By Christy Bassett, The Organic Food Guide Coordinator
This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2018 July Issue Newsletter
For me, weekdays are filled with necessary tasks where ignoring distraction is crucial to productivity. A mid-week adventure may be five minutes in my backyard taking a closer look at the green beneath my feet. Plantain, clover, beetles, brambles and sometimes even a little grass can help open my eyes to a world that does not necessarily need me to thrive. But weekends… weekends are for exploring. Our family likes to combine our weekly grocery shopping trip with time spent together visiting land where people are in touch with thriving local ecosystems. Summer is the perfect time to do that, since many seasonal farm stands open their doors for the beautiful weather.
Farm stands offer the opportunity for consumers to visit the source of their sustenance. It’s a simple open-ended invitation by the farmer to stop in and see what they’ve been up to without having to set time aside for formal introductions or guided tours. You can usually learn a lot from a trip out to a farm itself, rather than purchasing the same products from retail stores or even at farmers’ markets. Take a peak at the gardens, watch the animals in their home environment, observe the pride of the producer in their property. Things aren’t always perfectly manicured or even peaceful on a working farm, but there is almost always a strong sense of life and bounty that is felt when you are standing on fertile ground.
In New England, we also have the perk of having some of the oldest working farms in the country. NOFA/Mass member Appleton Farms, established in 1638 and now owned by The Trustees of Reservations, has been maintained by nine generations of the Appleton Family in Ipswich, MA. You can visit their farm Dairy Store or Visitor Center for the full farm experience. Hutchins Farm, another long time NOFA/Mass member, has been growing organic fruit and vegetables in Concord, MA since 1973. Their farm stand is open to the public from Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. A rich history that flows through family generations can been seen and felt throughout the Commonwealth.
Besides connecting the consumer to the farm itself, visiting a farm stand also benefits the farmer. Many growers are strapped for time and travel expenses. By going to the farm, instead of relying on others to bring their products closer to you, you are allowing them to spend their time close to home, tending to the never-ending list of chores or simply enjoying the natural life they’ve built around them. Less investment of resources by the farmer often allows prices to remain affordable for the consumer and provides the grower with better income. Keeping farming profitable for those that protect our local agricultural property is a wise investment for all of us.
The Organic Food Guide can help you find farm stands that are open for business near you. Search by location, product, organic certification and more to pinpoint your next day trip. Your children will enjoy seeing the animals, running on open land, and picking out fresh healthy food. You may even start a weekly family tradition, as I did, while exploring the backroads of Massachusetts and supporting local farmers.
Know of an organic or sustainable farm that should be listed in The Organic Food Guide? Ask them to create a free listing today, courtesy of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter. And if you appreciate this service, consider becoming a NOFA/Mass member today.