Bardwell Farm is seeking highly motivated people that are interested in agriculture, enjoy working outdoors, that
are not afraid of hard work, and adverse weather conditions. Individuals will report to the owner, manager and/or
supervisor and will work as a team and/or by themselves on a variety of different tasks throughout the work week.
Tasks will include, but are not limited to, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing of produce, as well as use,
cleaning, and maintenance of hand tools and/or equipment. Individuals must be willing to learn, collaborate and
grow with our small but busy farm.
Bardwell Farm is seeking highly motivated people that are interested in agriculture, enjoy working outdoors, that
are not afraid of hard work, and adverse weather conditions. Individuals will report to the owner or manager and
will work as a team, and/or by themselves on a variety of different tasks throughout the work week. Tasks will
include, and are not limited to rotating and stocking of product, quality control checks, interacting and selling to
customers, packaging product and capturing images for social media. Individuals must be willing to learn,
collaborate and grow with our small but busy farm.
The Franklin County Community Development Corp. is seeking a motivated individual to oversee production and support the continued growth of the food processing center’s food business incubator program and farm value-added program. This position will report to and assist the WMFPC Director of Operations in the delivery of services to clients of the Franklin County CDC’s Western MA Food Processing Center.
Local businesses of all sorts have been through the wringer over the past year and a half — and at CISA, where we work with local farms, food producers, restaurants, and retailers, we’ve seen their immense flexibility and resilience. Local farmers’ markets, which exist as part business, part community space, part event, and always as a labor of love, faced distinct challenges because of COVID-19. Now that we’re back in the height of the growing season, it’s a good moment to consider the factors that make farmers’ markets a unique and vital component of our local food system.
Our region boasts 29 summer farmers’ markets and four winter markets in 26 towns, bringing together farmers, food producers, chefs, artists, and more to feed their communities. Most of these markets are independent— some have nonprofit or city support, but most are run by farmer committees, super part-time market managers, or volunteers. When COVID-19 hit, every business had to scramble to figure out how to adapt: how to keep staff safe, how to keep customers safe, and how to apply changing regulations to their daily operations. For farmers’ markets, the shifting circumstances were especially tough. Farmers’ markets are transient, dependent on their host locations to exist, and the winter farmers’ markets that were operating in schools, senior centers, and other community locations in March 2020 had to shut down abruptly as their sites closed or sharply limited access to the public.
That spring, summer market managers hustled to figure out how their outdoor markets could safely open. Farmers’ markets were declared essential businesses by the governor, but each market had to work closely with their local health department and other town or city officials to establish what safe re-opening would entail. Many markets operate on city property and need permission to open, and health departments in Massachusetts have a lot of autonomy to set the rules for food sales in their own cities. During the early months of COVID-19, guidance for and oversight of farmers’ markets was just one of a million priorities for these officials, so market managers had to advocate hard for their markets. Most summer markets had delayed openings in 2020.
As markets opened, the additional time and money needed to set up signage, keep hand sanitizer stocked, and manage the number and flow of visitors was significant. Market managers, volunteers, and vendors create the market space anew every week, starting with an empty street or parking lot or field, and the demands of the pandemic compounded that labor.
Farmers’ markets are more than a physical location for farmers to sell their wares — they are also community gathering spaces, venues for music and art, and hubs for organizing and advocacy. COVID-19 demanded that markets be stripped down to just their retail function. This shift in the public sphere — away from leisure and connection and towards essential functions only — was one of the quieter sorrows of the pandemic, and it’s been a joy to see music and fun coming back to the markets in 2021.
Markets are crucial access points for HIP (Healthy Incentives Program), a statewide program that offers an instant rebate of up to $80 per month when shoppers use SNAP to buy produce directly from participating local farms. This program means a significant increase in grocery budgets for low-income families across the state, many of whom don’t have the transportation or schedule flexibility to go to participating farms which are largely located outside of city centers. Farmers’ markets (along with urban farms like Gardening The Community in Springfield) bridge that gap.
