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Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont


Before you pour‌ Pick the right maple syrup for your pancakes Grammy winner Benjamin Arrindell mixes music at Old Mill Road Recording Betting on the creative economy in Brattleboro Play tennis year-round in Bennington

Plus: Holly Near sings for the trees Finding New England’s forgotten highways


21 26 31

At the corner of Main and art A historic downtown Brattleboro address bets its future on the creative economy

A Grammy winner Whatever mixes music in East happened to ‘fancy’ Arlington maple syrup? Old Mill Road Recording offers musicians, performers natural inspiration

Before you pour, know what type of maple syrup you’re putting on your pancakes

Saving the planet through song and action Holly Near concert to benefit Bennington 1,000-tree reforestation effort 


Travel the ‘forgotten highways’ of New England Author examines historic turnpikes in new guide book 


6 From the editor 7 Contributors 40 10 things not to miss

Play tennis year-round in Bennington Bennington Tennis Center has options for every season and skill level 


Mocktails that still pack a punch Cannabis-infused drinks offer alcohol-free alternative 

43 UpCountryOnline.com | 5


The mud sucked at our boots as we hiked up the road to the Armstrong Farm sugarhouse in Pownal, Vt. I had parked my car on firmer ground, doubting it could successfully wade through the mire. Instead, I struck out on foot, with my then-4-year-old daughter in tow, in pursuit of getting the scoop on the upcoming Vermont Maple Open House Weekend for The North Adams Transcript. If I had to pinpoint when I fell in love with the month of March, it was probably that day. When my children were younger, March meant we’d be traveling far and wide, visiting sugarhouses in the UpCountry of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, feasting on pancakes and sampling syrups. In April, we’d cuddle newborn sheep and goats, allow calves to nuzzle our outstretched palms and chase the occasional run-away piglet in the Round Stone Barn at Hancock Shaker Village. Fifteen years after my visit to Armstrong Farm, I can still call up the image of my daughter, now 19 and in college, wide-eyed and on tiptoes, peering over the side of a steaming vat of boiling syrup. And even though my children are grown, the youngest now a freshman in high school, I’m still in love with March. Why? March is that in-between time; winter is still hanging on and spring has yet to arrive. It begins with the smell of sweet, sticky syrup hanging in the air, and mud beneath our feet — signs that spring is just around the corner; that the days are growing longer and that the mornings will soon be filled with the sounds of spring songbirds. And then, suddenly, buds are on the trees and the sugaring season is over. April arrives and the air smells of fresh-cut grass with a hint of lingering mud. While we wait for spring, venture out to a local sugarhouse or two; hit the open road and explore one of New England’s forgotten highways; play a round of tennis on Bennington’s indoor courts, explore the expanding cultural economy of Brattleboro or check out one of the events on our “not to miss” list (pages 40-41). Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com

Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg


Vice President Jordan Brechenser


Executive Editor Kevin Moran


Editor Jennifer L. Huberdeau


Proofreaders Margaret Button Tim Jamiolkowski Art Director Kimberly Kirchner


Regional Advertising Managers Berkshire County, Mass.: Kate Teutsch kteutsch@berkshireeagle.com

Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance


Windham County, Vt.: Jonathan Stafford jstafford@reformer.com

UpCountry Magazine is a publication of New England Newspapers Inc.

On the cover: Merino sheep peer out curiously at visitors to Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo. Story, page 41

6 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020


Telly Halkias [“Saving the planet through song and action,” page 9] is a national award-winning, independent journalist. He lives and writes from his homes in Southern Vermont and coastal Maine.

Kevin O’Connor [“At the corner of Main and art,” page 21] is a Vermont native and Brattleboro Reformer contributor.

Adam Samrov [“You can play tennis, no matter the weather,” page 37] joined the Bennington Banner in January 2008, and has served as its sports editor since November 2010. His wife, Cassandra, he says, is the real photographer in the family.

Greg Sukiennik [“How Grammy winner Benjamin Arrindell came to call Southern Vermont ‘home’,” page 26] is editor of Southern Vermont Landscapes, the weekend arts and living section of the Bennington Banner and Brattleboro Reformer.

Explore UpCountry Read the latest stories and browse back issues at UpCountryOnline.com Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont


Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont

Adventures in theSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER Berkshires and Southern 2019 Vermont

Discover the magic of fall!

Adventures in the NOVEMBER/DECEMBER Berkshires and Southern 2019 Vermont


Celebrate winter!

Bring on the holiday cookie swap! Volunteers help an iconic hiking trail keep its status everything you need (and more) Pilgrims find ‘Divine Mercy’ in Stockbridge Preserving the craft of traditional butchery Plus: Get in the mood for comfort food | Lessons of an average fly-tyer | 9 noteworthy women you should know about

Plus: A festival with 1,500 apple pies | Backroad Discovery Tours | A wine and soup stroll

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Saving the planet through song and action Holly Near concert to benefit 1,000-tree reforestation effort

By Telly Halkis BENNINGTON, Vt. After a lifetime as a performing artist and activist, when Holly Near steps up to a microphone, her audiences have come to appreciate that the world is about to become a better place. That’s because singer-songwriter Near, who also acts and teaches, always has seen fit to combine her art with strong causes aimed at social justice, and most notably, passionate environmentalism. It’s the latter conviction that will bring Near to the area March 21, for a concert at Bennington College, a campus known for its cutting-edge pedagogy and progressive student ideals — which run parallel to the chanteuse’s life ethics. In particular, this appearance from Near will help benefit a 1,000-tree reforestation effort sponsored by Climate Advocates Bennington, a local chapter of the statewide body 350Vermont, an advocacy organization that prioritizes action on physical projects. Near said she was looking forward to the concert at Bennington College, and is very pleased to be working with Climate Advocates Bennington. “This is such a huge holistic issue of community and compassion, ecological awareness, and it calls for a path of justice and global peace,” Near said. “So, I encourage people to use the concert not only to hear what I believe is wonderful music, but to gather for a spirit raiser. UpCountryOnline.com | 9

“I find at my concerts that people are pleased to see each other, to be reminded that they are part of a kind and active community. It isn’t a Pollyanna sort of hope that rises, but one that comes from a realistic love of this earthly experience.” The concert also will feature Tammi Brown, Jan Martinelli and Tory Trujillo. Near knows her audiences well. Her shows and other public appearances have, for decades, been known as family gatherings of sorts, not only of the like-minded, but for those who want to come, listen, enjoy and learn. She fondly recounted how, some years ago, after a concert, a security guard said there were two people at the backstage entrance who wanted to see her. An elderly couple came in and told the story of their daughter, who had come out as a lesbian and left home for California. Originally, the couple said, they had threatened to disown their daughter. For her part, the daughter, Near continued, learned that the singer was to be in concert in her parents’ town, and so she asked them to attend the show before they made any irreversible decisions. Rather than their previously limited pornographic view of lesbians, what they saw at the concert was something totally different and normal to everyday life. “So, they had come backstage to tell me that they were not going to disown their daughter but rather try to understand,” Near said. “I loved those two people, those parents.”

