Local Hero Profile: E. Cecchi Farms
Local Hero Profile by Sarah Lucia, CISA TerraCorp Service Member
Published in CISA’s May 2021 enewsletter
Celebrating their 75th year, E. Cecchi Farms remains a legacy in the Pioneer Valley and beyond as they provide fresh, local produce and plants to their neighbors and customers. The farm has been in the family for three generations, since 1946. They are most famous for their plants and hanging baskets; the array of colors and varieties draw customers from as far away as Vermont and Pennsylvania. During the spring and summer months, corn on the cob, tomatoes, strawberries, and asparagus are the most anticipated fruits and vegetables at their farm stand. When asked what customers demand the most of, Michael Cecchi shares that customers always ask “When are the strawberries going to be ready?”, and once summer is well under way, “Our corn; our customers love it; they swear it’s the best.”
The farm’s products are sold at their farm stand, where they have a wide variety of plants and seasonal produce. Customers come from the surrounding community, primarily in Hampden County. The stand has a great reputation, and most of their customers are returning customers. “Once they discover us, a lot of people come back. We have a good selection, lots of varieties, great quality, lots of colors,” says Michael of the farm stand. Some crops are only sold as retail, but E. Cecchi Farms does have a partnership with Big Y Foods, where they sell squash, beans, peppers, and tomatoes, among other items. They also have a partnership with Geissler’s Supermarket, a smaller, local supermarket chain in southern Massachusetts and Connecticut.
SNAP and HIP sales form a significant part of the farm’s customer base. Customers call all winter, asking when the farm stand will open for the spring and summer season. SNAP recipients in Massachusetts automatically have HIP, or the Healthy Incentives Program, which they can use to get an extra $40-$80 of free produce each month at participating locations. E. Cecchi Farms is one of these locations in Hampden County and provides a valuable access point for SNAP customers to get fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
Despite some of the challenges of farming, such as uncontrollable weather patterns like the drought in 2020, Michael focuses on the reward of being able to grow food for their stand. Customers have “pleasure and appreciation for the produce we offer them; they let us know how good their gardens do with the plants” that they buy from us.
The farm uses integrated pest management methods and focuses on techniques such as crop rotation and good stewardship of the soil, which is the farm’s most important asset. “After 75 years, our soils are still doing well for us because we’ve been taking care of them,” says Michael. The farm has been on this land for 75 years, feeding the community and neighborhood towns, and that’s their plan for the future.
Visit E. Cecchi Farms in Feeding Hills to pick up some plants for the spring, or try out their famous sweet corn in the summer. Click here for the farm’s most recent updates and to learn more.