Learning Ahead: Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets: Engaging Community through Food

With the spring comes a resurgence of farmers’ markets. Local farmers have been planning and growing and are now ready to bring their seasonal produce to town commons, squares, and gathering places across the region to enjoy with our families and neighbors. The experience of going to a farmers’ market exceeds the basic transaction of purchasing fresh vegetables. Farmers’ markets are places that bring a community together, affording the opportunity to support local agriculture, make healthy food choices,  share stories, and connect with neighbors and farmers.  Farmers’ markets are community builders, the American version of the European plaza, and are intrinsically a part of our New England culture and traditions.

In Western Massachusetts, many farmers’ markets have expanded to not only include agricultural products but to also provide a space for local artists, crafters, performers, and teachers to make their services, knowledge, and products directly available to the community.  This type of collaborative consumption allows community members to support small businesses and individuals that directly affect the health of a small town’s economy, promoting sustainability and resilience at a local level.  Additionally, some farmers’ markets host spaces for instructors to lead workshops on topics related to homesteading, nutrition, and cooking.  The opportunity to learn at farmers’ markets through intergenerational skill-sharing makes them an important community-based educational resource that brings people together via shared interests.  Read the rest of this entry »

Farmers’ Market & Meals: Explore, Gather, Share

Farmers’ Market & Meals: Explore, Gather, Share

Create a meal with friends from start to finish! Learn where your food comes from, meet the farmers, and prepare a meal together. On the day of a farmers’ market, get together with friends or your family and peruse the market to see what produce is available. Based on the seasonal produce you find at the market, be inspired to create a meal together. Cooking seasonally with ingredients found at a farmers’ market help to connect to the seasons and the history of New England by understanding when and how local produce impact our meals and food traditions.

Stop by different market booths and meet the farmers that grow your food. Introduce yourself! Perhaps mention what you plan to make that evening. Ask them for tips on how to prepare their seasonal produce and swap recipes with others. Purchasing food directly from a local farm is part of a storytelling experience. From their land and hands to your hands and kitchen, it all becomes woven together into a tale of sustainability and local community.  Read the rest of this entry »

Recipe Collections & Storytelling

Recipe Collections & Storytelling

Food is an integral part of our human story. The act of cooking calls upon centuries of cooking methods, ingredients, spices, and flavors that have shaped our distinct cultures and traditions. Within our families, recipes are passed down and certain dishes are often considered an important part of our unique family gatherings and holiday celebrations. For example, when someone says, “No one makes apple pie like my grandmother,” that reflects how food shapes our memories and connects us to those we have spent time with and who are an important part of our personal history.

The art of recipe collecting and writing is something that allows the generations to share their family’s culture through the legacy of food. Cooking manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries permit us to see what early Americans in New England were preparing, giving us insight into how some of those food recipes have informed our current meals. In their own way, recipe cards and collections tell stories of who we are and how we connect with each other. Read the rest of this entry »

Literary Musings on Farming and Food

Literary Musings on Farming and Food

The act of growing food, the experience of living on a farm, and the process of cooking have all inspired writers to ponder how the cultivation of land has influenced the stories we tell and the moments we remember. Farming is a rich part of the Western Massachusetts New England tradition. The rich soil of the Connecticut River Valley is a community asset and important to preserve as farmland. Both the pastoral and wild landscapes of Western Massachusetts are an important piece of our New England history, identity, and sustainability. These are the landscapes that inspired poets like William Cullen Bryant and painters like Thomas Cole to champion the American landscape as being different and separate from Europe’s established cities and their developed environment. Our land is a part of our story and history. Agriculture connects us to the land. It is how we define our relationship between our everyday lives and the soil.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sense of Place: Season of Farmers’ Markets

Think about this:

  • How do recipes unfold the stories of our ancestors? What do they say about our agricultural practices and the places from which our families came?
  • What if you were to do a 10-mile diet like Vicki Robin in her book Blessing the Hands that Feed Us? Where would you find your produce? What farms would provide you with your food? Imagine the extended community you would become familiar with!
  • How can the purchasing of food locally help build a stronger and more resilient community?
    Have you ever thought of growing your own food? Container gardening is a great way to get started!

Pittsfield Farmers’ Market’s “Kid 10” to Showcase Local Youth Vendors

Pittsfield Farmers’ Market’s “Kid 10” to Showcase Local Youth Vendors

In preparation for the city’s annual 10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival, the Pittsfield Farmers’ Market is accepting vendor applications for Kid 10: A Kid-Run Farmers’ Market. Showcasing the talents and creativity of local youth, the special kid-centric edition of the Pittsfield Farmers’ Market will feature foods and crafts created and produced by local youth – presenting a unique opportunity for young entrepreneurs and market-goers alike.

