Join DA in Supporting Local Farms

By Mary T. Kronenwetter P’19

Bloody Brook Farm might not be the most appetizing name for a farm, but the squash and carrots they provide for DA Dining Hall tables are scrumptious. Deerfield Academy’s commitment to sustainability includes preserving the economic and ecological health of its neighboring communities through purchasing and partnerships with local farms. The Dining Hall puts significant effort into sourcing food that is locally grown, raised, or produced.  There are dozens of farms from Deerfield and across New England that provide the Dining Hall with fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, and maple syrup. DA is well-positioned to reap the bounty of the fertile Connecticut River Valley, where agriculture is still an important part of the region’s economy.

Locally-grown food can be found at every DA meal. Every time a student grabs an apple as they head out after meals, it is one grown by Clarkdale Fruit Farm. Coincidently, Clarkdale is owned by the multigenerational Deerfield alumni Clark family.  Deerfield Academy itself can actually be considered a local farm. The DA campus greenhouse provides the dining hall with student-nurtured herbs, greens, tomatoes, and peppers grown in compost produced here on campus. Throughout the year, there is a series of “local sit-down dinners” (starting with Convocation Dinner) where all of the ingredients for that meal are from the region.  Local farmer partners often attend these meals to talk about their vocation, the state of sustainable farming, and answer student questions.

Eating healthy and local is not the only goal. Deerfield’s commitment to sustainability includes the conscious and sustained effort to educate about food choices and ensure food is not taken for granted. In the classroom, courses such as the AP Seminar Global Food Systems and AP Environmental Science take advantage of both the expertise and experience of DA Director of Food Services Mike McCarthy visiting their classrooms and local farmers giving tours of their farms during field trips. The campus “Live Clean, Eat Dirty” campaign includes dining hall table informational cards with information on the source of featured food items, their nutritional values, and environmental impact.

During Frank Boyden’s tenure, Deerfield boys regularly pitched in to help local farmers harvest their crops. This tradition of community service, then known as “being a good neighbor,” continues today. The fall community service co-curricular “Farm Team” sends students out to area farms three days a week. Co-curricular groups including athletes, musicians, and theatre groups assist with harvest for their community service projects. Deerfield students also volunteer at the Second-Helpings community meal and food distribution program in Greenfield. This program was actually founded 15 years ago by members of the DA community.

While visiting during Family weekend, you can experience the local food scene in a couple of ways.

  1. Have a meal in the dining hall. The food really is fantastic.
  2. Tour the DA Greenhouse located behind the Johnson-Doubleday dormitory
  3. Visit a local farmers market or a farm stand in Deerfield.

The Bars Farm (146 Mill Village Road, 3 miles from campus) The drive to this farm stand passes the Deerfield athletic fields, through farm fields and cow pastures along the Deerfield River. This stand has local vegetables, flowers, prepared foods, and over 30 varieties of peppers.

Ciesluk Farm Stand (564 Greenfield Road/Route 5, ½ mile from campus) Seasonal vegetables, fruit, and flowers are available alongside home-baked pies, breads, honey, maple syrup, cider, and jams.

Clarkdale Fruit Farm (303 Upper Road, 6 miles from campus) This 4th generation farm has over 100 varieties of apples, peaches, cherries, grapes, plums, and pears. You can pick your own, or pick up a bag in their farm shop. Seasonable vegetables and fresh-pressed cider are available as well.

Atlas Farm Store (218 Greenfield Road/Route 5, 3.5 miles from campus) Local meat, cheese, bakery, vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit, and prepared foods are available at this organic farm’s retail store.

Greenfield Farmer’s Market (Court Square, Greenfield, 3.8 miles from campus) This vibrant market features local vendors from Franklin County and is held weekly on Saturday mornings from 8:00am – 12:30pm in in downtown Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm (23 S. Main St, Sunderland, 7.9 miles from campus) Get lost in an elaborate 8 acre corn maze at this 10th generation local farm. Additional attractions include giant slides, potato cannons, and delicious donuts made with local apple cider! Open weekends 10:00am – 5:00pm.

Finally,  watch a student-produced video called ““Healthy Food Systems: Deerfield Academy and Local Farms”  it features  local farm partners and student members of the DA Farm Team. Check it out!

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