As the days get warmer and the grass gets greener, there is an air of excitement around UMass Amherst. Even though there are still small grey patches of snow around campus, students are reminiscing about last summer and starting to imagine exciting new possibilities for the one to come. I, for one, know exactly what I'll be doing this summer: I'll be spending my summer in the beautiful Pioneer Valley area working for UMass Summer Programs! We have programs for incoming UMass students and for high school students. As we start to do recruitment and planning for Summer 2016, I find myself looking back on my fond memories of last summer, the amazing program participants that I got to spend time with, and the fun local adventures we took.
Every summer is different and UMass Summer Programs is actively growing and expanding, so this summer is bound to be even bigger than the last, but there are some local traditions that UMass Summer will always return to. One of those traditions (and also one of my favorite locations in the Pioneer Valley) is Flayvors of Cook Farm, a local ice cream shop. Flayvors isn't your average ice cream shop though. They are actually a working dairy farm established generations ago in 1909. The milk for their ice cream comes from cows who live right there on the farm. They offer tons of delicious and unique flavors like black raspberry chip, sally's coffee grounds (coffee ice cream with oreos) and cow spots (vanilla ice cream, fudge swirl, mini peanut butter cups).Last summer, we stopped by Flayvors with both the Jump! program and Jump! for MAIA (the Massachusetts International Academy) on the way home from day-trips and hikes. Students enjoyed delicious fresh ice cream and got to walk around the farm and interact with the animals who live there, including chickens, pigs, and adult and baby cows. An afternoon of petting baby cows and eating fresh local ice cream is a great way to relax after a sweaty hike or a day of classes. Plus, they don't only sell ice cream, they also sell raw milk and meat!Flayvors isn't just a delicious local ice cream shop, it's also a shining example of the Pioneer Valley values of local food and farming, and sustainable living. Going to school at UMass, or even just spending some weeks here over the summer, will teach you a lot about connection to the land and to your food. There are amazing scientists, activists, and ordinary people in this area who care deeply about where our food comes from and making sure that our methods of agriculture are kind and considerate towards the planet we live on and the animals we share it with. UMass Summer Programs embodies those ideals of sustainability, community health, and respect by collaborating with local businesses like Flayvors of Cook Farm. You can definitely catch us at Flayvors this summer with both our programs for high school students, and our programs for incoming UMass freshmen!!