Welcome to Simple Gift Farm’s CSA!

Thank you for supporting our farm. We love our community and enjoy getting to know so many of you from North Amherst and nearby neighborhoods. We have grown organic produce for the local market for 24 years. This is our seventeenth season farming at the North Amherst Community Farm, and we’re honored to have the opportunity to be the stewards of this land.

Communicating with us

We send out most of our member communications (receipt of payment, newsletters and occasional farm news) by e-mail, most often from [email protected]. We generally do not share your contact information, though we do sometimes forward information from local farms and other organizations that share our values. The North Amherst Community Farm is the land trust who owns our farmland; we do share information with them. Make sure the messages get through your spam filter, or follow the instructions in the newsletter to unsubscribe if you really don’t want to get our emails. You can reach us by phone at 413-230-3262 or email.

How to Enjoy Your Simple Gifts Farm Share:

Spring Share:

-In-Store Pickup Every Week from March 28th through June 5th (See Below for Instructions for In-Store Pickup.)

-Pick-Your-Own very limited (some herbs will be available—See below for Instructions for Pick-Your-Own.)

Main-Season Share:

-In-Store Pickup Every Week from June 6th through November 13th (See Below for Instructions for In-Store Pickup.)

-Pick-Your-Own with weekly limits from June 6th through November 13th (See below for Instructions for Pick-Your-Own.)

Fall Share:

-In-Store Pickup Every Week from September 5th through November 13th (See Below for Instructions for In-Store Pickup.)

-Pick-Your-Own with weekly limits (See below for Instructions for Pick-Your-Own.)

Winter Share:

-In-Store Pickup Every Other Week from November 14st through March 27th , 2023 (See Below for Instructions for In-Store Pickup.)

-Pick-Your-Own very limited (some herbs will be available, and kale will often be available—See below for Instructions for Pick-Your-Own.)

Flexible 10-Pickup Pass

-10 In Store Pickups, any time at your convenience. (See Below for Instructions for In-Store Pickup.) Flexible Passes do not expire.

-The Pick-Your-Own is not included with this share, though there is a combination deal for the Flex-Pass and the Pick-Your-Own Share

Pick-Your-Own Share

-Pick-Your-Own with weekly limits from June 6th through November 13th (See below for Instructions for Pick-Your-Own.)

Share Pickup Instructions:

There are two basic components to our shares: the in-store pickup, and the Pick-You-Own part. Some shares include both, and some include only one share; refer to the list above to see which are included with your share.

In-Store Pickup:

Our weeks run Monday- Sunday, and you can come in any time the farm store is open (10am to 7pm on weekdays and 8am to 7 pm on weekends) during the week. This means that if you come on Sunday, you could come again the next day on Monday, but if you come in on Monday, you have to wait the full week to come again. When you get to the store, please let our farm store staff know that you are there to pick up your share, and they will be happy to help you. The produce that is available in the share is all labelled with stars; depending on the value of the item, it will be worth 1, 2, or 3 stars. You get to pick out items worth 12 stars, which could include 12 one-star items, 4 three-star items, or some other combination that adds up to 12 stars. The items that are labelled with stars typically are local organic vegetables, and do not include any of the tropical fruits like avocados and limes, nor do they include non-organic local fruits like apples. We do include some of our processsed vegetables such as marinara sauce in the share.

When you are done picking out your delicious veggies, take them up to the counter, and our staff will “ring you up” to help us keep track of our inventory. You can feel free to purchase other items that don’t come in the share at that time. They will check off your name as having picked up, and you can head on home to cook up your veggies.

If you are unable to come in during a given week, feel free to tell a friend that they can use your share and just have them give your name at checkout. The weekly share is only available during the designated week, so if you miss a pickup, it cannot be made up. If you will have trouble coming in regularly, the Flexible 10-Pickup Pass may be a better option for you.

Pick-Your-Own

The pick-your-own component of the share includes flowers, herbs, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, hot peppers, beans, and a few other crops. There is typically a weekly limit on how much you can pick, and it is posted on a board on the porch of the farm store. There is also a map on the porch that shows you how to find the PYO items, and signs in the field to point the way. Please ask our farm store staff for directions if you are having a hard time interpreting the map, or finding what you are looking for. Strawberries are typically available for abundant picking the first 3 weekends in June, with lesser availability the week before and after that, and we have a limit for the whole season rather than a weekly limit. The other crops vary in season, but the PYO availability is typically greatest from mid-June through the end of September.

Farm Hazards

Please be aware of potential farm hazards. The barns are in need of repair. This is an ongoing project. The Farm Store is the one indoor space on the farm where we welcome visitors; please stay out of the barns and greenhouses unless your are invited in.

Tractors and other farm equipment are so exciting, especially for kids. There are dangerous parts, though, even when they aren’t moving, so please stay off the tractors. We will give you the chance to climb on the tractors at one of the events, when we can supervise closely.

The electric fences are live. They won’t knock you or your kids out, and won’t cause any physical harm, but they do really sting. Be aware that dogs particularly find electric fence very frightening. The animals are smart and only need to test this once or twice before they know to avoid it.

The usual nasties of the great outdoors are here too: poison ivy, ticks, stinging nettles, sharp sticks and rocks. Keep an eye on yourself and especially kids. We have a first aid kit in the CSA pick-up area, just in case.

Walking, biking, or just hanging out on the farm

The farm is a public place, and we encourage members and non-members alike to come visit whenever you like. There is a great tire swing on the hill up from the strawberry field, and that hill is an especially nice place to hang out as well.

