Some Past Events at the Farm
An Evening to Remember
It was a beautiful evening on October 16, 2016 when Wheelhouse Farm Truck partnered with Simple Gifts Farm to host a farm dinner in the field using products grown by Dave and Jeremy! WGBY made a wonderful video describing the event!
Click for the video
Keep the Farm in Farming Event
In June 2013, a few dozen farm supporters walked the farm in the company of the farmers, farm friends and neighbors. They saw the inner workings of Simple Gifts’ operation, took in the views, and enjoyed fresh-from-the-farm hors d’oeuvres and drinks kindly donated by area chefs and CSA members. Gary Kamen of Mt. Warner Vineyards offered a wine tasting. John Gerber, Ted White and farmer Dave Tepfer talked about NACF’s unique community farm ownership model and plan to keep the farm in farming–in perpetuity.
Edible Wild Plant Walk with John Root, June 2nd, 2012
A guided walk of the farm, exploring the many edible wild plants (some of them are weeds) that are common to our region. John Root shared his knowledge on how to identify, collect, and prepare wild plants of the region.
Building Your Home Herbal Pharmacy with Britanny Nickerson, June 2nd, 2012
Making your own herbal medicine is a great way to put the herbs on your spice shelf, the weeds in your garden and fresh herbs from your CSA or the farmer’s market to good use. Having a well stocked home herbal pharmacy is an empowering, effective way to care for yourself, your family and your community naturally and afford-ably. The class we explored the medicinal applications and uses of safe, easy to find herbs for your home herbal pharmacy. Britanny went over how to prepare simple herbal remedies such as herbal teas, tinctures, vinegars and honeys and how to use these preparations to help with common ailments including digestive upsets, colds, fever, headaches, stress relief and more.
NACF Farm Tour and Open House, June 2nd, 2012
This was a chance to meet the farmers, the farm animals and and this year’s farm interns for a fun and informative community farm tour and open house.
Raising Backyard Chickens, March 31st 2012
David Tepfer and Katie McDermott shared their experience raising hens. In this workshop designed for beginners, People learned about getting started, housing, feed and health care, chicken biology and anatomy, harvesting eggs, protection from predators, and more.
2011 Harvest Festival a great success!
NACF’s 6th annual North Amherst Harvest Festival, held on September 18th was once again a beautiful day and a great success. As always, the Harvest Festival was a family friendly event featuring kids games, musicians and other performers on two stages, together with great food.
NACF extends its thanks to our great performers, all of whom donated their time and talents to help us raise funds for our work.
Improve Your Home Energy Efficiency – Learn to Build a Winsert (Winter Insulated Window Insert)
October 22nd, 2011
Location: Pioneer Valley Cohousing, Annex Building, 120 Pulpit Hill Rd, North Amherst
Laura Fitch and Bick Corsa led a half day workshop on a simple way to improve cold, drafty windows. Winserts are reusable transparent panels that fit snuggly inside your window jamb. They are low cost, easy to construct, will last for years, and are made from very clear plastic.
Laura Fitch is a principal with Kraus-Fitch Architects, Inc. in Amherst, Massachusetts and a 17-year resident of Pioneer Valley Cohousing in North Amherst. Laura specializes in energy-efficient building design for homes and communities. Bick Corsa owns Bick Corsa Carpentry and has built 3 passive solar, high performance houses. His focus is on practical, non-toxic, and affordable measures to construct or retrofit homes to a very high energy efficiency level.
Sustainability Workshops for Families
As part of our 2011 Farm Event Series, North Amherst Community Farm offered a series of sustainability workshops called “Building Sustainability Together – Skills for Kids and Families.” These events were based around hands-on activities for kids ages 5 and up.
