Living Through the Blender: Eat Like a Farmer with Smoothies

The Recorder, March 1st, 2016, by Lisa Spear.

If you’re a farmer, it’s always the season for smoothies.

In less than three minutes, a handful of frozen strawberries, a dollop of yogurt and just a bit of grated ginger become a scrumptious smoothie in the farmhouse at Red Fire Farm in Montague. This is just one simple and delicious recipe that might be thrown together with crops straight from the fields.

“We live in a wonderland of food,” said farmer Sarah Voiland, who lives in the farmhouse with her husband, Ryan. “When it’s in season, there is so much fruit that you can enjoy.”

Even when strawberries and ginger are not in season, the Red Fire team has a frozen stockpile that will last them through the winter. “Almost any fruit smoothie, it takes it to the next level having a little ginger in there,” Voiland said.

The farmers often fire up their Vitamix blender and get creative with produce. Their smoothies vary with the seasons and the crops. In the summertime, they like to make savory smoothies with tomatoes, celery and basil. “It’s like a gazpacho smoothie,” Voiland said.

Another farm employee, Iris Pavitt, also likes to experiment with a blender at least once a week at home. She says it’s a little different every time. The ingredients always depend on what she has in her refrigerator. Sometimes she likes to add some spinach because it has a mild flavor that can nicely blend in with fruit.

Smoothies aren’t the only thing made in the farmhouse blender. Voiland enjoys making pies.

When the sweet potatoes are plentiful, she blends them into an earthy custard that can be placed into a store-bought crust. The potatoes are abundant at Red Fire and can be ordered in bulk. The farmers offer customers the classic orange varieties, a Japanese variety with purple skin and a white inside, and another type of potato with pinkish white skin.

Voiland’s love for fresh produce started when she was a student at Vassar College majoring in environmental studies. She had signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share and was impressed by the quality of the produce.

“The food was so good and so different than anything I had growing up from the supermarket,” she said. “For me, it created a connection to the land and the community that I was living in.”

Ryan came to love farming at a much earlier age, in middle school when he sold hand-picked berries from a small stand in front of his childhood home in Montague. He went on to study fruit and vegetable horticulture at Cornell University, graduating about 16 years ago and then purchasing the property in Granby that is now home to Red Fire Farm. He later purchased an additional location in Montague.

A farm manager, Dorothy Reed, also has a love for growing crops. When she is not at the farm, she is sometimes experimenting with her blender at home. For a wintery treat, she recommends getting creative. One option is to dump a couple of frozen bananas into the blender, a cup of carrot juice and a cup of coconut milk, for a “pie in a cup” treat.

“If you use a frozen banana it gives you a nice milkshake texture,” said Reed, who has worked on the farm for three years as a manager and in the fields harvesting crops. As a farmer, she has unlimited access to local produce year-round.

She suggests mixing in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of ginger. Some cinnamon and pumpkin spice blend can add a bit of a kick. Add ice as needed.

Those who want to eat like a farmer in the winter still have time to gather a batch of frozen, organic ginger and frozen fruit to whip up a refreshing dessert straight from the local farmer’s market, Reed said.

The deep winter farm share at Red Fire Farm is not quite over, and pounds of frozen ginger and other hearty root veggies are still available at local farmers markets in Franklin and Hampshire counties.

The farmers also recently announced they are accepting orders for their summer farm shares, which are distributed at the farm in Montague on Meadow Road.

For more information about Red Fire Farm or to purchase a farm CSA share, visit or call the farm at 413-467-7645.