Agritourism Makes Berkshire Farms a Travel Destination
by Martha Jackson Suquet
Image courtesy Riiska Brook Orchard, Sandisfield
What does your perfect fall day look like? For many people in the Berkshires, both visitors and locals, this season means visiting farms for activities like pumpkin patches, apple picking, hayrides, and more. Many farms offer year-round activities, but fall is particularly suited to agritourism: a term that encompasses all of the ways farms open themselves up to the public. Many Berkshire Grown member farms offer a wide selection of fun fall activities.
Image courtesy Ioka Valley Farm, Hancock
Some farms offer a full agritourism experience, complete with a farm stay and participation in daily farm life, or even the opportunity to get married on a working farm, like Holiday Brook Farm. But there are plenty of local farm experiences that anyone can enjoy on a short visit. Pick apples (a few or a bushel) at local orchards and cap the experience with a cider donut and fresh apple cider. Or visit a farm to find the perfect pumpkin for your Halloween décor. Kids delight in corn mazes and hayrides, and adults can taste the fermented harvest at local can taste the fermented harvest at local vineyards, breweries, and distilleries.
Camping enthusiasts can find farm campsites, like the lakeside gem at Bug Hill Farm.

It’s impossible to talk about pumpkin-related activities in the Berkshires without talking about Howden Farm in Sheffield. Bruce and his father developed several varieties of pumpkins selecting for traits like high production and uniformly-sized fruits, the most famous being the “Howden” pumpkin variety, popularly known as the classic Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin, whose seeds are prized by growers far and wide.
Bug Hill Farm, Ashfield
Agritourism can give farmers a much-needed boost to their bottom line, and when several farms in the same region offer a variety of activities, it creates an agritourism destination. As a Berkshire Regional Planning Commission report pointed out, Berkshire farms “contribut[e] to the overall appeal of the region as a travel destination” by offering unique experiences and scenic landscapes. And the benefits of connecting consumers to farms go beyond entertainment and revenue. The Massachusetts Agritourism Study Commission Final Report confirms that “the people who visit farms and enjoy themselves become more educated consumers.”
Ioka Valley Farm, Hancock
Ioka Valley Farm, in Hancock, invites visitors to the farm in all seasons. In the fall, visitors can poke around the pumpkin patch, explore a mini corn maze, dress-up as scarecrows, or ride in the cow wagon train around the farm yard and more. Local schools bring students on field trips to the farm to learn about pumpkins and how they grow. For farmer Missy Leab, these activities can be challenging to balance with the never-ending flow of farm tasks, but agritourism helps the farmers get to know their customers and connects customers to where their food and farm products come from.
At Little Apple Cidery, the annual CIDERFEST is coming up on Sunday, October 9th. This free celebration includes fresh and hard ciders, a food truck, live music, a cider pressing demonstration, and even a barrel rolling contest. Little Apple’s Ron Bixby explains that as a small cidery, hosting events helps with exposure and additional revenue. If you miss CIDERFEST, you can visit the Orchard Bar (open weekends May to November), and check out the farm’s website for upcoming live music and food truck events.
Image courtesy Little Apple Cidery, Hillsdale, NY
While agritourism farms are happy to welcome visitors for these various fall activities, it’s important to remember that these are working farms. Each farm will have different rules to keep everyone safe, but in general it’s best to read signs carefully, stay in designated areas on the farm, and keep an eye out for equipment and livestock.

We hope you enjoy everything that Berkshire farms have to offer this fall!