Bennington’s 1,000 trees This innate ability to expand horizons by teaching others extends to Near’s wellknown support of environmental causes. Retired college professor Naomi Miller, who also serves as the Climate Advocates’ coordinator for the benefit concert, was instrumen-

tal in approaching Near with the idea of performing at Bennington College. Miller said that her organization’s goal is to officially kick off the local area 1,000tree reforestation on Earth Day 2020, or April 22, a month after Near’s performance. She also added that the Climate Advocates Bennington is open to volunteers signing on to help with the project. “Global-scale tree planting can achieve major carbon drawdown, and we’re joining the folks around the world who are working on it,” Miller said. “Right now, we’re learning which trees are most important to plant in this specific region, and we’re in discussions with community partners to find locations in the local area for the planting. Our hope is to build community as we draw down carbon.” Barbara True-Weber, the group’s reforestation project coordinator, said that the endeavor had been in the works since fall 2019, the result of a scientific study conducted half a world away. Earlier that year, researchers at ETH Zurich found that planting trees is the best way to tackle climate change. “Trees efficiently pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and can store it, essentially, forever,” True-Weber said. “So, the reforestation of the forests, which have been steadily eroded in the last 50 years, becomes highly significant. Our goal is actually to plant a forest, not just trees. We want to plant a place that has fruiting trees and shrubs, a place that will attract wildlife, a place that produces an abundance of life.”

It’s personal, too The support for Bennington’s reforestation seems to dovetail perfectly with so much of Near’s career. It’s a cause she said she backed without hesitation and with great enthusiasm. But, performing at Bennington

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Holly Near in concert Where: Visual and Performing Arts Center, Bennington College, 1 College Drive, Bennington Vt. When: 7 p.m., March 21 Tickets and information: 350vt.nationbuilder.com/hollynear More information on Holly Near: hollynear.com More information on Climate Advocates Bennington: climateadvocatesbennington.org Previous page: Singer-songwriter Holly Near performs. Photo by Steve Underhill Below: Photo by Irene Young

College also was a homecoming of sorts, one that Near called “a personal emotion.” “My mother was in the second graduating class of Bennington,” Near said. “Growing up, we heard about her experience there, how much she loved the bright young women who gathered to get a progressive education and the professors who strove to provide thought-provoking challenges.” This intimate connection,

Near continued, makes supporting the reforestation even more significant. “Earth is the only planet we know of that has life on it, and we get to be here for a very short time,” Near said. “We are such little specks in the universe, so, I see no reason not to move through this experience with fascination. We can’t fix all things, but we can be creative contributors during our time on Earth. And love people who plant trees. Millions of trees.” •

Travel the ‘forgotten highways’ of New England Author examines historic turnpikes in new guide book By Jennifer Huberdeau During winter 1803, the tollkeeper on the road between the Berkshires and Hudson, N.Y., recorded over 700 sleds and sleighs, many headed to the market, over the course of a single Saturday. The tolls paid by the users — 25 cents for a carriage drawn by four horses; 6 cents for a horse and rider; 12 cents for a score of sheep, and so on — would pay for the early turnpike’s upkeep. Similar tolls were charged on similar highways and turnpikes around New England, as towns struggled to keep the well-used and well-worn roads in acceptable traveling conditions. “The toll collectors were the most important part of maintaining the roads, which were so horrendously bad,” said Robert A. Geake, a historian and author from Rhode Island. Before toll collections, towns adopted laws that required every able-bodied man to work on the roads a few days of the year. Those who could afford to hired laborers to perform the task, which usually was done halfheartedly, he said. It was along these well-known roads that hotels, diners, restaurants and general stores would open and flourish. But, as new highways and byways were built and then replaced by the interstate highway system, travel along these historic roads came to a standstill and businesses shuttered. These early turnpikes faded into memory, becoming better known as backroads used for scenic drives — roads that Geake highlights in his latest book, “The Road Less Traveled: Forgotten Historic Highways of New England.” “It’s been a really interesting journey,” Geake said of writing the book, which is partially a history guide and part travel guide. “It’s taken four years to take all the trips. I started by heading out and taking pictures, then I researched the history of each. I actually did more than are in the book, but we had to limit the number of chapters.”

Among the 10 historic highways and turnpikes are three routes within UpCountry’s coverage area: “U.S. Route 7: Sheffield, Mass. to Kent, Conn.”; “Scenic By-Way: Route 30/100: Townshend to Weston, Vt.” and “Over the River and Through the Woods: Route 121 Bellows Falls to North Windham, Vt.” “I found a lot of great history and a lot of great people along the way,” he said. “Grafton and Weston [Vt.] were two of my favorite places. They’re beautiful, have great histories and the people [in these communities] are so accommodating.” He suggests stopping in and walking around Grafton (covered in the chapter on Route 121) and Weston (part of the chapter on Routes 30 and 100). In his travels along Routes 30 and 100 in Vermont, Geake writes about the Scott Covered Bridge in Townshend, the second-longest covered bridge in the state; Grandma Miller’s Pies and Pastries in South Londonderry; the Weston Playhouse; the Craftsman’s Museum; and the Vermont Country Store, a fixture in downtown Weston since 1949. “Part of the reason it’s important to pull off the highway and travel these roads is that you can go slower and look around. You can see the history, even if you don’t stop and get out of the car,” he said. “These old roads are a connection to how a community grew.” Along Route 121 in Vermont, Geake highlights the Miss Bellows Falls Diner, the Hall Covered Bridge, the Saxtons River Village Market and the Butterfield House, Eaglebrook and the Vermont Museum of Minerals, all in Grafton. “One of my favorite finds was when we crossed a river and came across the ruins of an old woolen mill. It was very picturesque,” he said. But, perhaps the greatest discovery he has had over the years is that of the Eric Sloane Museum in Kent, Conn., while traveling along Route 7. “I first discovered it when I drove past


“The Road Less Traveled: Forgotten Historic Highways of New England” By Robert A. Geake Publisher: Arcadia Publishing 160 pages Cover image provided by Arcadia Publishing

it when I was traveling to New York,” said Geake, a fan of Sloane — author, historian and illustrator — since he was a young man. Other highlights along Route 7 include the Dan Raymond House, the Old Stone Store, Owen Dewey Hall in Sheffield, Mass., along with the Housatonic Meadows State Forest campground in Sharon, Conn. • UpCountryOnline.com | 11

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Vermont artists Jim Giddings and Petria Mitchell stand next to their own work. Photo by Kevin O’Connor

At the corner of Main and art A historic downtown Brattleboro address bets its future on the creative economy

By Kevin O’Connor BRATTLEBORO, Vt.

