Local Hero Profile: Oliver’s Farmstand
Local Hero Profile by Krystal Bagnaschi, CISA Intern
Published in CISA’s January 2021 enewsletter
“Our philosophy is simple. It’s to provide the best quality products sourced from the most local farms.” Like many Local Hero members, Oliver’s Farmstand got its start when owner Ruby Hutt saw a need in her community for healthy, local, organic food. It became her mission to support local businesses and give her community the opportunity to support these local businesses as well. This year’s pandemic has only strengthened Ruby’s dedication to this mission.
Ruby Hutt opened Oliver’s Farmstand shortly after getting married and having her son Oliver. “Oliver was the catalyst.” Ruby went from working full-time to being a full-time mother, and as a full-time mother, Ruby became aware of a niche in her community that she wanted to fill—providing “hyper-local” food, as well as a community she wanted to become a part of—the Pioneer Valley’s agricultural community. From there, Ruby started to source the staples of every farm stand … vegetables, meats, honey, and maple syrup, and the smaller the farm, the better. However, to stand out from other farm stands, she branched out to unique products that weren’t readily available to her community. From here, she started to sell mushrooms from Mycoterra, seafood and fish from City Fish Market, and specialty products like pickled quail eggs from friends at local farms. Ruby estimates that 90% of her products are currently sourced from the Pioneer Valley.
During our conversation, Ruby highlighted many local farmers that she has cultivated business and personal relationships with. She talked about these farmers, all of whom she knows by first name, with a love and respect anyone in agriculture would recognize and relate to. When discussing her products and their sources, she beamed about the greens she gets from Diego at Song Sparrow Farm, who farms on just a half-acre, noting that customers often stop for their signature salad mix alone. She also recounted the first time she met Jamie, the owner of Jewel Brook Farm, when she pulled up to the farm stand and shouted, “Hey! You wanna sell some pickled quail eggs?” Then and there, Ruby bought eight jars for herself and those pickled quail eggs have been a staple at the stand ever since. When discussing the products she sells, Ruby does not focus on the quantity or price, but her mission to support local farmers, stating that “everybody’s special,” and having a part in our local agricultural community “makes all the work worth it.”
Unlike most small businesses, Oliver’s Farmstand was uniquely prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. In these uncertain times, many people do not feel comfortable shopping in large chain grocery stores and have more time to investigate what’s being offered in their area. Due to its cash-optional, contact-free nature as a farm stand, Oliver’s has become a welcome stop for those looking for COVID-safe shopping and local, organic food. As Ruby said, this past year, “people have been looking to support local businesses and communities,” and although you don’t go to the movies, or may choose not to eat out at a restaurant, you can go on an adventure and discover places like Oliver’s Farmstand.
In seeing this increased demand for contactless shopping, Ruby decided that her farm stand provided a necessary service for those nervous to go to the store. In order to support her community and continue to provide a safe, local grocery option, this year, Ruby has decided to keep her farm stand open year-round by transitioning to an online ordering platform. Even for those customers that are not technologically inclined, this online ordering is easy to navigate. For the winter months, Oliver’s Farmstand will be offering online ordering for pickup every Wednesday and Saturday. For Wednesday pickup, orders open at midnight on Friday, and close at 11:59pm on Monday. For Saturday pickup, orders open at midnight on Tuesday, and close at 11:59pm on Thursday. Through this online ordering platform, customers can easily view products, as well as build, edit, and schedule a pickup for their order all in one central location.
Although I didn’t physically visit Oliver’s Farmstand, I could feel the love and care Ruby felt toward her business, as well as the magic of discovering such a unique farm stand in the middle of the Hill Towns, in Goshen. From local honey to stuffed clams, Oliver’s Farmstand is a terrific one-stop-destination for all of your local food needs.