North Amherst Harvest Festival returns

Local music, food and fun


(Kathrine Esten/Daily Collegian)

By Kathrine Esten, Assistant News Editor

Members of the Amherst community celebrated the fall harvest and supported local farming at the North Amherst Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 20.

The festival was organized by Simple Gifts Farm, an organic and sustainable farm located on North Pleasant Street. Dave Tepfer, co-owner of Simple Gifts Farm, explained that the Festival had been held for “six or seven years” and was “a lot of fun.” However, the festival had not been held in recent years, as the farm focused on other projects, such as a barn reconstruction.

“We wanted to hold [the festival] as a thank you to all our old customers, and to welcome people in the neighborhood to see the farm,” Tepfer said, “so everyone can see what we do here.”

Visitors were treated to a scavenger hunt, yard games, face painting and hay rides on the property. Underneath the performance tent at the center of the Festival, live performances by local artists Carolyn Walker, Ralph Carson, Dale Reynolds and the StompBox Trio were also featured. Off to the side of the performance tent, visitors could learn more about different types of equipment used on the farm. One of the most popular stops at the festival was a free fresh-pressed apple juice stand, courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Cold Spring Orchard.

Rob Navaroli, an animal science and sustainable food and farming senior at UMass, cranked the handle of the apple press to pulp apples cut up by other volunteers. Navaroli said that while he had just been taught how to use the press, he was enjoying the work.

John Gerber, a UMass professor of sustainable food and farming in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, said he came as a board member of the North Amherst Community Farm, which is located on the same property as Simple Gifts Farm.

“I wanted to support our community and help people connect with where their food comes from,” Gerber said, before filling a wheelbarrow with leftover pressed apples to go feed to pigs on the farm. “Nothing goes to waste!”

NACF is a non-profit, community organization that works to “maintain and improve the farm property and to create interesting farm-related programming for the community,” according to the organization’s website.

Together, NACF and Simple Gifts Farm emphasized the Festival was only one example of how the property brought the community together. Front Porch Jam Sessions, according to Tepfer, had local musicians come to the farm and perform on several Friday nights during the past season.

“Community-building is a big part of what we do,” said Simple Gifts Farm employee Cathleen O’Keefe. “We kind of just needed to have a party.”

Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @KathrineEsten.