They don’t call it the “Happy Valley” for nothing! The Pioneer Valley made up of three counties: Franklin, Hampden & Hampshire; collectively feature much of New England's most fertile farmland. Nestled along the Connecticut River this region is known for its scenery and as a vacation destination, however its agricultural heritage dates back to the 1600’s. On a recent beautiful fall weekend, Agricultural Markets Program Coordinator Julia Grimaldi traveled west from Boston to pick pumpkins and celebrate a lesser known but emerging crop, barley.
Her first stop, with niece in tow, was to Fletcher Family Farm in Southampton, a dairy farm that also offers a pumpkin patch with pick-your-own pumpkins and a seasonal farm stand. Bob and Cheryl Fletcher along with their three children, Nicole, Elizabeth & Mathew farm over 100 acres of land. They are the recipients of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Agricultural Improvement Program Grant resulting in a new modern dairy facility completed in spring 2011 and in 2010 they received NECN favorite distinction award for “Best Pumpkin Patch in New England”. Pick up a MassGrown & Fresher pumpkin at a local farmers’ market (most are opened through Thanksgiving week) a farm stand near you, or at a number of pick-your-own pumpkin patches.
The fall’s foliage complemented Valley Malt’s 2nd year anniversary party at the 1st annual “Barleyfest” at the Young Men’s Club in Hadley. Valley Malt‘s goal is to reintroduce small grains and hops to the area and produce beer that would possess the unique characteristics and flavor from grains and hops grown on native “Valley” soil. This year’s celebration featured eight beers all produced with malt made from a combination of Massachusetts hops and grains.
The festival also featured Four Star Farms from Northfield who produce sustainably grown sod, hops and small grains, an antique tractor show, wood fired pizza made with local wheat, apple cider donuts and kettle corn from the North Hadley Sugar Shack, home brew demos, and lives music.
Calling All Insect-Loving Volunteers! posted on Jul 30
I always thought wasps were the bad guys growing up. But smokey-winged beetle bandit wasps (Cerceris fumipennis) are actually the good guys – used to kill off an invasive species. This specific type of wasp (that does not sting) catches Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a …Continue Reading Calling All Insect-Loving Volunteers!
A Whale of a License Plate posted on Jul 28
Wish your license plate was more identifiable? Want to save whales? Well, there is a way to achieve both of these at once. Perhaps the old saying about hitting two birds with one stone should be “do two cool things with one easy payment to the …Continue Reading A Whale of a License Plate
Before the Boston Seafood Festival, Reconsider the Lobster posted on Jul 23
Everything that you have been told about lobsters is a lie. Okay, maybe not everything. But despite the popularity of the lobster industry (and it’s a very popular industry—bringing in over $53 million dollars in Massachusetts alone), many popular beliefs about the lobster’s existence are …Continue Reading Before the Boston Seafood Festival, Reconsider the Lobster