For the first time in its five years in operation, HIP was fully funded by the state in 2020 and was able to run year-round without any interruption. This was part of the state’s response to rising hunger rates because of the pandemic, but advocates (including CISA) led by the MA Food System Collaborative have been pushing for year-round funding for years — it is crucial to the people who rely on it for food and to farmers who are counting on HIP sales. Stay tuned to mafoodystem.org for opportunities to support this vital program.
It’s July, which means that markets are full of all the most exciting crops: fresh corn, juicy tomatoes, and peaches and berries, and everything else you need for dinner. They have weathered a tough stretch to be there for you every week, and this is a wonderful time of year to visit them. Find a market near you at buylocalfood.org.
Claire Morenon is the Communications Manager at CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture).
Farm Packing and Delivering Staff for CSA
Job Description Warner Farm is seeking folks to join our CSA team! We manage five different drop-off
sites, one in Western Massachusetts and four in Eastern MA, for our 600 member CSA program. CSA
staff is responsible for communicating directly with the public and must be comfortable and enthusiastic
about regularly interacting with customers. CSA Staff report directly to the Direct Market Manager.
Duties include: Bunching/weighing veggies for shares; Assisting in the packing of CSA shares; Arriving
promptly to load trucks for CSA distribution; Driving to locations, setting up, and breaking down CSA
displays; Answering customer questions about our farm and produce; Providing management with
feedback regarding drop-offs and customer concerns; Promoting a positive image of Warner Farm and
ensuring customer satisfaction at all times.
– At least one year of customer service experience
– Outgoing personality and love of engaging with customers
– Ability, OR willingness to learn, to drive 16 ft box truck
– Valid driver’s license
– Available Monday through Thursday (though flexible scheduling is available!)
– Previous farm experience
– Interest in cooking, fresh food, and local agriculture
This is a seasonal, part-time position Monday-Thursdays from June through the end of October with
hours ranging from 25-35/week priority will be given to folks looking for Tuesday and Thursday hours to start.
Pay starts at $13.75/hr and includes access to delicious, farm-fresh produce!
To apply please send a resume along with a little information about yourself and why you think would be a good fit for this job to email@example.com.
Multiple positions are available. We will accept applications on a rolling basis and positions are open until filled. Please consider also applying to be a part of our Farmers Market Staff! You can find more information about this position at http://www.warnerfarm.com/contact-us/job-opportunities/.
WRSI, July 23, 2021. Seva Water, Coordinator of the Hilltown Mobile Market, and Kate Bavelock, Director of Community Programs, with Hilltown CDC, talk about getting veggies from Hilltown farmers right on the van and directly to the people.
Hilltown Mobile Market gives hilltown residents access to affordable local food and hilltown farmers a market to sell. A win-win-win for food access, community healthy, and the local economy.
The market runs out of a converted van. “First we gather produce from all the hilltown farms we work with,” says market coordinator Seva Waters. “When we get to market, shoppers fill their weekly shares with whatever they want. Or if they don’t have a farm share, they can just buy produce on the spot.”
The market also helps close the “SNAP gap” in the hilltowns, offering several locations for people to use their SNAP and HIP benefits on healthy produce. WIC, Senior Coupons, cash and credit also accepted.
AMHERST — If there’s one thing Dan Kaplan’s learned about being a farmer, it’s that you have to expect the unexpected.
“It’s a completely chaotic way of life,” he said with a laugh. “The earth wants to wipe you out. You have drought, you have bugs, you have excessive rainfall, you have equipment breakdowns.
“Things are going to go wrong,” added Kaplan, “so you have to get up every morning and be positive and think, ‘What can I accomplish today?’”
Yet Kaplan has pretty much been able to maintain order through all that chaos. More than that: He’s thrived.
Since the mid-1990s, Kaplan, with the help of his wife, Karen Romanowski, has managed Brookfield Farm in Amherst, one of the oldest CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture project) in the country and the first in the Valley.