Providing an opportunity to include young community members in the ongoing conversation and community surrounding the consumption and use of local foods and goods, Kid 10 is a unique event within the landscape of Berkshire farmers’ markets. Held on Saturday, February 13, 2016, from 1-6pm at the Boys and Girls Club at The Lighthouse, this special market event broadens the market for local foods and goods, and welcomes youth into the local economy. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Farmers’ Markets Feed a Sense of Community

Our Growing Roots: A Market Analysis

Finding community connection at our farmers’ markets!

Next time you walk into your local supermarket, take a moment to notice the perfect symmetry of it all. Under the bright fluorescent lights, you’ll find endless rows of neatly packaged foods, ready to eat, easy to prepare, no thought required. A plethora of colors and flashy logos jump out at you, while commercial cartoon characters are strategically placed on cereal boxes and fruit snacks to lure your children into their sugary grasp. Ingredient labels are long and indiscernible and we are often unaware of where in the country or the world these products originated from. The big box grocery store landscape can give us a limited and detached sense of how food and community are related.

Personally, I have always enjoyed the unrefined simplicity of farmers’ markets. I love the atmosphere of small tables draped in mismatched cloth, crates overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies, and the sense of true community. Upon first glance, these joys are simple ones. However, farmers’ markets offer us a unique experience unrivaled by most conventional grocery stores.  Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Farmers’ Markets: An Oasis of Community-Based Learning

Not Only Buying Local, But Learning Local

Is it cruel to show a farmers market in Amherst during the summer? Well the Amherst & Northampton Winter Farmers’ Markets are  learning oasis of in the winter months, reminding us of lush seasons on the horizon.

Winter farmers’ markets provide a fresh and colorful oasis during the winter months, reminding us that despite the blustery, snow drift-covered fields that surround us, farm-fresh foods of all kinds are still available. Connecting to the local food chain year round is not only healthy for your body, your family, and your community, but it can be educational as well! Exposing children to the wide array of foods available from winter farmers’ markets can help them to recognize that there are many different methods for growing and producing food while connecting to where there food comes from. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Eat Pie! ❥ Tuesday Market Supporting Food Security.

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 29, We Eat Pie for Good Purposes

Kids ages 13yo and younger interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th. ❥ Baking a pie is a great way for food-enthusiastic kids to learn and/or practice kitchen skills, including basic math and kitchen chemistry. Utilizing local foods (berries, apples, peaches, milk, butter, or maybe even local flour!) in a pie can also help to connect youth with the network of local food that surrounds them here in Western MA.

FoodStampsX2 is the brilliant brainchild of Ben James and Oona Coy, farmers (Town Farm) and farmers’ market managers (Tuesday Market) in Northampton (not to be confused with their brilliant children, Silas and Wiley). The idea was pretty simple: make sure that people could use their SNAP (food stamps) benefits at the Tuesday Market. Then, the idea got better: have the first ten dollars’ worth of benefits doubled at the market for those receiving SNAP benefits. The FoodStampsX2 represents win-win: local food to people that may struggle to afford it along with a boost of dollars to hardworking farmers growing food locally.

Enter Gina Hyams, my Berkshires friend (and extraordinary connector; it’s her superpower). Her Pie Contest in a Box inspired my son. The scene went like this:

My son Ezekiel, on couch, examining Pie Contest in a Box: “Let’s have a pie contest.”

Unattributed idea that belonged to one of us: “At the Tuesday Market.”

Me: “To raise money for FoodStampsX2.”

Ezekiel: “Typical.”

Tuesday September 10th, 2013 is the third annual Pie Contest at Tuesday Market to help raise money for FoodStampsX2…

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for April 27th-May 3rd, 2013

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


Outdoor Farmers’ Markets are slowly starting back up! The opening of Tuesday Market in Northampton happens this coming Tuesday, April 30th where you can pick up the ingredients you need to make a dish to bring to the Burgy Farmers’ Market Pot-Luck Dinner Benefit at the Williamsburg Grange two days later on Thursday, May 2nd!  How convenient is that?!

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families 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.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event

Volunteer with your family to help local non-profits — a one of a kind event for families to volunteer together while educating children about animal welfare, conservation efforts and the value of community service.