Why would an artist, settled comfortably on a still life of a dirt road, want to invest all of one’s savings and sweat into creating an urbane downtown gallery? Vermonter Petria Mitchell had a reason. “I believe in introducing my work to people who want to own it,” she said. Her partner and fellow painter, Jim Giddings, had reservations. UpCountryOnline.com | 21

“Even though we’re familiar with selling, it becomes a much more difficult enterprise,” he said. But, that didn’t stop the two from dedicating several years of planning and six figures of retirement savings into a showy exhibit space. When they opened Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts at 183 Main St. in 2014, renowned painter Wolf Kahn wrote in the guest book: “You have brought Paris to Brattleboro.” Agreeing, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce just named the couple its Entrepreneurs of the Year. Yet, amid the cosmopolitan, contemporary art, the gallery also reflects the evolution of the surrounding historic downtown. While the address has served as a local anchor for nearly two centuries, it has morphed from a hub of hospitality into one for government, then commerce, and now, the creative economy. “I miss the downtown where you could buy clothing and bedding, and have shoes or a radio fixed,” Giddings said. “But, we are known as a creative community,” Mitchell added, “and celebrating that is one of the things we hope we’re doing.” The story of 183 Main St. started almost 200 years ago with the opening of the Vermont House hotel and tavern, which hosted travelers from 1828 to its destruction by fire in 1852. “As we write, the Aurora is streaming brilliantly above the ruins, like hope hovering over the couch of despair,” a local paper reported after the blaze. “We accept it as an omen of a speedy restoration of that part of our village to its former beauty.” Brattleboro soon replaced the charred remnants with a stately brick Town Hall, which stood nearly 100 years before bulldozers made way for a simpler retail building that welcomed W. T. Grant, a discount chain store, in 1954, a mini shopping mall in 1978 and, most recently, a home fur22 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

This spread, clockwise from top left: Brattleboro’s Town Hall welcomed home local soldiers at the end of World War I. Photo courtesy Brattleboro Historical Society; Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts is located at 183 Main St. in Brattleboro. Photo by Kevin O’Connor; A browser takes a photo of a print by renowned Vermont artist Wolf Kahn. Photo by Kevin O’Connor; The W.T. Grant discount chain store opened in Brattleboro in 1954. Photo courtesy Brattleboro Historical Society

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nishings showroom. Mitchell and Giddings opened their gallery in the basement six years ago. When the upstairs owner decided to retire, the couple bought the space and moved to street level, which they’ll share with the relocating Brattleboro School of Dance and, elsewhere in the structure, the In-Sight Photography Project and new First Proof Press printmaking studio. The address’ emphasis on the arts has precedent. Shortly after Town Hall opened in 1855, leaders rented studio space to local boy-turned American painter William Morris Hunt, then added an 875-seat opera house at the turn of the 20th century that became a movie theater in the 1920s. Then again, it’s also a new direction for a downtown once centered on retail but now boasting a half-dozen smaller galleries and buzzing

about plans for a $30 million arts and apartment complex that would be the priciest Main Street project in local history. More than 7,000 Vermonters are employed by arts and cultural enterprises that total nearly 5 percent of all the state’s businesses, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development reports. “The arts community in Vermont — artists, museums and historic sites, arts promoters and agents, writers, and performing arts companies and presenters — plays an essential role in the economy, cultural diversity and the quality of life of Vermonters,” the agency says on its website. But, most artists who want to exhibit their work usually clean out a barn or back room rather than purchase more than 2,000 square feet of commercial space and renovate it into a showcase more likely seen in

Boston or New York. “Starting a fine arts gallery seems a natural evolution,” said Mitchell, who got her “itch for retailing” as an engraver who has carved ivory and Vermont-crafted Froggy Bottom Guitars. Mitchell and Giddings learned the business of art through their longtime associations with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center and the onetime local cooperative Windham Art Gallery. The latter is where they discovered the downsides, especially after it closed a decade ago. Vermont is spilling with artists — there are 33 percent more as a proportion of total employment in the state than nationwide, statistics show — but a gallery’s need to pay out rent, commissions and other costs can be a constant challenge. Mitchell and Giddings considered trying a venture with peers, only to decide to

The view from the balcony of Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts. Photo by Kevin O’Connor

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open their own business so they could implement their own ideas. Giddings recalls telling a colleague about the plan. “His only comment was, ‘My condolences.’” Giddings, nonetheless, has gone on to juggle plasterboard and paperwork. The resulting gallery offers studio art and periodic public programs detailed on its website, mitchellgiddingsfinearts.com. “There is always something that demands attention, but we’re having a really good time,” Giddings said. “We see this as an opportunity to do something for ourselves and the community.” “People ask, ‘Why would you want to take on such complexities?’” Mitchell added. “It’s phenomenally creative. It’s so important for us to remember we’re doing this for the fine arts.” •

How Grammy winner Benjamin Arrindell came to call Southern Vermont ‘home’ Old Mill Road Recording offers musicians, performers natural inspiration

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By Greg Sukiennik EAST ARLINGTON, Vt.

There is lots of comfortable space at Old Mill Road Recording, the professional-grade recording studio that Grammy-winning recording engineer Benjamin J. Arrindell and Broadway producer Joshua Sherman opened in late 2017. There is a kitchen with bowls full of trail mix and gummy bears on the counter. The “live” room and vocal isolation booth have a splendid view of Fayville Branch as its cascades flow past the grist mill that Remember Baker, Ethan Allen’s first cousin and fellow member of the Green Mountain Boys, built in 1764. But, Arrindell, when asked where he wants to sit and talk about himself and his chosen field, chooses the control room, with its Solid State Logic 48-track recording deck and Tannoy studio monitors. Perhaps this is why: Asked whether he prefers recording musicians or mixing their songs, Arrindell said he is most at home mixing behind the board. It’s less nerve-wracking than live recordings, where human and technological variables can get in the way, and solidly in the groove of what he does best. “[Mixing is] my most favorite portion of this process,” Arrindell said. “Especially when I get left alone, or if you leave me alone, or send me materials to work with. I love when I’m left to my own and I can do whatever I want. “I like that the most, because that’s what you paid me to do — why you came to me in the first place. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it the opposite way, sitting there with the producer and artist. … I like working with people that way, too.” Sherman certainly is happy to have Arrindell as a partner at Old Mill Road Recording. “Ben is smart, and he has great ‘ears.’ He listens well — not just to music, but to other people. Therefore, he is a great collaborator with artists and producers,” Sherman said. “He is always professional and friendly — and is a true master at recording and mixing.” Growing up on Staten Island, Arrindell didn’t have his heart set on becoming a recording engineer or pursuing a career in the music business. That came later. But, he recalls his family listening to music of all kinds on AM radio, when stations still played a diverse variety of styles, and on a home stereo with an eight-track tape player. A favorite memory? The eight-track of The Spinners’ self-titled Atlantic Records debut, released in 1973. (It’s the one with “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.” )

