UpCountry Magazine, July/August 2021

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Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont


The many angles of Alex Kamaroff The painter talks early work, increasing demand and his wild and fickle muse

Authentic flavor Thai Basil brings the taste of Southeast Asia to Vermont’s Green Mountains

Greener grass

Create a landscape your guests will love Plus: Berkshire County’s best summer bets Charcuterie experiences at Berkshire Boards Under the hood at Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen



An authentic taste of Southeast Asia

4 Contributors 21 UpCo Homes 33 A day in the life: Great Barrington, Mass. 43 Charcuterie for every occasion


5 summer experiences you won’t want to miss in the Berkshires


Create a landscape your guests will love


Under the hood at Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen

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Brooke Geery [“Thai Basil offers an authentic taste of Southeast Asia in the Green Mountains,” page 7] is a freelance journalist and photographer who resides in the East Hills of Rutland Town, Vermont. She spent 20 years living in Portland, Oregon where she ran the online snowboard media empire Yobeat. com in addition to doing digital strategy for brands as Nike, before returning back East to hunt mushrooms, skateboard Vermont’s hidden concrete gems and write about local food, art and culture. Photo by Chris St.Amand

Publisher Jordan Brechenser


Editors Kevin Moran


Jennifer L. Huberdeau


Art Director Kimberly Kirchner


Bellamy Richardson [“That’s so Berkshire,” page 15] is a student at Williams College and aspiring journalist from New York City. She is currently a features intern at the Berkshire Eagle and serves as the executive editor for features at the Williams Record.

Regional Advertising Managers Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance


Windham County, Vt.: Lylah Wright lwright@reformer.com

UpCountry Magazine is a publication of

On the Cover: Artist Alex Kamaroff poses with some of his work at Glendale Brook Studio in Lenox, Mass. Photo by Caroline Bonnivier Snyder. Story, page 12

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Andrzej Mikijaniec, owner of Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen, on Putney Road, in Brattleboro, Vt., cooks kielbasa on the grill. Mikijaniec tries to have all the food prepared before opening so people don’t have to wait long for their meal. Photo by Kristopher Radder. Story, page 60

Thai Basil offers an authentic taste of Southeast Asia in the Green Mountains By Brooke Geery

Vermont has many culinary specialties: Pizza. Sandwiches. Maple creemees. But If you’re seeking the spice and flavors of Southeast Asia, the Green Mountain State is probably not high on your go-to list. However, on Manchester’s Main Street strip, Thai Basil restaurant and martini bar delivers authentic flavors with a locally grown and sourced twist that will make you forget what state you’re even in. From classic curries to signature noodle dishes ($9 to $15), fresh salads ($10.50 to $12) and stir fries ($9 to $15), the food rivals the finest Thai establishments in New York City. It’s also the place to get a warm bowl of pho, the classic Vietnamese noodle soup, served up with a Thai twist. Got a vegan or gluten free member in your party? The menu offers many options for the selective eater, all clearly marked. If you’re truly a fan of spice, you can order anything on the menu “Thai hot,” a spice level that requires a strong stomach! Want it mild?

Thai Basil owner Nong Chompupong, front, and her partner, chef Varit “Peter” Yanyoo, serve authentic Thai cuisine in Manchester Center, Vt. Photos by Brooke Geery

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Just ask — they can do that, too. For the rabid carnivore, turn the menu to find Chef Varit “Peter” Yanyoo’s rotating list of chef ’s creations ($17 to $31). The Pet Yahng Himapan ($31) is Thai Basil’s signature roast duck, perfectly crisp and

served with fresh sauteed ginger, onion, tomato, carrot, cashew nuts, roasted chilies and pineapple. Can’t settle for one meat? The Three Musketeers ($25) features scallops, shrimp and sliced chicken breast immersed in a sweet and spicy panang curry with red bell

pepper, carrot, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaf. To wash down your meal (or just to take the edge off after a long day of work/ exploring), Thai Basil offers more than 18 unique martinis, crafted up before your eyes on the mahogany inlaid-hard-

wood bar or served to you table side. And while the food tastes amazing packed in a to-go container, the dine-in experience is even better. Super-friendly servers, sometimes including co-owner Nong Chompupong herself, make sure you never wait long. And in the kitchen, Yanyoo is working overtime on artful plating to guarantee each meal that comes out delights the eyes as well as the mouth.

How they got to Manchester Chompupong and her partner Yanyoo’s family ties run deep throughout the region. She spent her early childhood about an hour outside of Bangkok, Thailand. When she was a teenager, the whole family immigrated to the United States. She learned to cook working in her father’s restaurants; first in New York City and eventually moving north to Boston and finally settling in Albany, N.Y. As an adult, she took what she’d learned and put it into her own restaurants. Prior to opening Thai Basil in Manchester, the pair ran two restaurants in Essex, Vermont: the Drunken Noodle and Lemon Grass. In 2011, they moved operations south. “We loved Manchester and its location in the mountains,” Chompupong said. “It’s the same as Thailand. Nice country, suburban, not too busy, no problems. It’s a very nice location, and we have a very good reception from the town.” Manchester also offers an environment able to grow many of the Thai ingredients that aren’t readily available at stores in the area. “In the summer time we grow our own ingredients,” she said. “We grow basil leaves and Thai chilis, and sometimes we get local mushrooms. This year we don’t have as much growing because we just didn’t have the time.” 8 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

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Surviving Covid

O ver the past decade, Thai Basil has grown into a must-visit location adored by the local community, so when COVID-19 threw a wrench in the system, the owners buckled down and did what they could to stay open. “ We never closed the restaurant during COVID because we had to support the locals,” Chompupong said. “It was even more difficult to get ingredients. We were having to drive to Albany to get things, but we tried to do everything

the best that we can for our community. It was more difficult to make the food to go, so we had to learn and work twice as hard.” Yanyoo said he’s been running the kitchen solo for over a year, but hard work is in the duo’s DNA. They adapted and with the exception of a few days here and there, and a reset day every Wednesday, they just keep pumping out delicious food. “We are here every day, it’s our baby,” Chompupong said. “Some people can work from

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home, but with a restaurant you have to be here.” And with every turn of the re-opening spigot in Vermont, they were able to open and little more. For summer 2021, the restaurant’s dining room bar and patio are all open and ready for things to get back to normal. Chompupong is just glad to still be working in such a friendly place. “We are so happy to be in Manchester,“ she said. “From my first day, until now the locals have been so sweet. I love them.”

Thai Basil 4940 Main St, Manchester Center, Vt. 802-768-8433 thaibasilvt.com

Hours Lunch: Thursday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner: Sunday to Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 3 to 9 p.m. Takeout: All day, Thursday through Tuesday

The many angles of Alex Kamaroff Painter discusses his origins in hard-edge modern art, demand for his work and how bipolar disorder is his wild and fickle muse

By Noah Hoffenberg LENOX, Mass.

You might have $22 million lying around to purchase a painting by Wassily Kandinsky. Then again, you might not, says typically prolific painter Alex Kamaroff of Middlefield. “You can’t afford a Kandinsky, but you can afford a Kamaroff,” he notes. The 72-year-old’s paintings are in demand, such that he keeps his Glendale Brook Studio open seven days a week during the Berkshire summer season. He attests to more than 60 sales of his work over the past three years, unheard of for a newer artist, says Kamaroff. “You ask any artist, and tell them I sold 60 paintings, and they’ll tell you I’m full of the devil,” says Kamaroff, a New York City transplant who moved to the Berkshires. Visitors can enjoy the artist for themselves, as Kamaroff paints in his gallery and loves good conversation. Apt listeners soon learn that his whirling dervish mind is alighted, and sometimes darkened, with bipolar disorder.

His hyper-creative and less creative states His highs, or hypomanic states, are marked by boundless creative spurts and results-oriented ideas that he qualifies as genius; in his low states, he works more slowly, and creates art far less feverishly, going by technique, instead of manic-levels of inspiration. For those unfamiliar with bipolar, Kamaroff explains it this way: “Hypomania feels like three or four cups of coffee with sugar.” Kamaroff is in the midst of one of his downs. “My wife calls it ‘the Mozart disease.’ The highs are when I’m at my most creative. The kicker, about two months ago, I came out of a hypomanic phase and haven’t been able to paint,” says Kamaroff. But, he tells himself, “If you have technique, you’ll figure it out.”

Easing back off the gas pedal This is the first time in 10 years that Kamaroff is easing back from a period of prolific painting, in which he churned

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out more than a hundred works. He’s not quite calling it a break, but rather a much slower mode of production. “I still paint. I’ve got a painting I’m working on right now. I force myself to paint. I have technique. Once you have that, you never lose it,” says Kamaroff. “I used to paint a painting every five days. This one will take me six months. But my wife loves it.” Kamaroff refers to his greatest fan, biggest supporter and also his wife, Irene Goodman, of the literary agency that carries her name; Kamaroff has been her longtime scout, poring over thousands of manuscripts in his lifetime, plucking out a few New York Times best-selling authors over the past 40 years. Despite his unexpected break from his highly productive state, Kamaroff ’s mind is ripe and rapid-fire with memories, anecdotes and facts, which he shares easily in a way that makes the listener feel warmly invited into his rainbow-colored existence. Kamaroff says he’s not trying to make a living with the gallery. “This is a hobby. I was a literary agent and found best-selling

authors. I also wrote 21 romances under the name Diana Morgan back in the 1980s,” says Kamaroff. “That’s how I learned painting: It’s pacing, intensity and resolve.””

Feeling like Pollock one day What Kamaroff refers to as his “hobby” began about 10 years ago, while he trudged across his yard, dressed for home repair. “I was walking along with a piece of plywood, some paint from Home Depot and stiff brushes to throw out,” he recalls. “Just for the fun of it,” Kamaroff flung, dripped and splashed some green paint on the board.” He still has the board in his studio. “I went Jackson Pollock crazy for a year, making a mess of the place, doing about 40 of those paintings,” says Kamaroff. Eventually, he says: “I got really good at it and learned what Pollock did. When he threw paint in the air, he knew exactly what it would look like landing on the canvas. Each different paintbrush created a different drip in the air.”

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Stop by and see some of Alex Kamaroff’s 130-plus original paintings and talk some art with the artist himself. The Glendale Brook Studio is at 27 Church St. in Lenox, and closes at 6 p.m. Call 413-551-7475 or visit glendalebrookstudio.com.

