WESTFIELD – Now that fall has officially arrived, have you considered a road trip to view the foliage – meandering the back roads of our neighboring communities and stopping to explore the varied farm stands along the way?
Across our region, there are farmers who connect with the South Deerfield-based Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), which provides a “Local Hero” designation for their business. CISA’s Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown® membership and marketing campaign is the longest running and most comprehensive buy local program in the United States, according to Claire Morenon, CISA’s communications manager.
“When you’re traveling, visiting a local farm is a great way to connect with the people and the landscape of a new place – you can see beautiful farm views, chat with the people who work that land, and enjoy its bounty, all in one stop,” said Morenon, adding, “even for people who live around here, a local farm is a perfect fall destination for picking apples or pumpkins, or just picking up your groceries in a lovely spot.”
Currently, there are 275 local farms that work with CISA throughout the Pioneer Valley, helping to build the local food economy.
“We want people to support all local farms,” said Morenon. “But the yellow Local Hero logo indicates a farm has joined with 275 of their fellow local farms and over 160 local restaurants, retailers, and other businesses as members of CISA’s Local Hero campaign.”
With fall in full swing, there are a wide variety of crops for one’s choosing, ranging from apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and carrots, to cauliflower, corn, garlic, onions, parsnips, pears, potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, and turnips. Additionally, many farmers are selling beef, maple and honey products, and even homemade goodies and handcrafted treasures.
Are you ready for a drive?
CISA farms in our area are creating unique experiences to entertain all ages this fall – from farms in Granville to Southampton, as well as several hill towns. For a complete list of CISA farms and activities in the coming weeks, visit buylocalfood.org.
Are you in the market for “wonderful” fall produce? At the Yellow Stonehouse Farm on Root Road, Westfield, the USDA certified organic property is brimming with winter squash, gourds, pumpkins, potatoes, root vegetables and kale, according to owner Constance Adams who works alongside her husband John. Farm stand hours are Wednesday through Friday, 3 to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also, farm share memberships are now being reserved, added Adams.
“The north end of the city is a hidden jewel,” said Adams. “It’s a nice drive out into the country.”
Also in the north end of Westfield is Kosinski Farms at 336 Russellville Road, offering homemade baked goods including apple pies and cider doughnuts all “made from scratch,” deli delights, plants, fruits and vegetables, maple syrup, pickles, jams and jellies, and seasonal decorations, according to owners Gene and Susan Kosinski.
“Choose from the biggest pumpkins in the valley,” said Gene Kosinski. “Purchase a deli-style sandwich and have a picnic on our back lawn and share a hot cup of mulled cider or bring home a gallon of ice cold cider. For those over 21, visit our winery, Raven Hollow Winery, for a tasting, glass or bottle of our handcrafted wines made from our own fruit.”
Also out in the country is Kinne Brook Farm on Kinne Brook Road in Worthington, owned by Bart Niswonger and Eliza Lake. Family owned and in its second generation, the couple raises grass-fed Highland cattle and sell beef in bulk and by the cut, as well as sells organically fed and pastured pork. Eggs are also available for sale.
“We are certified as animal welfare approved for our beef and eggs,” said Niswonger, noting the farm has a store inside the barn with freezers. “We are very casual here.”
Also in Worthington is the Sawyer Farm on Sawyer Road, a small, diverse, family farm that is 100 percent “horse powered,” according to owners Lincoln and Hilary Costa.
“Most days you will see me in the fields with our team of draft horses,” said Lincoln Costa. “Whatever we sell is 100 percent horse powered from start to finish.”
The couple stock a farm store daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a wide variety of beef, cheese, vegetables, corn, beans, eggs and fresh greens.
“We also have store items including maple syrup and coffee from other local farmers,” said Costa, adding that visitors are welcome to visit the barn. “I love to talk about the farm.”
Gabriella Steria, of Stony Creek Farm, 13 Chamberlain Road, Montgomery, also relishes talking about her farm – and especially the many goats she has to tend to each day. Her small farm store carries raw goat’s milk, goat cheese, and goat soap, as well as jams and jellies, pickles, and a sampling of handmade gift items.
“I also enjoy making homemade chocolates and they go pretty fast,” said Steria, noting that dark chocolate covers a variety of centers, ranging from orange, lemon, maple and coconut to the most popular – peanut butter.
For visitors seeking a farm tour at Cream of the Crop Farm at 601 Blandford Road, Russell, appointments must be made by calling (413) 297-6037, according to owner Jerald Reinford, adding the farm store is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sunday.
“We carry lots of specialty products,” said Reinford, noting organic cheese, butter, drinkable yogurts with “oodles” of probiotics, and chocolate milk are among the store’s popular items. Products for sale also range from ice cream and maple syrup to honey. “We also sell grass fed Black Angus beef, pastured pork, and pasture raised chicken and lamb,” said Reinford.
For persons seeking out a scrumptious apple pie or fresh apple cider, a stop at Bashista Orchards at 160 East St., Southampton, is a perfect spot to visit. The farm also sells a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, and store-baked goodies including cookies and muffins.
“Our top sellers are apple, blueberry and Dutch Apple pies,” said Tom Bashista who works side by side on the family farm with his father Thomas Bashista. “We also welcome visitors to pick their own apples in our orchard.”
Nicole Berndt, general manager at Gran-Val Farm/Scoop, LLC, at 233 Granby Road, Granville, also welcomes visitors to the scoop shop which features homemade ice cream in cones, sundaes and custom cakes, and to peruse the many products and gifts for sale.
“We carry products from local farmers and crafters,” said Berndt, adding that products range from beef and pork, local honey, and skin care products to yogurt. “We also have a petting zoo for the kids and our stars of the show include our llamas, cows and pigs.”
For area farmers, working with CISA and receiving its Local Hero designation is a boon to business since the organization works to ensure that locally grown food is available to more residents in the region.
For wholesalers including William Crawford III of New England Apiaries/Billy C’s Raw Honey in Westfield, his local honey is available in 60 locations including local farm stands and at Big Y Foods.
“We produce local honey with beehives spanning the Connecticut River Valley and upstate New York,” said Crawford, adding his sales are limited to wholesale.
For Joyce and Leon Ripley, owners of the Maple Corner Farm, 794 Beech Hill Road, Granville, fall is their time to wind down operations, however, they still sell their products by appointment by calling (413) 357-8829. The couple sells maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream, jams and jellies, fruit butters, relishes, sauces and a variety of pickled produce including beans and beets.
“We have a sales area at our home and we welcome visitors,” said Joyce Ripley.
While in Granville, Mountain Orchard at 668 Main Road has a self-serve stand that is open daily through Nov. 30, featuring peaches, pears, nectarines, and 18 varieties of apples including Paula Red, Ginger Gold, Mac, Macoun, Empire and Cortland.
“We may be in the fields picking but there is usually someone who can answer questions,” said owner Christina Teter, adding there is a brochure available where visitors can learn about the farm workings.
For more information on CISA’s agricultural events and a farm product seasonality calendar, visit buylocalfood.org.