The studio’s control room was designed by world-renowned architectural acoustic designer Francis Manzella. Photo provided by Old Mill Road Recording

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Benjamin J. Arrindell, left, and Joshua Sherman have built a state-of-the-art recording studio in East Arlington. Photo provided by Old Mill Road Recording

Maybe that’s why, when asked what has caught his ear lately, he says “Everything. I mean that in an honest, literal type of way.” Arrindell’s decision to pursue a music industry career came when he returned home from the U.S. Army, which had stationed him in Europe. He learned the skills of recording and mixing at the now-defunct Center for Media Arts in New York, and as an intern at Look & Co., a firm that produced commercial radio jingles. The level of skill and professionalism at that first job taught Arrindell a lot. These were first-call professionals who had worked on recording sessions and knew their stuff, he said. “Look & Co. was the ‘ahha’ moment,” he said. “It was really such a great environment. I was working with a lot of en-

gineers who had worked on albums. They were working in the recording industry already. … They were top-notch guys.” After his time at Look & Co. and at Platinum Island, a studio known for its dance remixes, Arrindell landed at Soundtrack, a New York recording studio. It was there that he first met Darrell "Delite" Allamby, a composer and producer with a string of multiplatinum success in R&B and hip-hop music. That set in motion the opportunity that changed Arrindell’s life, as Allamby called him in to handle the mixing duties on “My Body,” a single Allamby was producing for the trio of Gerald Lavert, Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, performing as LSG. That single sold millions of units all over the world and took the charts by storm,

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spending seven weeks at No. 1 on the R&B chart and peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The success created enough demand for Arrindell’s services that he became a freelance engineer. But, here’s the thing: It was Arrindell’s “rough mix” of the song — that’s the rough draft, if you will — that listeners heard. Arrindell’s job on the session was simple enough: Merge the vocals and the backing track together to create a rough mix. A finished mix of the song was produced after it left Arrindell’s hands, and as Arrindell recalled, Allamby was so unhappy with the final result that he complained to the record company executives. He told them he wanted it to sound like the mix Arrindell had completed. “It was being in the right place at the right time, and be-

ing prepared,” Arrindell said of that experience. “I was good just enough at that point.” More work with Allamby followed, with recording artists including Lavert, The O’Jays, The Temptations, K-Ci & JoJo, and “What’s it Gonna Be,” a collaboration between Janet Jackson and Busta Rhymes. It also included mixing “The Experience” for gospel singer Yolanda Adams. That album earned him the 2001 Grammy Award for best contemporary gospel album. Then there was the recording session with the “Queen of Soul” herself. Arrindell recalls well the session with Aretha Franklin. It was in her hometown of Detroit, at a studio where she often recorded, and he was working with Allamby. He remembers that Franklin was sweet to the crew work-

ing with her that day, and she sprang for a proper lunch — a catered meal, not sandwiches and chips. “She just went into the booth and she sang her [butt] off. She just sang,” he recalled. “You didn’t have to tell her what to do. … You’re not going to have her in there singing 90 times. No, that’s not happening.” What was it like to record an artist he and his parents had listened to? It was a “pinch me” moment in more ways than one. “I had to turn around and pinch [Allamby],” Arrindell said. “He asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Pinching you, bro.’ I think I did that when we went to record Janet Jackson, too.” Arrindell met Sherman at Quad Recording Studios in New York in connection with a Broadway project. Sherman was born into show business — his mother, lyricist Eileen Bluestone Sherman, and aunt, composer Gail C. Bluestone, are a team — and he was transitioning from his previous role

as set and costume designer to producer at the time. “Whenever you are producing a new musical, the first thing people ask is, ‘Can I hear the music?’ or ‘What does the music sound like?’ So, I found myself in the recording studio, producing demos, concept albums and cast albums for new musicals,” Sherman said. “And that's how Ben and I met … 20 years ago!” They soon became friends and, from time to time, talked about what they would do if they could design their own recording studio from scratch. “We'd be working in a studio in New York City and I'd say, ‘When we do our studio, we won't do that,’” Sherman said. “Or we'd see a cool detail and he'd say, ‘When we do our studio, let's do that!’” When it came time to make that hypothetical real, Sherman knew just the place: in East Arlington, where he had spent so much time growing up and where he was investing in properties on Old Mill Road,

including Remember Baker’s grist mill and some adjacent properties he had hoped to convert into a performance space. Instead, the grist mill became the performance space and the apartments turned into Old Mill Road Recording. The studio, designed by Francis Manzella, recently was honored with a technical excellence and creativity award for studio design from the National Association of Music Merchants. “When I called [Arrindell] up and said ‘It's time. We're doing this,’ it was actually very easy and expected,” Sherman said of bringing his friend to East Arlington. “Initially, he traveled back and forth between Staten Island and Vermont, but he loved it up here, so, no convincing was necessary.” Arrindell has been a Vermont resident “officially” since 2019 — that’s when he got his Vermont driver’s license. He is working on projects with pianist and rapper Benjamin Lern-

er (the great-grandson of Irving Berlin), and with Emmy- and Tony-winning singer and actress Lillias White. “I like the fresh air,” he said. “Am I comfortable? Yeah … it’s just not New York City. You can’t come up here expecting it to be. There’s far less people — that’s cool and not cool at the same time. It’s just one of those things.” Arrindell and Sherman conceived Old Mill Road Recording as a space where musicians and performers can be inspired by the natural beauty, focus their efforts amid the relative solitude of Southern Vermont and still work with cutting-edge technology. It blends neatly into the small-town streetscape of East Arlington. “They get it, everybody gets that,” Arrindell said of the studio’s tranquil surroundings. “Just from looking at the pictures, people are like, ‘I totally get what you guys are about — it’s about coming up here and chilling and absorbing this, and creating at the same time.” •

The Fayville Branch runs behind the Old Mill Road Recording studio. Photo provided by Old Mill Road Recording

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Whatever happened to ‘fancy’ maple syrup? Before you pour, know what type of maple syrup you’re putting on your pancakes

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By Jennifer Huberdeau HANCOCK, Mass.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the maple syrup grading system, you’re not alone. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I noticed something was different. While in Vermont, I was looking for “fancy” maple syrup, the light amber syrup with a light maple flavor to match. I couldn’t find it. Nor could I find the Grade B syrup, with the strong maple flavor I needed for baking. Everywhere I looked there was only Grade A syrup. My curiosity was piqued, but like many other maple syrup shoppers out there, I picked up one of the Grade A jugs at my local grocery store (this one happened to be from a sugarhouse in Charlemont) and went on my way. It wasn’t until recently that I began to ask: Why couldn’t I find Grade B maple syrup? And what happened to “fancy” maple syrup? To my relief, a quick internet search found that the

maple syrup grades I had come to know and rely on were still out there, just with different names. I was surprised to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the changes in 2015. But, I still wasn’t quite sure why the changes had happened or what the benefits of the name changes could be. So, I reached out to a few sugarmakers in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont to see if they could answer my questions. And they did.