One man’s trash ... But, Kamaroff refers to his early work as “garbage,” and he tossed most of his early work in the trash. Of the two paintings that he kept, one sold last year and the other is on display in his gallery. His rubbish, as it turns out, was many a homeowner’s treasure in Middlefield. Kamaroff ’s hilltown neighbors saw no reason why perfectly good art should go to waste, he says. “They think one day I'm going to be famous and they're going to make a fortune from the paintings they took. I have been in my neighbors’ homes and seen paintings that I threw out, up on their wall,” says Kamaroff. In fact, some of these throwaways ended up making his first sale. A friend was eating at Koto in Pittsfield, and relayed to the owners that Kamaroff had some pieces that would look wonderful there. “The paintings looked just like Japanese sushi bowls with chopsticks. He took them out of the garbage. They paid 50 bucks a piece for them, and that’s when I became a professional,” says Kamaroff.

A gallery for hard-edge painting Kamaroff decided on opening a gallery about three years ago, after spying his current space while dining at Alta in Lenox. “There was an empty store across the street, and the owner was cleaning out,” he recalls. Kamaroff doesn’t remember how he came to hard-edge painting, in which he uses all kinds of tape of varying widths to create his sharp and bold images, which are reminiscent of a number of modern artists. “I can’t tell you why. I took some tape one day and taped around the edges of the canvas. And then I started using tape to throw paint. I said, ‘Well, this is neat, it’s starting to create some kind of edge,” he recalls. He then took to researching hard-edge painters and their

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style of work. “Little by little, I started to study Kandinsky, Miro, Leger, Glarner. I started to steal from them. Picasso once said, ‘Good artists copy but great artists steal.’ That’s what art history is all about,” says Kamaroff. “I started to steal from all of the 20th century modern artists.”

Influences are there, especially James Hendricks He says that visitors notice the influence of the greats in his work, which Kamaroff enjoys. “They say, ‘You stole this from Kandinsky.’ Or, ‘you stole this from Glarner.’ Or, ‘you stole this Bolotowsky.’ I say, thank you for the compliment,” he says. Kamaroff also credits his Orkin man for making a connection between him and another client, James Hendricks, the late University of Massachusetts professor and painter, whom he eventually came to call his mentor and best friend. The Middlefield painter admits he was dubious at first. “Hendricks invited me over. I figured he’d be another loser of an artist. He was scary brilliant. I just

“I went Jackson Pollock crazy for a year, making a mess of the place, doing about 40 of those paintings.” — Alex Kamaroff, painter, on the start of his art career

fell to my knees and said, ‘Mister, you and I are best friends.’ Every Wednesday we’d talk about art for hours, and that man taught me everything about every modern artist in the world.” In long conversations, the men never repeated themselves, recalls Kamaroff. “I called it Wednesday with James,” he says, missing his friend deeply.

His ultimate painter’s tool: tape Everything that Kamaroff produces is made with his tape techniques, which gives his paintings their sharp lines and prevents smearing of his acrylic paint. There’s no need to look for deep or hidden meanings in Kamaroff ’s work, as he’s of the school where image and color are gathered together to please the eye. “I look at the canvas that’s blank and I start with something, and just paint, and then it takes off from there,” says Kamaroff, joking that it’s “probably all the LSD trips I took back in the 60s.” As for the purchasers of his art, “I hope that every once in a while they look up and enjoy it.” Like Kandinsky, Kamaroff

employs a compass to paint precise circles, a technique that’s revealed by the tiny pin-prick in the painting where the compass is centered. “It took me years to figure it out. Ask any potter how long it took them to center a pot. It’s the same way,” says Kamaroff. A small staff prepares his canvases, covering them in thick, opaque gesso, which makes his colors pop. “It gives you good, beautiful, perfect edges,” he notes.

Demand keeps increasing his prices His bold modernist paintings sell for between $2,000 to $5,000 each, with prices rising steadily as Kamaroff ’s star continues to climb. Kamaroff sells no prints at his Church Street gallery, but visitors can pluck the pieces of art that move them, “right off the wall,” says Kamaroff. “As I get better and better and more famous, I get closer to getting over $5,000 at the low end,” says Kamaroff. Even in his down state, the painter is confident that both he and his creative upswing will soon return. “I'll come back,” says Kamaroff. “I always come back.” Stop by and see some of Kamaroff ’s 130-plus original paintings and talk some art with the artist himself. The Glendale Brook Studio is at 27 Church St., Lenox, and closes at 6 p.m. Call 413-551-7475 or visit glendalebrookstudio.com.

That’s so Berkshire! 5 summer experiences you won’t want to miss in the Berkshires By Bellamy Richardson After a long year of Zoom events and social distancing, the Berkshires are back and ready for a summer full of in-person activities. Gather your friends and family, pack a picnic and a blanket, and get ready to have some fun! There are many fun things to do outside with the whole family, such as taking a yoga class in a scenic location and feeding baby animals on a farm. And of course, the Berkshires are booming with creative new theater productions and musical performances. Here are five things you’ll want to do this summer

Picnic on the Tanglewood lawn 297 West Street, Lenox, Mass. 617-266-1200, bso.org

Let the picnics commence! After a year of livestreaming events, the Boston Symphony Orchestra returns to its summer home at Tanglewood. Season highlights include performances by Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma; violinist Lisa Batiashvili; a special tribute to John Williams (who also returns for the popular John Williams Night);

and Popular Artist Series concerts by Brandi Carlile, with special guest Mavis Staples, and by Judy Collins and Richard Thompson with special guest Jesse Colin Young. NPR’s popular news quiz game show, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!,” also returns to Tanglewood for one night in August. Tickets may be hard to come by this season, as attendance capacity is limited to 9,000 — 50 percent of normal capacity. Concert goers set up their picnics early on the Tanglewood Lawn. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Try goat yoga at Hancock Shaker Village 1843 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield, Mass. 413-443-0188, hancockshakervillage.org

Have you ever tried doing yoga with a goat? Throughout the summer, Hancock Shaker Village will host special events, including musical performances and yoga

classes — both goat yoga and “yoga for movers and shakers.” Open 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. daily, visitors can also explore the herb gardens, heirloom vegetable gardens and visit the barns and historic buildings. Brianne Capeless and a goat share their space in the grass during ‘goat yoga’ at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Feed baby animals at Ioka Valley Farm 3475 MA-43, Hancock, Mass. 413-738-5915, iokavalleyfarm.com/summer

Get up close and personal with baby animals at Ioka Valley Farm. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, this family farm is home to many baby animals. Stop by Uncle Don’s Barnyard to visit and feed the animals. Kids also can explore the hay tunnel, giant sandboxes, farm book library, and outdoor farm-themed playground. Families can relax and enjoy the sunshine in the picnic area. Also make sure to check out the locally grown products such as high-quality maple syrup, natural beef, granola, and sauces. Season passes are available. Visit Uncle Don’s Barnyard with the kids at Ioka Valley Farm. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Catch a show at the Williamstown Theatre Festival Williamstown, Mass. 413-458-3200, wtfestival.org

Williamstown Theatre Festival is back! The festival returns from a season on Audible with three in-person world premieres — all outdoors and in a variety of locations. The front lawn of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance is the stage for “Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination,” which explores the power of Black storytelling with a series of nine solo plays written by Black writers and performed by actors of color. The Clark Art’s reflecting pool is the setting for “Row,” the story of a woman who aims to be the first to row solo across the Atlantic. “Alien/Nation” is an immersive theatrical experience that takes the audience on a journey through Williamstown and is inspired by events that took place in the area. The season runs through Aug. 8. Williamstown Theatre Festival returns this summer with three live shows around town. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

Listen to a unique musical performance at The Foundry 2 Harris Street, West Stockbridge, Mass. 413-232-5222, thefoundryws.com

Looking for a wide variety of unique musical performances? Look no further than The Foundry, with weekend performances scheduled through Sept. 19. Scheduled performances range from an Emerging Artists Series, that celebrates up and

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coming vocalists, instrumentalists, and comedians, to the West Stockbridge Jazz Series, featuring internationally acclaimed jazz musicians and vocalists such as Lauren Henderson. Upcoming acts include: It Was A Very Good Year, Daddy Long Legs, The Freemonts, and Colin Isottie & Duo Nouveau. • Audience members arrive at The Foundry. Photo provided by The Foundry

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352 Plain Road, Hinsdale, N.H. 5 bedrooms • 5+ baths • 3948 sq. ft. • $625,000

A period foyer leads to this thoroughly restored Greek Revival farmhouse featuring an elegant fireplace, sitting room with warm, honey-colored wood floors, a powder room, two half baths, project room, laundry and a guest bedroom with ensuite subway tiled bath. Upstairs there are two more ensuite bedrooms with beauti-

fully tiled full baths. Downstairs you’re greeted by the Amishbuilt living space and wing. Step into the Craftsman inspired gathering room with a cheery, see-through fireplace and radiant heated stone floors. French doors open to the stone patio for memorable summer meals. A spacious, copper-countered kitchen is equipped with fine

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cabinetry and stainless appliances. The wing beyond is replete with two ensuite tiled baths with spa tubs and showers, a comfortable sitting area, an office for your important calls, walk-in closet and a glass wall out to your private stone patio and outdoor shower. The 18 acre setting is estate-like with graceful lawns and an

aerated pond offering views to the Vermont mountains plus a small barn for toys, tractors and tools. This exceptional home and setting nourish the soul. Connecticut River boating, kayaking, rail trail biking, golf, hiking, cross country and skiing are all nearby. $625,000 • MLS # 4865851

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350 Sunset Lake Road, Newfane, Vt. 4 bedrooms • 3 baths • 3632 sq. ft. • $829,000

This quintessential Vermont farmhouse, renovated in 2005, offers total antique charm with all modern conveniences. What makes this property so special and different from other antique homes are the large rooms, high ceilings, radiant wood flooring, lots of light, plenty of storage, up-to-date systems, automatic

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generator and so much more. Many of the special features include exposed hand hewn beams, a unique gardeners foyer with work space and cast iron wash sink, a wonderful chef ’s kitchen with massive stone fireplace surround with beehive oven, expansive first floor principal bedroom en-suite with beamed

cathedral ceilings and a charming loft space. A wonderful sunroom offers lots of windows to enjoy the beautiful landscaped grounds. Stone walls run throughout the property. There is a spring fed pond, a large fenced garden area, post and beam barn, walking trails, about 5 acres of meadowland, perennial gardens and

apple trees on 92+ acres. Located only minutes into Brattleboro, 1.5 miles off a paved road, ½ mile to Sunset Lake for paddling and solitude, there is little missing in this special homestead. This is truly a special paradise ready for the next generation to enjoy and cherish. $829,000 • MLS # 4865301

