Creamery Supports Local Farms
When you shop at the Old Creamery, you support local farmers, who provide us with delicious, fresh food. They also maintain the landscape that is one of the reasons we live here. Here are some of their stories.
The Old Creamery is proud to carry yogurt produced by our friends at Sidehill Farm in Ashfield. Amy Klippenstein and Paul Lacinski say they didn’t start out as farmers: “We started out as good eaters. Juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh salad greens, spicy basil, sweet and crunchy carrots—these are the vegetables that first lured us into gardening. It was a big garden, and a few fruit trees and raspberry canes—enough for us and some friends. We were producing nearly all our own food, with one glaring exception. Yogurt. We were eating nearly four quarts of yogurt a week, and the grocery bill was adding up. So we did what any sensible consumer would do in that situation. We bought three dairy cows.”
Today, their Sidehill Farm encompasses three acres of vegetables, a variety of greenhouses for summer tomatoes and winter salad greens, and a herd of 35 grass-fed Normande and Jersey cows that produce delicious raw milk and yogurt. Their “girls” are milked seasonally, from March to December, and eat certified organic pasture in the spring, summer, and fall, and hay cut from those pastures in the winter.
The small size of their farm allows them to concentrate on what’s important: “health—not just of our customers and cows, but of our soils, our crops, the local working rural landscape, and the robust biological and human community within which we all thrive. It also allows us to build good relationships with our customers, many of whom we know by name from farmers’ markets and visits to the farm.”
These local farmers have a clearly defined philosophy: “A farm, by definition, is a departure from nature—it is land taken from its wild state and turned to human ends. But it is possible for a farm to learn from natural systems, to work with mother nature and integrate her patterns. This is the soul of organic agriculture; it is also a practical way to produce high-quality food while building soil and conserving the habitat and biodiversity that come with well-managed open land. No farm will ever approach the ecological sophistication of nature, because the balance of activity is focused on the needs of our one species. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take good care—and a little better care every year, as we learn, and learn. This is organics at its best—good stewardship of the various communities that overlap to create a farm. At Sidehill Farm, we are constantly improving our systems, so that they flow more directly from the examples we see in nature. We resist quick fixes like antibiotics and organically approved pesticides that ameliorate short-term problems while hiding or creating deeper issues. We select for plants and animals that balance productivity with ruggedness and adaptability. We work with and foster the various microclimates found on our farm. We are mildly obsessed with soil and the density of life within it. We select and develop technologies that respect natural systems and use energy efficiently. And we are amazed at how much better we can always do, how much we have to learn.”
Amy and Paul’s enlightened philosophy on farming is manifested in Sidehill’s delicious and nutritious high-quality yogurts. The yogurt starts with just two ingredients: the sweet, high-protein milk from their grass-fed cows, and a blend of probiotic cultures.
“We believe that the best way to produce tasty and healthy yogurt is to start with excellent milk, and the best way to do this is to raise healthy, happy cows. Because our cows graze fresh grass after each milking, and eat very little concentrated feed, our yogurt is high in omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, and other proteins, vitamins, and minerals necessary for building a healthy body.”
Sidehill Farm does not add fish oil or industrially produced additives to increase the omega-3 count of its yogurt, nor does it add pectin, starch, or other food industry thickening agents. The texture relies on natural cultures working with the high-protein milk of the Normande and Jersey cows. At midsummer, when there is a dip in the protein level of the pastures (and therefore the milk), the farmers add a small amount of organic dried milk powder to keep the yogurt firm.
Sidehill does add natural ingredients to its flavored yogurts. All sweetening of Sidehill Farm yogurt is with real maple syrup, produced by the farm’s neighbors in Ashfield and nearby towns. And Sidehill uses certified organic extracts and fruit to produce its flavored yogurts.
To learn more about Sidehill Farm’s other dairy products, its vegetables, and the “girls” and their pastures, visit www.sidehillfarm.net.
Alice bids farewell and good luck to Diemand Farm egg farmers
It is with great sadness that I announce that we are no longer able to offer Diemand Farm eggs to our customers at The Old Creamery. They will continue selling their turkeys to their wholesale customers, including us, but their eggs will only be available at their farm store in Wendell and at a couple of retail stores close to their farm.
