by Nancy Macy
Drive a country road in the Berkshires and you’ll likely pass a farm. Fields planted with rows of vegetables, melons, and fruit trees stretch for acres under brilliant blue skies and puffy clouds. Meadows of wildflowers sway in gentle breezes. Grazing sheep, cows, goats, pigs, and llamas soak up the sun in the company of free-range chickens and geese. Farm equipment creates a low background hum.
Behind these lovely scenes are independent farmers who bring the bounty of fresh produce, butchered meats, handcrafted wines, beers, ales, and ciders, baked goods, cheese, honey, maple syrup, and small-batch foods to Berkshire markets, tables, and CSAs. In a region where culinary adventures range from picnics at Tanglewood to upscale farm-to-table dining, most farmers and food producers here service several different types of customers, from restaurant kitchens to farmer’s markets and local grab-and-go food purveyors such as Berkshire Organics, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace and Spirited.
These small-scale farmers have a big sense of community, much of it rooted in a local nonprofit called Berkshire Grown that provides resources to support and promote sustainable agriculture through advocacy, education, and outreach programs. If you’re looking for a nearby farmer’s market, farm stand, pick-your-own farm, CSA, farm-to-table restaurant, or want to connect directly with businesses who support the local food scene, check out the ‘Map-o-licious’ feature on the Berkshire Grown website for a listing of its nearly 300 members.
Berkshire Farms Market at Logan International Airport, launched in 2014, based on the San Francisco’s Taste on the Fly program is currently offering a wide range of Berkshire products. Some of these products are cheese from Cricket Creek Farm, maple syrup from Sweet Brook Farm, and handmade chocolate from H.R. Zeppelin. It is great to see the Berkshire food and farm story going farther and farther afield.
If you haven’t been enticed by the scope of the Berkshire food scene yet, explore Taste Trails created by Berkshire Farm & Table in conjunction with Berkshire Magazine. These trails will guide you to locally produced beer and cider, cheese, and charcuterie. A few notable stops are Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown, John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant in South Egremont, and The Meat Market, The Prairie Whale, and Allium Restaurant + Bar in Great Barrington.
If you’re interested in wine and spirit tastings at regional vineyards and distilleries, tap into the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail. Along the route, visit Furnace Brook Winery in Richmond, also home to Hilltop Orchards, where their extensive listing includes award-winning ciders, apple ice wine, and honey meads.
Eating local is a way of life here, and local farms and food producers have been at the heart of it for generations. The tradition of a strong agricultural economy continues. Discovering the food community here, whether it’s on a back road or at a farm-to-table restaurant, is to find another wonderful thing to love about the Berkshires.