By Caroline Pam
This article appears in Fall 2011: Issue No. 23 of Edible Brooklyn.
Four hours north of Brooklyn, just shy of the Vermont border, the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts boasts a deeply rooted local food scene and a burgeoning new generation of young farmers and food entrepreneurs that could make the most committed Brooklynite consider pulling up stakes—at least for the weekend.
Comprising several towns along the Connecticut River, the Valley’s river-bottom soils make up some of the richest agricultural land in the country: Locavores will swoon for the abundance of farm products available at destination-worthy farmers markets and farm stands. The region is rich in ideas as well, home to Smith, UMass, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke and Amherst College, which together support an impressive cluster of artisan coffee roasters and a serious beer culture.
Below is a selection of the best places to experience the Valley’s dynamic food culture, from heirloom apples to raw milk. Come hungry and pack a cooler.