Local produce is one of the things I will miss the most about living in Western Mass. Growing up in the suburbs of Philly, I knew that there were (are) farms in Lancaster County, and in South Jersey. Aside from Jersey corn in the summer, I doubt I ate very much local produce. Ironically, when I lived in Philly (Fishtown), I actually visited the closest farm every other week in the Summer (Greensgrow CSA was awesome).
|Strawberries and Basil from Atlas Farms|
Yet, living in a rural area was quite new to me. Suddenly, I was aware of the growing season; it’s hard to miss when you live next to tobacco fields, smell manure (year round, I swear) in the parking lot of the nearest shopping center, and are constantly stuck driving behind a tractor. However, this is all worth it.
|Eggs from Old Friends Farm. Root Veg.|
The town of Amherst has an outdoor Farmers’ Market, set up on the town square, from April to November. My first winter, I discovered that the market continues in the winter. From December to March, the market moves indoors to Amherst Regional Middle School. This is seriously awesome if you are a fan of root vegetables.
While I love the Farmers’ Market, the best part about living in a rural area is that I don't necessarily need to go to a farmers’ market. I can walk a few houses down, to a nearby farm, and buy produce at the “honor system” stand on the side of the road. In the summer and early fall, roadside stands are everywhere.
|Never had these before; they taste like candy.|
I will miss the legitimately local aspect of eating and cooking in Western Mass. While I never went so far as to buy the “No Farms, No Food” bumper sticker, I understand the concept more than I ever did. Once I move back to PA, I don’t know the next time I will cook a meal composed entirely of items grown within three miles of my house. And yeah, it really does taste different.
Amherst Farmers' Market
Center of Amherst
April 21st to November 17th
7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Amherst Winter Farmers' Market
Amherst Regional Middle School
170 Chestnut Street,
Amherst, MA 01002
December 3rd to March 31st,
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.