Gratitude Journal: A Year of Service

Last week I finished up my TerraCorps (AmeriCorps) year of service at Kestrel Land Trust.

It was a year full of accomplishments and learning as I worked with underserved populations in the Valley, conducted programming to promote the preservation of open space, and helped with a project that will ultimately protect more farmland and farms in Western Massachusetts.

Initially, I viewed this year as a way to learn more about the logistics of land deals and conservation while taking some of the financial pressure off of my family in yet another down year for milk. Throughout my service, I’ve connected more deeply to the place I live by exploring nature nearby, met new people and expanded my networks, and contributed to the work my local land trust does in this community.

Kestrel Land Trust conserves and cares for forests, farms, and riverways in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, while nurturing an enduring love of the land.

My introduction to Kestrel was in 2014 when Barstow’s Longview Farm worked with the land trust to conserve 123 acres of our farmland, in perpetuity, through the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program. Selling the development rights to this acreage not only protects farmland for future farmers and the legacy of our ancestors, it also allowed us to reinvest into our farm with the purchase of four robotic milkers; an investment in farm viability, animal welfare, and the next generation of Longview Farm.

Like an investment in your local farm, investing in land conservation is sustaining for wildlife, clean air and water, scenic beauty, food security, climate resilience, and connection to place.

I’m grateful for the time I had at Kestrel and look forward to continuing their work as a volunteer, donor, and farmer. Longview Farm stewards 450 acres including the 123 preserved acres through the APR program. With only ~1,200 dairies left in New England, there’s an undeniable synergy between local dairy and open space.

Having grown up on a farm, lived in two national parks, worked in a city, and now served at a land trust, the land has been a focus of my life for longer than I’ve even realized. From public to private, urban to rural, exploited and mined to protected and wild, how we use the finite amount of land on this planet matters. Land ownership, access, and protection has much to do with inequity, food insecurity, climate change, culture and history, and economies global to local. There is a delicate balance here; how do we leave room for wildlife and green places while making space for economic development, affordable housing, and opportunities for all people? Every inch matters.

I’m excited to return full time to the family farm. My year of service has only enforced that there’s so much more work to be done for our communities and planet. And as usual, there’s plenty of work to do at the farm.

Much of our time this week was spent stacking chairs, moving tables, and taping floors. The Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery team is SO excited to welcome our customers back inside for limited indoor service like grocery shopping and pre-order pick-ups, when staffing allows.

This week Barstow’s will be open for limited indoor service, Monday through Thursday, 6am-4pm*.

Drive thru service will be available all week as usual. You’ll be able to keep up with our limited indoor service hours on our website, and within Facebook postings. When in doubt, just give us a call. We are happy to take questions, bakery, grocery, and prepared food pre-orders, and call ahead orders for breakfast and lunch at 413-586-2142.

Limited indoor service will include grocery shopping, call-ahead pick-ups, and placing of orders. Please be aware that if you do place an order in store, we may ask you to wait on the porch or swing around to the drive thru for pick up; there will be no waiting or gathering inside of Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery. Indoor dining will not be permitted* at this time and we invite you to instead enjoy the view and sunshine from our porch or picnic table seating. We sincerely appreciate your patience and support as we find our footing with this indoor re-opening.

Please click here for a full description of our limited indoor service protocols and offerings.*

*Thank you for your patience with us as we navigate new procedures! What a time to be alive! We reserve the right to change the hours, services, or protocols at any point to best protect staff and customer health and safety, comply with ever-changing town, state, and federal regulations, and fit with our family business capacity. We are grateful for your ongoing support and understanding!

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