On Saturday, May 4th from 10am-1pm: FAMILY COMMUNITY SERVICE EVENT: Join Hilltown Families for a Saturday morning of volunteering together with your family during our spring Family Community Service Event to be held at Leeds Elementary School. We will be offering seven volunteer stations for families to participate in hands-on service projects for ALL AGES that support animal welfare organizations, conservation efforts and food security. Find out more and preregister here: Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Event: May 4th! Northampton, MA (FREE)


Looking for a summer camp or program in Western MA? Check out our featured post, 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA for a list that will wow and dazzle you! Summer opportunities featured range from music, art, farming, theater, dance, science, nature, sports, speaking, yoga, rock ‘n roll… to traditional summer day or overnight camps/programs! There’s something for all ages, toddlers to teens! Check it out and start making your summer plans!


Apr 27

Ashfield Community PreschoolThe Ashfield Community Preschool invites you to join them for their annual open house on Saturday, April 27th 10am-Noon. This event is for families with young children age 2.9 – 5yo who are looking for quality care and small class sizes in the rural Hilltown of Ashfield, MA. Children who attend the preschool participate in a hands-on gardening program, growing sunflowers, pumpkins and blueberries. The preschool grazes the neighbors’ sheep and llamas in their pastoral setting and offers a six week summer program with walking trips to visit local Ashfield artists. Join their staff on April 27th and tour their facility and grounds. 103 Baptist Corner Road. Ashfield, MA. Call for more information 413-628-3248.

Apr 27

On Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 noon, the Montessori School of Northampton (MSN) at 51 Bates Street, Northampton, will hold a family open house. All parents of toddler, preschool and elementary students interested in September 2013 admission are encouraged to attend. The school currently has full- and part-time openings available for fall 2013, including a new full day 3-day/week program for toddlers and a new half-day Children’s House (preschool) classroom. MSN enrolls students from ages 2 through 12 and is currently in its 36th year of fostering independent learners in a welcoming community. For information, please call (413) 586-4538 or visit www.northamptonmontessori.org.

Apr 28

Holy Bonfire! Community Lag B’Omer Festival happening Sunday, April 28th from 11am-1pm- rain or shine! Beit Ahavah & Congregation B’nai Israel Community Schools present: Bonfire, live music by Yiddishkeit Klezmir, musical storytelling by Anna Sobel & Aharaon Skogland, recycled art crafts, archery, games, haircutting booth, chickens, facepainting, “love-shack booth” & more! Kosher, pastured beef hot-dogs & veggie dogs. $5 suggested donation. All ages welcome! Held at Cong. B’nai Israel, 253 Prospect St, Northampton. Lag B’Omer is the joyous holiday held on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer between Passover & Shavuot. For more info & RSVP: 413-584-3593, rabbijacob@cbinorthampton.org. “Join” us on Facebook & invite your friends!

May 5

Looking for an excuse to wear your superhero cape in public all while supporting students in our community with Intellectual and Development Disabilities (We don’t believe that you ever need an excuse to do this!)? Come on out to the Best Buddies Superhero Friendship Walk on Sunday morning , May 5th, 2013 in the beautiful setting of Look Park in Florence, MA. Best Buddies is an amazing organization that promotes inclusion and friendships between students with and without Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The event will feature musical performances by the students of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, Circus performances by students of Show Circus and so much more! Sign up at www.bestbudiesma.org/walk.

May 5

Bread Euphoria is having a birthday & the community is invited to celebrate 15 years of baked goodness at Wheatstock II, featuring live music & delicious food. The party takes place on Sunday, May 5th from 12noon-6pm at the Williamsburg Grange, on Route 9. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 5-12yo (under 5yo are free), & includes an impressive entertainment lineup of local favorites the Sweetback Sisters, Primate Fiasco and Swing Caravan — & birthday cake (including vegan & gluten-free choices). Meat & vegetarian shish kabobs, salads, sides & beverages will be available for purchase, as well. Come for the food and stay for the fun-or come for the fun & stay for the food-either way, come! For more info call Bread Euphoria: 413-268-7757

May 11

Mother’s Day Giveaway! Enter to win more than $700 worth of wellness services for new and expecting mothers in Western MA. This collaboration of five local (women-owned) businesses will grant one lucky mother with gift certificates for a month of free diaper service, 2 appointments for prenatal or postnatal massage, 2 acupuncture treatments, $150 savings on birth doula service & $150 savings on birth photography. Participating business include Simple Diaper & Linen, Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga, Jo Bunny Massage and Yoga, Bellyfull Birth, and Nature & Nurture Photography and Doula Services. Deadline to enter is May 11, 2013. Drawing will take place on Mother’s Day. Check out www.facebook.com/MothersDayGiveaway to enter & for details.


