hadley, Simple Giftsin North Amherst, Brookfield Farm in South Amherst, on and on and on it goes… Sign up!”
  • Melissa Adams writes, “We’re a member at Crabapple Farm (Chesterfield) for a veggie/produce share & will be getting a cheese share there from Cricket Creek Farm in the Berkshires (Williamstown)!”
  • Kara Kitchen writes,Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton!”

GIVEAWAY: CSA Farm Share from Crimson & Clover Farm

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

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

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

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


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


Crimson & Clover Farm

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

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


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

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

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

CSA Farms Are Like Family

Purple Carrots

Daisy and a friend pose with their 'quarries.' The joy on their faces is priceless. (Photo credit: Dana Pilson)

Hooray, it’s finally summer! Which means it’s time to head back to our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for spinach, garlic scapes, turnips, pea pods, herbs, strawberries, and all sorts of wonderful lettuces. As the summer progresses, we’ll get tomatoes, carrots, peppers, beans, edamame if we’re lucky, and all sorts of other wonderful veggies as well as flowers and more herbs. The year winds down in the fall with squashes and pumpkins, potatoes, beets and other harvest-time goodies. Through the winter we visit the root cellar for carrots, beets and lots of root vegetables. Solstice rituals, harvest festivals, and other events pepper the year and bring members together to celebrate the farm in a festive environment.

We’ve been going to “the farm,” as it is affectionately called, since my daughter Daisy was tiny.  We figured that even if she didn’t eat much of the produce, she would at least get the experience of the place.  I used to carry her in my front-pack as I bagged up the week’s goods, or headed into the fields to gather herbs and pick-your-own crops like tomatoes, raspberries, and green beans.  As she got older, she preferred to play on the toy tractor, dig in the sandbox with friends, watch the big kids catch frogs at the pond, or dip her toes into the cool stream that meanders through the cow pasture.

The children’s garden, started last year, is a new favorite spot. Located conveniently near the barn where the week’s produce is distributed, the kids disappear in there and read in the teepee covered with scarlet runner beans and gourd plants, admire the flowers, or pluck and eat cherry tomatoes.  The biggest draw of all is pulling and munching on purple carrots.  There’s nothing as kid friendly as a purple carrot, fresh from the ground.  Wash it off, use the greens as a handle, and voila, a perfect fresh-from-the-garden snack.

Thanks to the farm, we’ve tasted new foods and tried new recipes, such as oven-roasted crispy kale, stuffed peppers, and sauteed turnips and escarole.  Some have gone over like a ton of bricks: Daisy detested the kale, and it smelled up the whole house something awful.  Others are household favorites: barbecued corn, zucchini pasta, peas straight from the pod.  Daisy has tried new veggies with various results: she’ll only eat a cherry tomato fresh off the vine.  The ones we bring home are of no interest and might as well be a different food altogether.  Strawberries, warmed by the sun and eaten right in the field are like “sweet sugar,” according to Daisy.  Raspberries are another favorite, and we often consume our share before even leaving the confines of the bushes.  A piece of lettuce, however, has yet to pass Daisy’s lips, and she continues to turn up her nose at spinach, no matter how kid-friendly I try to make it.

Thanks to the farm, we now eat with the seasons.  When I was a kid, we ate strawberries year-round.  I never knew that they grew in the spring.  The food I ate came from the A&P.  That’s where all food came from.  It was grown somewhere else… where, I had no idea.  The only thing I ever attempted to grow myself was a crystal in a jar of sugar water.  Read the rest of this entry »

VIDEO: Fridays at the Farm

Local Food From Local Farms

I discovered a short video about local food and CSA’s in the LocalHarvest Newsletter, March 25, 2009 called “Fridays at the Farm.”  This film is a documentary/personal essay about a family living outside of Philidelphia, PA, and their participation in a local CSA.  I found it inspiring and wanted to share it with other families intersted in supporting local agriculture. To view the film click here and enter the password fridaysscreener to view .

To find a local CSA click here to search for the nearest one to your town on LocalHarvest.org.

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