I have been purchasing Diemand Farm eggs wholesale since 1986. Prior to my Creamery life, I was the head chef at Rowe Conference Center. We purchased most of the foods for our commercial kitchen at a family-owned and operated grocery store, Foster’s Market, in Greenfield. We purchased Diemand Farm eggs by the case, proud to be able to serve our guests local eggs.
I trusted Bud Foster and his family, and when they told me that the Diemands were good farmers and good people, I believed them. Every Thanksgiving at Rowe, my staff and I served a feast to 50–75 people. The rest of the year our Conference Center meals were vegetarian, but this one day of the year we bowed to cultural tradition. I, a committed vegetarian since 1975, proudly roasted and served four Diemand Farm turkeys every Thanksgiving
When we began our Creamery lives, Amy and I learned as much as possible about our suppliers. Peter Diemand delivered our eggs every two weeks. Peter is a man of few words, but after one conversation it was clear to me that he was a man with great integrity, great values, and trustworthiness.
I met his sister Anne our first fall at the Creamery, in 2000. She made a delivery one week, and I took the opportunity to talk to her about their farm. I asked about cages and shared my concerns about how animals are treated on farms. Anne’s response made such an impression on me that I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. Her eyes met mine and held my gaze with a clarity that let me know that hers would be a REAL response, not a media sound bite. She talked to me for quite a while. She told me that she deeply cared about their animals. She told me that they didn’t know of a humane way to raise chickens on their scale without cages. Her eyes softened, and her next sentence filled my eyes with tears. She told me that she sang to the chickens. I felt a kindness, warmth, and sincerity in Anne that I trusted implicitly.
It is a tragedy that another local family farm is being hit hard by government regulations that favor huge agribusiness corporations over smaller family-owned and -operated farms. These new regulations require extensive documentation of farm procedures. Farms with fewer than 3,000 hens are exempt, so our smaller egg producers will not be affected. The much larger farms can afford to hire additional help to complete the paperwork.
Peter Diemand said, “To get these 78 pages of rules and regulations off the Internet felt like a punch in the gut. We’re really good farmers, and we love the animals and love doing what we do, but to have to become a computer person and do documentation, because everything has to be documented, it’s crazy.”
A stack of forms half an inch thick specifies the documentation that has to take place about who works at the farm and how they were trained, how many flies are in the hen house, and the results of salmonella tests that have to be done twice at different intervals for five flocks of laying hens—with each test taking about an hour.
The Diemands said the new FDA requirements, which would have required adding a full-time staff person the business could not afford, would have meant biosecurity requirements like having all visitors sign in and wear rubber boots. “I’m thinking about the Easter egg hunt that we wouldn’t be able to do on the farm,” he said. The event, which attracted 500 people in some years, was a free attraction for the community.
Amy and I and the Old Creamery Cooperative will continue to support our local farms and farmers. We will continue to source foods locally as much as possible. We will vote with our dollars by purchasing these products. We will write letters to government agencies and representatives imploring them to wake up and join the movement to support small family-owned farms. And we will continue to offer educational programs to our community. Join us as we all learn together.
Sangha Farm is a small family farm located in Plainfield. We grow culinary herbs and produce "the way nature intended," without the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. We also raise registered Nubian Goats and purebred Finn Sheep. Treading lightly on the earth is important to us; we are working on becoming "oxen powered." We are joining others to heal the world through conscientious agriculture.
Sangha Farm doesn't just grow vegetables; we are also a licensed goat cheese dairy. We began making our chevre and feta cheeses in the spring of 2008. Milking eight Nubian goats makes us one of the smallest dairies in the state, but we are also one of five dairies operating in Ashfield. We pasteurize our milk in a four-gallon stovetop pasteurizer.
