Event Spotlight: Farm Tour 2018
Each year Central Mass Grown gathers legislators, community members and farmers to tour farms in Worcester County. We spend the day hearing their stories, walking their fields and addressing their concerns. Farm Tour day is our favorite day of the harvest season. In August 2018 we visited Valley View Farm, Ladybug Farm Produce and Red Apple Farm. We were joined by the Commissioner of Agriculture John Lebeaux, a representative of Congressman McGovern’s office, Senator Anne Gobi, Representative Mary Keefe, Representative Natalie Higgins, Representative Susan Whipps and a representative of Donnie Bethiume’s office.
We began our day with a visit to Valley View Farm. Matt and Kelly LeClerc hosted nearly thirty visitors to their farm and butcher shop in Templeton. The LeClerc family has raised livestock for decades. They began by processing poultry grown by local farms and evolved that business into an in-house butcher shop showcasing local meats cut to perfection for sale to local consumers throughout the year. Their butcher shop boasts thick cuts of steak, marinated chicken, spiced sausages and more. On the shelves are curated local products and produce to round out every meal. Matt and Kelly employ local workers for every aspect of their business, they value their community and it shows in the detail and care they take in their work.
Just down the street from Valley View we ventured to Ladybug Farm Produce in Hubbardston where Cathy Hansgate and her husband Jim operate their certified organic produce farm. They sell their harvest and other homemade goods in their farm store, at local farmers markets and through various wholesale buyers. Cathy toured us through her lush fields and charming greenhouse. Respectful of nature’s ecological balance these farmers pay special attention to feeding the soil and caring for all forms of life in order to mitigate pest and fungal issues. The Hansgate’s also care for hay fields and an array of animals to round out their farm system. A small, highly diversified operation we were honored to learn more about.
Heading north, our tour entered into apple country, with our final stop at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston; where Al and Nancy Rose and their family operate their pick your own orchard. Red Apple has been a productive farm since the 1700’s boasting apple orchards, blueberry bushes and even a ‘dig-your-own’ potato field! Al and his team took us on a wagon ride through the orchards, treated us to freshly sugared cider donuts in their farm stand prepared lunch at their outdoor barbecue. Red Apple Farm excels with their customer care and agri-tourism attractions. In 2018 they even added a ‘Brew Barn’ where Moon Hill Brewery of Gardner offers multiple pours of their craft brews often paired with live music and events.
We enjoyed each stop during our 2018 Summer Farm Tour and greatly appreciated our hosts taking the time to share their stories. We look forward to our 2019 tour and welcome you to join us! Learn more on our website and sign up for our newsletter to be notified of details for this summer’s farm visits.