Harvest the Sun
Building Sustainability Together Series – Skills for Kids and Families
August 24th, 2011
Did you know that the electricity for the Simple Gifts share barn is generated by the solar panels on the roof, installed by Northeast Solar in Hatfield? Simple Gifts uses the power of the sun to keep things cool and fresh. In this workshop we saw how we could harvest the sun to heat things up … and bake quesadillas. We learned how solar ovens work, and saw a few different home-made models in action. Participants made their own solar oven to bring home, using pizza boxes and foil. Sunglasses were necessary because the reflection from the solar ovens is dazzling.
Seed Saving – Plant the Future
Building Sustainability Together Series – Skills for Kids and Families
August 20th, 2011
In this workshop participants learned the basics of collecting and saving seeds from herbs, flowers, and vegetables. We walked around the farm, finding, collecting, and identifying seeds in the Children’s Garden and pick-your-own herb garden. A variety of seeds were available including orange cosmos, nasturtiums, morning glories, chives, basil, cilantro (coriander), and beans. We discussed the procedure for saving seeds from annuals like tomatoes and cucumbers, and biennials like parsley and parsnips. Participants decorated seed packets and took home a few kinds of seeds to plant in their gardens next year. We also learned how to propagate mint, garlic, and top-setting onions.
Worm Bin Composting
Building Sustainability Together Series – Skills for Kids and Families
August 17th, 2011
In this workshop we explored the basics of vermicomposting – composting in a small bin using red worms. Worm bins are a great option for composting in small spaces if you don’t have room for a compost pile. We looked for decomposers around the farm, explored a compost pile, and dug through leaf litter under the trees. We learned about the FBI of composting and sung the Decomposition Chant. Participants also learned to create a good habitat for red worms, how to put together a worm bin, and had the opportunity to bring home some red wigglers to start a worm bin of your own.
Have You Any Wool?
Building Sustainability Together Series – Skills for Kids and Families
August 10th, 2011
In this workshop we visited the Simple Gifts sheep and learned about their wool. We learned how to clean and prepare wool for felting, and made a small pieces of felt using a simple wet felting technique. These case be used e.g. as cat toys or herbal sachets.
Edible Plant Walk
June 11th, 2011
Roughly 25 adults and kids turned out a fascinating walk around the farm, exploring the many edible wild plants, including some weeds, which are common to our region. Naturalist John Root shared his extensive knowledge on how to indentify, collect, prepare and eat wild plants of the region. Visit www.johnroot.net for more information on Johns programs.
2nd Annual NACF Plant Sale & Swap and Meet the Livestock
May 14th, 2011
2nd Annual Homes for Hens
Backyard Chickens Workshop
April 2nd, 2011
Growing More Food in Amherst – Public Responsibilities and Opportunities
March 31st, 2011
About 80 residents of Amherst and surrounding towns gathered in the Amherst Town Hall on March 31 to hear Brandeis environmental historian and farmer, Brian Donahue, speak about “The Future of Food in New England.” His presentation was followed by comments from local farmers and town officials who answered questions and encouraged public discussion about what we can do as a community to grow more food locally. According to Donahue, it is possible for New England farms and gardens to satisfy almost all of the dietary needs of the region for vegetables and dairy, and much of the need for beef, lamb and poultry. This would require that we increase farmland in the region by three fold, and individual citizens take more personal responsibility for growing their own in their backyard gardens. The urgency of NACF’s mission to preserve farmland was highlighted at this public meeting.
Several participants spoke very positively about the efforts of NACF to preserve farmland in North Amherst and applauded Simple Gifts farmers for their efforts. It was an inspirational evening, with lots of ideas shared by the citizens of Amherst on how we can work together to grow more food. Event organizer and NACF Board Member, John Gerber, stated that ” a sustainable local food system must promote family, neighborhood and regional self-sufficiency by supporting local farmers and encouraging more backyard gardens and raising small livestock.” North Amherst farmer, Joe Swartz, expressed his gratitude for the support of local residents for the two winter farmers markets in Amherst.
A video of the event is available on Amherst Media here.
