Following a long and snowy winter here in the Berkshires, the extended cold weather has given farmers plenty of time to plan for mid-Spring activities and a successful growing season. A chill will remain in the air for the next month or so, but the added hours of daylight and a changing climate have contributed to many exciting activities of life on the farm.
Baby chicks are happily growing a few feathers, piglets have arrived to turn nourishing compost into starter soil, cows are beginning to look around the pasture for new green growth, and sheep and goats are giving birth to lambs and kids. With area farms at the cusp of a new season, the next several weeks will include planting in greenhouses, transplanting seedlings, mending farm equipment and preparing for apprentices and seasonal workers. It’s a busy time getting ready for the growing season and an alluring way to experience the Berkshires.
This spring season, Black Queen Angus Farm in Berlin, NY, welcomes new baby calves. For the next two months, the farm will be expecting the arrival of 28 calves. It is during this time the farm does all of their annual planned fence maintenance. They welcome visitors to meet the calves and maybe even lend a hand fixing fences. No experience necessary!
The Berry Patch in Stephentown, NY, is gearing up for summer in these early spring months with the first tomato plants going into the ground in April. The farm plants every week so harvest can continue all spring long. They harvest fresh greens three times a week to sell to restaurants in the Berkshires including Mezze Bistro + Bar, Allium and The Red Lion Inn, and at the Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market. Their current spring harvest includes spinach, Asian greens, arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens, baby lettuce mix, broccoli raab greens, kale, endive and escarole.
The calves at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown are not to be missed! This farm invites visitors to walk right up to the baby calves and pat them on the head. Visitors can watch chickens peck at the first spring grasses and at the end of the month, watch the cows go out to pasture to graze. On April 6th, Cricket Creek Farm will be teaching a cheese-making class. Students can learn how to make award-winning cheese and see what these farmers do behind the scenes.
Maple sugaring season is still taking place at Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown. This is a time of year when maple farmers hope for warmer temperatures during the day and high 20s overnight. This farm puts out approximately 4,300 taps along 17 miles of sap lines and produces about 1,300 gallons of maple syrup annually. Plenty of maple syrup is available from last year’s harvest and they are just beginning to bottle up this year’s supply. The farm has a small flock of chickens that are laying beautiful brown eggs and are available for sale in their farm store. Visitors are welcome to visit the farm, where they also raise a herd of 15 alpacas and one llama for their luxurious, soft fiber. The fiber is spun into yarn, which is also available for sale in their cozy shop. Hours are 10 am – 6 pm, seven days a week excluding major holidays.
Lakeview Orchard in Lanesboro will reopen to the public on Saturdays and Sundays beginning May 17th then full time once trees begin bearing fruit. To meet growing demand, they will be planting more cherry and honey crisp apple trees in April, and May and June will bring an early crop of organic asparagus. Their test kitchen is working on some new bakery items for their farm store this season.
At Farm Girl Farm and Equinox Farm in Sheffield, they are wrapping up the planning season. This month, they begin nurturing plants, training new farm girls, re-setting the greenhouse to turn it into a propagation house and planting kale and collards, scallions, beets and herbs plus cold-hearty baby greens. When night temperatures begin to warm up, farmers start lettuces and begin the tender summer crops — eggplant, peppers, squash and tomatoes. When snow-melt is complete, the fields are prepared for the first sowings and by May, the farm will be greened over with salad and early vegetables.
Farmers’ markets throughout the region begin in mid-May and give visitors a first-hand taste of local, where farmers and community members gather together to exchange handshakes, delicious goods and great stories. For the traveler who loves food and the food enthusiast who loves to travel, a visit to a farm or a farmers’ market will put a little spring in your step.
End the day with the 5th Memorial Day Marathon Races at Summersound at Tanglewood. This event on May 25th, 2014 will include a variety of live music as well as a tasty assortment of Berkshire food vendors such as Scoop, Bagel & Brew and How We Roll food truck also on site enjoy beer from Big Elm Brewing. If you are running, then the night before you will have the pleasure of dinner at Mazzeo’s Ristorante hosted by Joy Bauer of the Today Show. Want to run? Then register today.
This article was produced in partnership with: