Vendor Profile: Local Orchards
Ways the Seasons Can Effect Local Economy
Fall has to be my favorite time of year, with the crisp weather and the fall harvest it surely has the taste buds heightened. In terms of produce, it has to be one of the most fruitful times of the year as the orchards are ready to sell their produce and that have been harvested.
These crops are so important to the Pioneer Valley’s local economy that CISA (Community Involved Sustaining Agriculture) created a relief fund in the event that the weather puts a damper on the bounty.
This was the case in 2016 when the St. Valentine’s Day massacre that left growers without a bud to speak of on their trees. “Temperatures approached an unseasonable 60 degrees leading up to Feb. 14, before dropping to minus 20 overnight, killing peach buds through the Northeast”, reports the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Continuing, Leslie Harris, a farm manager at Quonquont Farm in Whately, theorized about what doomed the crops, “I think the warm weather sort of encouraged the trees to start thinking about waking up, only to get zapped by the super-cold weather,” she said. “Peach trees don’t like the super-cold weather, anyway, but that just finished them off.”
Considering the peach crop is one of several that makeup Pioneer Valley’s local economy, as a response to this devastation CISA created an emergency farm fund to help support the farmers who lost income from the devastation. They offered zero-interest loans up to $10,000 to orchards and farms, struggling from the loss of their peach crops.
With the seasonal changes, it is incredibly important to support our local businesses to help them through the lulls and sometimes even devastations during off-seasons. Because of our location on the globe, the Northeast is susceptible to constant changes in weather which in turn effect important crops. When considering the global market, it’s amazing to think that someplace where it is constantly 70 degrees and sunny may not necessarily have these same weather challenges.
The seasons are only an issue depending on the climate zone the region is in. These seasons having contributed to some challenges for farmers trying to maintain a steady income throughout the year. Some farmers have even branched out into the art and craft sector of farming to increase sales throughout the year.
Listed below are some local farmers that branch out into the art and craft sector during their low seasons:
Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA
This orchard hosts a sculpture biennial (every 2-years) and invites local and national artists to display sculptures around their property. The sculptures are for sale and attract foodies and art enthusiasts alike.
Scott Farm Orchard, Dummerston, VT
On Kipling Road in Dummerston, VT offers performing arts and event rentals to help extend their income year around. Local musicians, performers, and groups can rent the orchard for their special occasion. You can even stay in one of their 5 historical farm-houses for an authentic experience!
Snow Farm, Williamsburg, MA
In Williamsburg, MA is really into the art and craft of farming, as they offer workshops, studio space, housing and support the art and craft sector of the arts. While they aren’t an active farm, the food they grow on their land feeds the local and international artists that come to study there.
Real Pickles, Greenfield, MA
As an effect of the bounty in the Pioneer Valley, there are plenty of specialty products available made right in the area. A local favorite, Real Pickles, offers products with an authentic pickled taste and has a lot of variety to offer: organic kimchi or organic sauerkraut as a few examples.
Carr’s Cider, Hadley, MA
In addition to pantry-ready products, orchards are known to offer specialty drinks and other liquids; such as hard and regular ciders and other syrups.
River Valley Co-op offers a wide variety of local products in their bulk and merchandising section that equals to about 400 local farms! If you can’t make it to the farm itself, food cooperatives often have the same or similar products that you can integrate into your weekly shopping. By paying attention to where your products (not just produce) come from you will be able to help orchards and smaller farms year around.