Started in 1986 with just a relative handful of supporters, Brookfield today has 700 supporting households, including some in the Boston area; shareholders pay an annual fee to help finance the farm and in return get a weekly pickup of fresh, organic vegetables from June well into the fall.
Brookfield, located off Hulst Road, began with just four acres under cultivation, but it now raises produce on over 30 acres and also tends livestock (the farm has 120 acres in total, including pastures and woodlots).
Kaplan, who with his wife arrived at Brookfield in 1994, looks back almost with disbelief on how the operation has not only grown but become a key part of a region that sees the value of supporting local agriculture and preserving land.
“When we came here, I never could have imagined that we’d find ourselves where we are today,” he said. “You know, CSAs were still a really new thing, and it wasn’t clear how many (shareholders) we could find to be part of this, how we could grow the operation, though that was our goal.”
But fast-forward 27 years, and after raising two children on the farm and watching Brookfield grow as well, Kaplan and his wife have entered a new phase in their lives — and so has the farm.
Kaplan and Romanowski, who are both 56, have stepped down from managing Brookfield — Romanowski has worked for years as a nurse in addition to assisting on the farm — and have turned the reins over to Kerry and Max Taylor, a married couple who attended college in the Valley and have previous experience at other farms, both in the Valley and elsewhere in New England.
In addition, Kaplan has spent the last several months leading a capital campaign to raise funds to buy all of the 30 acres that Brookfield tills. Only about 20 percent of that acreage is owned outright by Biodynamic Farmland Conservation Trust (BFCT), a nonprofit group established in 1987 by the farm’s founders, the late Clare and David Fortier, to oversee the operation. The rest of the land is leased from neighboring farms and property owners.
But with three of those neighbors in “some type of transitional place in their lives,” as Kaplan puts it, it made sense to make a serious effort to raise money to buy all the farmland outright; the plan quickly won the approval of the BFCT’s board of directors, he says.
And in what Kaplan sees as a mark of Brookfield’s solidity, the dedication of its shareholders, and the importance many Valley residents place on preserving farmland, the campaign has already earned $529,125 in pledges to buy the farm’s remaining acreage — 96% of the total amount that’s being sought, $550,000.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t have any experience in fundraising, and I would approach people and explain what we were trying to do … (and) I’d get a bit into my speech and someone would say, ‘Oh, that’s fine, Dan, of course, I’ll support you — how about $500?’ My jaw would just drop.”
“Karen and I thought creating some more capitalization for the farm could be our way of giving back for all the support we’d gotten from so many people over the years,” Kaplan added. He points in particular to other farmers in the region, who he says lent advice, equipment and technical know-how, welcoming him and taking him seriously when he arrived in the Valley.
Building a communityKaplan says he and his wife had both done agricultural and environmental work in different places in New England, and also in Europe, before they heard about the opening at Brookfield Farm. Both were looking, he says, “for a place where we could sink our teeth into the land, put our sweat and bodies into this and be outside the mainstream.”
Yet they didn’t know how long they’d stay. They came to Amherst in part so that Romanowski could attend a nursing program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst — “We figured one of us should have a real job,” Kaplan quipped — and they didn’t see any immediate way to buy more farmland and expand Brookfield in a major way.
But through building connections to other farmers and residents, Brookfield steadily increased its shareholders and helped spur the creation of other CSAs in the region, in part through an apprenticeship program, begun in 1995, that trains people in all aspects of farm work and management. Kaplan says former Brookfield apprentices have gone on to start farms in the Valley and elsewhere or work in related fields as educators, agricultural service administrators, chefs and more.
“Dan’s a good grower, a good community builder, and a good leader,” said Casey Steinberg, co-owner of Old Friends Farm, another Amherst CSA. “He’s helped a lot of people make a start in farming
Steinberg, originally from Vermont, was a Brookfield apprentice in the early 2000s and stayed for another couple of years as assistant manager before building Old Friends with business partner Missy Bahret.
