Cricket Creek Wins In National Cheese Compitition
This is one of the highest honors a farmstead creamery can receive and brings national recognition to Massachusetts, and the Berkshires.
"Like so many small dairies, we are trying to grow the business through the sale of our value-added products," said Suzy Konecky, creamery manager. "It has been a winding road, but we have been time and again propelled by our local and regional customers — including chefs, cheesemongers, community members, and CSA — who have all made an outstanding commitment to this farm. We look forward to continuing to produce cheeses that nourish and sustain both our customers and our small farm."
The win came in the Farmstead Cheeses category for hard cow's milk cheeses. Maggie's Reserve is an extra-aged version of the popular Maggie's Round, a raw milk cheese with a natural rustic rind, inspired by the toma cheeses of the Italian Alps.
Cricket Creek is a diversified grass-based dairy with a herd of brown Swiss and Jersey cows, mixed heritage-breed pigs, a small flock of laying hens, and an on-site bakery.
"This farm is unique in that we have a steady flow of fresh creativity and passion from our dedicated and diverse group of apprentices who come work with us," said Konecky. "We are grateful to each one of them, and everyone who has left their mark on our farm and creamery."
Holiday Brook Farm Offers CSA Shares, Farm Store
Members select their choice of organically grown, harvested vegetables including U-pick crops. Pickup days are on Tuesdays or Saturdays at the farm in Dalton. Box shares are available at Berkshire Mall's Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Monthly meat shares are also available in 10, 15 or 20 pound sizes. Farm store hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Vegetables, meats, maple syrup and yarn are some of the products at the store. More information: www.holidaybrookfarm.com or 413-358-1194.
Outstanding in the Field Planning Berkshires Dinner
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.
Farmers' Market Sticking to Homegrown, Homemade
|North Adams Farmers' Market members met Saturday at Mass MoCA to plan out this year's market.|
On Saturday, March 3, organizers of the market met with potential vendors to discuss plans for this year's market.
The meeting was chaired by Market Manager Diana Cirillo and convened by North Adams Director of Tourism and Community Events Veronica Bosley.
A number of issues facing the market were discussed. This year, the market will carry only products that are grown and made by vendors. There will be a restriction on crafts in order to focus on farm produce and home-made goods from around the region.
Eleven potential vendors were in attendance, including Square Roots Farm, Jaeschke's Orchard, Country Dreams Farm and Cricket Creek Farm.
Debate on several issues was heated. In the end, the group settled on a $10 weekly fee and plans to expand the present available methods of payment to include credit and debit cards as well as cash and SNAP benefit cards.
The group decided to look at planning one or two special weeks during which a combination Farmers' Market and Flea Market may be held as well as making it clear that this year, there will be no canceled dates.
"I remember when we were canceled for Wilco," said one farmer, "You know, that doesn't work for me. I can't go out into the field and tell the corn to stop growing for a week cause the market's been canceled."
Maryanne Kufs, who runs the EBT machine, responsible for accepting electronic payments and managing coupons and SNAP benefits, said the grant from Wholesome Wave that made it possible to give double dollars to SNAP beneficiaries who use their cards at the market was coming to an end, but there is some money left in the account and other grants are presently being sought to continue the program.
Unlike last year, this year's market marks a return of sorts to its roots. The first North Adams Farmers' Market was held in 1976, initiated by the Chamber of Commerce as part of the Fall Festival of Foliage. This year, the market will be governed by the tourism director, who will seek advice from a volunteer-appointed board made up of individuals from the community, all of whom have an interest in supporting access to local food.
Those wishing to sell baked or canned goods at the market will need a permit from City Hall. And anyone who packages food on-site is required by Massachusetts law to be certified Serve Safe. Fortunately, Greg Roach of Wild Oats Co-Operative Market, a member of the Market Advisory Board, is qualified and will be available to administer the Serve Safe exam at a considerable savings. Greg may be contacted at Wild Oats.
For further questions about this year's market or to ask for a copy of the rules, email Veronica Bosley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Lion Chef Takes Top Honors at 'Lamb Jam'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.