Farmer Profiles

Astarte Farm

Astarte Farm is a certified organic market garden in Hadley established by Dan Pratt in 1999. When Jim Mead took ownership of Astarte in 2014, Dan maintained management of the farm’s 6.6 acres. No-till practices there began at that time, and include the use of biochar, compost, occultation strips, and predator and pollinator habitat in beds and along buffer zones.

The land encompassing Astarte Farm was first settled by the English in 1650. It was abandoned after the soil was exhausted by mono-cropping of sweet and broom corns, pumpkin, and tobacco. Polish immigrants began farming it again in the 19th century. When Dan first began plowing the land in 2000, he found only two worms in a half-acre, which was highly compacted clay down to 8-10 inches. This caused standing water in the fields for 2½ years until Dan switched to more natural methods. While the farm was successful in its first 3-4 years, the beds began to sink around year 6. In contrast, areas that were mowed and undisturbed by cultivation were rising. He was using an Italian spader, which inverts the soil profile less than tilling, but still disturbed fungal, beetle, and worm activity.

The farm in a highly diversified market operation, selling nearly 100% of its produce to River Valley Co-op in Northampton. The co-op’s produce manager determines the vegetable crops on 3.5 acres. The remaining acreage consists of grapes, blueberries, and pollinator buffer zones.

Check out Dan’s full profile.

Dan Pratt driving the tractor on a no-till field

Maple Corner Farm

Leon Ripley in front of Maple Corner’s energy efficient evaporator

Maple Corner Farm is located in Granville, Massachusetts, above Borden Brook Reservoir in the foothills of the Berkshires at an elevation of 1400 feet. Maple Corner Farm is a working family farm that has been in continuous operation since 1812.  Once a Beef and Dairy operation, the farm now produces hay, pure maple syrup and maple products, as well as pick-your-own blueberries.

During the winter months Maple Corner manages over 20 kilometers of groomed trails for classic and skate skiing over a variety of terrain, with separate trails for snowshoeing. Ski equipment and snowshoe rentals are available for children through adult. At a 1400-foot elevation, the temperature is usually 5- 10 degrees cooler than the valley, meaning Maple Corner receives more annual snowfall than in the valley. 

In mid-February through mid-April, the Maple Sugar House is open to visitors. You can watch maple sap being boiled into maple syrup. On weekends during the maple sugaring season, pancakes, French toast, ham, bacon, sausage and eggs are served. Maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream and homemade jam, jelly, and fruit butters are available for sale year-round. Summertime brings Pick Your Own Blueberries at our blueberry farm on North Lane in Granville.

Click here to visit the Maple Corner Farm website.

Twin Oaks Farm

Edwin Matuszko, Linda Kingsley, & Joe Matuszko

Edwin Matuszko, Linda Kingsley, and Joe Matuszko are third and fourth generation farmers on Twin Oaks Farm located at 116 Stockbridge Street in Hadley. As of 2019, their family-owned wholesale vegetable farm is in its 40th year of operation. They grow cabbage, beets, leeks, bell peppers, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, winter squashes, ornamental corn, mini-pumpkins, and swan gourds.

Ed, Linda, and Joe have found the strategies that work best for maintaining and building soil are observation of land, soil testing, and utilization of cover crops. Another practice is providing the right nutrients to crops to avoid soil depletion. They have been able to both grow their customer base and increase their profit margin by means of a quality product, honesty, and fair selling price for both farmer and buyer. It helps that they sell a niche product that fewer farmers grow, and have a higher-end customer base that is willing to pay more for quality produce. While gaining exposure within their community has largely come from word of mouth, they adhere to “actions speak louder than words.”

In addition to recent extreme weather events, another big challenge they face is the annual process of organizing a small, dependable, and engaged work force to help maintain their seasonal business. Strategies they have used to deal with severe weather events include the diversification of crops to help mitigate major losses. In drought conditions, they have the ability to irrigate some crops. In the case of excess water, they may be able to do additional sub-soiling ahead of rain events and/or dig temporary run-off ditches for drainage. Before planting in the spring, they form a plot plan of vegetables determined by susceptibility of perceived weather events.

Click for their full profile.

Yellow Stonehouse Farm

Yellow Stonehouse Farm is owned and operated by Connie Adams & John Keilch, and is Westfield’s first USDA Certified Organic Farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Yellow Stonehouse Farm is a 79-acre property located in Westfield & Southampton, surrounded by a Natural Heritage & Endangered Species landscape. The Manhan River divides the farm, creating a beautiful environment for growing certified organic vegetables and flowers, while coexisting harmoniously with native wildlife. Connie & John cultivate over 15 acres of vegetables and flowers in Westfield for their CSA members. On the 24-acres located in Southampton, they maintain an extensive vernal pool area, a stand of 200 year-old Beech trees, and a field of milkweed to help sustain the Monarch Butterflies who visit every year. Yellow Stonehouse is a chemical free farm and does not use any GMO’s, chemical pesticides or herbicides.

Yellow Stonehouse grows a wide variety of crops including Snap peas, Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Bok Choy, Peppers, Corn, Sunchokes, Cucumbers, Ginger, Turmeric, Squash, Lettuce, Heirloom Tomatoes, Herbs, Kohlrabi and Sunflowers. All of their CSA shares include Pick Your Own (PYO) garden access, flowers, and use of the picnic areas located alongside the Manhan River (in season by reservation).  

Sustainability is the main thrust of the Farms actions, which manifests in their CSA program, organic farming practices, and aspirations to preserve the Yellow Stonehouse Farm for generations to come. The primary mission of farm owners Connie and John is to develop a successful CSA that is carried forward by a farm family in the future.

John was born on the farm, but he and Connie both had long careers in a variety of fields, before inheriting John’s family farm in the early 2010s. Click here to read a fascinating article recounting their history.

Click here to visit the Yellow Stonehouse website. 

Farmers Connie Adams & John Keilch