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Valley Bounty: Rising from the ashes: One year after tragic fire, J & J Farms in Amherst enters new chapter with community backing
07-11-2024 1:27 PM

By JACOB NELSON

For over two decades, J & J Farms stood alone as the last dairy farm in Amherst. Many other small New England dairies shuttered as the economy shifted even more in favor of mega-dairies, but the Waskiewicz family held on, milking cows while also...

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Valley Bounty: Blueberry fields forever: Family farm in Heath cultivates connection to a special summer crop
07-05-2024 12:44 PM

By JACOB NELSON

“This is a farm, but it feels like a wild place,” says Meredith Wecker about The Benson Place. “That’s why I fell in love with it.”The Benson Place is a diversified farm that Wecker runs with her husband, Andrew Kurowski, and is best known for their...


Valley Bounty: From seed to vase: At Passalongs Farm and Florist in Florence, Adrienne Bashista grows and designs custom floral arrangements
06-21-2024 10:32 AM

By JACOB NELSON

“In a different life, I think I would have been an artist from the beginning,” says Adrienne Bashista, owner of Passalongs Farm and Florist. “I wasn’t forbidden from a career in art, it just didn’t occur to me. But now in my 50s, I’ve realized what I...


Valley Bounty: A farm stand in good hands: Wanczyk Produce in Hadley delivers quality, care, and has big dreams for the future
05-31-2024 3:54 PM

By JACOB NELSON

Jackie Pliska, owner of Wanczyk Produce in Hadley, has dreams of keeping the farm stand business open year-round instead of seven months each year. But first, she has to finish college.Pliska started working at the family business when she was 11. She...


Valley Bounty: Fibers for farmers: Western Massachusetts Fibershed turns local ‘throw away’ wool into fertilizer pellets
05-10-2024 2:58 PM

By JACOB NELSON

Local wool for your wardrobe … and for your garden?That’s the idea behind a new project from Western Massachusetts Fibershed, an organization working to strengthen our local fiber economy, right alongside our local food economy.Peggy Hart is a core...


Valley Bounty: Delivering local food onto students’ plates: Marty’s Local connects farms to businesses
05-03-2024 1:50 PM

By LISA GOODRICH

Nick Martinelli, CEO of Marty’s Local, began his career with a stint at the Farm School in Athol, hoping to learn how he might participate in the local agricultural economy. While conducting market research in 2015, he recognized there was a lot of...


Valley Bounty: Central Chicopee no longer a food desert: Couple buys and revives Fruit Fair grocery by turning to local farms and vendors
03-29-2024 12:26 PM

By LISA GOODRICH

Samaita (Sam) Newell is a first-generation immigrant from India. She met Jared Newell as a student in the five-college area. Following graduation and getting married, the young couple dreamed of buying a farm with a store.Without collateral, their...


Valley Bounty: Fermentation meets cooperation: Real Pickles in Greenfield supports and supplies the regional food system
03-22-2024 9:58 AM

By JACOB NELSON

A knock on the door interrupts the conversation. Someone is here to trade cheese for Real Pickles’ fermented veggies.Kate Hunter, a marketing coordinator, assistant sales manager, and worker-owner at Real Pickles, gets up to confirm the terms. Out the...


Valley Bounty: Building community, year-round: Holyoke Farmers Market is a source of positivity and local fare
03-01-2024 11:50 AM

By JACOB NELSON

‘When I was a kid in Puerto Rico, I always liked going to the roadside markets and farm stands,” says Alexis Diaz DeJesus. “People had their fruit and vegetables all displayed, and you could negotiate prices or even trade for things. Then there were...


Regional agricultural conference set for Saturday in Northampton
01-31-2024 9:56 AM

By EMILEE KLEIN

NORTHAMPTON — The Pioneer Valley Regional Agricultural Conference this Saturday presents three guest speakers on low-impact forestry, cheese making and maple forestry production for agricultural professionals looking to diversify their production.The...


If the land could speak: Community gardens on land with social justice roots
01-25-2024 3:54 PM

By PAT JAMES

Community gardens grow on all kinds of land. Many gardens start as derelict lots, long abandoned by owners who sometimes reclaim the property after community gardeners reveal its beauty and productivity.Schools and parks are common sites for community...


Valley Bounty: Farming in a winter wonderland: Lombrico Farm in Whately coaxes fresh produce from soil year-round
01-19-2024 11:07 AM

By JACOB NELSON

‘The best carrots you’ll ever eat are picked in January or February,” says Erik Debbink, owner of Lombrico Farm in Whately. In the dead of winter, their sweetness shines through.Lombrico Farms is one of a growing number of local farms working hard to...


Valley Bounty: One good thing to come from pandemic: Mass Food Delivery service maximizes access to farms
01-12-2024 12:15 PM

By LISA GOODRICH

Farms are the foundation of our local food system, with farmers markets, farm stands, and community markets providing the predominant means of providing local food to customers. And for some members of the community, the ability to order fresh, local...


Resilience and respect: Farmer Appreciation Party salutes extraordinary efforts in trying times
11-30-2023 6:22 PM

By MADDIE FABIAN

NORTHAMPTON — This year was a tough run for Massachusetts farmers, with over $42 million and 13,000 acres of crop losses reported due to extreme weather events during the spring and summer.Despite the Feb. 4 freeze, May 18 frost and July 10 flooding...


On front lines of climate change: Farmers work to mitigate their climate impacts and become more resilient
11-17-2023 9:28 PM

By JACOB NELSON

It’s hard to throw water on a burning house while trying to rebuild it at the same time, but that’s exactly what addressing climate change requires. Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already changing the planet. The choice is whether or...


CISA seeks $500K to bolster farm fund
10-23-2023 5:14 PM

By CHRIS LARABEE

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With farmers facing two straight challenging summers, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture is launching a fundraising campaign that will expand access to local produce and prepare farmers for a changing climate.After a soft...


100 Mass. farms getting checks for $10K
08-27-2023 10:35 AM

By Alison Kuznitz

Pioneer Valley farms that were flooded out during July will soon receive $10,000 checks from a fundraising campaign launched by the Healey administration and United Way of Central Massachusetts last month.About 100 farms will be awarded money from the...


McGovern starts 13th annual farm tour at Westhampton dairy
08-22-2023 8:25 PM

By MADDIE FABIAN

WESTHAMPTON — As farmers face increasing challenges due to climate change, labor shortages and rising costs, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern embarked on his 13th annual districtwide farm tour this week to hear directly from local farmers.His first stop of the...


State farm caucus spells out priorities: Bevy of legislation focuses on food access, farmland and economic development
07-23-2023 9:12 AM

By MADDIE FABIAN

BOSTON — Food access and insecurity, farmland and economic development top the list of priorities for the current legislative session for the Food System Caucus, one of the largest caucuses in the Massachusetts Legislature that’s co-chaired by Sen....


Floodwaters claim Hadley CSA farm’s harvest
07-15-2023 7:00 AM

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — Eight acres of tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, leeks, beets, peppers and garlic, all about ready to harvest at the height of the growing season for Stone Soup Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture summer shares, will soon be plowed under after...


In Easthampton, Mountain View Farm’s major CSA crop mostly wiped out
07-13-2023 11:07 AM

By MADDIE FABIAN

EASTHAMPTON — On Wednesday morning, rather than walking into the field to pick the first sweet corn of the season, Ben Perrault, co-owner of Mountain View Farm, kayaked through the inundated field to assess the damage caused by the worst flooding the...

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