Atlas Farms

Atlas Farm tomatoes. 

MA Atlas Farm is an organic vegetable farm in its thirteenth year of operation, located just eleven miles from UMass in Deerfield, MA, and grows a variety of certified organic plants and produce.   

Picture Gideon Porth, Owner of Atlas Farm 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. 

Atlas Farm works hard to extend their growing season as long as possible to provide as much food as they can for their local community. Usually, local greens in the winter time are not easy to come by, but using greenhouses, hoophouses, and fabric grow covers, Atlas Farm grows salad greens, cooking greens, lettuces, and herbs year round. They also store crops that are harvested in the fall like cabbage and root vegetables to be sold in the winter. 

Raised beds in one of the Atlas Farm Greenhouses. 

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.   Picture Atlas Farm welcome sign. 

Atlas Farm is also dedicated to sustainability, evaluating each decision they make and every step of their operation to make it more efficient, equitable, and environmentally friendly. For example, Atlas Farm plans to eventually be energy independent. They currently produce almost three quarters of their own power, use biomass to heat their greenhouses, and have been using solar power for nearly the last decade. 

Thank you so much, Gideon for all of your help and valuable contributions to the UMass Community! 
Visit Atlas