"I feel like being married to a farmer is like being married to someone with another family down the road," jokes Liz Adler, who co-owns Mountainview Farm with her husband, Ben Perrault. With the hard work and endless attention it requires, farming, Adler says, "is a lifestyle commitment." But it's one the family has happily made.
For the past five years, Adler and Perrault have owned Mountainview Farm, where they run a very popular CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, operation. Under the model, members buy an annual share in the farm, which entitles them to a weekly haul of fresh, organically grown produce from June through October. Members can pick their own peas, beans, raspberries and strawberries; cut their own herbs and fresh flowers; and buy things from other local producers, including apples, honey, dairy products and El Jardin bread.
Mountainview also offers an end-of-season winter share of storage vegetables—100 pounds for $100—and is looking to increase its winter production. (Shares are still available for the 2010 season; call 413-329-0211 or go to www.mountainviewfarmcsa.com for information.)
"The CSA model really spoke to both of us, the community piece of it," says Adler. "We want people to feel like they can stay the whole day and relax." The best part of life at Mountainview? "Looking out at the field and seeing all those people picking food with their kids," she says.
The CSA model underscores the variability that comes with farming. Weather conditions and other natural phenomena can have a significant effect on the farm yield—especially at places like Mountainview that don't try to fight nature with toxic chemicals. "Some people don't want to take that risk," Adler notes. But others are happy to, because it provides an opportunity to teach their kids about where food really comes from, and the decisions we can make about how it's raised.
"Our job is just to continually educate people about what it means to grow food," Adler says. Along with their weekly share, Mountainview members gets a newsletter with recipes, information about the growing season and life on the farm, both its struggles and triumphs.