Throughout the [nearly] last three years it’s been an extraordinary delight discovering the best bits of what our region has to offer. As an outlet for honest-to-goodness content, each one of these pages serves as an antidote to mainstream media, an optimistic retreat for progress and possibility. I love powerful stories and hope our editorials are a positive impetus for the indigenous joy that echoes throughout our community. Each month brings a new collection of articles doting on unsung heroes, independent businesses, art & culture, savory eats and contemporary craftspeople. If you’re a repeat reader, you also may have noticed Go Local is preternaturally stuffed with fresh farm features highlighting the local landscape of agriculture; this edition is no different.
I grew up in Western New York along the scenic Erie Canal, but spent many days (particularly in the summer), at my family’s dairy farm in Pennsylvania. We played in the hay loft and calf pen, scaled farm equipment and got bucked off horses; the biggest rule was “don’t go near the bull.” By comparison, my New York hometown was considered “suburban” (by a Pennsylvanian), but was surrounded by a barrage of small family farms that all worked to feed the community. Perhaps it’s those bona fide farm memories or pleasures savoring ripe produce at the farmstand down the road, but I believe farmers are the rock stars of the season - that’s why I decisively made this our “locally grown” edition. Each story highlights a producer or family engaged in agriculture - the people we faithfully entrust to raise our food. We began in Broad Brook at the Syme Family Farm, where Jen, Bill, and their daughters Emily and Becca bring joy to others with flowers and seasonal farm goodies. We experienced fresh pickings from the chef’s garden at The Federal Restaurant in Agawam, bit into juicy peaches at Green Acres Farm in Wilbraham and strolled the blueberry patches of Winterbrook Farm in Stafford Springs. In Suffield, we headed over to Hilltop Farm, where the historic landmark will host the Paddle Faster Bluegrass Festival, a mid-month event boasting regional acts with incredible vocal harmonies and abundant picking prowess. We also hunted down artisan products and rounded up agritourism events for you to enjoy throughout the sunny days of summer.
I’m optimistic that sharing dynamic stories and photos will help create a better connection to our region; a joy amplified when I turn down the soft gravel driveway of a farm. Honest and innovative, the folks behind our region’s agriculture are integral leaders of our community and unquestionably deserving of a little praise. From small farms specializing in niche markets to those producing acres of seasonal produce, each should be household names in our community. As the season wanes and the “lazy days of summer,” become a fleeting memory, I hope to enjoy the bounty grown by our local farmers - there’s nothing sweeter.