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Basil, Pesto, Garlic, Garlic Seed, Traditional Pesto, Garlic Lover’s Pesto, Scape, Sole Verde Pesto, Maple Pesto, Honey Pesto, heirloom tomatoes, stra|
In 1997 Michelle and Jeff Howard were married. We moved to Oakham in early 1998. Being avid gardeners, it was important to start a garden in our new yard. We began with a few raised beds, planting herbs and vegetables. Michelle began making pesto that year for family and friends. The garden expanded to include hard neck garlic in 2003 (13 varieties). We sought advice from garlic growers from Massachusetts to New York to Washington State. Everyone we talked with was extremely helpful. We attended our first Garlic Festival (as observers, not vendors), the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange, MA and were amazed at the enthusiasm for garlic and garlic-influenced food. Michelle continued making pesto and received much encouragement from satisfied family and friends to produce and sell pesto to the public. This encouragement coupled with the experience at our first garlic festival pushed us to start Linabella’s Gourmet Garlic Farm. In 2000 Jeff graduated with his MBA from Babson College and in 2001 Michelle graduated from Anna Maria college with her MBA. Later in 2001 we had our first daughter Angelina and in 2003 we had our second daughter Isabella, giving us the name of our business – Linabella’s. In 2004 we developed our first three varieties of all natural pesto alla Genovese: Traditional, Garlic Lover’s and Honey. Utilizing our home grown garlic and basil, we produced the pesto at the Western MA Food Processing Center in Greenfield, MA. From there it was on to the garlic festival in Orange, MA. It was our first event, we were very excited and it was memorable for a number of reasons. Everyone who tried our pesto loved it. However, the most memorable part of that festival was the 4” of rain that fell on us from 9 a.m. to noon from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. We outlasted the elements, sold more pesto than we expected, met many interesting people and made some really great friends. Garlic production expanded in October of 2004. We planted fewer varieties, but tripled our planting. In addition, we began making plans for our own commercial kitchen. In 2005 we built a commercial kitchen on our property, introduced 2 new varieties of pesto, began wholesaling and attended more garlic festivals and fairs. The commercial kitchen was a real necessity for us due to our location. Although we are grateful for the Greenfield, MA facility, the 2 ˝ hour roundtrip commute was too much for us long-term. Our kitchen was completed in April 2005 and we love the commute! We began making garlic scape pesto with our first harvest of scapes in the summer of 2005. Michelle perfected her recipe the following year and it was the first product produced in our new commercial kitchen. We named it Sole Verde (or Green Sun) after the astronomical event also known as Green Flash due to the brilliant green color of this pesto. As a result of the interest and demand of our first sweet and savory pesto variety (Honey Pesto) we began exploring a second variety. Maple was a natural fit due to the local availability and interest in maple products. It quickly became our second best seller behind Garlic Lover’s Pesto. Later in 2005 we had a request from Smith College for a Vegan pesto and started producing our Vegan pesto later wholesaling it to Whole Foods Markets as well as selling it to local colleges in food service size. We are the only Traditional Basil Based Vegan Pesto on the market and it tastes great! Our wholesaling efforts began a few months later. By the end of the summer our pesto was selling in 12 stores. In 2005 we started going to many more festivals such as Massachusetts Marketplace at Elm Bank in Wellesley, MA, the Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival, The Sterling Fair, North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival and our first year at The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival was quite an experience. Saturday was the busiest day this festival had ever seen and only the threat of rain kept attendance slightly lower on Sunday. Over 50,000 attendees streamed through the gates that weekend. There were two or three other pesto booths and customers kept coming back to us to say Linabella’s was far and away the best tasting of the festival! Lastly, the inaugural year of the Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival in Bethlehem, CT was reminiscent of our first year in Orange, MA (you guessed it, much bad weather). We decided to get an early start and set-up our tent on Friday afternoon for the weekend-long event. After a good night’s rest we arrived at the festival Saturday morning to find our tent (and everyone else’s who set-up Friday) destroyed by Friday night’s storm. The festival was officially cancelled (or unofficially open depending on how you look at it) that day, so we bought a new tent and started fresh the next day. The weather began to improve and over 1,100 people attended on Sunday. We had great response to those tasting our pesto. In 2006 we increased our wholesale efforts, developed our www.linabellasgarlic.com website (including on-line sales), became members of the GS1 US, formerly Uniform Code Council allowing our company to use UCC codes, and look forward to increased garlic and basil production. We expanded our wholesaling effort into Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island. We tripled our garlic production planting two porcelain varieties, German White and Music. 1,100 basil plants were started in early March, up from 700+ the prior year. In Sept. 2007 Jeff had lost his job in finance and Michelle was already home with the girls working out of the house. We decided to take the plunge and go full time into garlic farming and pesto. It is now 2010 and we are still going strong. We got our first grant from USDA NRCS for a hoop house and a well. The hoop house will allow us to extend our growing season on both ends (bringing tomatoes to market earlier) and the well will allow us to conserve water with a drip irrigation system. We just received our second grant from MDAR for a solar system to run our new well. We are very excited for these two huge improvements to our farm and welcome the “green” movement into our life. Last year we planted over 450lbs (about 20K bulbs) of German White garlic and harvested over 2400lbs of garlic. This year we are planning on planting about 30K bulbs of German white. We are leasing a 5 acre field in Hardwick MA so we can give our land a rest from garlic this year. We will only be planting some soft neck garlic in our field and focusing on other produce to bring to the markets. We are now participating in 3 farmer’s markets a week Tue/Thur. at Dewey Square (South Station) in Boston and Saturdays at Klem’s in Spencer. We were doing 4 but we have learned that we cannot do many more markets than this with just the two of us. We are hoping to get someone to help us on the farm for 3 hours a day next season. We do have a small farm stand at our farm and hope to improve upon that next year. We are still wholesaling to Whole Foods Markets in RI, NY, CT and MA. We are also still in some small specialty stores around MA. We also sell to some restaurants and local colleges. We installed two hoop houses this summer and are excited to see how our produce production will change next year with both in use. Basil has been difficult the last few years with the dramatic changes in temperature. Basil, like many people, does not like to have a stressful life; it tends to oxidize very quickly the more stress it is under. So we are hoping to control its stress under the hoop houses with the drip irrigation. We already noticed some benefits to one of our hoop houses this year. We cut down on our squash bug infestation and our squash and cucumber production tripled. So the possibilities will be endless. Our business is constantly changing and we are excited to see what next year has to bring.
Browse through our Products for Sale
We grow our own gourmet hard neck garlic and Genovese Basil using organic methods. Then we use our fresh herbs to create 6 varieties of authentic Linabella's All Natural Pesto alla Genovese (the true green Italian pesto). Our pesto is authentic both in taste and texture. Not too smooth and not too oily! We use NO artificial ingredients. NO cheap replacements for the traditional ingredients, just the real deal. We use only FRESH garlic and FRESH basil. We use ONLY imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil, First Cold Press. We use BOTH imported Romano Cheese and Parmesan Cheese, as well as Pine Nuts (NO Walnuts or other cheap substitutes.) Heart healthy ingredients, low in carbs, and no bad fats! A good source of CALCIUM! Gluten free! How can you go wrong?
Practices (our standards for raising or making our products)
We grow all of our produce, herbs and berries using organic methods. We use only all natural products and the finest ingredients in our pesto.
Highlights this Month
We are excited to participate in MassLocalFood and love the concept of bringing local Mass grown / made food to local people. Thanks for inviting us!
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