Five Things to Love About Greenfield

Valley Advocate, October 19, 2015 by Advocate Staff.

Greenfield doesn’t get the same attention for being an arts and cultural center like Northampton, Amherst or Springfield, but we’d like to help change that perception. There’s a lot to love about this town and not just for its obvious attributes: Greenfield’s picturesque hiking or the annual Green River Music Festival. Below are some of the staff’s favorite things about Greenfield. Feel free to add your own in the comments below and on our Facebook page.

Good food: People often talk about going out to eat in Northampton, but Greenfield has a bounty of underappreciated restaurants. Hope and Olive serves simply delicious seasonal delights, and Magpie Woodfired Pizza bakes some of the best pies in the Valley. And there’s nothing like enjoying a burrito on one of the picnic benches outside Mesa Verde — I have to go now. But wait, there’s also sandwiches from the laid-back Brass Buckle cafe and $3 platters from the throwback diner counter at Brad’s Place. Yum! And we would be remiss if we didn’t give a hearty nod to Adams Donuts, whose glazed donut variety recently won the Advocate’s blind Taste-Off.

Good beer: Three of the Valley’s favorite drink HQs are in Greenfield: The People’s Pint, Lefty’s, and Green River Ambrosia. The People’s Pint makes good beer, good food, and serves it all up in a crazy-cool pub space with fun live music. And from honey browns to pale ales to the wonderfully rich Bean’s Brew Imperial Coffee Stout — Lefty’s, oh Lefty’s, we love you. Over at Green River Ambrosia, the flagship Ginger Libation is a godly mead-style nectar — the Valley simply wouldn’t be the same without it. And for those nights when you want to snuggle up with a good brew at home, Ryan & Casey Liquors has a astoundingly huge selection — strolling through their aisles is a craft beer lover’s dream.

The Nolumbeka Project: Greenfield is home base for this nonprofit, which seeks to preserve the history of Native Americans in New England through education, art, history, music, heritage seed preservation, and cultural events. You’ve got to love that. In the 1960s, the widening of Route 2 included digging up Native American burial grounds at White Ash Swamp, but some of the grounds that were undisturbed were purchased and preserved in 2001. In 2008, the Nolumbeka Project helped to save Turners Falls’ Sacred Hill Ceremonial Site from being torn up for an airport runway extension. Members provided records from the project’s archives, gave first-person accounts verifying the sacred nature of the area, and cleared brush. The project also helped with the passage of the town’s Native American Burial Ordinance in 2014. The hope is that this bylaw will stop future desecration of Native American burial sites.

Greenfield Community College: GCC is more than a place to get an education. The two-year college has turned itself into an integral part of the Greenfield community since it opened in 1962. In addition to credit-free workshops and great career programs in healthcare, art, technology, and environmental work, among others, GCC is also home to the Pioneer Valley Institute, which has examined local geology, agriculture, and industry since 1989. The college also runs a women’s resource center, a student veterans center, credit-free workshops, a food pantry, and a library open to the public throughout the workweek. GCC may be the only college in Franklin County, but the reasons why it ranks so highly among those seeking an education are too numerous to count.

The Arts Block: If Greenfield stands a chance of fostering an up-and-coming nightlife, the Arts Block performance venue at the corner of Main Street and Court Square will play a guiding role. The historic building now contains a recording studio as well as four venues, often programmed several nights a week with a wide variety of emerging artists and musical acts. Regularly-scheduled events include comedy, jazz, and Cuban music nights. When it comes to late-night fun, Rome wasn’t built in a day — artistic director Ed Wierzbowski told the Advocate in July that “there’s something in the water that makes Greenfield residents go to sleep around 8… The Arts Block is the only place in Greenfield you’ll find more than 100 people at a time after dinner on a Friday or Saturday.” But as popular new businesses start to pop up on that block — like Seymour Pub, which arrived in winter 2013 — the Arts Block seems more and more like the harbinger of good things to come.•