Farm-to-Table Tableaux in the Berkshires

I’ve been photographing what is beautiful to me in The Berkshires for a long time, including plenty of farms and tables. My town in this western region of Massachusetts began as Shawenon, named for a Mohican chief who had an eye for gentle majesty.

Egremont view of Mount Everett, known as “The Dome”

The 1780’s-ish dairy farmhouse my family bought years ago sits on a dirt road with deer trails all around.  The surrounding fields and farms are bountiful. In August, the corn is ten feet high and the autumn pumpkins take shape. Before farmers markets were hipster havens, before lavender ice cream was even a thing, the Berkshires held seasonal markets because it was the best way to buy and sell fresh food.  My time here (off & on 40 years so far – I feel lucky!) features wild turkeys, apples from the orchard, tomatoes, Shakespeare plays, cider donuts, concerts, and maple candy – all thoughtfully produced. The New York Times recently heralded Berkshire’s farm-to-table practioners, and the James Beard Foundation awarded local chefs top honors for sustainably-produced, high quality cuisine. I worked along side this crew at the markets for a bit, often bartering dark chocolate for loose onions and rainbow chard at closing time.  My city kids got to experience an extraordinary kind of nature and a reclaimed way of life. Here are photos I think capture the spirit of the markets and the scenery, and I hope they give you a sense of what it feels like to be a part of this genuine farm-to-table community:

Food Market Market, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Bulletins

Food market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

a ripe one-pounder

 

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Peonies at the GB Market

Susie Norris, Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

My hydrangeas in the fall

 

October drive to work

 

The New England Sugar Maple

A few family shots:

 

Big snapper in a rain puddle

       

Food Market Gypsy, The Berkshires, travel

Antiques & pieces by local artists, including Jacqueline Rogers, Daisy Craddock, and Peter Peter.

 

Food Market Gypsy, travel, The Berkshires

Turkey in the lawn again.

Berkshire farm-to-table chefs honored by the James Beard Foundation:

Brian Alberg
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

Sommelier Dan Thomas
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

Stephen Browning
Prairie Whale, Great Barrington, MA

Terry Moore
The Old Mill, South Egremont, MA

Jamie Paxton
The Meat Market, Great Barrington, MA

Daire Rooney
 Allium Restaurant + Bar and Mezze Restaurant Group, Great Barrington, MA

Dan Smith
John Andrews: A Farmhouse Restaurant, South Egremont, MA

Zee Vassos
Firefly, Lenox, MA

   Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Can’t you just smell them?

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Last of the cherries, first of the nectarines.

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table  This post is a dedicated to the farmers of the Berkshires.

susie norris, food market gypsy, tomatoes, farm-to-table, great barrington

Taft Tomatoes

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Taft Flowers

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Prospect Lake

 

Berkshires, farm-to-table, Food Market Gypsy

Late summer path

Susie Norris, Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Wild geese on the Sheffield-Egremont road.

Berkshire School-Photo by Nic Emery

Susie Norris, Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Pumpkin Season

Susie Norris, Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table, cookbooks

Old School

Susie norris, foodmarketgypsy, #berkshires, #farm-to-table, #horsefarm

Nearby horse farm

Food Market Gypsy, Berkshires, farm-to-table

Get your Christmas tree

ARTISAN FOOD & DRINK:  A few of my favorites:

Berkshire Mountain Bakery 

With earthy sourdoughs in European style and chocolate ciabattas, this bakery has been a steady at the markets and health food stores in the area for decades.  

Berkshire Mountain Distillers (try the Greylock Gin!)

These craft spirits hit the national market and swept top honors. Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum – the owner tells me it is all in the water, but I know his clear-headed science and creative commitment to flavor also drive their success.

Great Barrington Bagel Company

Life-long New Yorkers stop by this shop for bagels on the way BACK to the city.  They are that good.  They are amazing.  Try them with nova (lox).

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace

A local paradise of gourmet food. Organic everything, local suppliers, well-prepped food for picnics or loading up a household kitchen.

Berkshire Coop

Another local favorite, this grocery is small and well-focused on the highest quality foods, home and health products, with a cafe in the back.

Monterey Chèvre from Rawson Brook Farm

Legendary! When you visit Rawson Brook Farm in Monterey, you will meet the goats (and people) responsible for this creamy, versatile, award-winning goat cheese.

Farm Country Soup

A long-time market staple, these gourmet soups nourish weekenders and locals with seasonals like Apple Butternut, Farmhouse Lentil, & Borscht.

Moon in the Pond Farm

A leader in local agriculture and education, this farm supplies us with top-quality vegetables and meats.

Cricket Creek Farm

This Williamstown farm brings cheeses to the markets that make you understand the relationship between sweet green grass, happy cows, and sharp, nuanced, cheddar style.

Pigasso

Proudly raising pigs and selling pig products.

Other Local Restaurants of Note:

The Marketplace

A casual cafe on the site where Guido’s prepped foods are made – a perfect lunch spot.

Daily Bread

Quaint and seasonal, this bakery supplies baguettes, cookies, and quick breads.

The Stagecoach

Of course it literally was a stagecoach stop once upon a time, and now features an inviting bar and seasonally-inspired meals in moody New England style.

Fuel

For coffee, for kale salads and burgers, for a center-of-the-action view of what’s happening in Great Barrington.

SoCo Creamery

The children in your life will lead you to this spot.  If not, find your way.  It is the after-dinner hub of Great Barrington.

Chocolate Springs Cafe

Chocolate Springs is one of the finest chocolatiers in the country, with a well-earned reputation for superb European chocolates and a local’s understanding of the importance of a good, rich cup of cocoa.

For further reading, visit the New York Times recent piece on The Great Barrington Farmer’s Market and environs, or Eye of the Shawenon, a colorful, regional epic by a local historian that is proudly featured at the counter in the Old Egremont Country Store

And more artisan wares for home, garden & self:

Campo de Fiori

My dear friends Barbara Bockbrader & Robin Norris have created an emporium of originality and garden beauty.

Karen Allen Fiber Arts

High-end & handmade pieces from exotic wools and fabrics

Virridisima

Designer & friend Jenna O’Brien creates vivid gardens in authentic Berkshire style

Ward’s Nursery

For plants, ideas, & tools

Evergreen

Hand-crafted gifts on Main Street, GB

Crystal Essence

Part jewelry store, part spiritual retreat.  Walk in to experience fully.

Cover art by David Vosburgh

Recipes for Apple Pie and Tarte Tatin from Food Market Gypsy Archives

Another NYT story – 36 Hours in The Berkshires

Food & Wine on The Berkshires

Travel & Leisure on The Berkshires

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