Scrolling Headlines:

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 23, 2017

SGA president selects new vice president -

January 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball blows 15 point fourth quarter lead, loses in double overtime to George Washington -

January 23, 2017

UMass club hockey falls to NYU 3-2 in first game back from vacation -

January 23, 2017

Cyr: Expectations for UMass men’s basketball remain consistent throughout 2016-17 season -

January 23, 2017

The death penalty is not the answer -

January 23, 2017

Donald Trump is gutting journalism with his Twitter -

January 23, 2017

Winter break’s most overlooked releases -

January 23, 2017

Hardly anything in ‘Rogue One’ scores a direct hit -

January 23, 2017

Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

Local farmer plows his own course

Although it is a cool and rainy November morning, local farmer John Spineti is still at his stand at the Amherst farmer’s market tending to the many people looking to purchase some of his renowned potatoes. With rows of potatoes at the table in front of him, he happily assists any and all customers, and it is obvious that he knows what he’s been talking about – he’s been growing fruits and vegetables since 1940.

Spineti, a former professor at the University of Massachusetts and a local community college with a doctorate in chemical engineering, has taught classes on chemical engineering, computer science, chemistry and math while simultaneously farming during the summers. These days, though, he is focusing his all efforts on his lifelong passion for farming.  

Spineti grows almost any vegetable one could want, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peas, radishes, corn and edible soybeans (edamame). He also grows fruits, including pears and raspberries, among many others. Emerging from a family of farmers, he has well over 60 years worth of farming experience. Most known to locals for growing “beans, eggplant and all sorts of peas and berries” as he explains, he estimates that about 90 percent of what he is harvesting currently is potatoes, so they are his main focus at the moment.

He doesn’t focus much of his time on winter crops because as he explains, “I can still harvest eggplant and peppers at this time [late fall until early winter.] And potatoes can last for months after they are harvested. Growing potatoes extends the season. I can get them until December.”

Potato season, he clarifies, is late June until November, but carries into December due to their ability to last for quite some time after being gathered. “You need varieties,” he says, motioning toward the purple, gold, fingerling and other various types of potatoes neatly placed before him in small green crates.

Spineti is a man ahead of his time, as his farming has remained organic since he began. He has never used pesticides or herbicides on his crops and has – it would seem -predated the organic movement by years.

Viewing pesticides and herbicides as harmful to all aspects of the farming process, he says, “Its suicide for the farmer and long-term suicide for the person eating the crops,” after mentioning how something must be fundamentally harmful if a farmer must wear a facemask to use it on their crops. He explains how the liver is the accumulating organ for all pesticides and how, throughout his lifetime, he has seen three fellow orchardists die from liver cancer.

 “Organic” has become a keyword for many consumers as of late, but Spineti appears to be much more modest in his constructs of what food should be and should not be without overly publicizing it. He is a staunch believer in organic farming but does not plaster it all over his stand to attract more customers, as some farmers tend to do. He simply farms as he sees fit for the sustainability and health of himself, his fellow farmers, consumers and the environment – a noble act, indeed.

His favorite potato dish? Spineti likes to keep it simple, with potatoes roasted with olive oil and garlic. For knowing so much about them, it is comforting to know that his favorite way to enjoy this food is in a very simplified manner of cooking it, allowing the taste of what he has worked so hard on throughout his life to truly be appreciated after a long day’s work.

Christiana McDougal can be reached at cmcdouga@student.umass.edu.

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