“I learned a lot (at Brookfield), and I also got plugged into this great support network of other growers,” he said. “That was as much a part of the experience at Brookfield as anything…. If I have a question now about something I can’t figure out (at Old Friends Farm), I have a whole list of people I can call for help.”
Kerry Taylor, the new co-manager at Brookfield, also previously worked on the farm as an apprentice and assistant manager.
Longtime shareholders at Brookfield like Catherine Newman are grateful that Kaplan and Romanowski stuck with the farm. Newman, of Amherst, joined Brookfield with her husband around 2000 when they came to the region after attending graduate school in California.
“We didn’t really understand what a CSA was,” said Newman, a writer. “I think at first we thought (Brookfield) was kind of like a big farmers market, but we came to realize we were part of this much bigger community, really invested in the land. It’s been great the whole time.”
She joked that she also learned how to can and preserve produce for winter use after sometimes being flummoxed by the amount and variety of crops she would get in her weekly share.
“I would think, ‘What the hell is this?’ I didn’t know what half the stuff was at first … but you learn to use it, and you appreciate the variety.”
Brookfield also has an intimate connection to the Hartsbrook School in Hadley. The independent school, which follows the Waldorf education model, began on the farm in the early 1980s as a single kindergarten class before moving to Hadley; Nikki Robb, Brookfield’s first manager, later developed a land stewardship program for Hartsbrook students.
Kaplan’s future plans aren’t set, though he says he and his wife, who live next door to Brookfield, will be available to help as consultants in whatever manner needed; members of the board of BFCT, along with Kerry and Max Taylor, will oversee negotiations for purchasing land from the farm’s neighbors.
Romanowski currently works as a hospice nurse, and the couple’s children, Anna and Jacob, now in their 20s, are pursuing different careers out of the area after working at Brookfield as they grew up. But the family has been granted a lifetime share in the CSA, Kaplan noted, so they’ll continue to be part of Brookfield as shareholders.
And in whatever future work he takes on, he said with a chuckle, “I do know I want to do something where I’ll have my weekends off.”
The Farm School, Program for Visiting Schools — Farmer Teacher Job Opportunity
Our Program for Visiting Schools is the centerpiece of The Farm School. Each school year, over 1,500 children come to help us care for our farm during 3-day visits. The students come with their classes, in groups of up to 40 children at one time. While they are here, the students find value in real work, create a community that persists when they return to their classrooms, and experience first hand what it means to be stewards of the earth. It’s simple and it’s magical.
Role: Farmer Teachers work in partnership with another Farmer Teacher or Farm team in 1 of 4 work areas throughout the Farm. These work areas are Kitchen/Garden, Market Garden, Barn or Forestry. Farmer Teachers lead youth through every aspect of their work area while supporting and working in collaboration with all other work areas on the farm. The role of the Farmer Teacher is to have the foresight and ability to organize your assigned work area in ways that are accessible for youth and allow youth to equally engage, side by side with you, in the core elements of the work area. This role is well suited for those that can engage youth in the moment at hand, have a sense of playfulness, can balance having a clear direction while maintaining flexibility on how to get there, can be responsible, clear and collaborative rather than authoritative, possess a good sense of boundaries, enjoys building relationships and can lead just enough to open up a youths capabilities, sense value and place on the farm.