Join Crimson & Clover Farm in celebrating the spring! The Farm Education Collaborative will be leading a wide array of farm-based education programs this growing season at Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence, MA. Whether you’re a parent wanting to share a morning with your young child on the farm or an aspiring farmer looking to work in the fields, there’s something for you at Crimson & Clover Farm this spring. Plant, harvest, tend to the animals, cook farm-fresh produce, explore and work together, and so much more! Financial aid is available to low-income families through Grow Food Northampton. For complete details and registration please visit their website – www.thefarmeducationcollaborative.org.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your April vacation event, open house, auditions, afterschool class, homeschool program, community event,  workshop, school, wellness program or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

April 27th-May 3rd, 2013


Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

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Winter Fare: A Week of Winter Farmers’ Markets

CISA’s Week of Winter Fare
January 26 & February 2, 2013

In addition to perusing the array of local foods, shoppers can attend educational workshops scheduled during each market. Workshops range in topic from simple cheese-making and canning to growing grains and herbal medicine. All the workshop leaders are local people who practice these skills at home. The workshops are free and do not require pre-registration. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

It is possible to eat locally year-round and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 26th and February 2nd, CISA will kick off its 20th anniversary year with Winter Fare, a celebration of the winter bounty. In collaboration with regular Winter Farmers’ Markets in Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, and Springfield, Winter Fare will highlight the array of local food available in the deep of winter with workshops, bartering, music, and more! Bring your shopping bags and stock up on fresh salad greens, root vegetables, local grains and bread, eggs, meat, cheese, maple syrup, honey, jam, pickles, and more, all grown by local farmers.

Amherst, Greenfield, and Northampton will all host Barter Markets, a fun, lively food-swapping event. Bring your own home-preserved foods and trade with your neighbors to diversify your pantry and get to know other people that can, dry, and freeze the local harvest.

This special event is designed to showcase the amazing local food that is available year-round in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA, and to introduce new people to the incredible farmers’ markets that run all winter long. For a complete list of winter farmers’ markets, including regular markets in Athol, Easthampton, and Hampden, visit www.buylocalfood.org.

More details about Winter Fare, including complete lists of workshops, are available at www.buylocalfood.org. Volunteers are still needed to make this event possible! Please contact CISA at 413-665-7100 or volunteer@buylocalfood.org to sign up or for more information.

Winter Fare is sponsored by River Valley Market, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, and Whole Foods Market.  All four markets accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and in honor of Winter Fare, CISA will be matching the first $10 of all SNAP purchases.

– Submitted by Claire Morenon

Holiday Farmers’ Markets in the Berkshires

Holiday Farmers’ Markets in the Berkshires

Berkshire Grown will host its popular Holiday Farmers’ Markets in Great Barrington and Williamstown on November 17 -18 and December 15 -16. The markets feature locally grown and produced food during months when farmers’ markets are not open in the region and extend the opportunity for community members to purchase directly from area food producers and farmers. (Photo credit: Peter Cherneff)

Local food isn’t only available during the growing season!  A bounty of locally grown and produced foods are available year-round in Western MA, and Berkshire Grown is making these products even easier to purchase by hosting two annual pre-holiday farmers’ markets!

“We’re thrilled to host our 4th annual farmers’ markets,” says Barbara Zheutlin, Executive Director of Berkshire Grown. “We’re extending the season for our local farmers, and offering the community an opportunity to support our local farmers and food producers. The success of these markets depends on everyone participating – we count on the community to celebrate our local food and farmers.”

There will be markets in both Great Barrington and Williamstown, taking place just before Thanksgiving and just before Christmas.  Families can stock up on local foods for their holiday meals, as well as to store for use throughout the winter…how delicious does a locavore’s Thanksgiving dinner featuring locally-grown pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, roasted Turkey, sautéed greens, apple cobbler and cider sound?!  And wouldn’t friends be excited to receive applesauce made from local apples or locally fermented pickles as a holiday gift?

Shop the array of locally grown produce and animal products, baked goods, preserves, handcrafted gift items and holiday decorations offered by local farmers and vendors at the Holiday Farmer’s Markets, and center your family’s holiday celebrations around your community! Plus have a fun time with activities for the kids at the Williamstown markets, including crafts, face painting and a scavenger hunt.

Markets will take place at Muddy Brook Elementary School in Great Barrington on Saturday, November 17th and Saturday, December 15th, and at the Williams College Field House on Sunday, November 18th and Sunday, December 16th.  All markets take place from 10am-2pm, and are sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Williams College.  For more information visit www.berkshiregrown.org or call 413-528-0041.