5th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival, September 19th, 2010
This year’s Harvest Festival continued the unbroken streak of gorgeous fall weather that the annual events have enjoyed. The sunny, warm day worked together with a terrific line-up of food, games and entertainers to bring out quite a sizeable crowd. The Harvest Festival has developed a reputation as family friendly event and a place where you’re likely to run into your friends and neighbors. We’re happy to see many of the same faces returning each year and all the new ones too.The proceeds from the Harvest Festival also pay for a healthy fraction of NACF’s yearly operating expenses, which makes us happy as well. Click here to see the day’s line-up of local entertainers (on both the main stage and the kid’s stage), including headliners Tracey Grammer and Jim Henry. NACF sends out a big thank you to all these folks for performing!Click here to view a slideshow of this year’s Harvest Festival.Food! Great food, included farm-raised pork, hardy vegetarian fare, as well as a variety of other tasty treats! The food this year was coordinated by Valley Bowl chef Adam Corriveau, with major contributions from Whole Foods. The Harp and brewmeister Andrew DeSiervo had local beer available. Local ice cream maker Maple Valley Farms of Hadley contributed and scooped 82 gallons of their delicious product. Dessert contributions from CSA members were also much appreciated.This year’s festival also featured farm tours, led by Dave Tepfer and Jeremy Barker-Plotkin of simple gifts farm, giving folks the opportunity to learn more about how the farm works, animals, vegetables (and some miracles too!).
The 5th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival was sponsored by Whole Foods, The Harp, The Valley Bowl, Maple Valley Farms, Florence Savings Bank, Puffton Village, Singer-Potito Associates, Integrity Design and Construction, Kraus-Fitch Architects, Greenfield Savings Bank and Collective Copies.
Do-It-Yourself Holiday Gifts – Candy Making Workshop – November 20th, 2010
The holiday season is always a great time to learn how to make decadent treats that will wow your family and friends. Participants made chocolate truffles which included a variety of chocolates as well as cream, butter, hazelnuts and a variety of liquers (which provide additional flavors). In addition, we dipped dried fruits such as ginger, pineapple and apricots. Folks left the workshop with a plateful of goodies as well as recipes.
Low Maintenance Ecological Garden Design Workshop: Theory and Practice – September 24 & 25, 2010
Long lasting, low maintenance gardens can be created using carefully considered ecological strategies. Ecological landscape designer, Owen Wormser, introduced the theory and practice that can lead to beautiful landscapes with much less of that backbreaking effort! Owen’s presented the functional and aesthetic considerations that are critical to creating low maintenance ecogardens. These include a strong focus on the importance of mimicking natural systems, choosing the right plants for the ecological niche as well as proper installation.
Culinary Herbs Are Your Best Medicince!
August 7th, 2010
With Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal led an introductory workshop exploring the healing properties and uses of four widely available culinary herbsÑThyme, Basil, Parsley, and Mint. All of these herbs are available through Simple Gifts Farm CSA.Participants learned how to make herbal teas, vinegars and honeys for home use, as well as how to harvest and store fresh herbs from the garden. There is ancient wisdom in the practice of cooking with herbs.
July 31st, 2010
Participants worked collectively to make Pickled Eggplant, Dilly Beans, Pickled Beets with Red Wine, Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles, and Quick Dill Pickles. Workshop participants were guided in their pickling efforts by NACF board member Beth Dichter whose many years of experience canning and pickling food provided those of us new to the art of pickling with many useful tips and techniques, as well as the confidence to try pickling at home!
Edible Plant Walk
July 17th, 2010
NACF’s Edible Plant Walk led by local naturalist John Root had a nice turnout on a hot afternoon. Fortunately, not much walking was required to find interesting plants and we were able to stay largely in the shade.Highlights were discussions of the culinary and medicinal qualities of common plants (weeds?) like dandelions, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, plantain, jewel weed, … Also, things to watch out for like nightshade.For further resources on wild foods, John recommended the book and website of Wildman Steve Brill – famous for getting arrested in Central Park for picking a dandelion while leading an edible plant walk! (The policy of no plant picking was later changed and Brill was hired to lead walks in the park.)Also, please visit John Root’s website. More links on eating wild plants are available at Just Food Now in Western Massachusetts.