Change unites sugarmakers “It put the United States and Canada on the same talking ground,” said Missy Leab, during a visit to Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock. “This was to get everybody uniform. So, when you travel, when you go places, when you buy maple syrup, everybody is talking in the same terms, with the same names and the same descriptions.” Before 2015, each state had

its own grading standards, she said. Vermont’s “fancy” syrup was the same as “light amber” in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, New York sugarmakers had a “very dark” grade that wasn’t comparable to offerings in other states. “[The U.S.D.A.] did make a little bit of a change when it drew the lines between each of the flavors,” Leab said. “Every sugarmaker will tell you whether or not they agree with the changes or not. I think we’ve been able to do well with the changes over the last few years. We try to match the customer with what they want by offering samples. Offering samples is key to the grading changeover.” And while the changes might be confusing for customers who were used to the old grading system, Leab said she sees the benefits of changing the names, especially in a state where the most commonly used type of syrup — the one most popular on pancakes and waffles — was named “Grade B.”

“Even before the grading change, people were always asking: ‘Why do I want something that’s called ‘Grade B’? Isn’t that inferior?’ ” she said. “I always tell people to taste it and see. It really depends on what flavor you’re looking for.” The new names focus on the color and the potency of the syrup’s maple flavor. Instead of calling a syrup Grade A: Light Amber or Fancy, the new grading system calls it Grade A: Golden Color and Delicate Taste. And Grade B? That’s now Grade A: Dark Color and Robust Taste. Nikki Harlow, of Harlow’s Sugar House in Putney, Vt., said the change in the grading system has been confusing for those who knew the old system, but as customers adapt to it, it’s easier to use. “I do think the new names have made it easier for consumers to understand. The names are more descriptive of the color and taste which can be helpful,” she said in an email. “We Harlows are all

Previous page: Nancy Flynn holds a bucket as her son, Chris, pours boiled maple syrup into it in the barn at their family’s farm stand on Tamarack Road in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo Above: A temporary maple syrup grading kit allows sugarmakers to compare their syrup to standards set by the USDA. The syrup grades, from left, are Golden Color and Delicate Taste, Amber Color and Rich Taste, and Dark Color and Robust Taste. Photo by Jennifer Huberdeau

32 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

about our ‘Fancy’ syrup (which now would be Golden Color and Delicate Taste), so that would be my recommendation [to customers]. The dark [color and robust taste] is what most people use for baking, because of the deep maple flavor.”

No changes to syrup production What hasn’t changed is the way syrup is produced at your favorite sugarhouse. Sugarmakers still are tapping trees in late January and early February in anticipation of the start of the season. “We did boil once already, on Jan. 18, when we had that warm spell,” Leab said. “Traditionally, March is ‘Maple Month.’ That’s when the most thawing and freezing happens; when the majority of the crop comes in. We have our most boils in March.” In late January, Ioka Valley and Harlow’s Sugar House were about halfway through the tapping of their trees. At Ioka, the farm has 18,000 taps and produced over 8,000 gallons of syrup during the 2019 maple season. “We balance out our market,” Leab said. “We retail a fair amount at our farm. Fortunately, ‘buy local’ is strong in the Berkshires. We have a lot of restaurants and schools that buy from us. We have enough in the barrels to sell to other sugarmakers. We have a very diverse portfolio as we expand. We’re very fortunate that maple season is my husband’s passion.” Robert Leab, Missy’s husband and the third generation of the Leab family to farm at Ioka Valley, began sugaring in 1992. “At the time, we were still milking cows. One of our hired hands suggested that to pass the winter months, Rob might enjoy making syrup. They tapped all the maple trees in the yard and had 13 buckets. They boiled over an open fireplace, on the wood stove in the shed and in the farmhouse


Ioka Valley Farm

Harlow’s Sugar House

3475 Route 43

556 Bellows Falls Road

Hancock, Mass.

Putney, Vt.

413-738-5915, iokavalleyfarm.com

802-387-5832, or search Harlow’s Sugar House on Facebook

Sugarhouse, maple-sugaring activities and Calf-A open weekends through April 5, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Calf-A serves pancakes, waffles and French toast. Maple syrup (Golden, Amber and Dark) and maple products for sale.

Sugarhouse and gift shop. Check its Facebook page for days and times it is open. The gift shop sells maple syrup (Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark), maple cream, maple candy and other Vermont-related items and gifts.


Massachusetts Maple Weekend

Vermont Maple Open House Weekend

March 21-22

March 21-22

For a complete list of participating sugarhouses and times, visit the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association website at massmaple.org.

For a complete list of participating sugarhouses, a map and more information, visit the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association at vermontmaple.org.

A few of the maple products sold at Ioka Valley Farm. Photo by Jennifer Huberdeau

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Grade A: Golden Color and Delicate Taste

Used to make maple candy, maple cream and cake icing. Used as a substitute for white sugar in baking and as a sweetener in general. Other popular uses include pouring over ice cream and mixing in yogurt. (Harlow’s Sugar House highly recommends this “fancy” syrup.)

(formerly Grade A: Light Amber/Fancy) The lightest in color and sweetest in taste.

Grade A: Amber Color and Rich Taste (formerly Grade A: Medium Amber) Richer maple flavor; still has a lot of sweetness.

Grade A: Dark Color and Robust Taste (formerly Grade A: Dark Amber and Grade B: Extra Dark)

Most popular use is as table syrup for pancakes, waffles and French toast. (This is the syrup Ioka Valley serves in its Calf-A.)

Robust maple flavor works well in baked goods, as it can compete with other flavors. Used as a table syrup.

Strong maple flavor; subtle sweetness.

Grade A: Very Dark and Strong Taste (formerly Grade C/Commercial Grade) Darkest in color; deep maple flavor; not much sweetness at all.

Bold maple flavor works well in recipes that require the maple flavor to come through: meat glazes, barbecue sauces, mustards, candied yams, baked beans and some desserts.

