Berkshire Style - In and Around The Berkshires, An Online Resource

Berkshire Grown

Berkshire Grown

by Rachel Louchen

In the Berkshires where the community embraces our local farmers and knows the first name of the chefs preparing our food, farm-to-table isn’t just a movement, it's really a lifestyle. The important cycle sees farmers harvesting food and the consumer purchasing directly from their local farms. Berkshire Grown, a Great Barrington-based organization, recognizes the vital locally grown and produced food in our region and supports outreach and accessibility to the community. “Berkshire Grown was created to support local farmers. One of the best ways to do that it to encourage food buyers to buy directly from farmers, we really celebrate the farm-to-table connection," says Executive Director Barbara Zheutlin.

Buying food directly from a farmer is effortless in the warmer months when farmers' markets are abundant but once winter comes along, Berkshire Grown is a resource that links the farmer to the community. Supporting the farmer year-round is a critical goal for Berkshire Grown offering an online guide, Map-o-licious, that finds farms, CSAs and farmers' markets during all four seasons. Says Zheutlin, “Farmers really appreciate the farmers' market because when you buy directly from them, there is no middle man involved; all the money goes directly into their pocket." It's a two-for-one deal; incredibly fresh tasting food and supporting a local farm.

Zheutlin says that right now Berkshire Grown's number one priority is to increase the number of farms and farmland, they also support farmers through many events and educational programs. “We are continuing working on our mentoring program, which matches beginning farms with established farms to work together. And our Holiday markets' are extending to January and February due to their popularity and the November and December events."

Speaking of events, the Annual Harvest Supper returns on Monday, September 15th, for the sixteenth year, highlighting local farms, restaurants and food artisans who have put the Berkshires on the map as a culinary destination. It is also Berkshire Grown's biggest fundraising event of the year. The enormous turnout (the event frequently sells out) has a lot to do with the diverse quality of food stations; almost every notable chef and restaurant in the Berkshires is represented. This year, to the delight of localvores, there will be two dozen restaurants in attendance. Some are first-timers, while others have been around since nearly the very beginning such as Martin's, Red Lion Inn, Baba Louie's and Castle Street Cafe. “September is the best time of year to hold the supper because the food is really in season and so delicious. This is the second-year at Ski Butternut because we have outgrown previous locations due to the over 350 people in attendance," Zheutlin notes.

But Zheutlin is quick to stress it's not just the food prepares and growers that are vital to the farm-to-table movement, the consumer has an important role as well. “Eaters enjoy the food grown by the farmers and prepared by the chefs and restaurants, therefore, they are part of keeping the farmers farming. After attending the Harvest Supper people are more likely to support the farmers year-round and tell their friends they should do so as well."

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