Making Jam! The joys of strawberry season – June 19th, 2010
Although this year’s strawberry season has not lived up to the abundance of the past couple of years, it still pays to be prepared for preserving the season’s bounty. NACF’s Beth Dichter held this ‘how to’ workshop at the Pioneer Valley Cohousing’s common house kitchen. Participants learned how to boil down the berries; the pros and cons of pectin (if you decide to use it Beth recommends Greenfield, MA based Pomona’s Pectin – see this site for recipes as well); and discussed many delicious jam variants (adding rhubarb, making chutney…)
First Annual NACF Spring Plant Swap & Sale – May 8th, 2010
Spring is the time that flower gardeners assess what new plants they would like to see in their gardens and what plants have overgrown their spaces and need division.
It is the perfect time for a plant swap. NACF held its first annual plant swap and sale on Saturday, May 8th. It was a rainy day, but still some 25 folks showed up over the course of the event. Some were beginging gardeners happy to find ample supplies of garden staples (e.g. irises and daylilies) and some were experienced gardeners who brought in more esoteric offerings (e.g. bloodroot, astrantia and eryngium).Plant sales in this area can be quickly swamped with customers.
We wanted to have a chance to build our event gradually and did only minimal publicity this first year. We were very pleased with the turnout this year and the overall feel of the event. People hung our drinking coffee and eating scones and talking about plants and gardening. A good community event.
Homes for Hens – April 3rd, 2010
It was a beautiful sunny day for the first workshop of NACF’s summer program series. Roughly 50 people (including a good number of children) came out for a discussion of the ins and outs of raising backyard chickens led by Dave Tepfer of Simple Gifts Farm, with help from John Gerber and Kathryn and Charlotte McDermott. A great many topics were covered – a small sampling includes how one can
get baby chicks (through the mail or by ordering from Amherst Farmer’s Supply); how to get them successfully started (if they are all huddled together, they are too cold); what to be aware of with their feed (oyster shell fragments are a good source of grit for their gullets); that it is almost impossible to tell the pullets (females) from the cockerels (males) at an early stage; and why you probably don’t want to keep roosters around.
In the middle of the program people had a chance for hands on work with the chickens, learning the proper ways to catch and hold on to them (holding them upside down puts them into a docile state).A special feature of this event was the opportunity to buy “used” hens from the farm. These are older hens that are no longer laying at a commercial rate, but would still be plenty productive in the backyard context. Dave Tepfer discussed what the typical fate for such hens is in factory farm operations and his motivations for this rehoming project.Kathryn McDermott and her daughter Charlotte talked about their experience getting the required Special Permit to keep chickens in Amherst’s R-N zoning district. Currently chickens are not allowed in the downtown R-G district at all. The Special Permit application the McDermott’s had to file was evidently the same as for a much more elaborate project and required e.g. a parking plan (for chickens?). We hope that Amherst will be changing its rules in the future to be more welcoming of the many people interested in reconnecting with the food they eat by raising their own chickens.For more resources on raising chickens (and more pictures from the event) visit Just Food Now in Western Massachusetts.
NACF Annual Meeting – January 31st, 2010
NACF is a membership organization and each year at the annual meeting, the membership votes on a new Board of Directors and set of Officers. This year NACF held its annual meeting at the Pioneer Valley Cohousing common house.The business part of the annual meeting also included a brief introduction to NACF for new members, a review of highlights of the past year’s activities, a financial report and a discussion of plans for the new year. This year, the business part of the meeting was followed by a presentation from David Tepfer and Jeremy Barker-Plotkin of Simple Gifts Farm about their innovative farming practices, as well as a social hour.
Farming IS Ecology – October 11, 2009
People gathered on a fine Sunday afternoon this Fall for an interpretive walk around the farm led by Dave Tepfer (Simple Gifts Farm), Ted Watt (Hitchcock Center for the Environment) and Audrey Barker-Plotkin (Simple Gifts Farm and Harvard Forest).
