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Edible Pioneer Valley Summer 2014 : Page 29

complish in the future is Hampshire at its best.” Walter Poulson, a student who transferred to Hampshire, walked right into the web Lash envisioned. Poulson’s interest in the study of food systems and agriculture was something of a surprise to him. “I’d studied Chinese language and culture, and I’d studied sociology before I got to Hampshire,” he says. “Catherine Sands at UMass teach-es a course called Community Food Systems that made the connection between my studies in sociology, social justice, and agriculture.” This connection set his project into motion. “The farm almost completely changed my focus, and it’s been the right decision.” His Division III,yearlong thesis project “Ethnology of Student Engagement” documents the varied ways students interface with the Hampshire food system. Poulson is also learning how to man-age a diversified vegetable farm from Hanson, and plans to work on a farm in the Valley after graduation next winter. From the farm, Hanson feels the effects of Lash’s commitment through her ability to offer interested students many more academic and practical opportunities to learn about farming. “It’s a whole new ball game since Jonathan Lash came to Hamp-shire,” Hanson says. “We’ve always had students interested in farming, and we’ve had a farm and community gardens and such, but now we aren’t just talking the talk, we’re walking the walk.” • BRINGING IT BACK HOME When Howard Wein returned to the Valley three years ago, he set up his consulting firm in the Mon-tague Bookmill building. He brought years of experi-ence in the food service industry with him. He’d been a corporate director of food and beverage services for Starwood Hotels. Calling his a “Hampshire perspective,” Wein ex-plains, “The politics of anything are always present in my life.” Outside Phoenix, Arizona, he got his resort’s restau-rant, named Kai, to support seed-saving efforts with nearby Indian tribes. He arranged for the resort to buy vegetables from the elementary school’s garden before “local” or “farm to table” became buzzwords. “You make the best food when you use the best ingre-dients, which are always found as close to the restaurant as possible,” he explains. Among his goals was to open a restaurant locally. So when The Night Kitchen in Montague’s Bookmill closed this past year, Wein saw an irresistible opportu-nity. In April, he opened The Alvah Stone, which in-stantly received raves. “The space is timeless,” he says. “The menu is highly seasonal. In fact, the beet salad on the menu had to be changed when the farm ran out of Chioggia beets the day we opened. We came up with a new menu item on the spot, a carrot salad that was delicious.” He purchases from area farms including Red Fire Farm, The Kitchen Garden and Mapleline Farm. New England seafood comes from BerkShore and local meat is provided by a few local farms. Wein worked with Brewmaster Jack to create The Alvah Stone Lager, which features 90% Valley-grown grains courtesy of Valley Malt, and is on tap for $5 a draw. “We cure our own bacon and smoke ribs, bake bread, make sauces and desserts,” he explains. “It’s a real kitchen.” | 29

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