Sept. 24, 2020 | Sarah Heinonen
WEST SPRINGFIELD – At farm stands and small on-site stores, farmers sell a fair amount of products that they help to produce. Dairy farms around Western Massachusetts and parts of Connecticut ship their milk to the Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Cooperative facility in West Springfield to be turned into cheese, butter and other dairy products. The farmers then purchase some of those same products to sell to their local community.
Until recently, farmers would pick up their shipment of dairy goods straight from the facility. With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the facility ended pick-ups out of an abundance of caution and concern about the number of workers and farmers who would come into contact with one another.
“When [the facility] decided it wasn’t safe to pick up our orders there, sourcing the grocery items that we like to provide for our customers became really difficult,” said Kelly Barstow, general manager of Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery in Hadley. The store is located at Longview Farm, where the Barstow family produces milk for Cabot.
Finding a new location to stage pick-ups was not a simple task due to volume and size of orders. Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery alone purchases between $1,000 and $2,500 of Cabot products, such as cheeses, dips and cream cheese, to sell and use each month.
That’s where the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) came in. The ESE’s mission is to promote agriculture and farming. Using the facilities on the grounds in West Springfield to stage shipment pick-ups for farmers dovetails into that mission.
“Eastern regional agricultural production, food production, food security and promoting our local economy are all at the core of the Exposition’s mission,” Eugene J. Cassidy, president and CEO of ESE said in a press release. “The Cabot cooperative is an important part of the food chain and ESE is always ready to lend a hand. Giving Cabot this central location helps area farmers continue to feed America. And our hope is that our friends and neighbors support Cabot and regional agriculture at this difficult time and beyond.”
Cabot shipments will be staged for pick up at the ESE once a month, through December.
Barstow told Reminder Publishing that she is grateful to the ESE for partnering with Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Cooperative, but has concerns for the future. “I’m hoping that there will be a way to get our grocery orders after December, whether at Eastern States or elsewhere.”