Community in the Happy Valley ❥ Helping Friends and Neighbors

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 18, Community

Recently, a friend of my third boy had a medical emergency. This is a lifelong buddy, who lives a hop, skip, one street crossed and a jump away so that play can flow like a helix from one abode to the other and back again.

During the crisis, friends began to rally. First, there were a couple of phone calls, then a flurry of emails. Little surprises for the sick child appeared, along with snacks for the parents. The entire class sent cards.

Things were hard, and harder and then improving and improving—phew.

My family has been on the receiving end of such rallying, the dinner that simply shows up in the preschool cubby after a new baby arrives, the piece of advice that tilts things in the right direction after the kindergartner breaks his leg (this: “You won’t recognize your child for days, because he’s in pain, but right when you fear he’ll never return, in about a week, he’s there again.”), and stellar support during times of bigger, messier crisis.

Anywhere you go or anywhere you live, you can and will find kindness much like this when things go wrong. Communities reach out, or neighborhoods or classrooms, sure. The thing about where we live—biased opinion, indeed—is that in a way, our reaching out isn’t remarkable; this is what happens whenever there’s a crisis. You get concerts for arson victims; you get friends like ours, who just reach out because it’s a reflex to do so, or if not a reflex, perhaps a muscle that remains toned, because the gesture—meals when someone has a baby or friends pooling resources to help fund a parental leave in lieu of other gifts—of reaching out, that’s engrained. That’s how everyone does it around here. We help our friends and neighbors. It is so cool. And I am grateful every single time.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

El Mercado de Vegetales de Jackson Street

New Monthly Farmers’ Market: Jackson Street Farmers’ Market
Debuts Friday, July 8th from 3-7pm

Families With Power, The Northampton Health Department, and Tuesday Market Present: El Mercado de Vegetales de Jackson Street (The Jackson Street Farmers' Market), starting this Friday, July 8th from 3-7pm at Hampshire Heights (corner of Jackson St. and Bridge Road, across from the Jackson Street School). The value of your food stamps will be DOUBLED at this Market (up to $10). Walk, bike, bus if you can, but if you must drive, please park your car at the Jackson Street School parking lot and walk over to Hampshire Heights. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Ben James of Town Farm in Northampton, MA writes:

We are very excited to announce Northampton’s newest farmers’ market. Initiated by Families With Power (a group of mothers whose children attend the Jackson Street School), The Jackson Street Farmers’ Market is dedicated to building community and providing nourishing, affordable, locally-grown produce to Northampton’s Latino and low-income residents.

Located on the corner of Bridge Road & Jackson Streets, the new market is an easy walk or bike ride from a number of Northampton neighborhoods, and it’s a convenient stop on the way home from a long week of work. Stock up on tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers, salad greens, summer squash, and more. Find out how Elba Heredia makes delicious sofrito with fresh cilantro for her popular arroz con gandulez. There’ll be live music & dancing as well! Town Farm will be making shaved ices (piraguas) in all new tropical flavors. Vendors include farmers from Nuestres Raices in Holyoke, El Jardin Bakery, Northampton’s Town Farm, and more.

You’ve probably noticed that there are farmers’ markets sprouting up everywhere, but there aren’t many being started in low-income neighborhoods. This is a real shame, since families living in these neighborhoods face a number of hurdles at once. Suffering from a far greater incidence of diabetes and other nutritionally-related disorders, hard-working, low-income mothers & fathers rarely have the time or the means to make a special trip to a farmers’ market. This is a problem, since it’s these people who can benefit the most from nutritious, locally-grown food. The Jackson Street Farmers’ Market aims to shift the situation by – as Jackson Street School teacher and market organizer Mary Cowhey puts it – “creating a positive community event out of the market as a way to change buying, cooking, eating, and activity habits.”

Most exciting of all, the Jackson Street Farmers’ Market will be doubling the value of customers’ food stamps, thanks to our FoodStampsX2 program. This program is run by Tuesday Market & Grow Food Northampton, and is funded by generous donations from Northampton residents and local businesses, including Florence Savings Bank. If you’d like to make a donation to this great program, here’s how.

So please come on by and be a part of the cooking, the dancing, the hanging out, and – of course – the food. The market is open to everyone! We would love to see you there.

And mark your calendar for the August 12th & September 9th markets as well!