Dave started the event by giving a brief “blackboard lesson” in the CSA barn on the farm as an ecological system. Dave explained how the farmer needs drastically to simplify the ecology of the site so that the crops can thrive, but not so much that natural systems fail. Walking through the farm and stopping every few feet, we then heard the 3 leaders perspectives on such things as growing daikon radishes to loosen compacted soil; the nuisance of bittersweet in the hedgerows; the high mineral contents of certain plants that thrive in poor soil; and what the farm would look like in 100 years if all activity ceased.A ten minute video of the farm ecology walk is available here.This event was sponsored by New England Environmental, Inc.
4th Annual North Amherst Harvest Festival – September 20, 2009
The Harvest Festival, jointly organized by NACF and Simple Gifts Farm, was once again a great success. We enjoyed brilliant fall weather for the fourth straight year. We estimate that over 1000 people came and enjoyed the music, children’s activities and food. This year’s festival was successful in raising over $7500 to support NACF in its efforts to permanently preserve the farm, maintain its buildings and carry out educational programming on a range of topics relating to sustainable agriculture and food security.
NACF would like to thank the many entertainers who volunteered their time. The Main Stage featured great performances by Bess Hepner, Paul Kaplan, The Shed, Norman Blain and the Authentiks, Little Q, the Gypsy Wranglers, Radio Free Earth and the Beantown Swing Orchestra. The Kid’s Stage was kept lively by performers Jacobs & Swender, Aric Bieganek and the Royal Order of Chords & Keys, Roger Tincknell, Happy Dan the Music Man, and Yuri “Prince of Color”. Muddy Brook Farms delighted many kids (and adults) with tours around the farm by horse drawn carriage. Shenendoah “Alotta” Hoopla provided a field full of hula hoops for young and old to experiment with. Bob Hepner brought his fantastic carnival truck!We would also like to thank the many businesses whose donations of food, labor, raffle items and/or financial support. All contributed to making this event a great success. This included Florence Savings Bank, Greenfield Savings Bank, Chef Adam of the Valley Bowl, Dean’s Beans, Herrell’s Ice Cream, Hadley Garden Center. NACF particularly wants to thank The Harp and Whole Foods Markets for their major and continuing support of the Annual Harvest Festival.Finally, a great many people volunteered their time to help organize the festival. Special thanks are due to Don Gallagher and Karen Gallagher for the overall coordination of the festival and for organizing the volunteers and entertainers, to Marcy Sala for organizing kids activities, to Bruce Coldham and Dave Tepfer for organizing the tents and sitework, to Mary Sayer for organizing the baked goods sale, Hanifah Murfin for organizing the raffle, and Adrian Durlester and Asaph Murfin for managing the music stage.
North Amherst Farming History Twilight Meeting – August 19, 2009
On the evening of Wednesday, August 19th about 30 people gathered at the farm for an event focusing on the history of farming in North Amherst. Joe Waskiewicz of J & J Farms and Joe Swartz of Swartz Family Farm, representing successive generations of local farmers, talked about their experiences growing up in the North Amherst farm community and managing their businesses.
Among the highlights of the discussion were Joe W.’s memories of the 1938 hurricane that swept through town, flattening most of the areas tobacco barns. He described the early calm, as the eye of the storm was passing over. Joe S. described the antics of his father in his crop dusting days. He also talked about transitioning his business to an all year round operation growing vegetables, greens and herbs via hydroponic methods indoors, and marketing his produce (in part) on the web. Joe W. told us about the ups and downs of local tobacco farming over the years, and the need for farmers to diversify.This event was jointly sponsored by NACF, Simple Gifts Farm and the Amherst Agricultural Commission.
NACF’s 2010 Farm Events Series is sponsored by Amherst Farmers Supply, Integrity Development and Construction, Singer Potito Associates, Amherst Rotary Club, The Harp, ENVIRON, Kraus-Fitch Architects, Inc.