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9 Prospect View, Dummerston, Vt. 3 bedrooms • 2 baths • 3,935 sq. ft. • 10.2 acres • $625,000 What an amazing find! If you’re looking to move to the rolling hills and small town charm of Vermont, this is a must see! Start with the grounds, meticulously maintained, sporting three ponds — the three ducks may stay to entertain you. The high meadow pond features a two-step waterfall cascading to feed the lower pond. There are meadows, fruit trees, perennial gardens, room for fresh vegetable gardens and a fenced play area! The chickens have their own tidy coop! The outside living is a gentle extension of the home with sliders to a stone patio backed by stone walls and steps to the back yard, a hot tub, covered niche for the grill, trellis covered seating and a view of all your own! Look at the sweet cottage across the pond and find character and charm with a center chimney, double sided fireplace, huge deck overlooking the waterfall and so much more. Currently used as an income producing rental, but could be a studio, guest house, in-law or x generation housing! Neighbors ... but not too close, and paved road access. Inside this home has an open concept, soaring ceilings, two bedrooms on the main level for easy access and aging in place. The loft is a lovely place to sit and relax overlooking the wood stove, living room and outside features. The bedrooms all have their own bath! The primary bedroom is huge with a bath to match. Wind your way to the family room down the fun, brick walled stair. MLS #4860016

More information: Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI

Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com

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1877 Fort Bridgman Road, Vernon, Vt. 3 bedrooms • 1 1/2 baths • 2,218 sq. ft. • 0.48 acres • $379,900 What a find! This vintage farmhouse has been improved to modern living with sliders to the outside, shiny floors, renovated kitchen and floor plan adjusted for a great open concept light, bright lifestyle. Add to that a first floor bedroom and bath for those thinking of aging in place, first floor laundry, and easy access decks and you can plan on enjoying it for a long time! An added bonus is a one level apartment in the back for in-laws, x generation children, a fun family room, or indeed perhaps a rental to offset the expenses. There are 3 bays in the garage so plenty of room for toys, that special car, or just workshop space. Paved parking to keep the dirt outside and a lovely lawn for a garden, flowers or playing with the dog. Besides the two open decks, there is a sweet farmers porch for sitting in the cool evening breeze. Put this on the list for must see to experience all it has to offer. MLS #4862840

More information:

Christine Lewis, CRS, CBR, GRI

Brattleboro Area Realty Cell: 802-380-2088 * Office: 802-257-1335 Chris@BrattleboroAreaRealty.com

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How to create a long-lasting landscape your guests will love

By Brooke Geery

It’s the post-pandemic buzzword you’re going to be hearing a lot about: permaculture. This landscaping style takes plants and systems that are already flourishing to create a self-sustaining landscape that will grow and change with the planet itself. In Vermont, the frequent weather changes and temperate summer climate are prime for growing luscious gardens that will return year after year and require minimal upkeep. And since landscaping is as much as an art form as it is hard work, taking advantage of plants that require little care will lessen the load in the long-term, whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a pro. Metro Creative Connection

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Limit the lawn Growing a beautiful lawn in the North Country is easy. Simply mow a field, and repeat. But to create a yard or garden that you and your guests will truly enjoy, luscious green grass is only part of the equation. A smaller area to mow will save time, money and energy, and you’ll be surprised at how many more birds, bees and butterflies there are to watch when you let a few “weeds” live.

Robert Katzki/UnSplash

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Select native plants It might be tempting to order plants from afar, but your best bet for success is tapping the assistance of a local greenhouse, such as Equinox Valley Nursery (1158 Main St., Manchester Center, Vt., 802-362-2610). Local pros can advise you on the best growing conditions for the plants you select. Their ever-changing displays will also provide you with no shortage of inspiration!

Sq He/UnSplash

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Use hardscaping to add structure There’s no such thing as “permanent” when it comes to taming Mother Nature, but concrete and wood can be used to build planters that create separate and unique spaces. The kids will love exploring, and adults will enjoy the variety of textures and colors these manmade additions can provide. Don’t want to lug rocks yourself ? A local pro, such as Homestead (5 Lower Taylor Hill Road, Winhall, Vt.; 802-297-1107) can do the heavy lifting and create a stone wall or patio that you’ll adore. Metro Creative Connection

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Choose the right furniture Arguably the most important part of creating a welcoming landscape is having somewhere to sit down, be it a swing, a bench or a chair. Looking for unique items that will impress? Summer in the North Country is full of arts and crafts fairs and flea markets, where you might just find that perfect seat for sipping cocktails in the late summer sun.

Darren Richardson/UnSplash

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Give it time Nature is constantly changing. Rather than trying to control it, enjoy it. If something thrives, let it be. If it dies, don’t plant it there again. The only certainty is that creating your dream yard isn’t a one-time process and each year you can and should add what nature doesn’t. •

Metro Creative Connection

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Head to the hub of South County to discover what the buzz is all about In this second installment of a series sponsored by Lee Bank, we speak with residents, businesspeople about what makes this town such a great place to live, visit and work By Noah Hoffenberg GREAT BARRINGTON

In our post-pandemic era, a truly great town must check a lot of boxes. • Safe, where crime stats are low, and clean air and water are cherished; • Healthy, where four-season activities abound within town borders; • Smart, where equity and education the highest values and arts the common language; • Just the right mix, where local commerce bustles but the rural landscape is sustained. Berkshirites and some lucky out-of-towners will say this sounds an awful lot like Great Barrington, which truly lives up to its name in just about every conceivable way. W.E.B. DuBois, a venerated town son, is tied here by birth and legacy, his name finally etched onto a public school in the town where he grew up. Skiing at Butternut, traversing Monument Mountain, paddling at Lake Mansfield and even hiking the Appalachian Trail; yes, Great Bar-

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rington has that level of outdoor recreation available, too. Oh, did we neglect to mention A-list entertainment, cuisine and shopping that attracts “The Real Housewives of New York” and regular housewives and househusbands, as well? Yes, that’s Great Barrington, where your arts and culture scene has both a distinctly metropolitan vibe, like at Bernay Fine Art, as well as the eclectic, such as the contemporary American crafts at Evergreen. A community supporter, Lee Bank is having us take a closer look at Great Barrington, for this second installment A Day in the Life of …, a bimonthly UpCountry series that highlights what makes the region’s towns such special places to visit, shop, work and live. We share widely here what a select few already know: that Great Barrington is an excellent place to spend a day, or a lifetime.

‘I wouldn’t have changed a thing’

SooJa Whalen, area manager for Lee Bank’s South County region, has lived in Great Barrington for 24 years. Over time, she’s seen the town become a cultural destination, popular with young people arriving or returning to their Berkshire roots to start their families. “It’s a very good area to do so. It’s very family-oriented. Some of my husband’s and my friends, we have known since our children were young, doing sports and going to school,”

says Whalen. Of her time here, she says, “I wouldn’t have changed a thing.” The area boasts excellent hiking trails, and Whalen cites Alford Springs and Benedict Pond as two of her favorites. Like her co-workers at Lee Bank, Whalen loves grabbing a meal at Great Barrington Bagel, The Marketplace, Fuel Bistro and Cafe Adam, a few of the town’s choice eateries. Whalen also notes that Great Barrington’s location makes for easy access to venues like Tanglewood, where she once enjoyed a Whitney Houston show and more recently took in a performance that paid homage to the legendary rock band Queen.

Capital of Southern Berkshire County

When artisan and film veteran Karen Allen first landed in the Berkshires some 33 years ago, certain towns were quietly vying to be the hub of South County. It took some time for a victor to emerge, but it’s clear to Allen which town emerged on top. “Great Barrington has, little by little, has become in a sense the center of the Southern Berkshires,” says Allen, who opened Karen Allen Fiber Arts on Railroad Street in 2005. The store carries clothing and accessories by designers all over the globe. Allen, who also keeps a home in New York City, spends considerable time in Great

Barrington and the Berkshires, raising and schooling her son here. She recalls when Great Barrington was truly a onehorse town. “ The only really good restaurant to go to was in Housatonic. It was Embree’s, which had a great little buzz about it,” recalls Allen. The buzz grew louder when the Bronze Dog Cafe opened, the Triplex Cinema, Bizen Gourmet Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, a yoga studio, and the Berkshire Food Co-op, Allen recalls. And, of course, she’s very proud of her role in helping the Berkshire International Film Festival get off the ground and thrive, now in its 15th year. The town has proved to be a draw for artists of all stripes, like Michael Wainwright, maker of functional art; multimedia artist Gabrielle Senza; and playwright Joan Ackermann and her Mixed Company theater, and has attracted eastern medicine practitioners, such as acupuncturists, healers and body workers, Allen notes. “People who really really help hold you together,” says Allen.

Native son reports brisk lending environment

Chris Kinne is from Great Barrington, born and raised. He’s also in charge of business banking for Lee Bank, overseeing its commercial lending. Kinne believes that what attracts visitors to the BerkUpCountryOnline.com | 33

shires — biking, hiking, golfing, swimming — is also what makes it a great place to live. “Certainly with the pandemic, people came to appreciate it a lot more in terms of getting outside and seeing what the Berkshires have to offer,” he notes. For him, his wife and now grown children, there are numerous places to get great food and drink: The Bistro Box, Barrington Brewery, Baba Louie’s, Gorham & Norton, and The Old Inn On The Green, to name a few. “There’s just a lot to offer. It’s truly a four-season destination,” says Kinne. Kinne reports seeing a “pretty robust” lending market, with government stimulus leaving many businesses in “pretty good shape.” “Most clients and customers are doing well, and are looking forward to the summer,” says Kinne of the coming tourist season, upon which much of the local economy relies. He says his employer, Lee Bank, has been heavily involved in helping its customers and the community throughout the pandemic, work that continues in the ongoing recovery process. “Because we have such close relationships with our customers, we were able to reach out very early on and discuss ways in which we could help them and let them know that we would be there for them,” notes Kinne. “This assistance is ongoing and is the type of service a small community bank like ours can provide.”