A Day at the Tuesday Market

The Tuesday Market

Northampton’s Tuesday Market is one of the many things we love about living walking distance from downtown. However, it’s a treat we have to wait for Spring and Summer to bring to us.  In season, I walk over with the kids nearly every week for music, shaved iced in exciting flavors and for artisan cheese. Yes, that’s right local, artisan cheese – best dairy ever, for those that partake, of course (It’s true that if your kids like cheese samples, you will have to watch them closely… I’m just saying.).

Farmers’ Market Season is kicking off, which means pretty soon there will be roadside tomatoes – real drive-thru food.  Pull in, grab a tomato or two, some corn and stick some cash in the box. My kids love this errand – it is the speediest, get them back to playing and swimming soonest, grocery shopping ever.

Northampton’s Tuesday Market we love for the opposite reason.  It is our town square, suddenly come alive with bands, book readings, and occasional side shows of pedestrians turned dancers. It is the most leisurely, communal, let’s stay a while because this is as good as home grocery shop of the summer. The market’s slogan tag line is Live Music, Live Farmers. My kids and I enjoy chatting to the real live farmers about the plants, the veggies, the fruit, the syrup, the cheese and the flowers. Everything tastes good. Everything smells good.

Lux Deluxe was the band this week. Their lead singer had the good sense to admire Theo’s vintage Star Wars t-shirt – over the microphone – making Theo puff up his five year old chest with Star Wars pride.

When I say the Tuesday Market is child friendly, it is an understatement. Every week Tuesday Market staffs its tent with interns who help kids with craft projects so you can shop. This market is not on a street, it’s on the sidewalk between Thorne’s and the garage, set well back from the street. If you are my kids, you will spend time with a rock that draws as well as sidewalk chalk. I brought the sidewalk chalk so you have more than one color (I promise, next time I will remember kids!).

Speaking of others, the market sponsors a program called FoodStampsX2. The market accepts WIC coupons and doubles the value of up to $10 worth food stamps, which are now known as SNAP benefits. Donations to this program are accepted weekly at the market. This week those who donated were treated to a delicious honey miso noodle salad. SNAP benefit customers can head to the friendly Tuesday Market tent  & use the debit swipe machine  – the same one you can use if you forget cash  – to get farmers’ market tokens that can be accepted by every farm for delicious, local, real, live food.

The market is open every Tuesday of the season from 1:30-6:30. We think it is the best thing since sliced bread – and yes, you can get bread from El Jardin there too.  I think you should sign up for the market’s newsletter so you can preview next week’s delicious treats! Go here to find out more, www.northamptontuesdaymarket.com



Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

Think Globally, Hug Locally ❥ Tuesday Market

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 1, Tuesday Market

Here’s my one-time awkward greeting: I’m a local writer (and blogger) and community-minded do-gooder besotted by so many things about this place I call home. For Hilltown Families, I’ll write a monthly series of mash notes (love letters) focused upon this groovy spot on earth. Here’s mash note numb-ah one.

(Photo credit: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)

❥ I got an email today from an old friend and this was his sign-off—Think globally, hug locally.

When the global scene—wars, oil spills, religious standoffs, poverty… okay, you get where I’m going—is one that overwhelms, it’s no surprise the sweetest and most tangible victories are just that: so close they are palpable. One of the places I feel most certain hope is the place to dwell is sandwiched between the back of Thornes Market and the parking garage on Tuesdays from May through October.

That’s when Tuesday Market brings its tents and vegetables, bike trailers and musicians out to transform an underutilized bit of not-quite park-like space into a pop-up festival week after week. See the baby goat. Hear the music. Test a broom. Taste some maple cream. Buy berries, greens, jam, cucumbers, and all types of squashes. Cool off with shaved ice. Drink in the flowers’ colors. Ogle the pastel shells of eggs, the shapes of local mushrooms, or the spectacle of chocolate goat cheese truffles. Smile at your friends and neighbors. Be waved at by a small child.

Ben James, old friend and my farmer (we have a CSA share at Town Farm, which he and his wife, Oona Coy, own and run) is the beaming engine behind this swath of lively Tuesday activity. His express goals include creating exactly what I describe—a thriving community—and to make fresh, local food accessible. To that end, Tuesday Market not only accepts SNAP benefits, in conjunction with Grow Food Northampton (another tangible victory to talk about another day) an effort is underway to raise $12,000 so that SNAP benefits at Tuesday Market can be doubled. That’s all good, right?

Maybe because Ben and Oona have young kids—Wiley spent a good deal of last spring and summer and fall’s Tuesdays in a carrier on his papa’s back, there’s a real attentiveness to ensuring that Tuesday afternoons could be fine with small children if your sole “plan” were to be Tuesday Market.

