For more information about Maple Valley Creamery, visit their website here. Maple Valley Creamery ice cream is featured at the Mullins Center, Harvest Market, and Blue Wall on the UMass campus.
Also, a special thanks to Bruce and Laurie for all that they do for the UMass Amherst community, and to Bruce, for taking the time to discuss all of this with us.
"We treat our cows better than we treat ourselves.”
Maple Valley Creamery, located in Hadley, MA is a dairy farm that produces premium ice cream using their own fresh milk and cream. They are dedicated to sustainability, supporting local economies, and treating their dairy cows with the utmost love and respect. Maple Valley Creamery has 45 dairy cows, 400 acres of land, and sells raw milk, aged raw milk cheddar cheese, angus beef, and ice cream. UMass Amherst sources ice cream, milk, and beef from Maple Valley. Maple Valley ice cream is sold at the Mullins Center, Harvest Market and used in the milkshakes sold at Blue Wall on campus. Maple Valley Creamery is owned and operated by Laurie Cuevas and Bruce Jenks.
Maple Valley Creamery is dedicated to sustainability in all aspects of their operation. They have renewable energy initiatives and all of their cows are all grass fed and pasture grazed. They also have a recycling program to allow them to reuse the boxes they distribute their ice cream in. Additionally, Bruce and Laurie do everything they can to support local economies. Maple Valley Creamery works with over 70 different farms and vendors, including the North Hadley Sugar Shack, Esselon Cafe, People’s Pint, and local berry and fruit growers. “Our biggest sustainable initiative is working with other folks who are trying to farm like us,” Bruce explained. Most of the fruits they use for their ice cream are ugly fruits, extras, or leftovers. For example, Maple Valley buys local berries when they are in season, and pumpkins past the October sale that would otherwise be thrown away to make pumpkin ice cream.
Talking to Bruce made it obvious that farming is what they love. Bruce and Laurie view themselves first as farmers, and then as ice cream makers. “When people come to our farm...and see the cows, they see that we are really farming. We are driving used old ford pickups and living in a farmhouse,” Bruce shared. Their passion and energy is moving. “It doesn't get old or tiring. I don't think there is a day that we are not inspired to do better than we did yesterday."
Bruce shared that one of his favorite parts of their work is caring for their animals. “Ultimately if someone is making ice cream, someone is milking a cow. For us it is about the farmer and the people that are milking cows.” Maple Valley Creamery has seen 4-5 generations of their cows live in their barns and has been working with them for 12 years. They have whole families of cows that all have names like Mystical, Magic, and Misty. Once a cow’s milk production has slowed, Bruce and Laurie retire her, giving her a place to live and relax after years of giving so much to them. “We treat our cows better than we treat ourselves,” Bruce laughed.
Franklin Permaculture Garden
Kyle’s great grandfather was born in Poland and risked everything to come to the United States to farm with his brother and sister at the age of 16. For two generations the Kielbasas worked for other farmers, but in the 1970s, Kyle’s grandfather, Stanley and his great uncle, Frank, each planted five acre orchards behind their homes, and Kielbasa Orchards was born. Kyle explained that this is truly a family operation, and although the woman are often overlooked, the “hard work, foresight, and sacrifice of the women of the family” is essential to the story of Kielbasa Orchards. Kyle’s Grandmother, Lu, is in her 80s and still hand grades the fruit Kielbasa Orchards sells to UMass. Kyle’s sister is a doctor, but helps at the Orchards in all of her spare time and Kyle’s Aunt Sophie kept their orchards running when family passed away. Kyle’s Great Aunt Bunny, “the true hero if there is one,” has supported the family in countless ways. “We would not have a farm if it was not for Aunt Sophie, Aunt Bunny, and Grandma Lu. They deserve a special thanks.”
Most business owners believe that they must choose between protecting the planet and making a profit. Paul, however, has found that “sustainability and a viable business enterprise are not incompatible. We try to use natural systems in a way that is economically efficient and better for the environment.” Paul explained that Little Leaf’s sustainable initiatives actually save them money.
For example, their captured rainwater system gives them access to water for free has saved them the economical and energy expenditure of drilling a well or installing a pump. Little Leaf also uses biological controls instead of chemical sprays. They release predatory insects into their greenhouses to feed on the pests that disrupt their plants instead of using pesticides.
Speaking to Paul, it was obvious that everyone at Little Leaf Farms loves what they do and really believes in their mission. Paul said to me, “We are doing something that is really important- we are feeding people.” It is clear that they take that responsibility seriously.
“Sustainability and a viable business enterprise are not incompatible. We try to use natural systems in a way that is economically efficient and better for the environment.” -Paul Sellew
Matt explained, “It feels very good to be providing food for other UMass students and staff. We are very lucky that institutions like UMass and the state in general are advocates for local food.” Not only does Queen's Greens provide winter greens and radishes for UMass Dining, they are also heavily involved with UMass Extension and the UMass Farm.
