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The owners of Balderdash Cellars are planning to renovate the aged barn on their property into an overflow event space.

Balderdash Cellars Approved to Renovate Barn for Event Space

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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RICHMOND, Mass. — Local winery Balderdash Cellars on State Road (Route 41) has been approved to renovate an existing barn next to its main and winery building to utilize for events and overflow space.

Co-owners Donna and Christian Hanson want the renovated barn to maintain its rustic nature.

"From the outside, it is going to look very similar to what it does now, the footprint is not going to change, it will still look like a barn it will just look better and nicer and not fall down," Christian Hanson joked. "We want to keep it as rustic as possible."

They plan to install a floor and do repairs to make the barn structurally sound but do not plan on removing beams or making any drastic changes. The large red barn will be a three-season structure, as it does not have heat or air conditioning.

Balderdash operated in a commercial basement space on East Street in Pittsfield for seven years and moved in 2018 to the much larger location in Richmond. The Hansons had the main building constructed to house a winery in the basement and a public area on the main floor.

The winery sits on 21 acres overlooking Richmond Pond. In the warmer seasons, there is an abundance of outdoor seating, food vendors, and live music. Even during the novel corona pandemic, the Hansons were able to provide the public with a COVID-19-oriented version of the winery that was both safe and enjoyable.

This building renovation was approved by the Richmond Select Board earlier this month as a Farm Function Permit, which is a bylaw that allows farms to have events on their property and regulates the events that take place outside of normal business hours.

Hanson said the current permit did not include the structure they intend to renovate, so it was amended to include the barn.

Under the bylaw, Balderdash is considered a farm because of the size of its property. 

The Hansons have not done much with the barn until this year, when they decided they wanted to utilize its space after it is stabilized. They decided that it would be a great space for events and could provide extra sheltered seating if the main building fills up.

"If it's a rainy day and we have some overflow from our normal winery building, sure, we will set up a remote location in the barn," Christian Hanson said.

The barn is aimed to be completed by the end of 2021 and to be in use for the spring season 2022.  The Hansons hope that by then, the world will not be in the midst of a global pandemic and they will be able to utilize the space to its full potential.

Christina Hanson estimates that the project will cost around $100,000, but said it is just an estimate because the barn is really one of those projects where you don't know what you're getting into until you get into it.

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MassWildlife Asks Public Not to Feed 'GE Deer'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If you have ever driven down New York Avenue and seen the deer grazing behind the fencing that encases General Electric's property, it is likely that you have been inclined to feed them.

Though this action is rooted in kindness, it is not healthy for the woodland friends and could be fatal, which is why MassWildlife has put up signs asking that residents do not throw food over the fences.

"Obviously, people see the deer in there and they probably think 'what are they going to eat? They're limited in there they're stuck in there.'  I will say, they're definitely not stuck in there," MassWildlife's wildlife biologist Nathan Buckhout said.

For decades, the deer have found an unlikely sanctuary in the former GE site that includes two landfills, Hill 78 and Building 71. Buckhout explained that they have been there for decades, spawning offspring and becoming completely self-sufficient within the fenced area.

"They're doing just fine," he said. "And they obviously are getting enough food and water, otherwise their population would be limited, they wouldn't be able to produce their offspring so there would be fewer fawns, and eventually they probably would have disappeared — but they haven't."

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