Hilltown Families


The beauty of New England living is that each season offers a new way to learn and engage in our communities. Locally grown and produced food is a community-base resource that can help us understand how to connect to the seasons through local agriculture. Farmers’ markets bring farmer and neighbor together in placemaking events on town commons, plazas, and street corners. Each week, seasonal produce holds center stage while skills are shared and intergenerational engagement takes place. Sharing knowledge and skills is a type of collaborative consumption that not only connects neighbors but also expands our sense of place and connections with people of all ages. — Where are your local farmers’ markets or farm stands?

Community meals and family suppers connect us through the sharing of food and stories. Add a trip to the local farmers’ market to select seasonal produce grown locally and add another dimension your culinary adventures! When we authentically engage with that which sustains us (seasons, food, community) we expand our awareness of what it means to be in community and strengthens a sense of self within the context of the places we live and visit. Farmers’ markets are seasonal reminders of these connections and community-based educational resources that allow us to direct our learning through our senses.

The act of cooking calls upon centuries of cooking methods, ingredients, spices, and flavors that have shaped our distinct cultures and traditions. Within our families, recipes are passed down and certain dishes are often considered an important part of our unique family gatherings and holiday celebrations. What story do your recipes tell? Who will inherit the recipes you discover and invent this summer? What stories will they tell of the food that grows near you in Western Massachusetts? How will future generations 100-200 years from now understand the cultural and food traditions we practiced? The art of recipe collecting and writing is something that allows the generations to share their family’s culture through the legacy of food.

The act of growing food, the experience of living on a farm, and the process of cooking have all inspired writers to ponder how the cultivation of land has influenced the stories we tell and the moments we remember. Here is a short list of literature inspired by farming and food to add to your reading lists.

Think about this:

How do recipes unfold the stories of our ancestors? What do they say about our agricultural practices and the places from which our families came?
What if you were to do a 10-mile diet like Vicki Robin in her book Blessing the Hands that Feed Us? Where would you find your produce? What farms would provide you with your food? Imagine the extended community you would become familiar with!
How can the purchasing of food locally help build a stronger and more resilient community?
Have you ever thought of growing your own food? Container gardening is a great way to get started!

Spotlighting the talents and creativity of local youth, the upcoming Kid 10 market – hosted by the Pittsfield Farmers’ Market – will be made up entirely of youth vendors! Scheduled for February 13th, the market is currently accepting vendor applications for this special event. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to become a part of the local economy!

Winter farmers’ markets provide our communities with delicious and fresh food throughout the winter months, and in addition to this valuable (and healthy) contribution, markets have lots of learning to offer as well. In addition to the embedded learning that a market visit offers, the Amherst & Northampton Winter Farmers’ Markets offer workshops & events centered around self sufficiency throughout the winter market season!

Kids ages 13yo and older interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th…

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

CISA’s Week of Winter Fare January 26 & February 2, 2013 It is possible to eat locally year-round and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 26th and February 2nd, CISA will kick off its 20th anniversary year with Winter Fare, a celebration of the winter bounty. In collaboration with regular Winter Farmers’ Markets in Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, and Springfield,… Read More

Holiday Farmers’ Markets in the Berkshires Local food isn’t only available during the growing season!  A bounty of locally grown and produced foods are available year-round in Western MA, and Berkshire Grown is making these products even easier to purchase by hosting two annual pre-holiday farmers’ markets! “We’re thrilled to host our 4th annual farmers’ markets,” says Barbara Zheutlin, Executive Director of Berkshire Grown. “We’re extending the season for our local farmers,… Read More

Note 18, Community Recently, a friend of my third boy had a medical emergency. This is a lifelong buddy, who lives a hop, skip, one street crossed and a jump away so that play can flow like a helix from one abode to the other and back again. During the crisis, friends began to rally. First, there were a couple of phone calls, then a flurry of emails. Little surprises for the… Read More

New Monthly Farmers’ Market: Jackson Street Farmers’ Market Debuts Friday, July 8th from 3-7pm Ben James of Town Farm in Northampton, MA writes: We are very excited to announce Northampton’s newest farmers’ market. Initiated by Families With Power (a group of mothers whose children attend the Jackson Street School), The Jackson Street Farmers’ Market is dedicated to building community and providing nourishing, affordable, locally-grown produce to Northampton’s Latino and low-income residents. Located… Read More

The Tuesday Market Northampton’s Tuesday Market is one of the many things we love about living walking distance from downtown. However, it’s a treat we have to wait for Spring and Summer to bring to us.  In season, I walk over with the kids nearly every week for music, shaved iced in exciting flavors and for artisan cheese. Yes, that’s right local, artisan cheese – best dairy ever, for those that partake,… Read More

Note 1, Tuesday Market Here’s my one-time awkward greeting: I’m a local writer (and blogger) and community-minded do-gooder besotted by so many things about this place I call home. For Hilltown Families, I’ll write a monthly series of mash notes (love letters) focused upon this groovy spot on earth. Here’s mash note numb-ah one. ❥ I got an email today from an old friend and this was his sign-off—Think globally, hug locally…. Read More

Northampton Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year Round It is possible for families to eat locally year-round, and there is a lot of amazing local food to be had even in the depths of winter. On January 15th, 2011 from 10am-2pm, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is bringing Winter Fare, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event to Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. Bring your shopping bags and… Read More

Maribeth Ritchie of Ashfield, MA writes: On Sat May 23rd the Ashfield Farmers’ Market begins on the Town Common, Route 116 in Ashfield, MA. Market hours are 8:30-12:20. Rhubarb Pie will play during the market. Not only can you buy vegetables, plants, yogurt, cheese, bread, fruit, etc, its also a wonderful time to visit with your neighbors, & allow your children to play with their friends. The market also has a website,… Read More

Local Farmer’s Markets are in full swing! Take the family – there’s a lot kids can learn at farmer’s markets, and a lot of local, good food choices to bring home for your family dinner.

Navigating your way around a farmers’ market can be enjoyable and rewarding, or incredibly overwhelming. In order to make your next trip to the farmers’ market a little better, we’ve put together a few tips:

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