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 »

6 More Reasons to Spend Your Saturday at the Hilltown Spring Festival!

An Eclectic Mix of Dancing, Creating and Workshops
at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Saturday, May 14th at Cummington Fairgrounds

The Hilltown Spring Festival already sounds so wonderful, right? With it’s 3 stages of music, including a family stage, educational opportunities mixed into the fun, frolic, solar power and delicious local food with an international flare… who would need another excuse to go? We’ll there are plenty! Plenty! Including a hot air balloon launch in the evening, Morris dancers through the day, sustainability vendors, kids-made craft bazaar, solar powered stage, music giveaway, artisans, blacksmith demo, horse trainer, petting zoo… my goodness, someone stop me!  Too late… look what else you can find at this year’s Hilltown Spring Festival:

EarthSpirit of Worthington leads the Maypole dance again this year at the Hilltown Spring Festival. Join them at 12:30pm on Saturday, May 14th at the Cummington Fairgrounds to celebrate spring and community! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


Maypole and a maypole dance return to the festival this year, lead by EarthSpirit of Worthington, MA. Dancing the maypole is a traditional way of welcoming in the spring throughout northern Europe. At the time of the Earth’s greatest fertility, winding the ribbons around the pole is a way of connecting with the community as it emerges from the cold of winter, and of celebrating the coming together of Earth and sky to create new life. The colors and flowers of a maypole are expressions of gratitude for the warmth and joy of springtime. On the lawn at 12:3pm, followed by Morris Dancing!

1:15pm & 2:15pm ❁ DRUMMING WORKSHOPS

At 1:15pm percussionist Tony Vacca will offer a hands-on percussion workshop! In this “hands-on” session, Tony will apply over two decades of experience as a drummer/composer, and over a dozen trips to West Africa, to create and teach a percussion composition. He’ll use djembe drums, gongs, rattles, an orchestra of tuned bells, and a wide variety of other percussion instruments, involving combinations of rhythms that connect African, Caribbean and American traditions.  Tony is an innovative American percussionist with Jazz and World Music roots going back to 1972 and has created a unique blend of rhythm, word, and drum that has come to be the signature of his workshops.

Then at 2:15pm join Gaia Roots co-founder and drummer/singer Aimee Gelinas and dancer Marie Georgefils in an intergenerational and interactive Afro-Caribbean drum, song and dance workshop featuring music from Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico.


Prakasa Yoga Studio of Goshen, MA will offer an interactive intergenerational yoga demo of Anusara Yoga, an integrated yoga system that invites you to joyfully inhabit our body. At Spring Festival they invite all to come stretch and play in postures that are accessible to everyone, of any age. Fun partner yoga and group poses will encourage an intergenerational participation in yoga. On the lawn at 11:30am and 1:15pm.


Write! Draw! Make a Show with Piti Theatre Company at 2:30pm. Shelburne’s Piti Theatre Co. is getting ready for a community-powered performance at Riverfest in Shelburne Falls on June 11. Drop into their river poetry workshop to write/illustrate river-inspired poems and build props for the show. You can even sign up to be a dancer/actor! All poetry will also be displayed by Hilltown CDC and at Riverfest. For ages 5 – 105.


Family musician, Mister G, will offer a songwriting workshop, Who Writes Songs? You Do! at 4pm. Mister G empowers students to write their own songs and demystifies the writing process. Using examples from his albums, Mister G illustrates how great songs, like stories, follow a narrative form with a beginning, middle, and end. Employing basic concepts in literacy, students brainstorm specific imaginative details to create compelling characters and events, and then translate these ideas into lyrics. Using this student-generated material, Mister G demonstrates how a range of musical styles – including funk, rock, reggae, bluegrass, and jazz –can be paired with lyrics to invent a fully-formed new song.

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