– To organize your work area, plans and programs in ways that uplift the FS mission and goals towards Racial Equity and Liberation
– To organize your work area, plans and programs in ways that keep youths ability to engage in the task of your work area
– To be thoughtful, respectful, dependable, collaborative in your interactions with youth, recognizing their value, autonomy and personhood
– Ability to work within a schedule that has multiple transitions
– To be reliable in meeting your scheduled commitments and in your communication when changes or support is needed
– Timely submission of receipts for programmatic purchases and professional development
– Participate in a rotation of weekend recycling and animal chores across the farm – Participate in weekly programmatic activities including options, class, chores, dish clean up, evening activities, community meetings, opening and closing circles
– Participate in vacation work week activities for your work area and group work projects that fall outside of your specific work area
– Participate in weekly staff logistical meetings and Race and Equity Within Communities focused meetings and participate in the facilitation rotation
– Participate in all Trainings, All-Staff Meetings including those on Race and Equity Within Communities
– Remain current on CPR/First Aid and Food Safety certifications in collaboration with the Program Director
– Participate in feedback, check-ins and reviews as scheduled
– Read the FS Handbook and Conflict Resolution Protocols and use them as a resources when necessary
– To bring various aspects of your hobbies, interest and identities into your work and to share these as you would like among the youth and farmer teachers.
In addition to your particular position, the unpredictable nature of farming/working with youth and our shared responsibility for the care of the farm requires that all employees engage in the process of meeting the needs of the farm/program- gardens, fields, forest, barns, bunkhouses, kitchens etc. and to do so in communication with your Program Director, Co-Directors and fellow farmer/teachers.
Compensation and Benefits include: $31,200 annual salary, housing, health insurance, professional development funds, farm grown food, sick time and 7 weeks paid vacation.
Please send cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking to fill this position as soon as possible, in advance of our fall programming, which begins September 2021.
We serve diverse communities of students and we are striving to develop a staff that reflects that. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply to our open positions. The Farm School does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin in any of its school administered policies or programs.
Daily Hampshire Gazette – July 24, 2021
By JACOB NELSON
“You know that feeling when you eat something and the taste buds in the very back of your cheeks go bonkers, and it almost hurts it’s so good?” says Julie Tuman, owner of the Easthampton-based Crooked Stick Pops. “That’s really what I’m going for.”
Crooked Stick Pops’ popsicles are Tuman’s creative, local take on this frozen treat. Recognizable from their off-angled handling sticks, which improve eating ergonomics, these “farm-to-face” products, as she calls them, are made almost entirely out of whole local fruit, and offered at stores, events, and via home delivery throughout the Valley.
The idea came from a popsicle shop Tuman and her husband visited in Florida, enjoying the refreshment of the cold pops without an overload of sweetness. First her husband toyed with opening a pop business back in Massachusetts, but when Tuman needed a change from her previous career, she decided to take the project on.
“Because I do so much at home with craft cocktails and creative food, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to hone a blueprint for really great pops,” she says.
Craft cocktails on a stick? The more Tuman describes her pop-making approach, the more the comparison falls in line. Like making a drink, she starts with a basic formula: “fruit, acid, something so it doesn’t freeze rock-hard, and flavor enhancers.”
“Fruit is my platform in the same way that alcohol would be the base of a cocktail,” explains Tuman. “Not fruit juice, but whole fruit that’s been blended.”
Sometimes the fruit base is the main flavor – blended strawberries, blueberries, or peaches, for example. For other pops, apple serves as a neutral, fruit-sweet canvas for more delicate flavors. “Every year we get an enormous number of apples from Apex Orchards in Shelburne, sauce them, and store that to use throughout the year,” she says.
Acids, often citrus juice, are added to brighten the flavor, and herbs or secondary ingredients add complexity. For example, “If I put lavender together with blueberries,” says Tuman, “suddenly it brings out all the floral notes of those blueberries.”
The last ingredient is something to soften the popsicle’s consistency As Tuman points out, “if you freeze fruit puree, you get a really delicious ice cube. You need something – either fat, alcohol, salt, fiber, or sugar – to impact the freezing texture.”
For their pops, she adds a touch of organic cane sugar. “That does it most efficiently,” she says. “Maple syrup will also do it, but I’d have to add four times as much.”
With that blueprint in her back pocket, Tuman then looks to what she can source locally and in season to inspire new flavors.
“All of our berries, stone fruit, orchard fruit, and herbs, and a lot our spices are grown in the Valley,” she shares. “With the exception of watermelon, if one of our ingredients grows locally, we only source it locally.” If it doesn’t grow in the Valley, Crooked Stick Pops tries to work with local businesses to source and process it.