Matt loves being able to work outside and spend time in nature. “There is something special about working on the land and producing food,” Matt remarked. But no matter who you ask, you will never hear that farming is an easy job. During the summer, Danya and Matt work 80 hours a week, and Matt explained that farmers work so hard because their livelihood depends on it. “It can be a scary thing when you are relying on the income of the farm to survive and pay your bills.
Thank you so much to Matt and Danya for all of your contributions to UMass and our greater community, and a special thanks to Matt for speaking with us. For more information about Queen’s Greens, visit their website!
“Squirrels and humans alike have to work together to make a healthy and sustainable world.”
Every careully crafted basket contains everything you need for a special, delicious holiday breakfast you can feel good about.
- 1 PT North Hadley Sugar Shack Maple Syrup
- 1-12 OZ jar Czajkowski Farm Tripleberry Jam
- 1 - 8 OZ jar Bear Meadow Farm Apple Butter
- 1 Peterboro Holiday Centerpriece Basket
makes 6 panckes
1 cup UMass Fresh Local Pancake Mix
1 cup buttermilk or water
2 tbsp melted butter or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
butter or vegetable oil, for greasing
1. Heat frying pan over medium heat.
2. Place pancake mix in a medium bowl; in another bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla.
3. Pour liquid ingredients into pancake mix. Gently whisk until just combined- lumps are okay.
4. Lightly grease pan with butter; remove excess with paper towel.
5. Using a 1/4 cup measurer, gently pour batter onto pan.
6. Once bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pancakes, carefully flip the pancakes.
7. Serve with North Hadley Sugar Shack maple syrup and Czajkowski Farms jams.
Make your pancakes even more special by creating our recipe with New England products like Mapleline Farm buttermilk and Cabot Creamery butter.
A lump-free pancake batter means you over-mixed it. Leave the lumps - only circle your whisk about 20 times around your bowl for pillowy pancakes.
When coating your pan with fat to cook your pancakes, use as little butter or oil as possible. Wipe up any excess with paper towels - there should be no fat pooling on the pan.
Gideon, the owner of Atlas Farm, grew up in a suburban environment but fell in love with food systems while studying Ecology at the University of Michigan. Gideon said he “got hooked with farming because it is such a fundamental connection between people and their environment.” After graduating with a Masters degree in Plant and Soil Sciences from UMass Amherst, Gideon decided to start a small market garden on just over two acres of land. According to Gideon, his operation “grew from there and took off.” The farm is now 95 acres large, has a market share, a farm store, and sells to Whole Foods, UMass Dining, and many small local businesses. This is UMass Dining's first season working with Atlas Farm and is currently sourcing thier kale and romaine.
Eating foods that are not in season often requires the use of GMOs, pesticides, excessive energy, and thousands of food miles. That being said, seasonal foods can be quite inaccessible, especially for people without the money and resources to decide where their food comes from. However, Gideon mentioned that there are many resources in the Pioneer Valley for people who do have the ability and motivation to eat locally and seasonally all year round. Gideon explained that, “As a society we are used to eating whatever we want at any time of the year. If people want to eat sustainably, I would encourage [them] to modify their diets.” There are many farmers like Gideon that provide local winter produce. Additionally, local milk, eggs, cheese, and meat are available year round. Other ways to eat locally during the off-season is by attending winter Farmer’s Markets, and preserving, pickling, drying, or freezing food.
Visit Atlas Farm's website for more information about their farm store, events, and products.
Fresh is an uplifting, critically acclaimed documentary that explores our current food system and ways to eat like a locavore even in a Massachusetts winter. The film peers into the hopeful world of sustainable agriculture. The film screening will be held on Monday, December 5th in the Berkshire Room located in Berkshire Dining Commons from 5pm-7pm and will follow with a short discussion afterwards.
UMass Permaculture also welcomes you to hand make customized holiday gifts on Monday, December 12th from 5pm-7pm in the Hampshire Lobby Meeting Room located in Hampshire Dining Commons. These gifts will include sugar scrubs, soaps, lip balms and sachets - all using herbs grown in the five permaculture gardens! Personalize your handmade gifts at the event's wrapping and decorating station.
Liz L’Etoile, Four Star Farms’ Director of Sales and Marketing, was gracious enough to speak to us about their farm. Liz never thought that she would end up working on a family farm and even said, “If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be a farmer I would have laughed at you.” However, Liz loves living on their farm and working with her family to do what she is passionate about. Liz spends most her time overseeing the farm’s sales, marketing, customer service, education and outreach initiatives. Using her background in social work, Liz works hard to inform consumers about the importance of a sustainable food system and the role that we each play in it.
During the summer, the farmers at Four Star Farms all work 6 or 7 days a week, starting before the sun comes up and not finishing until long after the sun goes down. Though farming can be draining work, what keeps Liz going at Four Star Farms is interacting with their customers. Four Star Farms hosts events and tours consistently to encourage customers to visit their farm and to facilitate a conversation about the importance of eating local and seasonal food. Liz believes “the pricing of our current food system is really not fair for those that don’t have access to good food [or] to farmers who don’t get a fair price for what they are growing.”
Visit Four Star Farms' website for more information about them.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.