Updated December 2018:
Not much is growing in Western Mass these days and these events have come and gone. You can still take a look to get an idea of what might be in store for the 2019 harvest. Hopefully it will be less soggy.
There has always been a short distance between farm and table in Western Massachusetts. We were eating locally long before the word locavore existed. Whether it’s farmed, foraged, or fermented we take pride in our local food products.
While the fertile soil of our region provides for us throughout the year peak season is late Summer through Fall. That’s when we get to enjoy the full diversity of things grown here from berries to bok choi, muskmelons to mushrooms, peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn and more. Vegetable stands pop up on the side of every road. Produce fills the shelves at local grocery stores and tables at farmers markets. Our talented chefs get creative with whatever’s freshest from the farm down the street or their own garden.
This bounty is always cause for celebration and there are many ways to celebrate in Western Mass. Here are some of the favorites.
Agricultural Fairs have been a tradition in Western Mass for 200 years. The oldest being the Three County Fair in Northampton. Originally a showcase for local livestock, produce and crafts they have grown to include carnival rides, concerts, truck pulls, demolition derbies, racing pigs, and much more. They vary in size and offerings, each with their own unique quirks and characters.
Farm Dinners and Harvest Suppers
Farm dinners are a newer tradition. Chefs prepare special meals at local farms using ingredients grown there.
Often used as fundraisers for organizations like The Trustees of Reservations and CISA, they bring the farmers and community together in the most delicious way possible.
Harvest Suppers bring the local produce from the farms to you in a variety of locations.
Some products deserve their own festivals. Western Mass has food festivals inspired by Tomatoes, Chili Peppers, Peaches, Apples, Potatoes, Pumpkins and even Garlic.
At The Garlic and Arts Fest you can enjoy Bart’s infamous garlic ice cream while watching the raw garlic eating contest.
Chili Fest includes both a chili and hot sauce competition and a tastings of super hot peppers for those who dare.
What better way to enjoy the local bounty than buying direct from the source. Western Mass is full of farmers markets where local farms and vendors sell their wares. Most go through September, some into October and there are even a few winter markets. Often they include live music and other entertainment.
But what are you going to do with all the great ingredients once you get them? Cooking workshops can provide tips, tricks and inspiration you can use in your own kitchen.