Pittsfield's Brattle Farm welcomes public for an inside look
Photo Gallery | Brattle Farm Community Day and Open House
PITTSFIELD — Brothers Mateo and Diego Marin couldn't help but pet the long, soft fur of the 10 Angora rabbits.
The young Pittsfield boys found the litter of baby bunnies on display irresistible during Sunday's Community Day at Brattle Farm on Williams Street.
"They're snuggly and have mustaches and different colors," Diego said.
The long-eared mammals usually raised for their wool belonged to Lisa Bilotta of Things That Work. Bilotta is a spinner of wool into yarn and maker of all-natural insect repellent, soaps and chemical-free laundry detergent. She developed the detergent after her children became allergic to the mass produced brands.
"Mine has borax, washing soda and baking soda — super, simple ingredients our grandparents used," she said.
Bilotta was among several local vendors selling their wares, part of Brattle Farm's open house to promote locally made products and increase access to farm-fresh organic vegetables and meats.
The three-hour event also included farm tours, activities for kids, and opportunities to meet the sheep, free-range chickens and other farm livestock.
Co-owner Donna Chandler encouraged more people — especially those receiving food assistance benefits — to buy into Brattle Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation, which means it sells shares of what it produces.
"Our CSA for a family of two [on SNAP] costs $13 a week," she said.
Brattle Farm is located at the historic home William Brattle Jr., a red, three-story garrison style colonial built in 1762; it is the city's oldest house.
In addition to a variety of fruits and vegetables, the 17-acre farm provides fresh eggs, pork, lamb, beef and merino yarns from their flock of historical sheep,
The farm regularly shows Chandler's newborn sheep during the recent baby animals exhibit that annually opens the season at the Hancock Shaker Village living museum on Route 20.
The farm continues to expand, building a second hoop house, an unheated greenhouse warmed only by the sun's heat through the plastic covering, according to Chandler.
"By having two hoop houses, we can start early our greens, radishes and other vegetables for our CSA customers," she said.
Local beekeeper Richard Clapper of Luna Vista Honey in Peru educated adults and children alike about what it takes for his hives to produce honey. With an estimated startup cost between $800 and $1,000, Clapper has learned after six years of beekeeping, it's a labor of love.
"It's not a money-making thing by any means," he said. "It went from being fun to an addiction."
Michael Vincent Bushy is all about natural art by taking cowhide and making leather-bound journals and scratch books. Later in the fall, the Pittsfield resident will ramp up his more-seasonal work of making calendar planners for 2017.
A print-making artist by trade, Bushy for the past three years has focused on more practical, yet still creative, works.
"I wanted to put art in people's hand, making it more accessible," he said.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
What: Brattle Farm
Where: 600 Williams St., Pittsfield
When: Farmstand is open dawn to dusk, year-round
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