Barn raising event Saturday will mark the completion of Simple Gifts Farm’s new farmstand

The Daily Hampshire Gazette, April 14, 2017, By Scott Merzbach.

AMHERST — Customers of a community supported agriculture farm share program have enjoyed the fruits of Simple Gifts Farm owner Jeremy Barker-Plotkin’s labor for more than a decade. Soon even more people will have the opportunity.

Barker-Plotkin, who has run the 32-acre North Amherst farm for the past dozen years with David Tepfer, plans to erect a stand at 1089 N. Pleasant St. this spring. He said the farm will celebrate the barn raising of the farmstand Saturday with a crew from Timberpoint Building Co. of Williamsburg.

Timberpoint’s owner, Daniel Pedersen, precrafted wood and cut joints these past two months in preparation to assemble the building.

The barn-raising event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features hot dogs, french fries and parsnip fries.

Barker-Plotkin said he sees the farmstand, which opens either in late May or early June — in time for the strawberry season — as a new way for people to connect with the farm and increase its viability.
“With the farm store, we’ll still have a relationship with our (community supported agriculture) customers, but also give people another option,” Barker-Plotkin said.

As an example, he pointed out the farm’s proximity to the North Amherst apartment complexes, home to many college students. Many shy away from buying farm shares because they are not in Amherst year round. But they may drop by the farmstand to grab a bag of greens or buy a tomato.

In addition to produce, the stand will feature goods derived from the farm’s cattle, pigs and laying hens, and offer goods from other farms, such as dairy items, Barker-Plotkin said.

Those with farm shares also will enjoy more flexibility in scheduling when to grab their allotment. The pick-your-own program also will expand, meaning more people can work the fields and harvest produce and flowers personally.

The farmstand is a $187,000 project supported with a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.* The aid is based on North Amherst’s designation as a food desert owing to its lack of a full-scale grocery store, Barker-Plotkin said.

Barker-Plotkin added that he believes the farmstand will complement Atkins Farms Country Market on Cowls Road.

His intent is to staff the farmstand seven days week with two or three employees.

Simple Gifts leases the farmland from the North Amherst Community Farm, an organization created to protect the Dziekanowski family land from being developed for housing.

*This article has been updated to reflect that funding for the farmstand came partially through a federal loan.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at