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Know Your Farmers

It was 10 degrees, but sunny, when I left Heath for the Valley yesterday, joining the crowds who attended Northampton’s First Annual Winterfare Farmer’s Market to get to know their farmers. CISA was one of the sponsors.

Tom Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farm

Clarkdale in Deerfield had a table right near the entrance, so Winterfarers were greeted by the smiling faces of Tom, and his son Ben.  I think Ben makes the fifth generation of growing premium fruit on their magnificent farm. I always buy a bag of the Clarkdale apple pie mix. My friend and expert pie baker says the secret of a really good apple pie is a mixture of apples, and Clarkdale has put it all together for me.

Sarah Davenport of Apex Orchard

Apex Orchards was on the other side of the room where the sun dazzled shoppers. I bought a bag of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite Spitzenberg apple. Apex also sells apple cider vinegar from their own apples, and honey from their own hives.

Warm Colors Apiary

Warm Colors Apiary of Deerfield was offering test testing of the different flavors. I chose a darker fuller bodied wildflower honey. I’m going to be talking to Don Conlon in a few weeks to find out the latest challenges for bee keepers and how that will affect all of us honey lovers.

Paul and Amy of Sidehill Farm

Paul and Amy of Sidehill Farm brought lots of yogurt in various flavors for all of us yogurt lovers, and fortunately they had a little left by the time I made it to their table.  In season, they also sell gorgeous vegetables.

Barberic Farm

At the Barberic Farm booth you could buy frozen lamb, fleece, yarn, pickles – and book Eric Goodchild for a bagpiping gig. I settled for pickles this time.

Red Fire Farm greens

There was a long line at the Red Fire Farm operation. People were eager for the opportunity to buy fresh local greens (of many types) in January!

Ryan Voiland

Ryan Voiland, the genius behind Red Fire Farm, was busy, along with staff members, keeping the bins stocked and the customers happy.  Ryan is in the process of moving the farm from Granby to Montague where he grew up. Closer to us!

Root Cellaring workshop

In addition to buying opportunities, there were learning opportunities with a range of workshops like this one about how to store garden crops through the winter – with demonstrations of what can go wrong.

Corn grinder

Some Winterfarers found more active learning opportunities like this boy who spent some time grinding corn into cornmeal.

More Greens

Northampton’s First Winterfare was fun, delicious and a great success – a success that will be repeated at the Third Annual Winterfare in Greenfield on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10 -2 pm at Greenfield High School. Hope to see you there.

4 comments to Know Your Farmers

  • Looks and sounds yummy–and I’m jealous of your greens. Thanks for sharing the experience. I’m sure your own presentation was excellent……

  • Flaneur

    Despite the lack of movie stars, this looked like a more palatable version of Vogue magazine’s apres-Oscar party. And then it hit me: all that green vegetable materials really IS remarkable in western massachusetts in the depths of January! It’s clear that even we non-gardeners, with less and less effort, can find first-rate organic produce year round in Franklin and Hampshire Counties. Pat, thank you for the wealth of photos and comments!

    I was intrigued by your aside regarding Thomas Jefferson and his favorite apple (not that I doubted you’d done your homework). But I found myself wondering, “Is this common knowledge?” I’d have guessed that a Francophile such as Jefferson would have opted for a French variety such as Soeur Rougissante (Blushing Nun). I wondered what Jefferson would have thought of this burgeoning agricultural activity in the midst of winter. My guess: he would have been an ardent supporter. But back to apples. From Monticello the word is (and it supports your claim): “The apple was a standard, every-day fruit at Monticello. Cider was an integral part of the Jefferson dining tradition. He drank it with the main course of his meals and, from some reports, relished apple and mince pies for dessert. Jefferson’s cultivation of the apple was exceptionally discriminating as he concentrated on only four varieties that were either unrivaled for cider-making — Hewes’ Crab and Taliaferro — or as a dessert fruit for the table — Newtown or Albemarle Pippin and Esopus Spitzenburg. His cultivation of only eighteen apple cultivars was surprisingly limited. Native apples were the finest expression of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Virginia pomology, yet Jefferson, the experimental plant collector and pioneering proponent of the indigenous products of his native land, expressed little interest in assembling a varietal collection. Nevertheless, Jefferson’s four favorite apples are a regal assembly of the finest American varieties of all time.”

    Peter J. Hatch, Director
    Monticello Gardens and Grounds

  • I made a mistake of getting to the fair too late and all those wonderful greens were gone! There were still lots of root crops to be had, but I was sad to have missed the greens. It was a great success … I think they might want a larger space next time. It is fun to see my dear friend Ivana sitting there in your photo of the root cellaring workshop.

  • Pat

    Tinky – It is a truly great event – and I enjoyed my auditors – and I hope they enjoyed the presentation as well.
    Flaneur – I no longer remember how I ‘know’ Spitzenberg was Jefferson’s favorite, it has been so long, but it may have been mentioned again in the little book I’ve been reading Dear Mr. Jefferson: Letters from a Nantucket Gardener by Laura Simon. I can tell you it is delicious. Thank you for the erudite tidbit from Peter Hatch.
    Carol – I think they should have more space, too. It was quite a crush, but friendly and cheerful. It felt so good. Come early and get greens in Greenfield on Feb. 6!

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