Some of our favorite things to make and eat are goat cheese truffles. They are a delectable treat. A few years ago a pregnant friend combined chevre and goat milk fudge to satisfy a craving, which sparked the idea in my mind. I love chocolate and I love cheese, so putting the two together seemed liked a good idea. Truffle flavors are vanilla cheese, chocolate cheese, strawberry cheese, and pumpkin spice cheese, all dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. The common response when someone tries them for the first time is "Oh my god! That is so good!!!"
Derek, Maribeth, Maia, and Jayden Ritchie
Holiday Brook Farm
Holiday Brook Farm includes about 1,300 acres of open fields, forest, and pasture, stretching out on both sides of Route 9 as you come down the hill from Windsor into Dalton. Its managers since 2007 are Desiree and Jesse Robertson-DuBois.
“Our major production this year was Gwyneth Robertson DuBois, who was born on June 9, right into the chaos of summer on the farm. Everyone kept asking, ‘Are you getting any sleep?’ and ‘How are you getting anything done?’ and the answers were relatively simple: ‘No, we’re not sleeping, but that doesn’t have as much to do with Gwyn as it does with all the things we need to get done’ and ‘We don’t get everything done, but we are getting as much done as we can, and we have GREAT apprentices who are pulling more than a little of the weight.’ And we are behind on the dishes, the laundry, and what all, but since we spend most of dawn to dusk outside it doesn’t really seem to matter that much until we can’t find shorts or socks for the kids or us.
“One of our biggest challenges this summer was parenting our older kids. The eight-year-old is finding his own path a lot more; he’s not really into farm work, but loves to fish and read and check on groundhog snares and swim in the creek whenever anyone is there to watch him. This independence is awesome, but it has its limitations since it usually means he can entertain himself for quite a while, right up until he’s done and wants our attention immediately. That’s hard when you’re unloading a hay wagon or talking to a customer; we are still trying to figure how to manage it. "We’ve come up with a list of ‘Morgan tasks,’ things that are fairly simple but that he can manage and pick away at on his own without a lot of oversight. He gets rewards when he finishes them, but since none of them are crucial or time sensitive, it doesn’t really matter if it takes a few days (or all summer). We’ve also given him permission to exercise his innate entrepreneurial skills, so don’t be surprised if you find him selling something either in the store or during CSA pickups.
“Our five-year-old is a little easier. She loves the farm and almost anything to do with helping out with chores, weeding, harvesting, or even cleaning in the store, but she also has less in the way of ‘staying power.’ Her big chore in the morning is to bring her horse, Cowboy, down from the pasture where he spent the night guarding the sheep flock. Since we spend a lot of time in the store, we bought her a pink feather duster and she dusts whatever she can reach, she entertains her baby sister, she’s learned to ride her pedal bike (no training wheels) around the farmyard, and we try to keep drawing paper and pencils or a clean white board on hand. Other than that …”
Wheel-View Farm in Shelburne is a family-owned scenic hilltop farm raising USDA-certified natural grass-fed beef and breeding stock from a primarily Belted Galloway herd (the "Oreo cows"). These heritage-breed cattle do an excellent job of maintaining open space on land that is not suitable for grain or vegetable crops. Wheel-view chose this type of farming because it is more environmentally friendly, more humane for the animals, and healthier for the consumer. Animals that graze on grass produce meat that has several times more health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta carotene, but less total fat and omega-6 fatty acids. The farmers' grandchildren, Tyler and Jesse, are the sixth generation of the family to live on the farm. You can find Wheel-View's grass-fed beef at the Old Creamery. Enjoy!
Local Meats, Dairy, and Eggs
The meats in our freezer and the dairy in our coolers are sourced from small farms that treat their animals well and raise them in an environmentally sustainable manner. We have a variety of sausages; grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, and chicken; yogurt; milk; cheeses; and eggs from the following care-full farmers.
West Branch Organic Farm
Black Copper Farm
Local Fruits and Vegetables
We source as many of our fruits and vegetables as possible from local farmers. When products are in season in our area you cannot get fresher, better tasting products. And it keeps farmland active and supported, keeps money in the local economy, and reduces fuel used for transportation.
Old Post Orchard
Ginny Ansberg's Farm
Kindred Spirit Organic Orchard