(Photo credit: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)

❥ I’ve got four kids—15, 12 (almost 13!), eight and three—and sometimes Tuesdays are a family affair. This first week, there was a nap (phew), a playground hang afterschool and the bus ride home to keep three of my kids from the inaugural visit. My eldest and I walked downtown, though, obtained asparagus grown right in town, plus leeks, and burdock root (for stock made by the aspiring tweenage chef) and arugula (for me). I managed to conduct a little interview for a forthcoming story I’m writing (that is some satisfying multitasking), greet friends including farmers I’d missed seeing, snap photos and return to the playground to fetch the second grader.

The tween grilled asparagus and leeks for supper.

No question, Tuesday Market and me, we’re on hugging terms.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Families Can Eat Locally Year Round: Northampton Winter Fare

Northampton Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year Round

Bring your own home-preserved foods to trade with neighbors at the Barter Market during the Winter Fare. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

It is possible for families to eat locally year-round, and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 15th, 2011 from 10am-2pm, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is bringing Winter Fare, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. Bring your shopping bags and stock up on fresh salad greens, root vegetables, local grains and bread, eggs, meat, cheese, maple syrup, honey, jam, pickles, and more, all grown by local farmers.

CISA strongly believes that healthful, local food should be available to everyone in the community, so Northampton Winter Fare will accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and CISA will be matching the first $5 of all SNAP purchases.

In addition to perusing the array of local foods, shoppers can attend one of the several educational workshops scheduled during the market. The workshops include introductions to culinary and medicinal herbs, growing grains and legumes in the home garden, composting, and a short film. All the workshop leaders are local people who practice these skills at home, and the workshops are free and do not require pre-registration.

At 11:30am, the Soup Café will open for business so shoppers can take a break and enjoy a hot cup of soup. Offerings include a butternut soup from Karma, white bean and vegetable soup from Paul and Elizabeth’s Restaurant, curried root vegetable soup from Cup and Top Cafe, and potato leek from Serio’s Market. Bring your own mug to help us reduce waste.

The Barter Market, a fun, lively food-swapping event, begins at 1pm. Bring your own home-preserved foods and trade with your neighbors to diversify your pantry and get to know other people that can, dry, and freeze the local harvest.

More details about Winter Fare, including complete lists of vendors and workshops, are available at www.buylocalfood.org. Volunteers are still needed to make this event possible! Please contact CISA at 413-665-7100 or volunteer@buylocalfood.org to sign up or for more information.

The weekly winter farmers’ markets in Northampton and Amherst will be closed on January 15th. Northampton Winter Fare is sponsored by River Valley Market, UMass Five College Federal Credit Union, Easthampton Savings Bank, and Florence Savings Bank.

Ashfield Farmers’ Market

Maribeth Ritchie of Ashfield, MA writes:

On Sat May 23rd the Ashfield Farmers’ Market begins on the Town Common, Route 116 in Ashfield, MA. Market hours are 8:30-12:20. Rhubarb Pie will play during the market. Not only can you buy vegetables, plants, yogurt, cheese, bread, fruit, etc, its also a wonderful time to visit with your neighbors, & allow your children to play with their friends. The market also has a website, www.ashfieldfarmersmarket.com, for more information on vendors & happenings. Hope to see you all there!

Suggested Events 06/21/08-06/27/08

Suggested Event: Family Dinners with Local, Healthy, Real Food!

Local Farmer’s Markets are in full swing! Take the family – there’s a lot kids can learn at farmer’s markets, and a lot of local, good food choices to bring home for your family dinner. This week I’ve listed a few local markets below as suggested events to take your families. You can also click here to find the farmer’s market nearest you.

In the meantime, check out this video by kitchengardnerers.org and get your family inspired to create, eat and support a healthy food system.


If 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.

Suggest an Event | Local forecast | Get directions | Museum Passes
Farmer’s Market | Family Centers (Ages 0-4)

Events Happening in the Hilltowns
The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:
(>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

Saturday – 06/21


7am-12:30pm – FARMER’S MARKET – (Northampton) Downtown.

7am-1:30pm – FARMER’S MARKET – (Amherst) Common Green.

7am – 9am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) Are you prepared to rock?! Join Bill & Ella on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child every Saturday on The River 93.9FM (101.5FM in Brattleboro), or 103.3 FM WXOJ-LP to hear two hours of quality family-friendly music. [All ages] (Free) LINK

8:30am-12:30pm – FARMER’S MARKET – (Ashfield) Town Common.