‘Active and lively’ is the vibe

Erik Bruun runs SoCo Creamery’s ice cream scoop shop on Railroad Street and has lived in Great Barrington since 1985. He calls it “the locus, the focus, the hub” and the commercial center of South County, in part because the town exists at the overlap of three state routes: 7, 23 and 41. “You almost have to go through Great Barrington to get

Long Pond, Great Barrington. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

from here to there,” notes Bruun. “The vibe is active and lively. You’ve got hardware stores and high-end clothing stores, and it serves a diverse needs of the people who live here.” It’s precisely because of its many offerings, from cultural venues like the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center to merchants like Gorham & Norton, that makes the town so attractive, says Bruun. “One of the defining characteristics here is that there’s no one dominating feature or venue,” says Bruun. “It’s an array of attractions in Great Barrington. There’s the River Walk, a cluster of small stores on Railroad Street, there’s the farmers market and a classic New England downtown Main Street. There’s always things going on.” For walkers (and dog walkers like Bruun), people and their pets frequent use of the town’s many walking trails, such as along the banks of the Housatonic River. The residential areas along the downtown make for excellent walking, too, Bruun says. He notes that, on weekends from July 2 to Sept. 4, the

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town will play host to Berkshire Busk!, a series of musical and live performances on downtown streets. Performers, or “buskers,” will delight at a number of sites across Great Barrington. The event builds on the success of similar performances last year during the pandemic.

A robust town with ‘buzz’

Brandy McKie, the vice president of retail banking for Lee Bank, is proud to call Great Barrington home. She grew up in nearby Sheffield, but has lived in town since 2008. McKie says “buzz” is the operative word, something she’s seen grow over the past 20 years. “What I love about Great Barrington is that I have everything right at my fingertips: food, dining, art and culture, a farmers market. It’s a walkable, buzzing, hopping downtown around the corner from my house. Combine that with the natural beauty, and it’s just so robust for a small town,” says McKie. When she explains to newcomers what the town is like, she never fails to mention that “we’re a very creative group

there, too. There’s so much heart in Great Barrington. It’s really cool to be a part of.” A fan of fresh air, McKie loves to go for a paddle on one of the lakes in town. “I love sneaking away to Lake Mansfield right around dusk, when it’s a little quieter,” she notes. For her favorite food spots, McKie, her husband and daughter have been enjoying grabbing their sandwiches, coffee, and more from Gorham and Norton, and she’ll always take a work meeting at Fuel Bistro. When she’s in search of more action, McKie says Great Barrington can always be counted on for live music. “I’m always loving what Great Barrington has on Fridays and Saturdays, especially with closing down the street and having food and entertainment,” McKie says. “I’m always down for that.”

To learn more about Great Barrington and to stay up to date on town news visit berkshireeagle.com. Make Great Barrington part of your summer itinerary, and stop by some of these local businesses … Sponsored Content

The Art Studio GB 34 Rosseter St., No. 1 646-416-2652 • theartstudiogb.com theartstudio@gmail.com Facebook: theartstudiogb Instagram: theartsudiogb About: “I am an artist and upper-grades public school art teacher from NYC as well as a resident of Monterey. I absolutely love the Berkshires and decided it was time to open my own studio space, where I could work and teach.” “The sweet, old building on Rosseter Street where I am located is surrounded by other small businesses and just a block or so off of Main Street. Great Barrington is a vibrant, welcoming and energetic town and I am excited to be a part of this special community. I am offering four-week summer art camps for middle school and high school students, as well as adult classes, including open studio life-drawing sessions on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. I am also providing portfolio development classes for high school students looking to attend art schools, and liberal arts colleges and universities. Private classes are available upon request, and visitors are free to stop in and take a look at what’s going on.” — Regina Moran-Rosario


Barrington Outfitters 289 Main St. 413-528-0021 • barringtonoutfitters.net barringtonoutfitters@verizon.net Facebook: BarringtonOutfitters Instagram: barringtonoutfitters About: Barrington Outfitters is a local, family-owned business that has been located on Main Street since 1994. We are here seven days a week and offer a large variety of shoes and clothing for the entire family. Whether you’re hiking, out on the town or heading to the beach, we’ve got you covered. We have two levels of outdoor patio furniture, perfect for a pool, patio and screened porch — any outdoor setting imaginable, and even better, we deliver. Our inventory is changing by the day, we always keep it fresh and offer the best customer service around.


Bernay Fine Art 296 Main St. 413-645-3421 • bernayfineart.com paula@bernayfineart.com Facebook: Bernay-Fine-Art-292633004746830 Instagram: bernayfineart About: We are a new art gallery in Great Barrington with the feeling of a New York/Boston gallery. We represent distinguished artists working in a variety of media including: painting, photography, ceramics and works on paper. We focus on artist representation and promotion, offering artwork of the highest quality with a longstanding reputaSponsored Content

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tion for excellence, integrity and appreciation for the artists and their work. We have an exciting lineup of shows for the summer including our annual Summertime show, our Lines and Colors show, which will feature an amazing group of abstract artists, as well as a Still Life show and a Works on Paper show.

Carr Hardware 256 Main St. 413-528-4520 • carrhardware.com Facebook: CarrHardware1928 Instagram: CarrHardware1928


About: Carr Hardware is your No. 1 hardware store in the Berkshires. Since 1928, we have been here to help and treat all our customers like family. We are pulling new summer items weekly and making sure we keep everything you need in stock. Carr serves homeowners, contractors, commercial customers, institutions and government agencies throughout the state of Massachusetts, Connecticut and surrounding areas of New York State and Vermont. Carr offers over 40,000 different products including paint, tools, hardware, electrical, plumbing, outdoor living and lawn and garden and so much more. We can’t wait to see you again soon.

E. Caligari & Sons 75 Main St. 413-528-0030 • ecaligari.com kaitlyn@ecaligari.com Facebook: caligari1898


About: In 1898, E. Caligari & Son had its auspicious beginning when Eugene Caligari, newly arrived from Chiavenna, Italy, embarked upon the American dream of owning his own business. Eugene and his son, Eugene Jr., learned every aspect of the painting business. Their honesty and work ethic gave them the sizable following of loyal customers needed to start their own company, E. Caligari & Son. Today, the business is run by the fourth generation of Caligaris in the home improvement industry. E. Caligari & Son is the one stop resource for everything interior, offering personalized service, product knowledge and a team of professional consultants and installers. Along with Hunter Douglas shades, Benjamin Moore paint, flooring and wallpaper, E. Caligari now designs and installs custom closets.

The Emporium 162 Main St. • 413-528-1660 Instagram: gbemporium Website: forgottenrelics.net (coming soon) About: We are so excited to welcome everyone back! The Emporium definitely has something for everyone (we think)! We specialize in fine and decorative arts with strong emphases in 19th and 20th century art glass, and estate and bespoke 36 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

Sponsored Content

jewelry. Forgotten Relics, our bespoke jewelry line, celebrates old motifs and aesthetics with a modern twist — and if we do say so ourselves, exceptional craftsmanship too! We also have an array of antique furniture, paintings, silver, Asian art, vintage vinyl and general antiques. If you’re not in the mood to buy, then we are. We’re always purchasing single pieces, collections and even entire estates. Call or stop by. We’d love to say hi!

Evergreen 291 Main St. 413-528-0511 • evergreencrafts.com info@evergreencrafts.com Facebook: Evergreen-Fine-AmericanCrafts-260957389610 Instagram: evergreenfineamerican About: We are looking forward to welcoming back the loyal customers who have supported Evergreen for over 41 years, as well as meeting new customers. First-time visitors will be impressed by our outstanding collection of handmade items by the finest American craftspeople. Featuring jewelry, pottery, wearable art, Judaica, garden decor and much more to delight you. Discover new artisans, as well as old favorites like Michael Michaud Jewelry, Janna Ugone Lighting and Sticks Furniture. We invite you to visit Evergreen, open every day.


GB9 9 Railroad St. 413-528-4573 • Gb9barrington@yahoo.com Facebook: GB9Barrington Instagram: gb9_boutique About: We are excited to see all of our familiar clients, as well as welcome new clients, to the GB9 family. Whether you want to lounge, a top for date night, new jeans for the weekend or an event dress, we can help. We are a full-service boutique that mindfully curates fine footwear, clothing and accessories with our client’s interest always at the forefront. We pride ourselves on having an inclusive array of styles and price points to satisfy our clients’ needs. Some of our favorite brands include Rails, Liverpool Jeans, Porto, Eric Michael, Dear John, Lilla P, Kork Ease, Rebel Jewelry and now Hobo leather handbags.

JWS Art Supplies 38 Railroad St. 413-644-9838 • jwsartsupplies.com info@jwsartsupplies.com Facebook: jwsartsupplies Instagram: jwsartsupplies About: We are a small independently owned art store, with a huge range of supplies from craft to professional levels. Our brands include Golden paints, Windsor and Newton, R&F Paints, Sennilier, Caran D’ache, Faber Castell, Copic, Arches, Sponsored Content

JWS ART SUPPLIES UpCountryOnline.com | 37

Jacquard, Princeton and many more. If you’ve been here, you will know that we carry a wide range of quirky gifts and fun projects for an afternoon. We have a knowledgeable staff that can help any level of artist, young and old, get started on a project or help with something you are already involved in. With 20-plus years of experience, we have learned what our community wants and strive to always achieve that. We hope you stop and visit us so we can spark your inner creativity.

Karen Allen Fiber Arts 8 Railroad St. 413-528-8555 • karenallen-fiberarts.com karenallenfiberarts@gmail.com Facebook: karenallenfiberarts Instagram: karenallenfiberarts


About: We are focused on finding unusual and artistic small studio designers whose work we love. We have beautiful and colorful dresses, shirts, pants, sweaters, handbags and jewelry. We are the only store that carries Karen Allen’s handmade cashmere knitwear line and also many other unique artists and designers from Japan, Italy, France, Argentina, India, Australia and all over the U.S.

