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Downing: Lawmakers visiting Berkshire County for a day-long series of farm tours & agricultural briefings
June 25, 2015

 LAWMAKERS VISITING BERKSHIRE COUNTY FOR A DAY-LONG SERIES OF FARM TOURS & AGRICULTURAL BRIEFINGS

Hosted by Senator Ben Downing & Senator Anne Gobi with the Berkshire County Farm Bureau, Berkshire Grown, Berkshire Farm &Table and Berkshire Mountain Distillers

Friday, June 26, 2015, 10:00am – 3:30pm

 PITTSFIELD – On March 31st State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) welcomed more than a dozen local farmers to his State House office for their annual Agricultural Day on the Hill to answer questions and discuss legislative priorities.  During their meeting they asked him to sponsor a day for legislators to visit Berkshire County’s working farms.

Downing teamed up with State Senator Anne M. Gobi (D- Spencer), who serves as the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture, as well as the Berkshire County Farm Bureau, Berkshire Grown, Berkshire Farm & Table and Berkshire Mountain Distillers to develop a day-long series of farm tours and agricultural briefings, which will take place on Friday, June 26th from 10:00am – 3:30pm.  

Twenty-one legislators and legislative staffers from all over Massachusetts are expected to participate in Friday’s events, including Gobi and State Representative Paul A. Schmid, III (D- Westport) who serve as chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture, which is charged with reviewing all legislative matters concerning natural resources and the environment, including air, water and noise pollution, hunting and fishing, conservation, solid waste disposal, sewerage, agricultural and farm problems.

The legislators will convene at 10:00am at Berkshire Mountain Distillers (356 South Main Street/Route 7 in Sheffield) and board a bus to begin their day.  The day’s agenda follows:

I.                     20 minutes of driving tour and 20 minutes of walking tour

  • Includes: dairy, hay, corn, grains, field crops, vegetables, produce, cows, horses, llamas, alpaca, sheep
  • Driving Tour
    • Larkin Dairy Farm - Maple Shade Farm - Shays Rebellion marker and the National Park Service Appalachian Trail corridor - Quarry Hill Farm - Ivory Pond Farm - Roberts Specimen Trees - Riverhill Farms - Harmony Hill Farm
    • Coons Dairy Farm
  • Walking Tour
    • Sky Farm and Lila’s Mountain Lamb - tour one of the region’s largest sheep farms.

 

II.                   20 minutes of driving tour and 20 minutes of walking tour

  • Includes: tree farm, nursery, sheep, beef cattle, dairy, field crops
  • Driving Tour
    • Sweet’s Tree Farm and Nursery - Sky Farm - Shepherd’s Dairy Farm - French Park, Egremont’s Town Park and its Dog Park - Bel Air Farm and Turner Farms APRs
    • Photo Stop at the top of Baldwin Hill Road for 360 degree view over the farms, surrounding to the Mountains surrounding the Housatonic River Valley and into New York State and Connecticut
    • John Andrews Farm-To-Table Restaurant
  • Walking Tour
    • Indian Line Farm –tour of organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm at the location of the first CSA in the country.  Friday is “distribution day” when members come to pick up their share of the harvest.

 

III.                 20 minutes of driving tour and 20 minutes of walking tour

  • Includes: therapeutic riding, beef cattle, dairy, flowers, field crops, greens and produce
  • Driving Tour
    • Commonwealth of MA Jug End State Reservation - Blue Rider Stables - Schumacher Center - Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires - Appalachian National Scenic Trail - Vining’s grass-fed beef - Larkin Dairy Farm  - Wild & Cultivated Farm APR
  • Walking Tour
    • Equinox Farm APR - greens and vegetables, grown, washed and mixed on the premises into ready-to-eat salads.

 

IV.                 25 minutes of driving tour and 60 minutes of lunch and walking tour

  • Includes: Sod, dairy, organic dairy, vegetables, produce, horses, beef cattle, permaculture
  • Driving Tour
    • Sheffield Sod Farm - Balsam Hill Farm APR - Boardman’s Farm and Farmstand (over 100 years in the same family) - River Valley Farm - Wolfe Springs Farm - Pine Island Farm
  • Walking Tour
    • Howden Farm for LUNCH and a tour of the Home of the Howden pumpkin - also apples, berries, asparagus and sweet corn.  Restrooms available.

 

V.                   15 minutes of driving tour and 20 minutes of walking tour

  • Includes: corn, hay, dairy
  • Driving Tour
    • Tobey Hill Farm - Cooper Hill Farm
    • Photo Stop at the top of Cooper Hill for 360 degree view over the farms, surrounding to the Mountains surrounding the Housatonic River Valley and into New York State and Connecticut
    • The Col. Ashley House of The Trustees of Reservations
  • Walking Tour
    • Twin Rivers Farm –tour of dairy farm with new robotic milking parlor and raw milk sales

 

VI.                 10 minutes to return to Berkshire Mountain Distillers

  • Includes: corn, hay, dairy, vegetables
  • Driving Tour
    • Twin Rivers Farm - Bangs APR - Buttonwood Farm - Pine Island Farm - Bennett APR - Egerton APR - Cavalier APR

 

VII.               30 minute briefing by Berkshire Farm & Table

o  Presentation of the work BF&T has been doing for the last five years to promote the Berkshires as a destination and source of food as a building block for economic development, focusing on:

o   Economic impact of food tourism; recent growth of food tourism industry;

o   Regional food landscape; value-added food producers; farm-to-table chefs; agritourism infrastructure;

o   Annual events BF&T hosts, produces, participates in … how these have contributed to the positioning of the region; 

o   Taste Trails; 'Made in the Berkshires’ campaign;

o   Success and impact of Berkshire Farms Market at Boston Logan International Airport; distribution of Berkshire-made products to Boston/NY;

o   National media coverage featuring Berkshire food experiences and producers; and

o   "A New Berkshires Food Scene” video; “This is my backyard. This is my Berkshires.” Series.

 

VIII.                        30 minute tour and tasting at Berkshire Mountain Distillers (BMD)

  • Tour & Tasting of BMD facility - an example of a craft-distiller putting the Berkshires on the map as a destination for food/drink-enthusiasts
  • Established in 2007, Berkshire Mountain Distillers (BMD) has created a line of award-winning artisanal spirits including Greylock Gin, Ethereal Gins, Ragged Mountain Rum, Ice Glen Vodka, Berkshire Bourbon and New England Corn Whiskey, currently available in 19 different states. All products are handcrafted in small batches in Great Barrington, Massachusetts at the Berkshire’s first legal distillery since prohibition. BMD is one of the founding members of the craft distiller movement and is embraced by several of the nation’s leading mixologists.   As supporters of local agriculture and business, BMD uses regional materials in many of its products, creating a truly authentic artisanal brand.

 

Day Ends at 3:30pm

 

 

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