CUMMINGTON, Mass. — The transition of the Old Creamery in Cummington to a community-owned cooperative grocery store took a giant leap forward this month with Florence Savings Bank's commitment to provide necessary outside financing.
Thanks to the bank's commitment, just one more fundraising task remains before the Old Creamery Co-op can purchase the business. In a drive to raise a total of $285,000 in member-owner loans or additional gifts — the final financing component — three community members have challenged the greater co-op community by promising $25,000 if member-owners pledge an additional $75,000 by the end of the month.
If this challenge is met, the co-op will be able to purchase the business and proceed with renovations to the store and grounds, and finish the last of the fundraising during this year. Of the needed $285,000 in member-owner loans and gifts, $135,000 has been raised already.
"We are excited to be providing the financing support for the Old Creamery Cooperative project in Cummington," said John Heap, president of Florence Savings Bank. "We are also looking forward to serving our Hilltown customers with ATM service at the Creamery when the renovations are completed. The Creamery has been part of the Hilltown community for more than 100 years and we are happy to play a role in building the financial foundation for the next hundred."
Financing for the project, including acquisition, construction, and a capital credit line, is being provided by Florence Savings Bank.
"The vibrant cultural heart of the Hilltowns is the Old Creamery in Cummington," said Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host, author of the best seller "Drift," and a Hilltowns resident. "It is my favorite retail establishment in the entire universe."
The Creamery, in turn, has created a sandwich called the "The Spicy Maddow" to honor the well-known supporter of the co-op.
"The Old Creamery is one of the most values-based and community-oriented businesses I have ever known," said co-op member and longtime Creamery cook and baker Emmy Howard. "I feel very fortunate to be able to work and shop at a business that is able to hold service to the community and environmental awareness as guiding principles. Because the community, in turn, supports the Creamery, it is able to remain a viable business that continues to give back to the community. If this sounds circular, it is, and that is the beauty of the Old Creamery and its community."
To learn more about the creation of the Old Creamery Cooperative, visit www.OldCreamery.coop.
Submitted by Bill Latimer, communications coordinator for Old Creamery Cooperative
Outstanding in the Field Planning Berkshires Dinner
EGREMONT, Mass. — The Outstanding in the Field bus is making its way to Indian Line Farm in South Egremont on Sept. 15 in its first trip to the Berkshires since 2004.
Executive Chef Brian Alberg and his crew from The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge will be manning the field kitchen and presenting a five-course meal to 130 to 150 guests at the nation's first community-supported agriculture farm.
The dining experience on wheels has traveled around the nation for more than a decade promoting local food and agriculture, reconnecting diners to the land and the origins of their food and honoring local farmers and food artisans. The organization donates to a number of farm- and food-related groups whose missions align with those of OITF.
"We are so fortunate to live in an area where our community is connected to the land, and our chefs are interested in supporting local farmers and food producers," said Alberg, who is well known for his efforts in promoting and showcasing locally grown produce and is president of Berkshire Grown. "This dinner is a perfect forum to showcase our efforts and we are psyched to see the bus stop here on Sept. 15."
Farmers Elizabeth Keen and Al Thorp have been growing Certified Naturally Grown produce on the 17-acre Indian Line Farm since 1997 primarily for the CSA but they also sell to the Great Barrington Farmers Market, restaurants and some local stores.
OITF organizes as many as 90 events a year and traveled to Europe last year. Ingredients for each OITF meal are almost all local and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region.
Tickets to the four-course, family style dinner on Saturday, Sept. 15, are $220 per person and includes hors d'oeuvres, farm tour and dessert. They go on sale on March 20; more information can be found here.
Beginning at noon Sept. 15, a team from The Red Lion Inn and Berkshire Farm & Table will be streaming live behind-the-scenes coverage, offering a backstage pass to this celebrated event. Media coverage will include blog posts, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter updates.
Red Lion Chef Takes Top Honors at 'Lamb Jam'
Staff Reports On: 10:50AM / Tuesday February 21, 2012
The Red Lion Inn's Brian Alberg took home the top prize in the American Lamb Board's "Lamb Jam" on Sunday.
According to Eat Drink RI, which covered the event at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Alberg's lamb shoulder and kale meatballs, featuring Farm Girl Farm of Egremont's smoked tomato puree and parmesan crustade won not only best overall dish and best shoulder dish, beating out 18 other chefs.
Berkshire Brewing Co. was also there serving beverages along with some notable Boston brewers.
Albert, president of Berkshire Grown's board of trustees, will go to California to compete against Lamb Jam winners from around the country.
A major supporter of using locally grown produce for Berkshires dining, Alberg has organized the upcoming "Preserving the Berkshire Harvest" with other local chefs at the James Beard House in New York on Mrch 2.
Know Your Farmer Photos
By Stephanie Farrington On: 10:34AM / Friday February 17, 2012
LENOX, Mass. — The Lenox Library hosts its second annual Spring Tonic: Celebrating All Things Locally Grown on Saturday, March 24, from noon to 4.
The event hints at the green season to come while promoting locally grown products and healthy living. The family activity will include an indoor farmers' market, live bluegrass and jazz music, sign-ups for farm shares and a drawing for a gift basket of farm goodies.
At noon, a panel of health experts will speak on "Eating Healthy at Every Age." At 12:30, the indoor farmers' market will open, featuring local vendors selling their wares and farm shares. Vendors will also have samples, recipes and brochures to give away. Local bluegrass musicians Andy Gordon and Paul Rice and the jazz group Too Human will perform. Attendees who visit all the vendors will have the chance to enter a drawing of a gift basket full of local farm bounty.
Hundreds of people attended last year's Spring Tonic, and this year's plans are bigger and better. The event is free and open to the public.