Local Farmers Markets Cope with COVID-19

by Martha Jackson Suquet – Berkshire Grown,  co-owner of Graylight Farm

In Pittsfield, community members get their fresh local produce via their local farmers market, but this year the market experience is a bit different. Instead of wandering among market booths, customers place their orders online and market volunteers deliver the locally-grown products to the buyer’s doorstep. Roots Rising, which operates the Pittsfield Farmers Market, has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by switching to an entirely virtual farmers market. more “Local Farmers Markets Cope with COVID-19”

GUEST POST: Less mowing, more BEES!

Matt Jonas is a small nursery owner in Sonora, California, and a home & garden
writer, mainly writing about a range of topics including agriculture,
organic gardening, and landscaping. Matt has been an organic gardener and a florist for 20 years. He also specializes in commercial agricultural equipment and robotics. You can reach him at @matthewcjonas with any inquiries about this post.

Lawn mowing is considered one of the essential garden care and landscaping activities. It gives your lawn a more organized look and grass clippings on the ground help the soil retain more moisture, acting as a biodegradable mulch material.

The bad news is, you could be hurting bees and other pollinators and drive their colonies away. 

According to research done by Susannah B. Lerman from the US Department of Agriculture, the frequency in which you mow your lawn affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban areas in a significant way.


The scientists wanted to know how different lawn mowing intervals affect pollinators in rural areas. Research Ecologist Susannah B. Lerman and her team studied 16 lawns in western Massachusetts which were mowed either weekly, bi-weekly or tri-weekly. Then they counted the species and number of wild bees that visited these test areas. They ensured that none of the gardens were sprayed with pesticides to kill weeds.

As expected, the grass that was cut every week was the least habitable of places while the lawns that were mown every three weeks hosted the most diverse communities of flowers and pollinator species.

Less mowing, more bees 

Many species of wild bees, like other insects, have been declining in numbers in recent years. In addition to intensified agriculture and light pollution, disappearing food sources in gardens are considered a potential cause. Gardeners should, therefore, perhaps think twice before using high noise pollution gas lawn mowers with blades very close to the ground. Instead, use mowers that are powered electrically or by batteries to avoid driving insect colonies away. It’s also important not to cut the grass too short and remove grass clippings immediately. This gives ostensibly “weedy” flower species such as dandelions and clover to grow a bit longer and attract more bees. This guide has a nice filter feature for comparing mowers by their noise levels and blade heights.

The wild bee expert Paul Westrich goes one step further: he recommends mowing the lawn only two to four times a year. The best way to get through the high grass is with a beam mower, he recommends.

The best time to mow is at the end of May/beginning of June and September. Only then can a specific diversity of species develop and stick around: in addition to daisies, dandelions, and clover, there is also chamois speedwell, the little brown plum, ribwort plantain, buttercup, and the ground ivy. All these wildflowers are valuable to many bee species.

Guest Post: 7 Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

I believe we aren’t doing enough to protect our planet. I created ClimateWise.co to educate the public and help people get smart about climate change. I’m very passionate about encouraging people to take action. I think that an informed, engaged public is the only way to save the planet.

– Neil Stawski <info@climatewise.co>

Practically everything you do creates carbon emissions. These greenhouse gases come from human activities and end up having an impact on the environment.

With over 7.6 billion people alive on this planet, that impact adds up. The call to action for humans to become more environmentally friendly is stronger than ever. Every individual has opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint by making changes in what they do in the community and at home.

1. Community Garden
Living in an urban area doesn’t mean that you can’t have your own garden. Community gardens are a special treat for green thumbers who want to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Community gardens are a piece of land shared by multiple people, so in the absence of a yard, you and your neighbors can do your part to reduce air pollution and add oxygen to the city air. If that’s not possible, buy fresh food directly from farmers. more “Guest Post: 7 Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”

Welcome Casana T House Food Truck!

Casana T House Brings Tea and Tasty Treats to Farmer’s Market


Beginning this Saturday, July 28th thru October 27th, visitors to the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market can now enjoy sweet French crepes with Nutella, jam, bananas and strawberries, and both the chicken-lemongrass and the kale dumpling offerings from the Casana T House in Hillsdale; while also sipping on fresh brewed Mao-Feng organic iced tea or Roselle-Hibiscus iced tea among other cold drinks.


The T House, which opened in the Hillsdale Village Square last Summer, is owned and operated by Carrie Chen, who also sells her infamous cashmere scarves there, along with other fine items designed by both her personally, as well as other amazing artisans – including one-of-a-kind teaware handcrafted by local resident and internationally award-winning artist Paul Chaleff.


Casana T House is open Friday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but you can now sample their food & teas by visiting their Food Truck at the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market.


In addition to freshly brewed Asian teas, espresso and artisan crafted coffees, Casana T House offers wine, beer and sake in their Asian inspired Village Square location.


Their breakfast and lunch consists of everything from sunny-side up eggs, to salmon, salads, sandwiches, sushi, dumplings, bento boxes, Japanese noodles, flat bread pizza, and an array of scones, muffins, Asian pastries, mochi ice cream and delightful little finger sandwiches on a three-tier tray for afternoon tea. The tea room is also open for parties such as baby or bridal showers or other events by reservation.


For more information, check out the Casana T House food truck at the Copake Hillsdale Farmer’s Market on Saturdays,  stop by their Cafe location at 2633 SR 23 in the Hillsdale Village Square, call 518-325-6105 for To-Go Orders, email info@casanatea.com or visit CasanaTea.com or CasanaTHouse on Facebook.


Source:  D Curto / Carrie Chen

GUEST POST – Native Bees are Dying. Here’s How You Can Help

We are delighted to share an important and eye-opening article from guest contributor, Christy Erickson.  Christy works with savingourbees.org and can be reached at info@savingourbees.org

Native Bees are Dying. Here’s How You Can Help

From Cheerios to Burt’s Bees, honey bees are everywhere in American society. Maybe that’s why, when the topic turns to disappearing bees, everyone thinks of the honey bee. But honey bees aren’t the most common bee, or even the most important. Here’s what you need to know about the other bees — our native species. more “GUEST POST – Native Bees are Dying. Here’s How You Can Help”