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Local brew helps local farming effort

Says local mental health services  need more support

Take plenty of wheat, spelt, barley and hops grown at Four Star Farms in Northfield, mix it with some malted local grains from Valley Malt in Hadley and honey from Warm Colors Apiary in Deerfield. Then add three local brewers in Greenfield, representing the People’s Pint and Green River Ambrosia mead makers — and use the profits to help buy a “community farm.”

Now that’s a local brew.

Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, which has been working to raise $400,000 to buy Red Fire Farm, is the recipient of proceeds from the fundraiser which began early last fall with a “Mount Grace Night” at The People’s Pint in Greenfield and then at The Blind Pig in Athol.

The idea for a totally local beer representing the first collaboration between the two Greenfield fermenters was proposed by brewer Chris Sellers of the People’s Pint, who together with Sam Dibble and Dave Keramaty, at Green River Ambrosia meadery, came up with a unique collaboration. The Belgian-style farmhouse ale, made with both raw and malted grains, and sweetened with Deerfield wildflower honey, was a hit.

“People really liked it,” said Green River Ambrosia’s Garth Shaneyfelt, describing the ale as a little sweet, a little tart, with a fruitiness, and a lower alcohol content.

At Mount Grace Night, the Pint donated 50 cents for every pint of Farmhand Saison sold, and continued to set aside a percentage of the profits from the beer as long as it was on tap.

“That’s why we formed Green River Ambrosia, to support local, sustainable agriculture and local beekeeping,” Shaneyfelt said. “And we’re working with great local brewers who are also dedicated to supporting local agriculture.”

The fundraiser netted $350 for the land trust’s Campaign for Affordable Farms launched last May to help ensure access to affordable farms for new farmers. The campaign’s initial project is Mount Grace’s purchase of 122-acre Red Fire Farm, working with owners Ryan and Sarah Voiland to create a permanently protected farm for the community. Red Fire operates a 1,400 member CSA farm.

Once the campaign is done, the land trust will own the farm to offer back as a community resource under a 99-year lease to the farmers, who will own the house, office, barns, and greenhouses and any future improvements. The lease requires that the farm will be kept in agriculture, and a permanent restriction on the farm buildings is intended to ensure that the whole farm is always sold to the next farmer for a fair, affordable agricultural price, according to Mount Grace’s development director, David Kotker.

So far, Mount Grace has raised more than $333,700 of the $400,000 necessary for the project, with help from benefits at local businesses including Second Street Bakery in Turners Falls and Sirum Equipment in Montague.

“We’ll be happy when this is completed and it really is a community,” said Kotker.

People’s Pint co-owner Alden Booth said his brewery has also made use of local hops, local barley and local malting in some of its beers.

“We really always like to support organizations like Mount Grace, because they do good work, all about land conservation and good land-use practices. And at the same time, we’re also using these local ingredients, so we’re supporting the farms.”

On the Web: www.mountgrace.org

You can reach Richie Davis at:
rdavis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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