Visitors sample maple syrup at an open house during Maple Weekend in Vermont. BenningtonBanner File Photo

34 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

kitchen, where they had pots and pans all over. “After that first season, when they had made a few quarts of syrup, Rob’s mother said he was never going to boil in the farmhouse again. After all the boiling, the wallpaper wanted to start to peel off the walls and all the cabinets were sticky.” Undeterred, Rob L eab tapped 100 trees in 1993. He purchased an evaporator, which he set up in the yard under a canopy. A sugarhouse followed the next year, and maple syrup became part of the family business. At Harlow’s, where sugarmaking has been part of the family business since 1927, a fourth generation of Harlows is expanding. “This year, we will have more taps than last, as we have redone a section of sugarbush that wasn't tapped last year,” Harlow said. “This year, we will have about 8,100 taps; last year, we had about 7,500. We will, hopefully, produce more syrup this year. In the 2019 season, we made 2,500 gallons of liquid gold.”

Visit a sugarhouse So, what do you need to know? Simply put, the lighter the color of the syrup, the sweeter the taste. The darker the color, the more “maple” the flavor. But, don’t take my word for it. Go visit a sugarhouse, especially one that lets you taste its wares. Most sugarhouses in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont participate in one of the Maple Weekends in March or have regular hours during March. But, don’t wait too long — Mother Nature controls the length of the season. “March is the month when people really want to get outside, but they can’t work in their yards yet because we still have snow or it’s still too muddy,” Leab said. “Then spring arrives and buds appear on the trees. When you can start working in your garden, that’s when we’re done. It’s a great way to get through mud season.” •

MAPLE BAKED BEANS Recipe courtesy of Harlow’s Sugar House

INGREDIENTS 2 pounds yellow eye or soldier beans, dried ½ pound salt pork or bacon ½ cup sugar 2 teaspoons dry mustard ½ teaspoon pepper ¾ cup maple syrup, Grade A: Dark Color/Robust Taste or Grade A; Very Dark/Strong Taste

DIRECTIONS Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Cover the bowl and allow the beans to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Put the beans in a stockpot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the husks curl when you blow on them. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with hot water. Preheat oven to 325 to 350 F. Place beans back in the Dutch oven and place salt pork on top of the beans. In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour mixture over the beans, along with a ½ pint of boiling water. Cover. Bake for 5 to 6 hours, adding water and additional maple syrup (for desired flavor) as needed.

AWESOME APPLE MAPLE PIE Courtesy of Ioka Valley Farm

INGREDIENTS Pastry: 2 ½ cups flour 2 sticks (1 cup) butter 2 teaspoons sugar ½ teaspoon salt Alternative: Use 2 ready-made pie crusts. Filling: 8 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced ½ cup sugar ½ cup maple sugar 2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces ¼ cup whipping cream Over crust: 1 to 2 tablespoons milk 1 tablespoon sugar

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 F. Make pastry or prepare readymade pie crust. Place 1 pie crust in an ungreased, 9-inch glass pie plate. Mix filling ingredients together, except for whipping cream, and spoon into bottom crust. Dot with butter pieces. Pour whipping cream over apple mixture. Add top crust, brush with milk and sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes.

ROB’S MAPLE LEMONADE Courtesy of Ioka Valley Farm Experiment with different maple syrup grades to achieve desired maple flavor.

INGREDIENTS 1 cup maple syrup, Grade A: Amber Color/Rich Taste 1 cup real lemon juice 6 cups of water

DIRECTIONS In a pitcher, stir together ingredients. Chill before serving.

Berkshire Eagle File Photo

MAPLE CHEESECAKE Courtesy of Ioka Valley Farm



One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 8 ounces whipped topping ½ cup maple sugar 1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into the pie crust. Chill overnight. Sprinkle with additional maple sugar before serving.

UpCountryOnline.com | 35

You can play tennis, no matter the weather

Bennington Tennis Center has options for every season and skill level

Inside “The Bubble” of the Bennington Tennis Center. Photo by Adam Samrov

By Adam Samrov BENNINGTON, Vt.

Freezing rain is falling and it’s 32 degrees outside in the middle of February; not ideal weather for playing tennis in Bennington. B u t , D a n R o we a n d Barbara Carr are doing just that — inside the temperature-controlled 68 degrees at the Bennington Tennis Center — playing and training in what is colloquially known as “The Bubble.” The center, opened by primary owner Richard Ader on Lovers Lane in 2010, not only gives tennis enthusiasts a chance to play year-round, but also offers events for anyone age 5 to 85. "I've been here for the past year-and-a-half," Carr said after her training session

with Rowe. "I spent one winter without it and I had to get back in. I need something to do when it's cold. It's so nice

to have this here; it's good for my mental and spiritual health." Rowe, along with Seth

Gabriel, the center’s teaching professionals, have known each other for more than 20 years. They were doubles partners at Johnson State College, now Northern Vermont University. "We had a seasonal set of courts at the Equinox Hotel in Manchester," Gabriel said. "We were both in Bennington and we felt it would be something that Bennington needed, so we started the business here."

Bennington ACES

Dan Rowe is one of the Bennington Tennis Center’s teaching professionals. Photo by Adam Samrov

The Bubble also is home to the Bennington ACES (Academic Community Engagement Support), a part of the U.S. Tennis Association Foundation’s National Junior Tennis and Learning network — the only one of its kind in Vermont. UpCountryOnline.com | 37

B e n n i n g t o n AC E S, founded by Ader in 2016, provides tennis and academic opportunities for Bennington area youths through a partnership with the Bennington school union. After-school programs and a four-week summer tennis camp offer high-quality, age-specific tennis instruction, academic tutoring and in-depth nutrition programming for free to kids in Bennington. "We want to get the kids away from their screens and get them to do something healthy,"

Gabriel said. Carr, from Williamstown, Mass., said the ACES program has about 25 kids a day, while more than 100 participated in the summer camps. "They can play tennis, but we also give them academic support and we take them on field trips," Carr said. "We've gone to Mass MoCA, Lake George, Howe Caverns, and it's free for kids who go to school in Bennington." In addition to hosting the Bennington ACES program, private lessons and member


Bennington Tennis Center 200 Lovers Lane, Bennington 802-447-7557, benningtontenniscenter.com facebook.com/ Benningtontenniscenter

Locations Indoor courts: Lovers Lane, off Northside Drive, behind Aldi and CVS. Outdoor courts: Located on the Bennington College campus, 1 College Drive, Bennington

Memberships The center offers three types of memberships: a winter membership, running from Oct. 1 to April 30; a summer membership, from May 1 to Sept. 30; and a year-long membership. Prices range from $150 to $400 per person, depending on the type of membership.

