Skip to content

Savor the Valley

The Pioneer Valley National Culinary Heritage Trails, also known as the Savor the Valley Project, offer a unique way of experiencing Western Massachusetts. Visitors can hike, bike, drive, or even paddle throughout over 50 miles of trail and several thousand acres of recreation in a Slow Tourism experience that immerses them in local culture and provides opportunities to sample, learn about, and participate in the production of the Pioneer Valley’s rich food and drink – from New England classics to experimental wines to freshwater seafood. Nearby farms and other businesses can sell goods along the trails, offer tours, and provide overnight stays through camping and working farmstays. As a National Heritage Area project, local governments and stakeholders receive funding to maintain the trails and fund development projects, ensuring local ownership. The Savor the Valley Project embodies a new approach to tourism, empowering communities to benefit directly while offering visitors an educational and authentic experience

Designing the Rural Projects


Christopher Beck

Master of Architecture, 2024


Background and Research

Extensive research into the Pioneer Valley, including on-the-ground analysis and interviews with various stakeholders including farmers, residents, and small business owners, provided insights on the priorities, problems, and assets of the region. Assets include its natural beauty, diversity of food and drink, small but growing tourism sector, and tight-knit farming communities, while some challenges it faces are an aging and declining population, struggling economies, and the farmers’ desire to diversify business. Leveraging all of these, the Pioneer Valley is poised to create an enticing, sustainable, and unique set of draws for tourists that can also help to keep farms afloat, provide them alternative streams of income, and tangibly and directly benefit local communities.

National Heritage Area

Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Matching federal funds and leveraging additional resources for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.

-NHA official brochure, US Department of the Interior (emphasis added)

This project proposes a National Heritage Area spanning from Chicopee to Hatfield and from Southampton to the Quabbin Reservoir, encompassing roughly 335 square miles. In this structure, “partners” – local governments, nonprofits, and businesses – receive state and federal funding, and direction and oversight from the NPS, while the work is done by volunteers and private landowners. Learn more about NHAs here.

Learn more about the design of the network here!


In addition to the many small interventions and existing businesses and parks along the Trails, there are also three locations that serve as major destinations, or hubs. The Oxbow Shellfish Docks, Amherst Farm Winery, and Belchertown Charcuterie all exemplify the unique blend of local food, culture, nature, and recreation that make this NHA special, and promote interaction between residents and tourists through a share experience that caters to a diverse set of needs.

Sample 7-Day Itinerary

Learn More


Check out my other work!


Return to Top