Lee Bank 279 Main St. 413-528-5531 • leebank.com swhalen@leebank.com Facebook: LeeBankMA Instagram: lee_bank_ma


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About: At Lee Bank in Great Barrington, employees are able to call their customers by name. “You end up knowing their spouses or children, what’s going on with their lives,” says SooJa Whalen, area manager, noting that bank employees learn about everything from customers’ dog names to their major life milestones. “It’s just the culture of our business and community,” says Whalen. Recently remodeled, the Lee Bank branch is designed to reflect its digital and yet very natural community, with the interactivity that’s come to be expected in modern banking. Being on Main Street, Lee Bank also has a level of accessibility that other banks don’t, which only adds to its people-first style of business for employees and customers alike. “Our approach is to lead with the relationship and not lead with the deposit. We lean on our natural human desire to connect, and that actually leads to more success for the customer and us. We go the extra mile for each other and our customers, and do right by the customer and the community. At the teller line, drive-up and in our offices, that’s where the relationships are built and maintained,” says Brandy McKie, vice president of retail banking for Lee Bank. The bank also gives you perks, like 2.5 percent interest on your checking, and won’t penalize you with balance minimums. Lee Bank offers Great Barrington residents (and everyone, really) holistic assessments of personal finances and can help with life planning, either through its own products, like money Sponsored Content

markets or CDs, but also through its wealth partners, like October Mountain Financial Advisors. “Customers assume they have to have wealth to start. We offer a different path. We’re able to identify your needs and get you on your journey to retirement. We take the time with you, and we’re with you every step of the way,” says McKie.

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center 14 Castle St. 413-528-0100 • mahaiwe.org info@mahaiwe.org Facebook: MahaiwePerformingArtsCenter Instagram: themahaiwe About: The Mahaiwe brings something for everyone this summer with classic and cult films at an affordable price, live Broadway hosted by Richard Kind, modern dance troupe Pilobolus, and “Saturday Night Live” cast member Cecily Strong. The Mahaiwe is a beautifully maintained historic gem in the Berkshires. World-class performing arts meets community spirit in this restored 1905 theater in downtown Great Barrington. New shows are added to the schedule regularly at this year-round venue.


Marjoram and Roux 47 Railroad St. 413-528-1223 • marjoramandroux.com dairekeelin@gmail.com Instagram: marjoramandroux About: We are a new cafe in downtown Great Barrington, focusing on breakfast, lunch and prepared foods to dine in or take home. We use local, organic ingredients when possible and we sell some artisanal Berkshire products in our retail section.


Robin’s Candy Shop 288 Main St. 413-528-8477 • robinscandy.com robin@robinscandy.com Facebook: robinscandy Instagram: robinscandy About: We are delighted to welcome back our longtime guests and those exploring the beautiful Berkshires for the first time. We have fully reopened daily with extended summer hours (call ahead for hours on the day you plan to visit). Partnering with our local, domestic and international confectioners, we are stocked floor to ceiling with a bounty of sweets and treats (and smiles). No visit to the Berkshires is complete without a stop into our old fashioned sweet shop. Make sure to leave time to browse … Robin’s Candy Shop is a unique and joyful experience you may not want to leave. Sponsored Content

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SoCo Creamery 5 Railroad St. 413-644-9866 • sococreamery.com Facebook: SoCoCreamery Instagram: sococreamery About: Small treats shine brightest in the dark. SoCo served that role for the last pandemic year: open every day, serving hand-crafted ice cream to customers from around the corner to across the Northeast. From maple walnut to blueberry honey lavender, SoCo’s flavors pull from nature’s bounty to offer distinctive, wholesome tastes. Two single-source dairy farms from Dutchess County, N.Y., and Vermont provide the foundation for SoCo’s Great Barrington ice cream factory to make super-premium ice cream. What makes SoCo different from almost all other ice cream companies is that it makes by hand its own inclusions — cookie dough, brownies, fudge ripple, caramel and more. New flavors rotate in SoCo’s offerings to give old customers something new, while at the same time maintaining a stable of about 20 flavors to keep the cult favorites in stock. Dirty chocolate is the most popular favor. Cookie monster is the rookie flavor of the year; it is bright blue from butterfly pea powder made from flowers in Southeastern Asia. No need to worry: No cookie monsters were harmed in the making of SoCo’s cookie monster ice cream.

Taylor Rental 7 High St. 413-528-1770 • taylorrentalgb.com taylorrentalgb@yahoo.com


About: New to the area? House or yard need sprucing up? Give us a call and we can deliver the equipment you need to get it done. Got trees to trim or a roofline to paint? Rent one of our lifts … it goes all the way up to 60 feet high. Does your yard need some attention? Rent an aerator or a tiller to make a garden. Are you moving down the street or across the state? Rent one of our box trucks or moving vans.

Tom’sToys 297 Main St. 413-528-3330 • tomstoys.com info@tomstoys.com Facebook: tomstoys Instagram: tomstoys


About: “I’m Tom. I started this store when my three kids were young. Now, my grandchildren visit the store. Tom’s Toys is brimming with games and toys for every age and budget. We are always bringing in new and unusual toys, as well as the classics. We have been helping our customers, young and old, find just what they want for over 25 years, and have been voted Best Toy Store in the Berkshires again and again. If you haven’t experienced an old fashioned family-run independent toy store, you are in for a treat. We are the first stop in Great Barrington for many returning visitors. Come see us soon.” — Tom Levin Sponsored Content

Triplex Cinema 70 Railroad St. 413-528-8886 • thetriplex.com manager@thetriplex.com Facebook: TriplexCinema About: The past year has been difficult for all of us. But the time has finally come to reopen our doors and welcome you, our friends and valued guests back to the Triplex Cinema. The Triplex Cinema — South County’s premier destination for art, indie and commercial films — has always strived to be a community theater, and it will take our entire community, working together, to keep each other safe. You can do your part by following the guidelines at the theater while you kick back, relax and enjoy the show.

Ward’s Nursery & Garden Center 600 Main St. 413-528-0166 • wardsnursery.com info@wardsnursery.com Facebook: WardsNursery Instagram: wardsnurseryandgardencenter


About: Beyond our well-stocked tropical greenhouse, perennial yard, annuals greenhouse, and extensive trees and shrubs, Ward’s Nursery and Garden Center has expanded our gift offerings to more plant based products: herbal cleaning supplies to bamboo kitchen-ware. Our birding section has birdhouses, hummingbird and oriole feeders for the summer, and we will make way for feeders to attract winter birds by September. Donald J. Ward Jr. started Ward’s Nursery and Garden Center in 1957. Starting out with two small greenhouses and a potting shed, Ward’s has since grown into a must-see destination for gardeners and holiday enthusiasts. In the greenhouses, Ward’s has thousands of annuals; over 1,400 perennial selections and 700 different woody plants; houseplants from cacti to orchids; over 50 varieties of daffodils; and more spring-flowering bulbs starting Labor Day. Ever larger and modernized buildings and greenhouses through the years have allowed the expansion of plant choices and garden merchandise. Don Jr.’s son, Greg, has been joined by his daughter, Eva, and nephew, Sam, to help more generations of gardeners grow. At Ward’s Nursery, we pride ourselves on being a leader in offering horticultural products you can count on, knowledgeable staff you can trust, and friendly customer service. Please come by and visit today. •


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Rachelle Klammer enjoys one of her very own charcuterie boards. Photo by Cassandra Strelow.

Charcuterie for every occasion Berkshire Boards can make a custom board for your next event, special day By Bellamy Richardson

D uring the pandemic, many people began cooking or baking, taking up this new hobby to pass the time. But for Rachelle Klammer, food is more than just a hobby. She’s combined her love of cooking and her passion for visual pre-

sentation into a new business, Berkshire Boards, which offers customizable charcuterie boards for all occasions. “Cooking and creating beautiful food has always been my thing,” said Klammer, of Adams, Mass. “My creativity and love for all food, cuisines

and cooking definitely helped fuel the fire for Berkshire Boards.” Berkshire Boards offers a variety of charcuterie boards, many of which Klammer creates for special occasions and holidays. Her Mother’s Day board — which has been her

best-selling board to date — included croissants, donut holes, breakfast ham, white chocolate strawberries, sugar cookies, blackberry jam and honey goat cheese. And , it could be ordered in special “MOM” letter boxes. Klammer has also made UpCountryOnline.com | 43

custom boards for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and wedding showers, and said she hopes to expand her custom boards to vineyards, breweries and picnic work functions.

From hobby to business venture “At home I am always making platters and trying to make plates fancy, because, well, we eat with our eyes and we shouldn’t have to go to a restaurant for that,” she said. “So one day, half jokingly, I asked my boyfriend if I should do this ‘for real’ and he said absolutely!” Then, when a friend suggested the name “Berkshire Boards” for her business, it felt perfect. “It was a name that had a ring to it, something easy to remember, and of course pays homage to my roots,” she said. After launching the business in the beginning of April, Klammer started advertising through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and her friends and family both near and far helped her get the word out about Berkshire Boards. Now, customers can order through the Berkshire Boards Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as by email. Klammer also plans to launch a website that will process orders and will feature her entire menu plus news, events and giveaways. “Everyone has been 100 percent supportive and I’ve already been collaborating with other local small businesses and farms in the area,” she said. “We partner for giveaways, I use their products in my boards, and we work together to help grow our businesses.” The two newest additions to Berkshire Boards’ menu are the “Summer Board,” which includes grilled peaches and pineapple, dry-cured prosciutto, mini sweet peppers and cucumbers, garlic dill cheese, and fresh mozzarella. The S’mores Board includes three different flavors of graham crackers, marshmal44 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE

This spread: Photos provided by Berkshire Boards

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Berkshire Boards offers a variety of charcuterie boards, many of which owner Rachelle Klammer creates for special occasions and holidays.

lows, Hershey’s chocolate, peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, and samoa cookies, and comes with an indoor flammable gel container and skewers for indoor s’mores making. “Summer is all about fresh fruits, veggies, and health,” Klammer said of the inspiration behind the Summer Board. “Adding grilled fruit also seemed like a must because we use the grill the most in the summer and grilled fruit brings out amazing flavors.”

The S’mores Board was also strategically created for the season. “Camping season officially starts Memorial Day weekend and lasts until fall and everyone’s favorite thing to do around a fire is make s’mores,” Klammer said. “I wanted to bring the s’mores board to customers by giving them something more than just graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows and giving them a creative menu with endless flavor combinations.”

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When not creating custom boards, Klammer is studying to be an X-ray technician at New Hampshire Technical Institute, where she is currently a remote student. “I’ve always loved the medical field,” she said. “I was a special education teacher for eight years, and decided I wanted something new.” Though she’s committed to her studies, Klammer also prioritizes her business. “Of course school and work come first, but I stay true to this

business as well and do everything I can to keep it growing, innovative, and [I am] always looking [for] and thinking of new ideas,” she said. “Cooking and creating beautiful food has always been my thing. I cook every single day and am always looking for new ideas in my everyday life as well as my business. My creativity and love for all food, cuisines and cooking definitely helped fuel the fire for Berkshire Boards.” •

Ten Products. Two Stores. One You. Let’s Boogie. By CANNA PROVISIONS

Hey, you. Yes, you. Right there. We couldn’t help but notice that look in your eye that said: “Oh, great magazine before me, tell me what I desire of the world of cannabis, for it is I who stand here today and proclaim: ‘I deserve to feel good!’” So, we went ahead and made a Top Ten list for the 21-plus adults with such thoughts and seeking satisfaction. Maybe keep this handy and come see us.

