Berkshire Grown

Watch Dan Barber and Elizabeth Kolbert

Dan Barber Flyer 2014-05“Beyond Farm to Table: The Future of Food”

Dan Barber and Elizabeth Kolbert in conversation


If you missed seeing chef Dan Barber and author Elizabeth Kolbert at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA in August, thanks to CTSB TV you an watch now.




Long Row in Fertile Ground on WGBY, Springfield


A Long Row in Fertile Ground
Premiering Wednesday July 9 at 8pm

Western New England’s agricultural legacy has persisted for more than three centuries, through waves of migration, technological innovation and economic uncertainty. In many ways it is the birthplace of American agriculture that exists to this day.  A new WGBY production examines the history and present day status of agriculture in the region.  The documentary, produced by Emmy Award-nominated WGBY producer Dave Fraser, will premiere on WGBY on Wednesday, July 9, at 8pm.

The Connecticut River Valley is home to New England’s longest river, a remnant of the last Ice Age. But the receding glaciers also left behind another gift—some of the richest soil on Earth. This fertile valley has attracted Native Americans and settlers since the early 1600s. It remains a commercial provider of products such as tobacco, tomatoes and corn.  More recently, the idea of Community Supported Agriculture—community members and farmers in a relationship of mutual support based on an annual commitment to one another—was born in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

Interviews with a number of farmers, land preservationists and agricultural scholars from Deerfield to Great Barrington help provide a comprehensive view of this treasured resource and illuminate the complex story of the land, its people, its culture, and its agriculture. This WGBY production begins to tell that story.

Contributing to the program are John Brady, geology professor at Smith College; Kristin DeBoer, executive director of the Kestrel Land Trust; Joanna Ballantine, regional director for the West Division of the Trustees of Reservations; Phil Korman, executive director of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture); and Rich Hubbard, executive director of the Franklin Land Trust.

Local producers featured in the program include Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield, Luther Beldon Farm in Hatfield, Winter Moon Farm in Hadley, Szawlowski Potato Farms in Hatfield, Red Fire Farm in Montague and Indian Line Farm in South Egremont, the first CSA farm in the country.

The premiere broadcast of A Long Row in Fertile Ground will be followed at 9pm by a documentary originally broadcast on WGBY in 1973, titled Root Hog or Die. This newly restored film captures the lives and stories of the old-time horse farmers in Franklin County Massachusetts in their own voices, faces, ingenious technology and well-tended land.

“Root, hog, or die” was once a common saying in rural America, suggesting that coaxing a living from the land requires hard work. Through the words of the farmers themselves, the film paints a wistful but honest portrait of family farming’s history in western New England. Following farmers though a year’s cycle of logging, haying, dairying and sugaring, Root Hog shows a life that was as challenging, simple and spare as it was rewarding, harmonious with the land, and an integral part of local communities.  The evening’s broadcast will also include a special panel discussion led by WGBY General Manager Rus Peotter.  He’ll be joined by Dave Fraser, producer of A Long Row in Fertile Ground; Rawn Fulton, producer of Root Hot or Die; Phil Korman, Executive Director of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture); and Nancy Hanson, Farm Manager at Hampshire College.

Congratulations to Berkshire Farm & Table for today’s article in The Boston Globe encouraging people to think of the Berksires as a place to go for fresh local food!


Wendy Maeda, Globe staff

“Think Napa Valley, and what comes to mind? Rolling vineyards, luscious wines, and gourmet food. Vermont? Flavorful cheeses, best-quality maple syrup, and solidly built crafts. Cape Cod? Sand beaches, fresh seafood, and spectacular sunsets.

The Berkshires?

For many people, a defining feature might not jump immediately to mind. But this region in western-most Massachusetts, often overshadowed by other New England travel destinations, wants to change that and build a brand as recognizable as Napa, Vermont, and the Cape. The idea is to tap into the burgeoning interest in food tourism to become a year-round destination, with the most ambitious dreamers envisioning the region as New England’s equivalent of Napa Valley.

The strategy taps into three trends: the local food movement, the popularity of farm-to-table restaurants, and the growth of small-scale, specialty farms, and agricultural products. Farms in Berkshire County now number more than 500, a jump of more than 30 percent in the last decade and nearly 65 percent in the past 20 years, according to US Department of Agriculture.

About a dozen restaurants in the Berkshires are exclusively farm-to-table, getting nearly all the meats, vegetables and other products on their menus directly from nearby farms. Many other restaurants emphasize local products on their menus, and the number of locavore establishments are expected to grow, said Angela Cardinali, founder and director of Berkshire Farm & Table, a nonprofit that highlights food culture in the Berkshires.

