Edible Berkshires



Backyard Homestead bookThe Backyard Homestead
Edited by Carleen Madigan
Storey Publishing, 2009

This readable, useful guide tells you how to produce your own fresh, organic, better-tasting food all the time.

The solution is as close as your own backyard. With just a quarter of an acre you can grow the vegetables and fruits your family loves. Keep bees. Raise chickens, goats, even a cow. And when the harvest is in, you’ll learn how to cook, preserve, cure, brew or pickle the fruits of your labors.

Simple instructions make it easy to enjoy canned, frozen, dried and pickled produce all winter; use your own grains to make bread, pasta and beer; turn fresh milk into delicious homemade yogurt, butter and cheese; make your own wine, cordials and herbal teas; and much, much more. It truly is possible to eat entirely from your backyard.

Food for Thought

Consider the contrast in the following two events:

The New York Times periodically rotates restaurant reviewers, and at the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests in October, Sam Sifton, for his “Last Supper” as a reviewer, chose to go to his favorite restaurant in NYC, Thomas Keller’s Per Se. The restaurant is considered by many to be the best in New York, if not the entire country. The Times reviewer concurred, awarding the restaurant four stars, one of only six restaurants so honored in the Big Apple. The cost of a prix fixe dinner is $295 per person, without tax, gratuity or wine, which means that dinner for two easily tops $1,000. At a time of national debate on economic inequality, that is the restaurant The Times chose to review.

Meanwhile, here in Great Barrington, the storefront food pantry that opened years before Castle Street Cafe, has closed, a victim of budget cuts. Castle Street is a very short street and there are three main reasons why people visit it: either to buy tickets for or attend the Mahaiwe Theatre, dine at Castle Street Cafe, or stop at Community Services for food and fuel assistance. While a handful of the 1% can afford to dine at Per Se, countless others stopped in the food pantry for day-old bread, government peanut butter, dented cans donated by supermarkets and vouchers for heating oil.

Mike Ballon
Castle Street Cafe