April 19, 2014

When Pigs Fly Farm

By Nichole Y Calero

                Sandisfield is a place best described as off the beaten track. As the long, winding road that is route 57 takes you past the center of New Marlborough, you begin to feel as though you are truly entering the heart of the Berkshires. But before the route brings you to the center of Sandisfield, your eye is caught by a statue of a wooden, winged pig poised for flight in the center of a garden. The next thing you spot is the small farm stand with an American flag mounted to its side above a sign that reads “When Pigs Fly Farm: a family farm with family values.”

When Pigs Fly is owned and operated by Andy and Sandra Snyder. Coming from very different backgrounds, both were drawn to farming. For Sandra, her love of growing things came from her family, who grew a large portion of their own food each year. “I’ll never get tired of watching seeds germinate, ever.” she says, laughing. Andy’s interest was piqued during a research project on using methane to power farms when he was a biology major, leaving him thinking “Someday, I’ve gotta be a farmer.” Their drive became action when they discovered property for sale in Sandisfield, a former farm that hadn’t been worked in 40 years. “It was the wild blueberry bushes that sold us.” Sandra remembers. Their goal was to provide organically grown food for their family (they have two daughters) and “also… to be able to feed the locals,” at a reasonable price.  Starting with a little garden,  their  first farm stand was a table with an umbrella, set up by the side of the road.

Today their farm and the farm stand are a little more sophisticated. Their growing now uses 4.5 acres of their 16 acre property. Their veggies are everywhere: in a greenhouse,  in their own beds, mingled in with the flowers, and even in the neighbors garden plot.  The wild blueberry bushes provide shade for the ducks while their sturdy blackberries are right by the side of the house.   They raise three different types of poultry and pigs, all of whom eat a combination of organic feed and also forage on the property.  The farm stand is housed in a shed,  and signs on the front let you know what type of produce is available at the moment.  In addition to their own vegetables, fruits, and meats there are products from other local farms that follow the same sustainable practices as the Snyders. Everything is labeled  not only with the name and price, but also its place of origin. Two refrigerators are packed with greens, other perishable  veggies,  Monterey chevre and eggs from their own “happy hens.”  In the fall their own Muscovy duck is available,  along with their own pork, as well as heritage -breed Narragansett turkeys for Thanksgiving  for which a sign-up sheet is required.  Berries may have been cultivated or foraged, but were picked that day; tree fruits from nearby farms vary with the season. Jars of honey and jugs of maple syrup line the dry storage shelves, and coolers hold additional bounty. During the harvest season quarts of soup can be found, and over the winter they offer wreaths and baked goods. Though their growth means both a bigger farm stand and a spot at the Otis farmers market, the Snyders are proud that they’ve not raised their prices once in the past decade, prompting  signs like the one  that reads “Share the health- purchase only one dozen eggs at a time.”

So if you find yourself on route 57, about 4 miles east of the center of New Marlborough, keep an eye out for the pig that’s poised to fly and the flag that already is, and pull over. The inventory may change with the season, but the food is always farm fresh.