• —Isabella Casini

  • —Isabella Casini

Friday, June 09, 2017

Hi, friends: 

My family and I had a great time at the Asparagus Festival last weekend, sampling “Hadley grass” (not the recreational kind) in various forms, from ice cream (looks and tastes like pistachio) by Flayvors of Cook Farm to deep-fried spears with aioli by Esselon Café. We also enjoyed asparagus quesadillas from Wheelhouse Farm. Perhaps you’ve seen their food truck with its “FARMER FOOD” sign at the Amherst Farmers Market. It was thanks to co-owners Jake Mazar and Will Van Heuvelen that I first heard about the Grow Food Northampton (GFN) dinner at Crimson & Clover farm in Florence, the subject of this week’s cover story.  

If the idea of eating a delicious meal outside on the same land where the vegetables were harvested appeals to you, then check out some of the other dinners Wheelhouse Farm will be doing throughout the summer and fall at their website. To raise awareness around local food and community, Wheelhouse will be partnering with different organizations, including the Trustees of Reservations and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. GFN and Crimson & Clover also have more information on their websites. Of course, to find out about farm shares at Crimson & Clover, you can also just stop by the farm in Florence. As farmer Nate Frigard shared with me, sage words passed on from a mentor of his: “Growing vegetables is easy. Selling vegetables is hard.” But buying them is easy, and I plan to purchase my first share next time I’m at the farm. 

At the GFN dinner last Sunday, my husband and I met another couple who shared with us their home brew (it smelled a bit like Hadley grass, the recreational kind) and a passion for local beer culture in general. Naturally, we’re all excited about Western Massachusetts Beer Week, which kicks off this Saturday and continues through next weekend (for Father’s Day gift ideas and more, check them out online). 

I promised changes ahead for the magazine, both big and small, and they’re beginning to take shape. I’m excited to introduce a new columnist, Naomi Shulman, a Northampton-based writer (she has contributed to the New York Times Motherlode blog, among many other places) who, this week, tells a poignant story about teaching her 16-year-old daughter how to drive. As a frequent visitor to the children’s department at Forbes Library, I’m also pleased to share a book recommendation by senior assistant Kat Janeczek, who answers the question, “What should I read?” If you’re a local librarian, bookstore owner or employee, or simply a bookworm with a recommendation you want to write up, please let me know.

Finally, I’ve received so many emails from faithful readers about “I.D.,” the popular column that used to run in this magazine, that I decided to introduce a similar feature, “People Watching.” Our first profile is of John Raymer, the Gazette’s press operator, and was written by Veronica Suchodolski, former Amherst Regional High School tennis champ-turned-college intern extraordinaire. “I got to see the press room on a field trip for my journalism class in high school, but I never knew that the man behind it rode motorcycles and traveled the world,” she says. “The Valley has so many people with fascinating stories, and I’m excited to get to share some of them.” 

I welcome your suggestions about other local characters to feature at bhauser@gazettenet.com. 

Brooke Hauser