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.”
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.
UMass Dining chefs love receiving beautiful, fresh Student Farm produce twice a week in the dining commons and students love eating it. UMass Dining is so grateful to Student Farm for providing our community with sustainable, nourishing food grown with such care.
Jason Silverman is the UMass Student Farm Manager. Jason started as a student in the program in 2011, marking this season his fifth working with Student Farm. Jason has “always been an agriculture enthusiast” and is deeply connected to his work. Jason has an innate passion for what he does, saying that he has been “obsessed with hay production since the age of two and a half.” Growing up with such love for food and farming, it is no wonder he is so good at what he does.
Jason spoke highly of Student Farm and the experience it gives UMass undergraduates to “become true farmers.” Student Farm is a “tight-knit family” with “a great community dynamic."
Want to be a part of Student Farm?
The application for the 2017 UMass Student Farm Program is open NOW until November 15th! To apply, or for more information, click here: http://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/SFE-class.
Visit the Student Farm website to learn more: https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/student-farm.
- Reduce your water usage, we’re in a drought! Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, wash only full loads of laundry, take shorter showers, and fill out an iService request for any and all leaks www.umass.edu/sustainability/water-conservation #UMassSavesH20
- Forget the plastic bottles, use a reusable bottle and fill it up at a hydration station
- Turn off lights when not in use, unplug devices that do not need to be charged
- Take the bus or ride your bus around campus - rent a bike through Bike Share for free by presenting your UCard to their office in 420 Student Union
- Compost your Grab n Go containers and food waste in the Campus Center, ILC, Roots, or by Franklin Dining Commons
- Bring any of your electronic waste to the receptacle in the lobby of the library
- Recycle! Double check to make sure none of these are in the recycling: plastic bags, styrofoam, plastic solo cups, compostable dining ware, and cardboard soda cases www.umass.edu/recycle/recycling_materialsguide.shtml
This year was the 46th annual Earth Day Festival at UMass. It continues to be a demonstration of the strong sustainability culture that has taken shape on campus led by students passionate about protecting the natural environment and the people that depend upon it.
Of course, we were there too!
UMass Permaculture hosted a workshop at the festival to help people make their own free vermi-composting bins! Vermicomposting is a special type of composting which makes use of amazing red wiggler worms that break down food waste into a nutritious soil amendment. Worm bins are great for the winter months because they doesn’t rely on heat to break down the organic matter.
A special thank you to everyone who stopped by the UMass Dining Sustainability table and wrote ideas for how we can become more healthy, sustainable, and fair! We compiled every single comment and have plans to discuss them as a department. Here’s a sampling of some of the suggestions:
- Grab & Go Tupperware rather than disposable containers
- More plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan options
- Bag-less tea in the DCs (to eliminate plastic packaging)
- Equal Exchange bananas
- Introduce Meatless Mondays in the DCs
- Donate leftover food for nearby people in need
- Better labeling for people with food allergies.
- Meat that is antibiotic-free (not just chicken) and from humane sources
- Develop hydroponic growing on campus
Umass healthy and sustainable food system
First up, we'll dive into "Trash Fish" and the potential for a more sustainable fishery economy in New England.
Entries are submitted by project staff and UMass students.