Sawyer Grikstas, 9, takes a swing during a physical education class at the Bennington Tennis Center. Sawyer was there with his schoolmates from Woodford School. Photo by Caroline Bonnivier Snyder

38 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

events, the center has become a hub for collegiate tennis, with Williams College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts using it as their main practice facility. High schools, including Mount Anthony Union and Hoosac School, also use the center to practice and for matches when the weather is poor. And, some of the Bennington elementary schools send their kids to the center as part of their physical education curriculum. Also, the center hosts adult

and junior programs throughout the year, with beginner, intermediate and advanced options available. With all the activities going on, there never is a lot of downtime at the center. "We might have a clinic or two in the morning and then people will come in after work to play or during the day," Gabriel said. "We have the kids come in after school. We have something for all ages, and we want people to think of us as a destination for tennis." •

10 things not to miss In Southern Vermont... Off The Shelf: Paul Krugman Maple Street School Manchester 802-362-2200; northshire.com/event/ shelf-paul-krugman March 7 Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman speaks about his latest book, “Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future,” with WAMC’s Joe Donahue, host of “The Book Show.” The live, onstage conversation will be taped live and aired as part of “The Book Show” at a later date. The Off the Shelf: Authors in Conversation series is a partnership between Northshire Bookstore and WAMC Northeast Public Radio. Tickets include a free copy of the book. Krugman will be available to sign books.

Strolling of the Heifers: Cabin Fever Market Place

Brattleboro 802-246-0982; strollingoftheheifers.com March 21 Cabin fever? Spring has arrived, but that doesn’t mean the snow is gone. Get out of the house for an afternoon of retail therapy. Shop specialty foods, beverage, art and crafts at this popup market at the River Garden.

17th One-Act Play Festival Dorset Players Dorset 802-867-5570; dorsetplayers.org April 3-5

Southern Vermont Winter Homebrew Festival Bennington Brush Building Bennington 802-447-3311; bennington.com/winterhomebrew March 7 New England’s premier home brewers will be on hand to celebrate the fourth Winter Homebrew Festival. A ticket grants you unlimited sampling of beers, wines, ciders and meads, as well as a sample of an appetizer from each of the participating restaurants. Expect to sample IPAs, stouts, porters, hard ciders, sours, Belgians and more from the brewers, who typically supply over 100 unique beverages. This event usually sells out. Enjoy samples from New England’s premiere homebrewers during the annual Southern Vermont Winter Homebrew Festival in Bennington. Photo provided by The Shires of Vermont

40 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

A mix of short plays — comedy and drama — will be performed during the 17th One-Act Play Festival. Each play will last 10 to 25 minutes. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. April 3 and 4, and at 2 p.m. April 5.

Sugar & Strings Stratton Mountain winterwondergrass.com/stratton April 10-11 Celebrate the arrival of spring and closing weekend at the base of the mountain. This music-filled weekend will feature The Infamous Stringdusters, Cabinet, Molly Tuttle, Della Mae and more on the outdoor main stage and a side stage in the beer hall, where complimentary beer tastings from some of the best regional brewers will happen each day from 2 to 5 p.m.

during mud season In the Berkshires... ThunderFest Adams Visitors Center Adams facebook.com/ThunderFestAdams March 7 In the 1930s, the Thunderbolt Ski Race helped establish Adams as the center of winter recreation in the Berkshires. Today, the town celebrates that history with ThunderFest. Join the fun, from noon to 5 p.m., at the Adams Visitors Center, where there will be food, music, beer and wine offerings, a chowder competition and activities.

Writers in the House: A Conversation with our 2020 Writersin-Residence The Mount, Lenox 413-551-5100; edithwharton.org/event/ writers-in-the-house-2020/ March 18 Sue Miller, novelist and Guggenheim fellow; Patricia Park, Fullbright scholar and author of the acclaimed debut novel, “Re Jane, a Korean American reimagining of Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre,’” and Dayna Tortorici, editorin-chief of the literary magazine n+1 and novelist, discuss their past and present work, their careers and their experience writing in the home of Edith Wharton. The discussion also will touch on the legacy of Wharton and her continuing influence on female writers.

Robot Paintings Real Eyes Gallery Adams 917-440-2400; facebook.com/ RealEyesGallery April 4 Real Eyes Gallery will celebrate the opening of Ricky Darell Barton’s “Robot Paintings” with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. Barton, an abstract artist hailing from the Washington D.C., area, moved to the Berkshires

Baby Animals Hancock Shaker Village Pittsfield 413-443-0188; hancockshakervillage.org April 11 - May 3 Nothing says spring has arrived quite like Hancock Shaker Village’s Baby Animals. Celebrate the new life on the farm and the opening of Hancock Shaker’s spring season. Meet and greet the newborns and their families in the Round Stone Barn, tour the historic village and enjoy a wide range of activities A two-week-old lamb gets up close with 4-year-old Quinn O’Connor. of Delmar N.Y., during Hancock Shaker Village’s Baby Animals exhibit.. Photo by Caroline Bonnivier Snyder

two years ago and has been shown across Western Massachusetts. His colorful series will be on view at the Park Street gallery through the end of April.

High Mud Comedy Festival Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art North Adams 413-662-2111, massmoca.org/event/ high-mud-comedy-festival April 17-18

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual comedy festival returns with John Early headlining the two-day event. Early, who stars as Elliot Gross in “Search Party,” has guest-starred on “30 Rock,” “High Maintenance,” “Drunk History” and “Broad City.” He’ll be joined on the stage by up-and-coming A-list comedians including Jacqueline Novak, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” correspondent Roy Wood Jr., Marcella Arguello, Larry Owens and Lane Moore. The weekend will include workshops, comedy in the galleries and, maybe, even at a bar. Check Mass MoCA’s website for a full lineup.

UpCountryOnline.com | 41

Mocktails that still pack a punch

Cannabisinfused drinks offer alcoholfree alternative By Jennifer Huberdeau PITTSFIELD, Mass.

Looking for a drink that’s alcohol-free but still provides a buzz? If you are, you’re not alone. A growing number of younger Americans — according to a 2018 Berenberg Research survey of 6,000 Gen Zers, those born between 1997 and 2012 — are forgoing the next-day hangovers, calories and carbs associated with the consumption of beer. At the same time, Bloomberg.com reports that Gen Zers of legal purchasing age are twice as likely to purchase cannabis than the average American. “A lot of cannabis users don’t partake in the use of alcohol,” said Brittany Pufhal, marketing manager at Berkshire Roots in Pittsfield. But, she said, many cannabis customers still want to be able to socialize comfortably with friends who do drink alcoholic beverages. Cannabis-infused mocktails, she said, are a fun way for THC users to be able to socialize, in the privacy of their own homes, with friends who do drink. “They can join in the fun in their own way,” Pufhal said. For those wanting to try a cannabis-infused mocktail, or those looking for a new recipe, Berkshire Roots, a marijuana dispensary and lifestyle

A cannabis-infused White Russion mocktail. All Photos Provided by Brittany Pufhal/Berkshire Roots

UpCountryOnline.com | 43

Cannabis-infused pomegranate mulled cider is ideal for a cold winter night.

