by Laura Rodley
Summer brings intermittent thunderstorms, but the 12 vendors at the Ashfield Farmers Market were prepared, staying dry underneath tents while waiting out the storms the last weekend of July. Their customers could also squeeze under tent overhangs. The Red Herring Morris Dancers from Boston remained undeterred and danced out in the rain, however.
Morris Dancer Richland Powell of Boston, MA took a break to order an egg sandwich from Holly Wescott of Heart Beet Gardens of Ashfield, MA, under her tent. Wescott grows microgreens, parsley and other assorted greens. It’s the second season that she has been part of the Ashfield Farmers Market.
“What is really good about this is that I’m cooking eggs, and Bread Euphoria (a nearby vendor and bread baker from Williamsburg) brings the bread. It’s a community thing. Mary Jean Fitzpatrick sells the Kastania olive oil and the yummy balsamic crème that goes really well on the microgreens,” Wescott said.
To her left was Carin Freeman and her four-year-old daughter Althea Rose at the Freeman Farm booth from Heath, MA. Carin and Michael Freeman took over the multi-generational Freeman Farm in 2016. They sell grass-fed beef and pastured pork, both antibiotic- and growth hormone-free. Recently, they have started selling chicken. They have 60 head of cattle (a mix of Belted Galloways, Murray Greys, Herefords and Black Angus), 30 hogs (a mix of Berkshire and other heritage breeds) and 120 chickens on over 200 acres of fields. Their farm sells cuts of beef, whole or half cows, and cuts of pork or whole or half hogs as well as maple syrup. They sell maple breakfast sausage made with their own syrup, Polish spiral and hot or sweet Italian sausages.
They started doing farmers markets by attending the Shelburne Falls Farmers Market last year. This is their first season at Ashfield Farmer’s Market. “I think it’s great. It gets our meat out there, gets people seeing the quality of our pastured meat,” Freeman said. “It’s great that they can tell the difference in the meat we raise by the color of the meat. The lean beef is rich and dark in color, and marbled with much sought-after heart-healthy omega 3 fats.”
This year, Freeman Farm will supply all the beef for the iconic Heath Fair food booth. They will also supply sweet Italian sausage and breakfast sausage links for the fair’s famous breakfast. Last year, they supplied the food booth with hamburgers during Heath Fair’s centennial, with a record-breaking number of over 9,000 attendees. “We sold a couple hundred pounds of burgers – we sold out. It was pretty amazing,” said Freeman.
The exposure from the farmers markets has been so positive and such an essential to bringing farmers’ products to the public that Freeman and six other producers are planning a new farmers market in Colrain.
Nearby was Daniel Greene, who owns Good Bunch Farm in Conway. He has been part of Ashfield Farmers Market since 2012, and part of Shelburne Falls Farmers Market on Friday afternoons for a decade. He also sells produce to restaurants and co-ops. On his three-acre farm, two acres are cultivated and one is being replenished under a cover crop.
“This is a nice little market. There is no real city market, other than Northampton,” Greene said. “For me, it’s good because it’s close to my farm and there’s not a lot of competition. It’s a very vibrant market. People come from Goshen, Plainfield, Conway, Buckland and beyond. There should be more markets like this one.”
Barbara and Eric Goodchild of Barberic Farm from Shelburne have attended Ashfield Farmers Market for five years. They also attend the Shelburne Falls Farmers Market. They farm part of Barbara’s family’s farm, the Davenport Maple Farm in Shelburne. They raise Romney sheep and currently have 18 brood ewes. Last year they had 28 lambs, mostly twins. They sell sheep fleeces, wool products and jams. They also sell lamb and lamb pies and grass-fed beef pies. Her brother raises the beef for the pies at Davenport Maple Farm.
For these farmers, selling their products at the farmers market is their bread and butter.
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