Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food helps farmers make connections


Photo Gallery: Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

Editor's note: This story was modified on March 20, 2014 to correct the name of the event sponsor. Hoosac Harvest sponsored the event, now in its third year, not Berkshire Grown.

NORTH ADAMS -- Jen Barbeau left her cherished baby goats and joined a number of other farmers at the third annual Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food event at the First Congregational Church on Tuesday night.

Thing is, she's only been in the farming game since Thanksgiving, when she and her daughter, Katie Barbeau, bought a vacant farm, now known as the Mountain Girl Farm, on South Church Street in North Adams.

At the farm there is a fresh crop of baby goats, still being fed by bottle. Jen Barbeau also runs a small day care where she watches over youngsters -- most of them still in diapers -- of friends.

Luckily, she said, the baby humans and the baby goats get along great.

At Mountain Girl Farm, the Barbeaus also have pasture-raised chickens and ducks.

"Oh, this is a brand new labor of love," Jen Barbeau said of the farm. The child care, however, she's been doing for 19 years.

Mountain Girl Farm was invited by Hoosac Harvest to take part in the Know Your Farmer event, and the Barbeaus are trying to get their name out, since they are new to the local farming community.

"This a great event to meet new friends," Barbeau said.

Friends new and old were there, with the farmers having brought some samples of their crops to show off to folks looking to buy shares in a farm through Community Supported Agriculture.

By buying shares in a season's crop at a specific farm, the buyer gets a share of the crop at harvest time, and the farmer gets a financial infusion just when the biggest investment of the year is about to occur -- the planting season.

"We're here to make connections with the community and accept share members," said Lisa MacDougall, owner of Mighty Food Farm in Pownal. "We're at about 75 percent capacity for share members. We're looking to fill that last little bit before we plant."

Mighty Food Farm sells mostly vegetables, such as turnips, carrots and zucchini.

"It's nice to get into the North Adams area," MacDougal said. "And this is great event with good attendance."

Another among the dozen or so farmers at the event was Square Roots Farm from Lanesborough.

At about four years old, Square Roots is another relative newcomer to the Berkshire County agricultural community.

"This is a good way to stay connected to the community," said Ashley Amslen, who owns the farm with her husband, Michael Gallagher.

There are still shares available for the Square Roots' 2014 season.

So far, Square Roots Farm has grown arugula, basil, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, chard, Chinese cabbage, collards, cucumbers, edamame, eggplant, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, muskmelons, watermelons, onions, scallions, pac choi, parsnips, peas, sweet peppers, hot peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, shallots, sweet potatoes, spinach, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips, winter squash, and zucchini.

"We grow just about everything we can get away with growing," Amslen said, chuckling. "We try different things every year to see how people like it."

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