Continuing a Family Farm into the future
Yellow Stonehouse Farm is an Organic Farm and CSA located on the Westfield-Southampton border, which is part of the Eastern Farms section of Westfield, MA. Historically a Dairy Farm operated by my husband John’s family (the Hutkoski’s) and their predecessors back to the early 1800’s, John and I took over the farm in 2009 and opened the CSA in 2012. Today, we have a thriving USDA certified Organic CSA whose members enjoy the farm’s fresh vegetables, herbs, & flowers from June – February.
What is a CSA
A CSA is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in their community in the form of a “farm share”. Yellow Stonehouse Farm offers a limited number of “shares” to the public so that they may share in the bounty grown on the farm’s cultivated fields. CSA members buy a share of the farm – and in exchange, during the growing season, members receive abundant shares of local, fresh, and seasonal produce directly from the farm at an affordable price.
A Commitment to Health
When John and I first took over the farm in 2009, we spent a lot of time on a Farm Plan that would allow us to continue the farm as an agricultural enterprise – keeping the farm a farm for the long term – as well as selecting the best way for us as a couple to take on the work of the farm in a way that kept us happy, healthy and able to support the farm.
Healthy Living was one of our most important goals – and from the very start we decided we weren’t going to use any unwholesome pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. We both grew up in family farm-based and chemical free agricultural communities and felt that doing so led to our overall good health, which we didn’t want to squander using chemically dependent farming practices. Besides, we both loved wildlife and didn’t want to hurt any of the other residents on our land such as the birds and bees, beavers, bobcats – and turtles! Happily, we found the CSA model of farming and were able to complete the USDA approved Organic Certification process in 2015 to become Hampden Counties’ first, and to this day – only, USDA Certified Organic Vegetable Farm and CSA.
Healthy Eating Movement
As we’ve became more involved in Yellow Stonehouse Farm we have pursued many educational opportunities – I completed an eight-month farming program and we’ve both attended seminars and classes offered by NOFA – the Northeast Organic Farming Association and MDAR – the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. I feel lucky to be able to pursue my life-long interest in growing and using flowers and herbs for both culinary and medicinal use, which help me to develop the healthy and delicious recipes that go together with the the CSA shares each week.
What is more interesting, however, is how popular Healthy Eating has become throughout our local community, the Pioneer Valley. Of course, Western Massachusetts has been a leader of the Organic Food and CSA movement since the 1960’s – and we are blessed to be part of today’s healthy eating movement in Hamden County, contributing to our communities’ well-being.
We are committed to providing a healthy start to our communities’ children and families. Research shows that eating Healthy Nutritious food contributes to the positive physical and cognitive development of children and prevents the onset of disease – both in childhood and adulthood. Research and our experience has been that children who are exposed to the farm and farming practices, learn where their food comes from, how it grows, end up eating and enjoying vegetables earlier and then for the rest of their lives. Plus having children enjoying the farm is a great joy and keeps us young too!
What’s so Healthy about Organic Local Vegetables
- Fresh local produce is better for you – because nutritional value is at its’ peak when food is freshest. Much of the food in your local grocery store has travelled for days before reaching store shelves and thus lacks freshness.
- Organic produce doesn’t have any of the toxic chemicals of industrialized foods that researchers suggest may be contributing to today’s chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease plus a broad spectrum of modern childhood maladies such as allergies, asthma, ADHD and Autism.
- Organic food really is healthier for you – and more delicious. This is because the soil used in Organic Farming includes more microbes and minerals, which become part of the vegetables that grow in that soil. These microbes and minerals contribute to immune system, gastrointestinal, and cellular health. There is also some research that suggests that these same microbes and minerals add flavor and depth to the taste of organic vegetables making them more delicious.
- Preparing meals at home allows you, the cook, to use healthier, chemical-free ingredient and preparation choices – decreasing salt & sugar, using healthy food preparation techniques such as roasting and baking instead of frying, and increasing healthy food choices to include more plant based foods. It also makes a goal of eating the five servings of plant based foods easier to accomplish.
- Increasing the amount of whole plant based foods in your diet is recommended for everyone – with corresponding decreases in animal based products, processed foods high in sugar, salt, fat and chemical additives and less healthy forms of plant based foods such as fruit juices. Most Americans do NOT get enough of many vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber – which can be addressed by adding dark, leafy greens, legumes and other nutrient rich vegetables and lean proteins to the diet.
Over the next few months, Yellow Stonehouse Farm will be writing and posting our Blog – Farming Matters – on our Website – www.yellowstonehousefarmcsa.com/ and also on our Facebook Page of the same name . We may also link to other Community Facebook pages. Please feel free to share with your own Facebook Community and to respond with questions and comments. We’d like to start a dialogue on Healthy Eating and Living with the community here in Western MA and would appreciate your input. I’ll be posting about our CSA and other ideas we think are important regarding Healthy Eating and Organic Farming but would like your suggestions on topics you are interested in.
For more information on Yellow Stonehouse Farm and our CSA memberships go to www.yellowstnehousefarmcsa.com/ or call the farm at 413-562-2164.