Cardinali and her organization are the driving forces in the effort to boost Berkshire tourism through food. In the last two years, Berkshire Farm & Table has established three taste trails that wind through the countryside of rolling green hills. They feature farm fresh, locally made products along a cheese trail, charcuterie trail, and a beer and cider trail.

Others, possibly featuring chocolate and fresh-baked goods, are on the drawing board.  READ MORE IN THE BOSTON GLOBE

“We are at a point in time where the Berkshires need to take a look at itself,” Cardinali said, “see what we want to be known for.”

The Berkshires, of course, are not exactly obscure. The area is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which plays at Tanglewood in Lenox. It has a thriving arts scene, including the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. It offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, canoeing, and camping, not to mention the state’s highest peak, Mount Greylock.

More in the Boston Globe

Indian Line GB FM June 2014 Cricket Creek farm at GB FM June 2014 Delicious locally grown food at farmers’ markets throughout the Berkshires.





Indian Line Farm at the Great Barrington Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds.


Cricket Creek Farm Cheeses

Taste Maggie’s Round and Tobasi – yum!

June is Dairy Month

Farm Guide 2014 e-news

RoosterThe National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides a summary of what the NEW Agriculture Census reveals: Read here.  While the word census sounds dull – imagine a SNAPSHOT of LOCAL FOOD, and BEGINNING FARMERS, and FOOD,

Who is The National Sustainable Ag Coalition?  The NSAC is a coalition of organizations that advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.  Berkshire Grown participates in the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group which works with NSAC.

The NSAC summary on Organic Food and Local Food  is here and the section on Local Food is copied below:

& for “What does the new ag Census reveal about the next generation of farmers and the future of agriculture?” click

Local Food

Direct to Consumer Agriculture

Sales of agricultural products through direct-to-consumer outlets such as farmers markets and roadside stands have grown rapidly over the last decade. In the 2002 Census, direct-to-consumer sales equaled $812 million, climbing to $1.3 billion in the 2012 Census, an increase of 60 percent.  Additionally, the number of farms selling directly to consumers has increased from 116,733 in 2002 to 144,530 in 2012.  When compared with the 2007 Census, the current Census shows an increase of 8 percent for the number of farms selling directly to consumers and 5 percent for the sales in dollars of directly marketed agricultural products.

Direct to Retail and Value-Added

For the first time, the 2012 Census provides a more detailed glimpse into local food marketing, providing categories such as direct-to-retail marketing, production and sales of value-added commodities, and marketing through community supported agriculture (CSAs).

For CSAs and direct-to-retailer marketing, many of the top 10 states, such as California, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, were the same ones that were among the top 10 states for the number of organic farms or organic sales.  In the direct-to-retailer category, however, southern states also make a strong showing, with Texas, North Carolina and Virginia making the top 10 list, while Texas and North Carolina round out the top three states after California for CSA marketing.  In the production and sales of value-added commodities, the southern states dominate, with Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia among the top ten states.

The Importance of Data: Local Data Initiative and Organic Data Initiative

All farmers, regardless of production practices and supply chains, need sound market information about the state of agriculture, consumer trends, government assistance programs, and the agricultural products they produce to understand the shortfalls and opportunities in the agricultural marketplace and to maintain and strengthen the viability of their farms.  The 2014 Farm Bill provides several ways for USDA to collect valuable data to help not just farmers, but farming-related and food businesses, policymakers, and planners make sound policy, business, and marketing decisions.  NSAC, along with allies and partners, advocated for the following Farm Bill data initiatives:

  • Organic Production and Market Data Initiative funds basic data collection activities on organic agriculture. NSAC helped to ensure a restoration of $5 million in mandatory funding in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Additionally, the recent farm bill directs USDA agencies that collect data on the organic sector to coordinate with agencies that may be able to use the data, such as the Risk Management Agency’s need for data on organic crop prices.  This pricing information would allow them to develop better crop insurance policies that reflect the organic premium and more fairly and effectively cover the costs to producers of organic crop loss.

  • Local Food Production and Program Evaluation Initiative is a new initiative that directs USDA to collect data on the production and marketing of locally or regionally produced agricultural products, monitor the effectiveness of programs designed to expand local food systems, and identify barriers to local and regional market access due to regulations aimed at small-scale producers.  While NSAC is pleased that the initiative, which we championed in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, made it into the final Farm Bill, we are disappointed that no farm bill funding was provided for these additional data collection activities.  The launch of this critical new data initiative will depend on funding being secured through either the annual appropriations process or a future farm bill.

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