You Deserve: Enhancement vs. escape

1. TANGERINE 1:1:1: Coast Cannabis set out to just be an edibles and manufacturing company on the Atlantic Ocean side of Massachusetts. These tangerine chews mixing equal parts THC, CBD and another choice minor cannabinoid CBG keep the canna-curious coming back.

2. HOWL’S ANYTIME TINCTURES: It’s simple, the Howl’s team used a 3,000-year-old whole-plant-infusion method to create their vegan avocado-oil based all day/anytime tinctures for balanced, hybrid effects. So, that means all the good of the plant becomes good going in.

You Deserve: Motivation for exercise, having energy for the day 3. FIREBALL SATIVA CHEWS: If you’re into cinnamon, chews, portable pocket chews and thoughtfully consuming cannabis for the honey-do lists and other requirements of the day … here you go.

4. LEVIA ACHIEVE: Summer is here, spiked seltzers are everywhere. Just in time for your next bout of lawn chores, a day of hiking or

if you’re looking for a lift with a sweet berry-lime tang, keep a few of these 5 mg THC-dosed seltzer cans in your picnic basket. Yes, they come in six-packs.

You Deserve: Not feeling anxious, relaxation and having a good night’s sleep 5. MINDY’S LUSH BLACK CHERRY 1:1: Gorgeous artisanal chews from James Beard award-winning Chicago chef Mindy Segal, these unctuous gelatin chews are like jars of cherries soaked in cabernet and luxardo with traces of orange and vanilla. Yes.

6. SOUTHIE ADAMS SOLVENTLESS HASH ROSIN DISPOSABLE/RECHARGEABLE: Ready when you buy it, comprised of hash rosin (solventless dry-cured extracted cannabis oil) and including a recharge port, this disposable vape cartridge means it’s greenlit to deploy on the on-ramp to relaxation, offramp from anxiety, or just to charge hard into snooze-town at the end of a day.

You Deserve: Relief from tension 7. NORDIC GODDESS: As opposed to gas-station CBD, this blend of THC and CBD contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids and other terpenes and essential oils (think: citrus and spearmint) and nanotechnology for a balm meant to get deep in your skin and muscles without the “high.” 8. ATTUNE: Creamy texture and a combination of CBD, THC and cooling menthol moisturizer, gets into your muscle fibers, and may just become your new response to stiff, sore muscles after a spirited hike this summer.

You Deserve: Stimulated intimacy 9. SMASHIN’ PASSION: Passion fruit chews with a proprietary blend of four all-natural aphrodisiacs: Damiana, Maca Root, Muira Puama (known as the “Viagra of the Amazon”) and Horny Goat Weed.

Sponsored Content

10. 1906 LOVE DROPS: Blend of five plantbased sensuality stimulators, and cannabis, each with 2.5 mg of CBD and 2.5mg of THC. Swallow one and the herbal boosts from the Catuaba and Ashwagandha will let your lover know who just showed up to play. While we are not here to tell you what feeling good means to you (after all, we’re not doctors), we can tell you that there are some wonderful products available to adults looking to explore how legal cannabis products can help you #betteryourjourney. And we have the best. See you soon. • VITALS: Canna Provisions, with stores in Lee (Berkshires) and Holyoke (Pioneer Valley), right off the highway. www.cannaprovisionsgroup.com.

PLEASE CONSUME RESPONSIBLY. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children. This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. The impairment effects of Edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact poison control hotline 800-222-1222 or 9-1-1. This product may be illegal outside of Massachusetts.

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Cultivating cannabis, and community, in Northampton Sold in shops all over the Bay State, Resinate's entire product line available at its Western Mass. dispensary By Hannah Van Sickle NORTHAMPTON, Mass.

If keeping it local resonates, especially when it comes to cultivating cannabis and community, then add a trip to Northampton's newest adult-use dispensary to your summer bucket list. Stat. Peter DeCaro, CEO and founder of Resinate, has roots — like his medical cannabis dispensary of the same name — that originate in Worcester, where he’s made growing topnotch cannabis and building a diverse team his top priorities. Need proof ? Look no further than the company's tongue-incheek moniker, aimed at leveraging the resin of this plant to create unity on one platform around high-quality cannabis. What differentiates Resinate from the rest? For starters, it’s a vertically integrated cannabis company — where everything from cultivation and ex-

traction to manufacturing and retail, happens in-house. DeCaro’s promise to consumers is simple: locally grown products that consistently rank among the highest (ahem) quality available in Massachusetts. “Quality is our business driver,” explains DeCaro, who, after just a few minutes of conversation, makes one thing exceedingly clear: He is steeped in 411 on all things cannabis. Resinate’s Cannabis Cultivation Campus is nothing short of state-of-the art — boasting 100 percent environmentally controlled conditions — which translates to consistent, predictable, reliable, high-quality products. DeCaro’s team (at the only locally owned and operated dispensary in the area) turns out hundreds of pounds of cannabis every week, and their “Best of Breed” products (think Lava Cake and

Strawberry Banana Lemon, a pair of phenomenal strains of flower that have been extremely well-received) are sold in-house, as well as to retailers across the commonwealth. DeCaro isn’t shy about loving on the Bay State, because of its intelligence, capacity and straight-up community-minded ethics and values, all of which make Massachusetts, “not only a great place to open, but also a great place to stay.” Resinate has hired locally in every community they’ve been in, with a goal of training from the ground up. “We don’t just talk the talk in terms of diversity and social equity, we walk the walk,” he says of a workforce that is over 60 percent diverse — from the management team down. With the cannabis industry here to stay, DeCaro has prioritized community collaborations to eliminate

Peter DeCaro, right, CEO and Founder of Resinate, stands with some of his staff inside of their cannabis retail store at 110 Pleasant Street in Northampton. From left are Haley Thomas, Chauncey Hammond, Eric Rueli, Michaela B. and DeCaro.

50 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

the negative stigma and advance things in the right direction. In a groundbreaking move, Resinate became one of the first cannabis companies in the country to sponsor a professional sports team, the Massachusetts Pirates (a Worcester-based indoor football league). Whether turning to cannabis for its lauded anti-inflammatory properties or its reputation as a pain-relief panacea — don’t hesitate, head to Resinate. Why? Because “buying local, from operators committed to providing not only best products and services — but also to creating opportunities for the workforce, while committing to diversity — is what we do,” says DeCaro. How’s that for resonance? Visit iresinate.com or stop by the dispensary at 110 Pleasant St., call 508-476-6290 or email info@iresinate.com. • PLEASE CONSUME RESPONSIBLY. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children. This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. The impairment effects of Edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact poison control hotline 800-222- 1222 or 9-1-1. This product may be illegal outside of Mass.•

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Jack’s Cannabis brings West Coast vibe to the 413 Chief officer Jack Carney speaks on clearing new business hurdles for this minority-owned, operated dispensary By Noah Hoffenberg PITTSFIELD

When someone in the cannabis business talks about “packing it,” people within earshot can only hope that the sacred herb is about to burn. But that’s not what Jack Carney meant when he spoke with The Eagle recently. The chief operating officer of Jack’s Cannabis Co. was talking about something else entirely. “I got close to packing it in,” says Carney. At one time, faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges in opening his dispensaries, Carney was feeling like his only luck was bad luck. Business-killing pitfalls abounded, not least of which was a deadly global viral outbreak.

A foot on each coast

Prior to opening in June 2020 in Northampton and November in Pittsfield, Carney had been straddling both coasts, with a foot in old businesses and new. Carney is a longtime partner of Hai Qing “Jimmy” Huang, and the duo already built a successful horticulture supply business on the West Coast. Huang has family here and seeing Massachusetts as a ripe business environment where the adult-use cannabis culture was just emerging, the partners decided that it was up to Carney to make the two dispensaries here a reality. “I was commuting to Boston from Seattle on red-eye flights, sleeping out of hotels, and driving around to municipalities and walking into city Sponsored Content

offices to speak with people in person. No one was answering my phone calls from the West Coast,” recalls Carney. Eventually, the east-west commute became too much, and he made the move permanently, packing up all of his belongings and driving across the country.

Opened under another name After hours spent before planning boards and city councils, Carney’s company got off the ground, opening doors in Northampton last year initially as the Colonial Cannabis Co. The original business name didn’t last long. Visitors to both his physical and virtual spaces gradually became more and more upset with the use of the word “colonial” in the business’ name. “ Within the first two months of opening in June, we started receiving emails. Customers and people living in the area believed the name was insensitive, due to the word ‘colonial’ being associated with subjugation of Native Americans in the U.S.,” says Carney. Carney says he and Huang, a Chinese-American, only had alliteration in mind when coming up with Colonial Cannabis, and it was a common business identifier, such as with the Colonial Pipeline in the Southeastern U.S. that made recent world headlines. “It all made sense to us at the time,” notes Carney.

Jack Carney is the leader of Jack’s Cannabis, with locations in Pittsfield and Northampton. It was a long road for Carney to get the stores operational, but things are running smoothly at both sites. Visit Jack’s Cannabis, at 1021 South St. in Pittsfield, just across from Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, or at 34 Bridge St. in Northampton. Behind him is his new neon sign, just starting to glow at dusk recently. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

The moment of decision But, after listening to its customers, the new business venture quickly pumped the brakes and pivoted away from its original branding.

“We acknowledged our mistake, and we’ve changed it and are doing better,” says Carney. “We didn’t want people to have that view of us.” The path to the current name was plagued by additional fits and starts, notes Carney, includUpCountryOnline.com | 51

ing a failed attempt to initially rename the business Jack’s Joint. In February, Carney received word that the state wouldn’t permit the name. The term “joint” was slang for a marijuana cigarette, and the state cannabis oversight board wasn’t having it. After waiting six months for the formal name-change review, Carney wasn’t willing to wait another six. He offered up Jack’s Cannabis Co. The state accepted it a week later, and the rest is history. “In March, we changed everything over, changed all of our signs, all of our marketing, websites, in one day, organized it all,” says Carney of the identity switch. “We’re happy that we got through it.”

