The Berkshires has a thriving food scene and small farms and artisanal food producers are at the heart of it. The entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses right in our back yard have increased the interest in sustainable agriculture and locally produced goods. This passion for high-quality food created with sound agricultural practices provides yet another reason to visit the Berkshires.
Among the small farms gaining attention is Cricket Creek Farm, a grass-based dairy farm that produces artisanal cheeses sold at regional farmer’s markets, specialty grocers, and at their farm store on a scenic road in Williamstown. Their market sells to restaurants in the Berkshires, as well as Boston and New York City and they welcome locals to come right to the source and purchase their products. In addition to cheese, they also produce grass-fed beef, eggs and whey-fed pork (whey being a by-product of the cheese making process).
Daily operations at Cricket Creek Farm are managed by Topher Sabot, who with his entrepreneurial spirit is keeping the family owned farm successful and growing. In addition to the high-quality food products that are at the core of the business, the farm has become a community asset, something Topher says is an integral part of its mission. The farm is active on social media connecting followers directly to the source of the products they consume.
“Encouraging the local community to interact with the farm in meaningful ways builds community and educates the public about farming, sustainable agriculture and food production,” says Topher. Forging strong ties to the community benefits everyone, he says, and “one of the best ways to do that is coming together to share good food.” To that end, Cricket Creek Farm welcomes visitors and tours, hosts community potlucks, and sends home cheese with local volunteers who help wrap and package it.
The farm’s entrepreneurial vision of connecting to the community by bringing people to the farm is facilitated by Teri Rutherford. In addition to managing the operation of the creamery, sales and marketing and the farm’s apprentice cheese makers, she also manages special events. Teri says the recent renovation of the farm’s 100-year-old Stone Barn as a wedding and event space will spur further growth for Cricket Creek.
That commitment to community outreach also helps get the word out about the cheese. Being located in the Berkshires has many advantages, says Topher, but there is a limit to the local demand for their artisanal product, simply by the nature of being based in a rural area. The more we connect with the community live or via social media, the more success we achieve.
That being said, the exceptional quality of the 30,000 lbs. of cheese produced at Cricket Creek Farm each year is in large part due to where it’s made. “Our unique processes could be done anywhere,” says Topher, “but it’s the Berkshire seasons, the land, the soil, and the grass the cows are eating that makes our product uniquely what it is.”
Topher adds that Berkshire farmers and food producers receive tremendous support from Berkshire Grown, a nonprofit that connects small local farmers with the Berkshire community and with each other through programming and events that put the focus on agriculture as ‘a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy, and landscape.’
There’s a lot of positive energy in the Berkshires around high-quality, locally produced food,” says Topher. “It’s an exciting time to be part of it!”