A small boy is dancing to East Tennessee Blues and the Reel de San Antoine on a ripping fiddle. The accordian slides into another key, and the group follows him grinning into another Quebeçois dance tune. He is also a beekeeper — more than one of this group have grown their own harvest, and they are playing among local cheeses, maple syrup, winter squashes and locally roasted coffee — it’s harvest time at Berkshire Grown’s annual holiday marketplace.
Berkshire Grown supports farms and local food across the county with resources for local farmers, orchards, farm stands and farm-to-table restaurants, and its own farmers markets in the fall and winter in Great Barrington and Williamstown.
The northern market comes to Williams College every year, and I often play with the contradance jam there; that’s why I remember the event from the angle I do — launching into a high note while kids run around a circle of chairs and their parents trade off to look for ingredients for their holiday meal.
I remember the long room filled end to end with winter greens and sweet potatoes, honey and hot cider. This is the time of year when the farmers markets swing from weekly to monthly — Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market, North Adams Farmers Market, Berkshire Grown and Bennington Farmers’ Market hang in there.
And I’m thankful they do. The harvest is in and the fields are ploughed under, and the farmers are watching the rain and taking stock for next year. People who have been out in the fields dawn to dark have time to breathe, and need the quiet season, but all the same …
When the days get dark by tea-time, there’s something friendly and welcome in a room full of people who grow what they grow here, and make what they make here, and people who want to know about them — or feel like a hot cup of coffee to the tune of Cold Frosty Morning and the Ice House. Maybe I’ll see you there.