Do your friends complain of feeling overwhelmed by stuff that needs a new life but that they are unsure how to recycle—or upcycle? Do you know people who want to become more creative and more comfortable with crafting? Are there people on your gift list who’d prefer an experience in lieu of a physical object? The folks at Knack: The Art of Clever Reuse (knack.org) offer an inspired solution: give a gift card for a Knack workshop.
Knack’s workshops cover a wide range of projects, and there are always new ones on offer. At workshops it’s possible to learn embroidery or to make a mosaic mirror. Workshops cost around $30. For $8 an hour, open studio time is available—the chance to use the space, “tons of tools,” and selected materials. There’s a dollar discount if you bring a friend. In fact, you might just buy a workshop for a friend and treat yourself to one, too. Think about it: to learn a craft with a friend or loved one is even more fun for the person receiving the gift, and for you. There are also drop-in activities on the schedule. For that matter, you might just go there and make your holiday gifts.
Knack is on the first floor of Easthampton’s Eastworks, Suite 126, 116 Pleasant Street. For more information, call (413) 529-0126 or email email@example.com.
L ocal and geeky with a nod to the plugged and unplugged lives we lead, these earrings are fashioned by artist Emily Weir—Geek Chic—from old Mac computer keys, a reuse practice called “upcycling.”
These witty and cheeky earrings retail for $20 and are available at the very crafty spot, Knack (knack. org), in Easthampton’s Eastworks building, 116 Pleasant Street, first floor (phone 413-529-0126). Along with other already used items/materials just waiting to become part of your next crafty endeavor, Macey Faiella and Amber Ladley have chosen some locally made crafts like Weir’s earrings to make holiday shopping easy, local and geeky chic.
What’s cool about buying locally raised meat? Well, it’s neat to know—or at least meet—the guy that raised the chickens, cows and pigs, right? It’s even nicer to know that your meat has been humanely raised, and that it hasn’t been dosed with hormones or antibiotics or other unsavory things you would not like to ingest—as Mockingbird Farm’s brochure promises, “no weird stuff.”
Here’s a way to offer good, fresh, not-weird meat as a gift to friends or family: give a share in Mockingbird Farm’s Meat CSA (mockingbirdfarmma.com) this year. Available through Mockingbird Farm are Kosher King chickens, Tamworth, Berkshire, Large Black and Red Wattle pigs, and beef. The animals are grass- and forest-fed.
Each shareholder receives a Share Card, good for six months, which can be used to pay for available items at any farmers’ markets Mockingbird Farm participates in. Or shareholders can pick up their meat during the regular on-farm pickup hours from 12 to 2 on the first Sunday of the month. Small shares are $300, large shares $600. To reach Pete Solis, the farmer at Mockingbird Farm, call (413) 219-0588 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Mockingbird is located at 15 Torrey Street, Easthampton.
Greenfield Farmers’ Market Tokens
This year there will be four chances to buy local food and goods in Greenfield at the Winter Farmers’ Markets at Greenfield High School, 1 Lenox Avenue. Winter Market dates are December 14, January 4, February 1 and March 1. So how about this for a way to keep gifts local, support farmers and have a great destination one Saturday this winter? You can buy wooden tokens—i.e., market dollars—at the December 14th market as stocking stuffers (rumor has it that there will even be some small stockings for the first buyers). Need more information about this? Contact Winter Market Manager Katia Williford at (413) 824-0806 or email@example.com for details on the tokens.
More than 17 vendors will participate in this year’s markets, and the range of goods on sale runs from vegetables to eggs to meat to cider to honey and much more. There will be coffee, bread and prepared food, too. There’s a list of participants at farmfresh.org and more information on the Greenfield Farmers’ Market site (greenfieldfarmersmarket.com). Along with goodies to nibble, there will be live music at each market.
BerkShore Gift Certificate
If you know someone in Western Massachusetts’ hills or valleys who’s pining for fresh seafood, consider the splash you’d create with a tasty gift from the sea. Wes Malzone began his company, BerkShore (berkshore.com), with high ideals. His hope is to provide a conduit between dayboat fisherman and distributors around Boston’s South Shore and restaurants in Western Massachusetts and the Berkshires. To honor the hard work done in fishing communities, Malzone intends to support those communities through reliable demand at fair prices, fostering exchange of the freshest and highest-quality lobsters and seafood available in the state.
BerkShore offers gift certificates. What a pleasure to ensure a seafood lover access to “ultra-fresh lobsters, scallops and fin fish as the seasons dictate”! Among the company’s offerings are striped bass, flounder, cod, lobsters, scallops and Bay scallops. Malzone is based in Northampton; contact him at Wes@BerkShore.com or phone (413) 336-7795.
Intervale Farm Wool: by the Skein
Don’t just buy wool; buy local wool from a diversified small family farm like Intervale Farm (intervalefamilyfarm.com). For the knitter in your life, you can get yarn from Intervale Farm’s sheep, processed without chemicals by Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vt. And you can do it just off Route 66 in Westhampton: Intervale Farm is at 106 South Road.
Each four-ounce skein of this three-strand bulky wool of natural white and brown fleece is 152 yards long. The yarn sells for $13 a skein. For more information, contact Maureen Dempsey at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pickup, or call (413) 527-5440.
Okay, Dean’s Beans (deansbeans.com) aren’t everywhere, but they’re in many places all over the country. Their first marketplace was in Montague at the “dearly departed World Village Café,” says the Dean’s Beans website. Roasted in Orange, produced by a company founded on fair trade principles, a cup of (organic, kosher) Dean’s Beans coffee should taste great and help the world. That’s a lot of promise to start the day.
The company only buys shade-grown coffee, to protect the working environment for growers and to preserve migratory bird habitats. Rather than large farms, Dean’s buys from small farms and cooperatives, most run by “indigenous peoples working hard to maintain their culture and lifestyles.” Dean’s is a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, Inc.
Dark, medium and light roasts, green coffee and decaf as well as cocoa, are available for purchase by the hot-beverage drinker who wants not just good as in delicious, but good as in good for the world, coffee (or cocoa). You can even purchase your own blend, and have your own label made for special occasions. A Dean’s Beans fundraising program is also robust; if you are involved with a school in the Valley, you may be buying beans each month from Dean’s. In Springfield, find your Dean’s Beans at Better Life Whole Foods, 1500 Allen St., or call (413) 783-9424.
Kenyan Yoga Animal Ornaments
Commerce can help people: that’s what Edna Ruth Byler realized over 60 years ago, when she first sold handcrafted products from Puerto Rico out of the trunk of her car. Her goal was lofty: to help eradicate poverty. At Ten Thousand Villages (tenthousandvillages.com), the initial spark has turned into a series of stores and an online business where “a global network of social entrepreneurs works to empower artisans in developing countries,” says the TTV website. Four tenets of fair trade are fair prices and cash advances; the nurturance of long-term relationships; design collaboration, and environmental responsibility. Not many businesses can boast such a track record of ethical practices as fair trade since 1946.
Don’t let those ethics get in the way of a silly ornament for your holiday tree, though. The yoga lover in your life would smile at a zebra or giraffe in a seated yoga pose. Handcrafted in Kenya, this and other ornaments are available at Ten Thousand Villages, 82 Main Street, Northampton (413-582-9338, email@example.com).