Local Farms to Visit:
High Lawn Farm: meet the Jersey cows, visit milking parlor & ice cream
Howden Farm: Pumpkin patch
Ioka Valley Farm: Hayrides, pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals
Lakeview Orchard, apple picking, hay rides, cider mill
Little Apple Cidery: CIDERFEST, Live Music, Orchard Bar
Riiska Brook: Pumpkins, apple picking, cider donuts
Taft Farms: Free corn maze, pumpkin patch
Windy Hill Farm: Apple picking, cider and donuts (weekends)
Woodlife Ranch: weddings, fly fishing, and more
Ode to the Apple
Autumn Ushers in "Pick Your Own" Apple Season

Autumn in the Berkshires is a glorious time of year and what better way to spend time at a local orchard or a farm than to pick your own apples, fruits or flowers? Find a farm near you using Berkshire Grown's Find and Food Map to search for all kinds of produce as well as farms that offer pick your own apples.
Find your favorite apples and cider at these Berkshire Grown farm members:

Bartlett's Orchard, Richmond
Honey Bee Orchard, Brookfield
Lakeview Orchard, Lanesborough
Little Apple Cidery, Hillsdale, NY
Maynard Farm, Ulster, NY
Mountain Pasture Farm, Becket
Riiska Brook Farm, Sandisfield
Windy Hill Farm, Great Barrington
Image courtesy of Maynard Farms, Ulster, NY
A North Adams, Massachusetts cidery that is exploring the culture and history of Berkshire County through foraged and community-sourced apples is celebrated its second anniversary this summer.

By Josh Landes for WAMC Northeast Public Radio

Married couple Kat Hand and Matt Brogan operate Berkshire Cider Project out of Greylock WORKS, an almost quarter-million square foot complex that once served as a cotton-spinning mill just west of downtown North Adams.

“We met in New York City, and as a hobby, we got into cider making," said Brogan. "I grew up in upstate New York, Kat’s family has been here in the Berkshires for nearly 40 years. In either of those places, you can't help but fall in love with apples and orchards and fall. So we were making cider as a hobby literally in our bathroom closet. And it just kind of started taking over, literally, our apartment and then took over her parents’ basement in a number of ways.”

Berkshire Cider Project’s 1,200-foot space serves as both the production facility and tasting room for the business. Despite the close confines, they released 3,000 gallons of 13 different ciders in 2021.

“Everything we create is dry and sparkling, so that is common across the board," said Hand. "Dry meaning, there's no sugar in it at all. So we ferment everything completely so all the sugar is eaten up to make alcohol, which we like.”
There are classic ciders like a dry made with local Berkshire culinary apples like Gala and Mutsu as well as a bittersweet English style with UK-sourced apples.

“We have a barrel aged cider that we make with our friends at Windy Hill Orchard, which is down in Great Barrington, and again, that's using culinary apples," said Hand. "But for that one, we age in French oak wine barrels, so you get a nice kind of toasty, warm, oakiness, somewhat reminiscent of a Chardonnay but still super bright since apples are nice and acidic.”
image courtesy of Berkshire Cider Project
It’s through foraging that Berkshire Cider Project lives up to its name.
“As soon as you start finding them or start seeing them, you'll see apple trees all over Berkshire County, in people's backyards," said Hand. "We forage everywhere from the Burger King parking lot to the Mount to really anywhere that people will invite us where they have apple trees or where we find them along the roads. And so then those wild apples bring a whole other kind of characteristic into some of our ciders as well.”

“Every time you plant an apple or throw an apple core by the roadside, you're likely to get a completely new variety of apple that might be good, it might also be inedible, but it might make great cider, which is usually the case as well," said Brogan. "So one thing that's been really fun for us is just finding those apples, and there's lots of folks doing this throughout New England and sort of giving them new names or coming up with new descriptions for them.”

He says the endeavor makes Berkshire Cider Project something of a time machine.

Listen or read the full interview here.
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What We Are Reading:
Here's what will happen at the first White House hunger summit since 1969

By Ximena Bustillo for National Public Radio
September 23, 2022

President Joe Biden will headline the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health on Sept. 28, unveiling his plan to make good on a pledge to end hunger and diet-related diseases by 2030.

The conference, planned for the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, will feature panels and working group sessions involving hundreds of advocates, educators, health care professionals, lawmakers, cabinet officials and everyday Americans.