The North Amherst Community Farm (NACF)

NACF is a non-profit organization that owns the farmland and farmstead. Simple Gifts Farm leases the land and buildings from NACF. This group of neighbors joined together to preserve the farmland when it came up for sale a few years ago, and is still working hard to raise funds to pay for the land. They are also working on putting together several educational events during the season. You are invited to make a donation or get involved! NACF and Simple Gifts Farm work together to make infrastructure improvements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up for a share?
It’s easy! Visit our Farm Shares page for more information. 

 

Where do I pick up my share?
The pick-up site is at the North Amherst Community Farm, 1089 North Pleasant Street. You will find a helpful and friendly face in the Farm Store building with the red roof by the road, weekdays 10 a.m. –7 p.m.  and weekends 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.  Please drive slowly and watch out for kids. We’re also on the bus route  and encourage you to try walking or biking to the farm if and when you can. Click here for directions.
What does it mean that Simple Gifts Farm is certified organic?
Our certification means that a third party, Bay State Organic Certifiers, checks on us every year to ensure that we are meeting the stringent standards set by the National Organic Certifiers Board. Non-certified farms do not necessarily adhere to these healthy and sustainable practices.
The organic standards include:
·    Organic seeds, animal feed, and weed/pest control methods
·    A buffer zone of at least 50 feet between our fields and any field using chemical herbicides or pesticides
·    Waiting periods of at least 90 days (for crops grown away from the ground) or 120 days (for crops in contact with the soil) between fertilizing the soil with manure and planting it with produce
·    No pressure-treated lumber around our animals or crops
How does the cost of a Simple Gifts farm share compare to the cost of buying produce at a market?
Our farm shares are cheaper!  We keep careful inventory of what goes out in the farm share each week, and have found that the share is a 25-30% savings compared to  produce purchased at the supermarket.  And that is not even including the pick-your-own crops!  If you make full use of the cherry tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, flowers, peas, and beans in the pick-your-own garden, the share is a fantastic bargain! If paying for your entire share upfront is challenging for you, please see the next two questions.
Can I use my EBT benefits to pay for my share?
Yes. When you sign up online, you will have the option to pay by EBT.  We will have some paperwork for you to fill out, and then your share payment will be divided by the number of months in the share, and payments will be automatically deducted monthly from your EBT account.  We are now part of the HIP program, which will rebate $40-80 per month of the share payment back to your card!
Can I use a payment plan to pay for my share?

Yes.  We recommend the no-cost UMassFive Farm Share Loan, which was created to help area residents support local agriculture by becoming farm share members. They will pay us for your share upfront, and allow you to make regular, interest-free repayments to them. Please click here to read more and request a loan. 

Are there any potential hazards to be aware of on the farm?
The usual nasties of the great outdoors are here too: poison ivy, ticks, stinging nettles, sharp sticks, and rocks. Be careful and keep an eye on your kids. We have a first aid kit in the CSA pick-up area, just in case. Please don’t wander around our old barns, as they are in need of repair and this is a slow, ongoing project. Tractors and other farm equipment are exciting, especially for kids, but have dangerous parts even when they are not moving, so please stay off of them. We will give you the chance to climb on the tractors at some of our events, when we can supervise closely. The electric fences are live. They won’t knock anyone out or cause any physical harm, but they do really sting. Be aware that dogs particularly find electric fences very frightening. Animals are smart and only need to test this once or twice before they know to avoid it.
Can I walk, bike, or just hang out on the farm?
Please do! The farm is a public place, and we encourage members and non-members alike to come visit whenever you like. There is a great tire swing on the hill up from the strawberry field (“the festival hill”), and that hill is an especially nice place to hang out as well. Come on by the Farm Store and we will tell you how to find it.
What if I forget to bring my share bag?
We will have plastic bags available of approximately the right dimensions, in case you forget to bring your share bag.
What if I miss a pick-up?
If you know you’ll miss a week, you can have a friend or neighbor pick up your share for you. If you are unable to make arrangements, your produce won’t be wasted; surplus produce will either go to the Amherst Survival Center (the local food pantry) or be composted on-farm and returned to the soil.
How do the Pick-Your-Own Gardens work?
We’ll let you know what is available at pick-up, but you are welcome to harvest your own items from the Pick-Your-Own Gardens at any time. We will list items available, their whereabouts, and any limits on quantity on a sign outside the Farm Store. Pick-Your-Own items include strawberries, green beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, flowers, and some herbs. We encourage you to pick a little bit extra for those who are physically unable to get out and do their own picking. This is a great way to teach your kids about community service.
How is your produce grown?
We use organic growing methods and crop rotation to produce nutritious, eco-friendly crops. Read more about our produce.
How are your livestock raised?
Our livestock are grass-fed and raised on pasture. Happy and healthy, they are also employed to help build the soil for our produce. Read more about our livestock.
Do you use manure from your animals to fertilize your produce fields?
Yes, and we exceed organic standards for food safety. Learn more about our methods.
How do you communicate with members?

We send out most of our member communications (receipt of payment, newsletters and occasional farm news) by e-mail, most often from [email protected] We share information only with the North Amherst Community Farm, the nonprofit land trust that owns our land. If you need help for something immediately, the best bet is to call the farm store at 413-230-3262 or email [email protected]

Do you have a newsletter?
We send a weekly newsletter by email to let you know what is happening on the farm and to offer you some ideas on how to prepare the veggies of the week. Subscription to the newsletter is not required. If you don’t want to receive it, simply scroll to the bottom and click unsubscribe.

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