In hindsight, it’s all been worth it Looking back now, Carney says the two open, safe and affirming stores took more than two years from being the seed of an idea to fruition, and the

hurdles almost proved to be too much for him. “I went all in on this. And the pandemic hit. I was nearing the finish line, but just not quite there yet,” recalls Carney. That was the point he briefly considered calling it quits. Carney hung in there, however, and he, his customers and staff are happy he did. Today, he and Huang have a fruitful and progressive cannabis company that provides a laid-back experience, where all people feel safe, and can get quality, tested products. “There’s a wide selection, and no one will feel rushed or out of place. It’s very casual. That’s what we’re shooting for,” says Carney. Visitors who know of West Coast shops say the dispensary has that kind of vibe, Carney says. “We installed a bunch of pop culture art inside. It’s modest. We let our customers shop on iPads,” notes Carney; the iPads are sanitized between uses, one of many COVID-19 safety practices at his stores.

“No one will feel rushed or out of place. It’s very casual. That’s what we’re shooting for.” — Jack Carney, operator of Jack’s Cannabis Co., with locations in Pittsfield and Northampton

The Pittsfield store has a capacity limit of 90, so staff have had an easier time spacing visitors out during the outbreak; the Northampton store is in a smaller space.

Car, curb or in-store shopping The pandemic helped determine how the store delivers its services, which means customers can get their cannabis almost any way they want: carside shopping or curbside pickup, as well as in-store shopping. About 90 percent of orders are made online by customers before they arrive, so wait times are minimal.

Jack’s Cannabis curates the best of Massachusetts-grown cannabis for customers looking for a West Coast vibe in their dispensary of choice. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

52 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

“It’s a community-oriented place, and we’re all friendly,” notes Carney of his staff; the workforce at Jack’s is 33 percent minority and 52 percent female. He says there’s a lot of information and feedback exchanged between budtenders and customers, which helps guide store decisions. Carney says he is settling in now with his two shops. The company can now look to eventual expansion of its footprint and, someday, vertical integration, which will mean producing its own line of goods, rather than solely carrying a wide collection of other brands. To feel the vibe for yourself, visit Jack’s Cannabis, at 1021 South St. in Pittsfield, just across from Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, or at 34 Bridge St. in Northampton. • PLEASE CONSUME RESPONSIBLY. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children. This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. The impairment effects of Edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact poison control hotline 800-222- 1222 or 9-1-1. This product may be illegal outside of Mass.•

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His vision/your one-stop shop A Q&A with Chris Weld, founder of The Pass, on his seed-to-sale cannabis business in the 413 By Noah Hoffenberg SHEFFIELD

There’s something Chris Weld wants you to know: He’s not just passing through. You’ll likely recognize the Sheffield resident, as he’s the man behind Berkshire Mountain Distillers Inc. and now The Pass, a distinct recreational cannabis dispensary on North Main Street that opened last year. About 15 years ago, Weld left a career in emergency medicine in California, and bought a dilapidated apple farm in town, put down roots and started his distillery. What’s followed is nothing short of the revitalization of a sleepy Berkshires town. On top of the jobs and tax revenue generated by Weld’s other venture, his latest — The Pass — already has grown from an initial staff of six to several dozen. And The Pass is growing in capacity, expanding its production abilities with a new 43,000-squarefoot grow site being built in Ashley Falls. That will bring another 25 jobs to the area, says Weld. The positive ripple effects on the town are evident, Weld notes. Now one of the largest employers in Sheffield, Weld believes other businesses are feeling the bump in foot traffic. The Pass founder sat down with The Eagle recently to offer a glimpse behind the curtain at his singular dispensary, to talk about how its seed-to-sale ops are a benefit to the consumer, “and why we do what we do, why we love doing what we do and where we are headed.” Some of that interview follows:

Q: How did you end up starting a recreational cannabis dispensary? CW: I love the smell of the plant. I love working with the plant. I love the science and the genetics of it. One of the reasons I dove in, is with my medical background, I felt there was an opportunity to

Founder Chris Weld, in the greenhouse at The Pass in Sheffield recently. Of his fondness for the cannabis plant, he says, “I love the smell of the plant. I love working with the plant. I love the science and the genetics of it. One of the reasons I dove in, is with my medical background, I felt there was an opportunity to educate the populace on cannabis and demystify it a bit.” Berkshire Eagle File Photo

educate the populace on cannabis and demystify it a bit. Certainly there was a business motivation to it, and I felt like there was an opportunity to really help out in the town. In this industry, the host community receives 3 percent of our revenue. I had early hopes of bringing some economic viability to Sheffield, which fortunately has come to fruition.

we can have in the room. And, we have had growing pains. We started with six employees a year ago, and are close to 70 now. Today, the challenge is still finding good help in the Berkshires and jumping through the hoops in the state.

erything on-site, so a retail staffer

Q: What do you love most about your team?

Q: What were the challenges in opening The Pass during the pandemic?

amazing, diverse group of people. It’s certainly one of the things that helps us stand out. We have a bunch of Berkshire locals but we also have plenty of people who have relocated to the area and made it their home. It brings a much-needed demographic to the Berkshires, especially South County, where most of our staff is 25 to 35, a mix of young women and men. We have people coming from the catering world, coming from typical food service roles, where they wouldn’t have a job otherwise. It’s a very fun environment, as well, where we have ev-

Q: With a younger staff working in a town and region that skew older, how’s the connection going between your employees and their customers?

CW: I think Massachusetts has

done many things very well. But it’s inherently an incredibly complex industry, especially with the regulations that are required at this point in time. The bureaucracy and the red tape was the hardest part for us, and COVID certainly delayed us and has affected us significantly in terms of how we can staff and how many people

54 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

CW: We’ve vetted and hired an

isn’t only stuck to interacting with retail people. They interact

with cultivators and extraction engineers over coffee and water in the breakroom. If offers cross-utilization of employees, too.

CW: We get a lot of 80-year-olds

who don’t know anything about cannabis, other than they heard “that this cream really works” or some horror stories about an edible. Our staff really approaches patrons with patience and with a focus on education and empathy. It’s neat to watch the dialogues that go back and forth. These people come in, they’re just cannabis

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curious, and we have a wonderful staff that’s very approachable and kind, which is nice to see and experience.

Q: What makes The Pass stand out from other dispensaries? CW: The fact that we are doing

all in-store shopping, meaning people are entering the store to get products. We’re not doing an outside tent. We have expedited preordering as well as walk-in ordering, so you can just hop off of Route 7 without having to do any planning. One of the great things about our store is that we’ve prepacked most of our stuff in common denominations, and that allows us to spend more time on education with customers, and customers can get in and out more quickly. You don’t have to wait for it to be weighed at the counter. Not many cannabis groups are vertically integrated like us.

Q: Vertically integrated? What does that mean? CW: Meaning not many groups

are like us, growing, packaging, processing cannabis and having a retail store. Being vertical, we do everything on-site. When we’re harvesting the indoor grow, peo-

ple can smell it in the store while checking out. There’s also a chain of product quality control, so we know exactly what genetics we’ll have, we’ll know what that plant has seen and what’s been done to it. We’ll be able to curate our genetics, and curate our cultivars, and we can keep taking plants that produce the best. It makes for a fantastic selection. This is a very savvy consumer group, much like craft beer or wine consumers. They know what they like, they’re looking for a certain terpene profile, a certain cannabinoid, so we can sort of guide and grow those needs. That whole chain of command and quality control that goes from seed to sale, benefits the consumer.

Q: How might the average customer experience this vertical integration, other than The Pass having lively selection? CW: There’s a bevy of canna-

bis stores out there that have to source everything that they have. Having total control of the process, we can hold some product back and allocate accordingly, so we never run out or have a diminished array of products. The vertical business allows us to moderate

that ebb and flow and we can keep things at a more steady state in an industry that’s not known for that. It kind of insulates us a bit from the inconsistencies of supply throughout the state.

Q: And even though you’re vertical and grow your own, you still carry other brands? CW: We’ve curated a great se-

lection in the store from partners that we have great synergy with, and we’re able to do business with others who aren’t in Berkshire shops. We made it a point to carry other products, because we aren’t too overconfident to say that we’re going to make everything the best, and be the only ones that make it. We have a well-rounded menu by having partner companies that we work with, by having their products on our menu and our product on theirs.

Q: What kind of information goes into deciding what strains or products to carry? CW: One example: We had a lot

of people looking for gummies that had sleep aids added to them, as well as other supplements. We developed a Knockout Gummy, which is our fruit punch gummy with melatonin added to it. We want to sell products our customers will like. We’ve allowed the people who run the store and are there day to day to have input and be heard. It allows us to be nimble and pivot in product creation, based on feedback from customers and staff. If we find that customers are looking for a particular product, we can make that product pretty quickly in house and get it onto a shelf in about two months. There’s no guarantee feedback goes anywhere with other cannabis companies. With us, it goes directly to the right people.

Q: What kind of experience can visitors of The Pass expect? CW: One of the beautiful things

The Pass produces nearly all of its own product in-house. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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about our shop is it being spacious, open and airy. We have a lot of wall space that we use like a gallery for local artists every month. There’s also a permanent mural that takes up half the

building. It’s beautiful and calming. On weekends, we do have a line for a couple minutes, so at least there’s something beautiful to look at. We have large- and small-format menus to browse while you’re in line or at the counter. There are display cases, with examples of products with our partner companies, as well as examples of cannabis accessories. And just this month, we started to release Pass merchandise. T-shirts, enamel pins, hats and bandanas, and we’re going to be doing merch drops seasonally.

Q: And your team is maintaining a healthy and safe space? CW: Everything is socially dis-

tanced, with markers on the floor. We limited the number of people in the shop, with the overflow in a line on the patio. And we take a lot of time to make sure the shop is sanitized throughout the day to maintain the cleanliness. There’s this ease of access across the board. It’s not just the large parking area or a covered porch. There’s an emotional ease of access. A lot of people are influenced by the stigma surrounding cannabis. It’s rapidly falling, but here it just melts away. Apprehension just drifts off, and people get wrapped up in the experience and come out knowing a bit more about cannabis and how it might help them. • PLEASE CONSUME RESPONSIBLY. This product may cause impairment and may be habit-forming. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children. This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. The impairment effects of edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact poison control hotline 800-222-1222 or 911. This product may be illegal outside of Massachusetts.