While celebrating seasonal ingredients, Tuman acknowledges they also need to offer consistent products. So, they’ve struck a balance by offering 10 wholesale flavors year-round, supplemented by others featuring what’s ripe in the moment and past harvests stored away.
During the summer growing season, the rush is on to gather local ingredients while they’re ripe. “Now it’s blueberry season, so we’re making several different kinds of blueberry pops,” says Tuman. “Simultaneously we’ll be freezing and storing enough berries to get us through to blueberry season next year.”
At Crooked Stick Pops’ commercial kitchen at the Keystone Mills building in Easthampton, the process for making pops is quite simple. “My kitchen is just four stainless steel tables, a rack of kitchen equipment, a bunch of sinks, and a huge walk-in freezer,” says Julie.
The freezer holds pops and preserved local fruit waiting for its moment to shine. The main workhorse of the operation is a single pop-making machine – essentially a super chiller.
To make pops, Tuman first blends all the ingredients and pours the mixture into a rack of metal molds. The filled molds are then dunked in a super-chilled, food-grade antifreeze solution for 20-25 minutes. “Twenty-five minutes is exactly how long it takes me to wash and dry the previous set of molds, put sticks in the stick-aligners, bag and freeze the previous batch of pops, and pour the next batch into their molds so they’re ready to freeze,” she explains.
Working this way, she can produce around 1,200 pops a day, 3-4 days a week, either alone or with help from one of her three employees. Those thousands of pops make their way to customers via retail stores, their own pop cart at local events like farmers’ markets, and now home delivery. For a full list of locations and details, visit their website: crookedstickpops.com.
As the business develops, Tuman keeps looking for ways to further align Crooked Stick Pops with her values of environmental and social responsibility and supporting the local community. They recently switched to compostable wrappers, and next on her list is zero-waste stickers.
“I want to put as many of my business dollars as I can into our local economy,” she states. “Sometimes it costs a little more, but all that money is staying in Massachusetts, and I think that’s important.”
Tuman also feels their emphasis on celebrating local shines through in the quality of their product. “You can taste the difference,” she claims. “It’s awesome to be at the Green River Festival in Greenfield and say ‘Hey, that strawberry popsicle that you’re loving on? Those strawberries were grown just over those trees there.’ It helps people understand the value of where their food comes from.”
The end goal is simple. “I get to make happy people happier,” says Tuman. “It’s joy on a stick.”
Jacob Nelson is Communications Coordinator for CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture). To find more local summer treats, visit CISA’s searchable online farm and food guide at buylocalfood.org/find-it-locally
Available: a BCS 720 Harvester tiller. It’s had light use in our home garden. We’ve gone to no-till with our garden the past several years so haven’t used it so it probably needs some work to get it running.
Free to a good home. All you have to do is pick it up.
The Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission of increasing quality in the food supply. We are seeking to hire a highly skilled individual with experience in project oversight and coordination for a new Project Manager position.
The BFA is a central leader in a growing movement that is connecting agriculture, food and human health. The organization’s main activities are to: convene and lead a large-scale, global and participatory research process (with growers, citizen scientists and other food and agriculture stakeholders) to better understand the nutritional qualities of food; develop new tools and software to better understand food quality; raise public consciousness about food quality; and provide educational opportunities about food quality and how it’s connected to agriculture practices and human health.
Big Foot Food Forest in Montague: part-time farm position in Montague.
We are a small, new permaculture farm in beautiful Montague. We are looking for a part time worker to help care for our small sheep flock (shetlands and Babydolls), and some other daily maintenance of chickens and shrubs. Approx. 8 hrs/wk, 1-2 hrs a day about 5 days each week. $15/hr. Some farm experience required, as well as independence, sense of responsibility, timeliness, love of animals, and able to lift 50 lbs. We would love to hear from you!