Doug Emhoff – the husband of Vice President Harris –will also speak at the conference, the White House says. Other featured speakers include Chef Jose Andres, known for his work feeding people after disasters, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

It will be the first conference on hunger, nutrition and health since 1969. That Nixon-era conference led to the creation of the big programs underpinning U.S. hunger response, like food stamps and child nutrition assistance.

Food, hunger and nutrition advocates are closely watching for the release of the new White House strategy, which many hope will be as transformational for food and health as the first conference's plan.

What's on the agenda

The conference will open with panels covering topics like food as medicine, promoting physical activity, childhood nutrition, public-private partnerships, and equity.

During smaller working-group sessions, participates will "collaborate and identify actions they will take individually and collectively to help achieve the goal of ending and reducing diet-related diseases," according to the White House.
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden pack food boxes while volunteering on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Jan. 16, 2022. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
The White House and agencies have spent the last few months hosting listening sessions to prepare for the summit, talking to representatives from corporations, health care, conservation and environmental groups, hunger and nutrition groups and school and education groups. They have also taken in recommendations from organizations, individuals and lawmakers
Recommendation briefs reviewed by NPR include a wide variety of policy proposals like expanding universal free school meals and school cafeteria resources, boosting nutrition assistance programs, and improved outreach to immigrant, Native American and other marginalized communities.
Food and nutrition advocates have raised concerns over whether or not the administration will be able to match the high bar set by the last conference.
Many will weigh the success of the conference on how the White House's final recommendations are implemented — the executive actions, partnerships with companies and nonprofits, and in upcoming legislation like the 2023 farm bill.
Shop the Fall Harvest at Berkshire Farmers Markets!

Here in the Berkshires September and October may be the last months for new crops to grow, so it is always reassuring that heartier vegetables can be put into cold storage. Autumn is also a great time to preserve your own stash (or stock your pantry) with produce available at the markets including ferments, jellies and jams, fruits and vegetables. Freezing locally grown produce and meats help make winter meals healthier. As dairy animals forage on different vegetation throughout the four seasons, their milk changes the flavor of the cheese produced, too. 

Look for farm fresh products at one of the many Berkshire Farmers Markets.
Bake eggplants parmesan, savory ratatouille, or hearty moussaka
Pasture raised eggs & grass fed meats
Make a batch of fresh peach jam
A bounty of healthy veggies
Artisanal cheese flavor reflects the season
Hearty fall and winter squash
Berkshire Grown helps you find your local farmers markets and learn more about their events, vendors, and food access programs. Use our Food and Farms Map to find markets, farm stands, CSA farms, and more. The Berkshire Farmers Markets map sites farmers market locations on a map, and the Berkshire Grown website directs you to local markets that offer Market Match programs for SNAP. On the road this week? You can use the Eat Local MA app to help you find local food and farms all around the Commonwealth.
Berkshire Grown's

Every time you buy directly from a local farmer, you eat the freshest farm products and you support local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshires economy.
This 2022 Guide to Local Food & Farms is the region’s most comprehensive guide to local farms, farmers markets, and restaurants offering local foods - use it to find farm stands, CSA farms, pick-your-own farms and orchards, as well as locally sourced value-added products like charcuterie, preserves, and fermented foods and locations and hours of food pantries spread across the county. Within these pages and online at, you will find descriptions, addresses, and a detailed map.

Keep your Guide to Local Food & Farms handy and use it frequently!
Berkshire Grown connects you with local farmers, restaurants, and food producers. DONATE TODAY to celebrate local farms and food, sustain our Berkshire food economy, and Keep Farmers Farming! Support your favorite local eating establishment.
  To pay via check or phone, make payable to Berkshire Grown, mail to:
PO Box 983, Great Barrington, MA 01230 or call (413) 528-0041.
Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Stay in Touch

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Margaret Moulton, Executive Director
Jordan Archey, Program Manager, Business Members
Martha Jackson Suquet, Winter Farmers Market Manager
Sharon Hulett-Shepherd, Membership and Office Manager
Join Berkshire Grown here.