UpCountryOnline.com | 55

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Clear Sky Cannabis: the Berkshires’ friendliest dispensary North Adams dispensary pays homage to its totally sweet, iconic location By Hannah Van Sickle NORTH ADAMS, Mass.

Take a spin along State Road and follow the Hoosic River as it wends from Williamstown to North Adams. Along the city streets, you can clearly see the vestiges of Sprague Electric and the fallout from its closure in 1985. Thankfully, these are just shadows of a bygone era. Today, the growing former mill town is attracting entrepreneurs at a pace that’s caused the oft-overlooked corner of the county to become a super-hot destination for food, lodging, avant-garde art — and cannabis, since the city’s first dispensary opened in March. Enter Clear Sky Cannabis, and a vision for braiding the community’s past, present and future together begins to emerge. CEO Anthony Parrinello

has been in the business for close to a decade and is committed to delivering on the promises his team made to the community. Clear Sky’s resuscitation of a local landmark, the Friendly’s franchise that operated from 1964 to 2014, reflects a commitment to the future of North Adams while building upon memories from the past. “It became apparent that developing a property that had been a key part of the community would be advantageous for everyone,” Parrinello says of choosing the former scoop shop as Clear Sky’s home. Observing residents’ pride of place, Parrinello says a memento at his North Adams dispensary pays homage to local history. “The building’s original front door is refinished and hanging on the wall,” Parrinello says of the

instantly recognizable red script letters, etched upon the very glass door generations of mill workers and their families passed through for over a half century. Parrinello shares similar memories, recalling his trips to Friendly’s after band concerts in grade school. Now, steeped in all things Massachusetts, Clear Sky’s parent company — Evergeren Strategies LLC — has forthcoming locations in Worcester (slated to open in July) and Belchertown. Call it an economic shot in the arm for North Adams, but Parrinello simply identifies with the myriad entrepreneurs he now calls neighbors. “All these folks — Public, Tres Niños, The Break Room, A-OK BBQ, Brazeau’s Butcher Shop, and Tourists — are betting on the Berkshires, betting on North Adams,” he says..

Joining the resurgence of a community that is re-emerging created an opportunity to meet another of the company’s values: taking care of the employees, and supporting the communities, in the markets they serve. “We hired a local, diverse workforce and offer a very competitive living wage,” says Parrinello with pride. They’ve eyeballed Berkshire Food Project as doing “really, really important work,” tackling food insecurity, which makes supporting the nonprofit, through volunteerism and donations, a no brainer. Clear Sky offers a well-curated menu with a wide variety of products for consumers of all needs. A quick scan of online reviews reveals Parrinello has exceeded his goal of assembling, “staff that is well-versed in both products and customer service.” Comments

echo iterations of, super-friendly service, awesome, knowledgeable staff, stellar team and great experience (not to mention great selection and premium buds). A scant 90 days since opening in North Adams, Clear Sky is seeing traffic from New York and Vermont, as well as from all over the Berkshires, all while working to provide customers with a unique and satisfying experience. “Cannabis has had this stigma for so long,” which is why products like hot-for-summer infused seltzer and chillums (glass pipes with a pre-pack of flower) “are helping to normalize the still-emerging industry.” In the market for a summer road trip? Head to the friendliest adult-use dispensary in the Berkshires, one strategically built on the past with a vision for the future of cannabis — and North County — that is evolving. With plans for a state-ofthe-art marijuana grow facility in West Boylston well underway, vertical integration (the ability to cultivate and market the products

The first customers make their purchases on opening day at Clear Sky Cannabis in North Adams, only the second recreational marijuana dispensary in Northern Berkshire County. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

they sell) is just around the corner. Nostalgic for the past? The iconic walk-up window — once boasting sugar cones wrapped in paper napkins and dripping with jimmies — is back in business

and staffed by knowledgeable wellness advisers eager to meet customers’ cannabis needs. It’s a model Parrinello is proud to stand behind: “When you have an opportunity to make

a positive impact on a community, that’s good for everybody.” Visit shopclearsky.com or stop by at 221 State Road, call 888-540-2343 or email info@ clearskycannabis.com. •

What are terpenes, and how do they affect cannabis? An expert from Berkshire Roots sheds some light on the intricate dance between cannabinoids and their scented (and special) co-chemicals By Nicole D’Angelo PITTSFIELD

Most people are familiar with THC and CBD, two of the most popular cannabinoids, but many are unaware that there are over 100 other cannabinoids. More arguably overlooked and just as important is another aspect of cannabis: the terpene profile. Terpenes are a class of naturally occurring hydrocarbons that can be found in many different types of plants. They are especially common in conifers, citrus plants and certain types of flowers, giving these plants their rich scents. They’re also the main ingredient in essential oils and other traditional medicines. Cannabis in particular has a high concentration of terpenes. A cannabis product’s terpene profile affects its taste and is a major factor in a strain’s enjoyability. Their effect goes beyond

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simple flavor, though. Depending on the terpene, they can contribute to the effects or feels that the product might provide, potentially as lowered anxiety or an elevated mood. Terpenes work alongside a cannabis product’s cannabinoid profile to impact the effects it produces. “We’ve found that the terpene profile itself has more to do with the effect of the product than the level of cannabinoids,” said Matthew Culkin, senior director of production at Berkshire Roots. “The savvy customer is not only concerned with the cannabinoid profile but the individual terpenes they’ve come to enjoy.” Culkin went on to describe how cannabinoids and terpenes work together. “While cannabinoids are what causes the psychoactive effect, they behave very similarly from cultivar to cultivar, so you’re

not really going to get a very distinct effect from the cannabinoids specifically themselves,” says Culkin. “The secret sauce that makes a cultivar spectacular and unique is its terpene profile.” He also explained that a cultivar’s specific combination of cannabinoids and terpenes works together to create what’s known as an “ensemble effect,” which he defined as “the synergistic effect of the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds in the plant working together.” In other words, the ensemble effect of a particular cultivar, or collection of similar plants, depends on how all the compounds in it work together. A product can have an average cannabinoid profile but still produce a powerful effect because of the terpene profile. The specific effects of terpenes vary depending on the concentration of the terpene and the

person using it. The following are some of the most common types of terpenes found in cannabis and the type of effect they might have. Limonene Scent: citrusy, found in lemon or orange Potential effects: elevated mood, stress relief

Pinene Scent: sharp and pine-like found in pine trees, cedar, conifer trees, dill and basil Potential effects: alertness, memory retention

Linalool Scent: floral, found in lavender, cinnamon, rosewood and mint Potential effects: stress relief and sedation Myrcene Scent: herbal citrusy, found in lemongrass, hops and mango Potential effects: stress relief; can enhance THC’s effects

UpCountryOnline.com | 57

Photo by Daniel Norin/UnSplash

Beta-caryophyllene Scent: woody with mild spice, found in clove, black pepper Potential effects: none Humulene Scent: woody and herbal, what gives beer that hoppy aroma, found in sage and ginseng Potential effects: appetite suppressant

Companies like Berkshire Roots are taking these effects into account when serving patients and customers. Berkshire Roots labels cultivars with their terpene profiles so customers can learn what types of terpenes they like and shop accordingly. Culkin also spoke of how Berkshire Roots is creating new products based in part on terpene-derived effects. “We’re striving to create a lot of effects-based products, and terpenes are a main component of this. Due to their distinct characteristics, they can be added to products to enhance a certain effect … an example is our Calm and Uplift Tinctures. We incorporate terpenes that are associated with relaxation into the Calm formula and terps that have an uplifting or energizing effect to our Uplift Tincture. The same is true for our vape cartridges and also ensemble oil.” To better craft these products, Berkshire Roots has recently opened a new extraction lab. The company hopes that with this state-of-the-art lab, it’ll be able to take advantage of processes that preserve terpenes to make higher-quality concentrates. This includes creating concentrates extracted with hydrocarbons instead of ethanol, isolating cannabis-derived terpenes for use in products like vape cartridges and extracting concentrates from plants that were frozen immediately upon harvest to preserve the freshness of their flavor profile.

Berkshire Roots will also soon be rolling out solvent-free products. “In our opinion, the best way to take care of our customers is to produce a quality product that is easy to use and has the effects they’re looking for,” Culkin said. “One of the ways that we do this is by paying special attention to the terpenes.” Berkshire Roots is an award-winning Massachusetts cannabis cultivation and dispensary, growing craft-grown cannabis in Berkshire County, the highest elevation in the state. With a commitment to product innovation, staff education and customer service, the Berkshire Roots experience and vibe keep you coming back to this cannabis destination. Berkshire Roots also takes pride on its continued commitment to community, diversity and inclusion through internal programs, monthly activities and using its voice to end racial injustice Visit the highly educated team at retail locations in Pittsfield or East Boston. Chat online with a customer care team member or set up a free private virtual consultation to get your cannabis questions answered, at BerkshireRoots.com • PLEASE CONSUME RESPONSIBLY. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older. Keep out of the reach of children. This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment.

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Food on wheels A peek under the hood of Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen Text and photos by Kristopher Radder BRATTLEBORO The smells and sounds of great home food cooking radiate from Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen, on Putney Road in Brattleboro, Vt., on Putney Road, on Thursday, June 24, 2021. Andrzej Mikijaniec, the owner and chef of “Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen,” lived in Wroclaw, Poland, until he was 20 years old and then moved to the United States to start work as a chef. He attended the New York Restaurant school then worked as a chef in the Russian Tea Room in New York City. Around 17 years ago, Mikijaniec brought his talents to Vermont working for different restaurants in the area. In 2015, Mikijaniec opened “Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen” on Flat Street in Brattleboro, and then moved to the top of Hogback Mountain for a few years. Now operating out of a food truck, Mikijaniec has been able to keep his business mobile around New England, though he sets up his main spot at the parking lot of the Black Mountain Inn, in Brattleboro for three days a week. There are plans to open up Sundays as well. •

The smells and sounds of great home food cooking radiate from Andrzej’s Polish Kitchen, on Putney Road in Brattleboro, Vt.

60 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

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SCENES FROM THE GRILL: Mikijaniec uses a presser to cook a hamburger, below,. and sprinkles a little salt on the fresh-cut fries for flavor.

62 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

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Above, Mikijaniec stands in front of his Brattleborobased food truck. Below, he prepares a fresh cold German potato salad before opening to customers.

64 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | July/August 2021

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