brand, is sharing recipes, developed in its test kitchen, via berkshireroots.com/recipes. “They’re all nonalcoholic, as we don’t encourage the use of them together,” Pufhal said. “We started sharing the mocktail recipes around the holidays. We basically started with a seasonal theme.” Winter sangria, an infused hot toddy and a pomegranate mulled cider are a few of the seasonal offerings. “The sangria is really, really refreshing. I also love anything with grapefruit in it,” Pufhal

said. “The pomegranate mulled cider is also really great.” Other drink recipes on the site are more traditional, such as a White Russian, a ginger beer mojito and lavender lemonade. In anticipation of cannabis cooking classes that are in the works, the website also offers cannabis-infused food recipes for canna butter and cinnamon rolls. In addition, CBD oil can be used in place of the THC tinctures in all of the recipes. “You won’t experience the euphoria associated with the

44 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

cannabis, but will experience the relaxation and calmness experienced with CBD oils,” she said. But, Pufhal, cautioned, those new to cannabis-infused mocktails should approach them with care. “In the recipes, we don’t instruct you on how much tincture to use. It’s all based on your personal dosing. It’s really up to the user as to the amount, as it is with all our products,” she said. She cautioned that the cannabis-infused drinks act

just like any cannabis edible or alcoholic drink. “Just like alcohol affects people differently, so does cannabis. What you ate that day is going to impact the effect,” Pufhal said. “For some people, it could take up to two hours to feel the euphoric effects.” Safety and caution are always a priority. “The Cannabis Control Commission says that if you feel different, you drive different. You have to treat cannabis like you would alcohol when it comes to driving,” she said. •

Cannabis-Infused recipes from the test kitchens at Berkshire Roots Readers are reminded that recreational cannabis, in Massachusetts, can only legally be consumed in private homes. Public consumption of cannabis, regardless of its form, is still illegal. UpCountry Magazine reminds readers to consume cannabis in a responsible manner. It can take up to two hours to feel the effect of cannabis-infused drinks.

INFUSED TEA INGREDIENTS 1 gram of your preferred cannabis flower Loose-leaf tea Flavor additives: lemon, mint, etc. 1/2 cup of boiling water TOOLS REQUIRED Tea steeper Baking sheet Weed grinder Parchment paper


1/4 ounce (7 grams) decarboxylated cannabis flower 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter 2 cups (16 ounces) cold water TOOLS REQUIRED Candy thermometer (optional) Fine-mesh strainer Cheesecloth 1 quart (tall) deli container or measuring cup ½ pint (240 milliliters) glass Mason jar with tight-fitting lid


Over medium heat, combine the cannabis, butter and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to just below boiling, about 200 F to 210 F, without stirring. Adjust the heat to low. Keep at a constant simmer

for 4 hours. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down any bits of herb sticking to the sides of the pan. If the water in the pan starts to get low from evaporation, add 1 cup of hot water to prevent the mixture from burning. At the end of 4 hours, remove pan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Place strainer over a large bowl. Pour the cannabis butter mixture into the strainer, scraping the sides of the pan to ensure all butter and herb particles are captured. Use spatula or back of a ladle to press the butter mixture against the strainer, squeezing out all the liquid you can. Gather up the cheesecloth and give it another good press against the strainer to make sure as much liquid as possible has been removed. Discard debris in the cheesecloth. Pour the butter-water liquid into a tall container. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl clean. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Once the mixture cools, the butter and water will separate. Remove the butter block from the container and pat dry with a paper towel. You might have to cut

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 325 F. Decarboxylate the cannabis to activate THC and other cannabinoids. To do this, grind 1 gram of cannabis flower in the grinder, then line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the ground cannabis across the middle of the lined pan. Bake in oven for 35 minutes. When cool, fill tea steeper with looseleaf tea and decarboxylated cannabis. Fill small teapot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Place tea steeper in mug and pour hot water over the tea steeper. Let steep for 5 minutes, then remove. Add desired amounts of sugar, milk, honey or cream.

Cannabis-infused butter, or cannabutter, can be used in cooking and baking.

UpCountryOnline.com | 45


Preheat oven to 400 F. On a baking sheet, place sliced oranges, sliced grapefruit and cranberries. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cranberries burst and caramelize a bit. Meanwhile, boil pomegranate juice and orange juice. Once boiling, pour over chai tea bags and steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add in caramelized fruit and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Fill a glass half-full of the sangria mix and fill the rest of the glass with grapefruit-flavored sparkling water and add in tincture. Garnish with anise stars, cinnamon sticks and fresh cranberries.


8 ounces apple cider 1 ounce pure pomegranate juice 1 sprig fresh rosemary 1 cinnamon stick 1 star anise 1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns 1 green cardamom pod, crushed 1 whole clove 1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns Your preferred Berkshire Roots tincture and dosing


Put the juices in a large pot or slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and let steep for at least an hour. Strain before serving and adding in your preferred dose of Berkshire Roots tincture.

Berkshire Roots’ infused Winter Sangria

around the edges or lightly push down on the sides to loosen it. (Don’t worry if your block breaks while pulling it out.) Use a small strainer to scoop up any remaining butter bits. On the bottom of the butter block, you will see a green film. Using the back of a knife, scrape off this film and toss it, along with the remaining water, down the drain. In a small pot, over low heat, melt the canna butter. Once melted, immediately turn off the heat and pour the butter into the glass Mason jar and seal the lid. Label the jar with the date and contents. Refrigerate for up to one month, or freeze for up to six months.





2 oranges, sliced 2 grapefruits, sliced 1 cup cranberries 16 ounces pomegranate juice 1 cup orange juice 2 chai tea bags Two 12-ounce cans grapefruitflavored sparkling water Berkshire Roots Tincture, your choice of tincture and dosing Garnish: Anise stars, cinnamon sticks, fresh cranberries

46 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

6 ounces coffee, brewed and chilled 2 ounces of milk, soy or other milk substitutes ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract Sweetener to taste Your preferred Berkshire Roots tincture and dosing


Brew and chill coffee. When chilled, stir coffee and all the ingredients together in a glass tumbler. Add ice cubes.

Meet the new and expanded Herbalist Magazine, your guide to cannabis culture, holistic health and natural living in Western Massachusetts. Starting this April, we’re branching out to offer an organic perspective on everything from food and farming to history, business and the arts.

Find out where to get your copy at herbalistmag.com/locations


A curious ewe pokes her nose through her pen at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

48 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | March/April 2020

Profile for New England Newspapers, Inc.

UpCountry Magazine, March/April 2020  

Finding the right maple syrup, Brattleboro's creative economy, tennis in Bennington and more.

UpCountry Magazine, March/April 2020  

Finding the right maple syrup, Brattleboro's creative economy, tennis in Bennington and more.