Tuesday, April 21, 2015


    Every day is Earth Day.....
for the erstwhile Pedal People who use human labor instead of fossil fuels to transport items from point A to point B. Weighing in at 180 pounds and 6’6", 31-year-old Will Berney hauls 350 lbs of trash through the streets of Northampton with his bike. He took a moment to speak with ValleyLocavore after his shift.

V. Do you own a car?
W. Yes, a ’96 Honda Accord. It’s the first car I ever owned. I bought it from a woman in Northampton.  

V. What is the strangest thing you have hauled?
W. I hauled a queen mattress and boxspring – the widest thing I’ve ever hauled although usually furniture is a lot lighter than garbage so that’s good although its more challenging to get it on to the trailer.

V. What does a job like that cost?  
W. From Leeds to the dump about $50.

V. Do you have to work out to stay in the shape for this job of hauling sometimes 100 lbs for hours at a time or does the work naturally keep you in shape?
W. Lots of time somebody starts the job it might take them a few months or weeks to get into better shape and be able to take on more work. I do some exercises, like core strengthening stuff or yoga people do, to maintain the body.  The work isn’t just the biking but its also lifting heavy things. Doing core strength work has helped. It makes my body work better. When I started, I didn’t do any of that. I was 22 then. I was pretty cavalier about lot so aspects. I didn’t have winter clothing or a good bike. After a while all those little things make a difference and make it more sustainable.
V. So sometimes I see a pedal person grinding up the rise on Route 9 just before Cooley Dickenson Hospital hardly moving at all. I am impressed and guilty that’s I’m watching that person from my car but then I wonder, ‘are they going to make it?’ 
W. Oh yeah, we always make it.

V. Services include?
W. Trash, recycling, compost pick up and delivery to dump plus other deliveries such as food for Valley Green Feast. Also we do yard work.

V. Which dumps?
W. Valley Recycling on Rt. 10 and Northampton Transfer Center on Locust St.

V. How long have you been with the co-op known as Pedal People?
W. Since 2006 then hiatus then back so a total of between four and five years.  I did a year with Pedal People then went to college in Washington State.

V. Is this a fulltime job for you?
W. For me it is. Other people have other jobs but not me. I do about 20-25 hours a week. I’m on the high end of the spectrum here. 

V. And a typical workday for you?
W. I live in Northampton on Bates Street near the Coke factory. The bike and trailer are at my home. There is no central location at work. On the days when I am picking up, I have a list of customers. I pick up at each location, usually four and then continue on to the transfer station on Locust St and drop everything off. I usually pick up around 20 customers on a work day, which would be 2 or 3 trips to the transfer center.

V. Does traffic make way for you?
W. They totally make way and we get cheers for the most part. Hardly ever jeers.

V. Advice for regular people trying to ride a bike in traffic?
W. Take as much room as you need in the lane.

V. What is it like working for a co-op?
W. We share administrative duties as well as hauling. This interview for example is an administrative duty.

V. So you’re being paid for this?
W. Well, yes.

V.  How long does that take?
W. About four hours.

V. So if part of what the Pedal People do is yard work, then folks with gardens can hire you when they go on vacation?
W. Yeah. We could handle that no problem.

V. What kind of individual does it take to be a Pedal Person?
W. You have to be excited to do the physical work. As long as you’re able bodied and have the desire. It’s hard but not as insanely impossible seeming. It keeps you in shape.

For more information about Pedal People’s hauling services (which are approx. $34 per month for weekly pick-ups for Northampton residents) including yard work, check out the website at www.pedalpeople.coop.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Dear LocavoreLady

I’m neither locavore (gave up cooking for making restaurant reservations 18 years ago when I married Allan) nor a gourmet dedicated chef de cuisine. But I have a friend who is an “Uber” locavore and I would like to cook for her and her spouse. What do I prepare?

Penny, New Haven

Dear Pennies from Heaven:

So sorry you’re not cooking right now but I've got good news in the form of pennies from heaven. Fresh food requires very little preparation! 

