making progress

November 16, 2016 - This has been an emotional week and a challenging season. But one thing we've learned in the past 11 years running this farm is that things rarely turn out the way you expect. Every year - every day, actually - we adapt to changing conditions, make a new plan and try something new.

Next week we're excited to join Monte's March to benefit the Food Bank of Western Mass and will walk with members of our amazing farm crew from Springfield to Greenfield to raise money for this important organization. We make weekly donations of fresh produce to the Food Bank and the Amherst Survival Center and we're grateful to these groups for helping distribute our extra food to our neighbors. We've decided to increase our commitment to food access and if you'd like to help us reach our goal for this powerful community effort visit our fundraising page.

Despite the severe drought this season we succeeded in growing more vegetables than ever before. This year we managed a record 50 acres but we ended up only planting 40 as we redrew our field maps and planted and re-planted the few fields where we have wells for irrigation. Many of our lighter, sandier acres without access to water lay fallow after a few failed attempts at germination. Ironically, we've spent the last few years investing in equipment and land to protect against excessive rain events, but hadn't imagined a scenario with virtually no rain at all. We're feeling lucky that we were nevertheless able to grow epic crops of onions, peppers, cucumbers, and summer squash and had plenty of greens, tomatoes, eggplant and roots to keep our farm crew busy harvesting all season. This year we supplied more than 100 stores, restaurants and distributors all over the Berkshires, New York City, Boston, Rhode Island and, of course, the Pioneer Valley.

Our 2016 batch of Sriracha and our new line of Salsas are hitting shelves across New England and we're thrilled to announce that our Sriracha has just been named a Good Food Awards finalist! It's such an honor to be included among this outstanding group of food producers around the country that meet extremely rigorous standards for quality and sustainability. We're heading to San Francisco in January to participate in the Good Food Mercantile and will be crossing our fingers when they announce the winners!

It's been a big year for our Sriracha enterprise and we still can't believe we were selected for a USDA Value-Added Producer Grant which will provide working capital to help us increase production and promote our products more widely in the coming years.

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This was our first year in our new barn and it's hard to imagine how we ever survived without it. Our creative and dedicated farm crew has been instrumental in helping us develop new systems for utilizing our new space and strategies for increasing efficiency in the field. We're grateful to these young farmers for showing up everyday with energy and commitment to growing good food and getting it out to our loyal customers. Please join us in thanking Cat M, Cat W, Christopher, Jackson, Joey, Julia, Kelly, Kelsey, Laura, Lilly, Maria, Max, Meera, Meg, Mickaelah, Steve and Taylor, without whom we couldn't do what we do. 

Zoe Pappenheimer

Zoe Design Works, 116 Pleasant St, Easthampton, MA, 01027, United States

Creative Director Zoe Pappenheimer received her Masters in Communications Design at Pratt Institute in New York City while working as a multimedia designer for the ad agency AD Lubow. Upon completing her Masters she went on to found Zoe Design Works, a design firm offering web, print and logo design.