9am-10am – FAMILY RADIO & STORYTELLING – (Air Waves) Join our Hilltown Family! Spend a little time with The Hilltown Family Variety Show every Saturday on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM to hear a full hour of commercial-free, quality family-friendly music and storytelling. [Families] (Free) LINK

9am-1pm – FARMER’S MARKET – (Cummington) Route 9 & Main Street.

10am-2pm – FARMER’S MARKET – (Easthampton) Memorial Hall.

TROLLEY FEST – (Shelburne Falls) The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum celebrates TrolleyFest 2008. Fun for the whole family. [All Ages] ($) MORE INFO

GREEN LIVING – (Amherst) The 2008 Regionbal Sustainable Energy Summit happens Friday & Saturday at UMass Amherst Campus Center. Keynote speaker is David Morris from the Institute for Local Self Reliance. 877-266-7543 [Adults] LINK

10am – FAMILY FILM – (Williamstown) Images Cinema offers a morning of family friendly films. [Families] ($) MORE INFO

11am – CULTURAL EXPLORATIONS – (Pittsfield) Families can discover Native American crafts through a hands-on art program at the Berkshire Museum. This Saturday learn to weave baskets. http://www.berkshiremuseum.org [All Ages] ($) MORE INFO

Noon-10pm – LOCAL FOOD – (Amherst) Taste of Amherst on the Town Common. [All Ages] ($)

2pm – MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURE – (Northampton) Explore Middle Eastern Dance at the Northampton Center for the Arts presents Belly Dancing with The Middle Eastern Arts Collaborative. 584-7327 [All Ages] ($) MORE INFO

2pm & 5:30pm – CIRCUS IN THE HILLTOWNS – (Cummington) The Kelly Miller Circus will be at the Cummington Fairgrounds. [Families] ($)

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Farmers’ Market: Take the Family and Make the Most of Your Visit

Farmers’ Markets Opening

Farmers’ Market season is here! The Pioneer Valley boasts thirty farmer’s markets –and growing–with at least one open each day of the week. Most of these markets celebrate opening day sometime between late April and early June. Click here to find the farmers’ market nearest you.

Busy farmers’ markets are a great opportunity for farmers. By selling direct to consumers, farmers can take home the full price of the products they sell. In return, consumers have access to a wide variety of farm-fresh produce and other goods. Thanks to several state and federal programs, and the efforts of community groups and market managers, farmers’ markets are more and more accessible to low-income shoppers, as well. For a list of farmers’ markets that accept WIC coupons, food stamps, and farmer’s market coupons for seniors, click here.

Every dollar spent at the farmers’ market is a dollar re-invested in the local economy. Markets are also a great place to spend your lunch hour or your Saturday morning. Many markets are now adding to the festive feeling by offering live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, art exhibits, activities for children, and more! This is also your chance to ask your farmers questions–if they grow it best, they’ll know it best. Ask them for advice on recipes, storage, and picking the ripest produce. This will also give you a chance to ask the farmer how the product is grown and any other questions or concerns you may have

Making the Most of your Farmers’ Market Visit

Navigating your way around a farmers’ market can be enjoyable and rewarding, or incredibly overwhelming. In order to make your next trip to the farmers’ market a little better, we’ve put together a few tips:

  • Go Early. Getting to the market when it opens will give you access to the best produce before everything is picked over. Some stands may sell out of an item before the market is done, so timeliness is important.
  • Take a Walk. When you first arrive, take a moment to walk the entire length of the market. This will give you a chance to take a look at what everyone has to offer before buying. You can compare prices for the best deal and you may find things that aren’t even on your list.
  • Bring a Bag. Many farmers offer plastic bags for the produce you buy, but if you shop around at multiple stands, you may end up with too many bags to handle. Solve that by bringing your own larger canvas bag to fit all of your goods.
  • Take Cash. Many farmers only accept cash at the farmers’ market, so come prepared. If you can, bring smaller bills–no one wants to break a fifty for two tomatoes when a line is forming.
  • Ask Questions. If you don’t know what something is, ask. Don’t be shy about asking the farmer and other shoppers for cooking tips. You just may come across your new favorite food–or at least an adventure. Feel uncomfortable asking the farmer? Look for the Farmers’ Market Manager to answer any questions you have and even introduce you to the farmers.
  • Enjoy Yourself. Stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of the market. Farmers’ markets are a great place to get to know your farmers and neighbors. Take a moment to relish in the bounty of local agriculture.

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