New Haven is tricky for local food in winter but spring time should provide you with some goodies. Be on the lookout for at nearby farms, co-ops or specialty stores for breakfast radish, arugula and Bok Choy. All three items are cold weather plants and can be found early in the season. Other local foods such as cheese, mushrooms and meats can be found all year round. I did some research on your neighborhood and discovered the Farmers Market will be open at Wooster Square at the corner of DePalma Court and Chapel Street and across from Wooster Square Park opens on May 2. As for local chicken, you might try Firefly Farms of N. Stonington CT. They raise several types of free-range birds and sell them through a website called Connecticut Farm Fresh (http://www.ctfarmfreshstore.com/).

If you’re having your locavore friend over in May, one option could be sandwiches made with shaved radish, local butter and sea salt. Try that with a local sourdough bread sliced thin. This is a wonderful, time-honored combination. Another option is roast chicken. If you can locate a fresh chicken that is local, buy it, slather it with olive oil, pop it into the oven at 450 for half an hour to crisp the skin and reduce to 375 or cook for 20 to 30 minutes per lb. until you get an internal temperature reading (inside of thigh) of 165 F.  Serve with a rice dish that might contain some chopped arugula, butter and chopped nuts. Cook the rice first, according to directions, and add the arugula and nuts in the final few minutes before taking off the heat.

Hope this helps. Your "uber" locavore friend and her spouse will be most impressed with this presentation. Happy eating!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Not at all Clueless in Colrain

Dear LocavoreLady

Hello! There is nothing to eat this time of year! I’m 16 and I'm interested in eating local. My mom says there’s nothing at the store that’s local because its not summer. Right? Or?

Clueless in Colrain

Hello young Locavore! Your mom might have a point if she’s shopping at normal grocery stores like, hello the Big Y or Big E or Stop and Shop. Other stores will sell you the food that is local AND in season all year long such as chicken, hello, local, mushrooms, right? local, cheese, local, yogurt, local AND actual greens, even now in the April when the ground is, let’s face it, barren.

Take sprouts for example. Sprouts are live food, so alive they get delivered to the store five days after they are planted. Sprouts can be bought year round. Sprouts can go in salads. Sprouts will make your body smile. Not far your home town of Colrain is the town of Gill where Gill Greenery is sprouting seeds for us all year long. Just the other day I picked up a package of Gill Greenery Broccoli sprouts at, Altas Farm Store in S. Deerfield. You can also find these fab sprouts at Atkins and all the food co-ops. The sprouts are grown hydroponically in local, purified well water, available 365 days a year. What? You say sprouts aren't really greens? Don't these babies look green to you?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dear LocavoreLady

Dear LocavoreLady,

Why local? Why not food from afar? I feel like I am going to spend more time and gas driving all over the place picking up food from farms and farm stores to get the stuff. Most local food isn’t sold at normal stores.

Signed, Normal Guy.

Dear Normal Guy,

Reason #A, local food tastes better because it grows here where we have some of the best soil in the state due to the geological make up of this region. Say the word “loam” to yourself and keep saying it. “Loam” means perfect soil. Perfect soil is an ideal combination of clay, silt and sand. Drive along Route 47 if you ever want to see loam in action. That’s where the river takes a turn and the soil is very, very rich in nutrients and loam. That soil makes for the tastiest food. 

Reason #2, local business needs your support. Just the words ‘box stores’ say it all. Who wants to eat stuff in a box? You want to eat food that is planted, cared for and harvested by loving hands that produce food without chemicals that could endanger life. Not only should the people with those loving hands be supported, they should be thanked. There isn’t a lot of profit margin in the farming business.  

Reason #C, most food travels an average of 2500 miles to get from the source to your plate. Why go all that way when most of that food is growing right here? Save fossil fuels and buy locally. Even better, ride your bike if you're up for it. But maybe not on the day when you have to buy lots and lots.