April 2008
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Spring Seedlings Have Sprung
As spring rolls in, gardeners are starting seeds and preparing beds for gardens of all sizes and varieties. Thankfully, the Pioneer Valley has a bounty of local greenhouses, garden centers, and landscapers to offer community members the option of buying locally grown seeds, starters, and plants.

Buying locally grown nursery stock from Local Hero garden centers means that you will get top-notch advice from garden professionals who understand the growing limitations of our region. Plus, plants grown and cared for in the area are more likely to thrive in your backyard. But most importantly, supporting these independent, locally-owned businesses means that you are investing in our local economy. Supporting local businesses involved in our agricultural community will ensure continued access to local products and will continue to strengthen the rural character of our region.

For the first time last season, CISA's Local Hero Program created a special enrollment category for garden centers and landscapers to become members. Membership is open to businesses that document significant efforts to purchase and promote locally grown nursery products. In the second year of this offering, we have more than enough Local Hero members to help you find nearly any garden supply!

To find locally-grown nursery products, take a look at our online Farm Products Guide, or browse through the guide by item:

Let the Farm Come to You
CISA's Workplace CSA program is entering its fourth season of linking workplaces and farms to bring fresh, local produce to Valley residents working in urban areas. Help us spread the word about this great program! This year, there will be CSA distributions for employees at the following workplaces:

  • MassMutual is partnering with Red Fire Farm.
  • BayState Health Systems is partnering with Mountain View Farm
  • Holyoke Community College is partnering with Riverland Farm.
  • Mount Holyoke College is partnering with Riverland Farm.
Tell your friends, or if you work at any of those locations, consider signing up for a share! Contact Claire Morenon at CISA, (413) 665-7100 for more information.

Seeking Nominations for 2008 Local Hero Awards
Do you know a business or individual whose work exemplifies CISA's mission to sustain agriculture in western Massachusetts? Since 2003, CISA has been recognizing farmers, institutions, businesses, and everyday community members with its Local Hero awards. Past recipients include Czajkowski Farms, Cooley Dickenson Hospital, the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, Full Bloom Farm, Nuestras Raíces, and Kathy Bowler and the Holyoke Council on Aging-all have made a noticeable impact on our understanding of local agriculture as an integral part of community life.

This year's awardees will be announced in early May, and will be honored at an award ceremony later in the year. Local Hero Award nominee forms can be found here. Please take a moment to complete and return the form by April 15th. You may also email your nomination(s) along with a brief description of why you think the nominee is qualified and your contact information to CISA. Nomination forms can be mailed to: CISA, 1 Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373.

Big Y World Class Market, PeoplesBank Provide Support
CISA wishes to thank Big Y World Class Market and PeoplesBank for their generous 2008 contributions. As a Prime Season sponsor, Big Y World Class Market provides annual unrestricted support, which allows CISA to put funds to use wherever they are needed most. The contribution from PeoplesBank will underwrite technical assistance to farmers on reducing energy use and converting to renewable energy sources. Funds will also support the creation of portable displays to explain CISA's mission and illustrate the benefits of environmentally-sound farming practices.

CISA's underwriting opportunities provide area businesses and corporations with a highly public means of showing support and commitment to advancing local agriculture and the "buy local" message. For more information, please contact CISA's development office at (413) 665-7100, ext. 11 or email Pamela Barnes.

New Farms are Cropping Up
Despite the widespread trend of consolidation in agriculture, small farms are starting up across the Northeast. Three area start-up farms have joined the Local Hero campaign this year- Stone Soup Farm in Belchertown, Town Farm in Northampton, and Mycotopia Farms in Wendell.

After apprenticing at Red Fire Farm for the past two years, Jarrett Man will be trying his hand at running his own CSA at Stone Soup Farm. The new farm will be on land owned by the New England Small Farm Institute, which Jarrett is leasing for five years with the option to renew. "I was in the right place at the right time-the Institute was looking for a small, community-oriented, organic vegetable farm and that is exactly what Stone Soup will be." The farm will be growing on about seven acres this season, leaving room to expand production as the business grows.

Ben James and Oona Coy also spent several years planning and considering farm start-up options before taking the plunge this year. Northampton's Town Farm, like many new farms, will start out small. They are planning to offer ten CSA shares "to the hearty individuals and families who don't mind a bit of unpredictability to their weekly vegetable supply." In the future, they hope to offer 75 full CSA shares to Northampton residents.

Andy Hamilton is taking the popularity of community supported agriculture to new lengths this year by starting up a mushroom CSA at his farm, Mycotopia Farms. Membership in this brand-new CSA will get you ½ pound of freshly picked shiitake mushrooms each week throughout the season and discounts on mushroom courses offered at the farm. "I'm trying to reduce the knowledge deficit of fungi," Andy commented, while discussing his on- farm workshops. The classes will range from basic mushroom knowledge to advanced medicinal properties of saprophytes. Next year, Andy plans to expand to a wide-range of mushrooms, offering a diverse list of fungi to members each week.

These young farms and farmers are responding to the growing demand for local farm products by providing a greater variety of products in more parts of our region. The innovations of new farmers are changing the face of agriculture in the Commonwealth, and we are delighted to welcome them to the Local Hero program.

Above photo courtesy of Meghan Arquin of Riverland Farm

UMass Dining Services Wins National Award
University cafeteria food is rarely considered award-winning, but Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Dining is changing that in UMass Amherst dining halls. The efforts of Ken and his staff were rewarded in March when UMass Amherst Dining Services won the highly-coveted Ivy Award. The Award is a lifetime achievement award distributed by "Restaurants and Institutions" magazine. Begun in 1971, the award aims to recognize outstanding achievement and a commitment to excellence by foodservice operations. The University's recognition comes for the institution's dedication to purchasing fresh, local foods, integration of world cuisine into the menu, and using innovative approaches to serving five million meals each year. A March 25th article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette noted that about twenty percent of UMass produce served at the dining commons is delivered to the university from farms within a 50-mile radius. The University Dining Services will be inducted into the Ivy Society in May.

Nuestras Raíces Recognized Nationally, Locally
We were delighted to see an article about Local Hero Member (and founding CISA partner) Nuestras Raíces in Atlantic Monthly in April. Read the full article here, or this Republican piece on their upcoming plans. Watch Nuestras Raíces' recently-updated website for opportunities to visit the Nuestras Raíces farm, Tierra de Oportunidades.

Seed Saving
The world's largest seed bank opened on February 26th 2008 in an attempt to gather and preserve the world's agricultural biodiversity in one facility-a sort of "insurance policy" for global agriculture. The new facility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, will hold a maximum of 4.5 million different seed samples below freezing temperatures in a remote region of northern Norway.

Today, an estimated 1,000 plant species become extinct each year, with one in eight surviving plants at risk of becoming extinct. A large number of these plants have been used primarily for food production, but are currently less favored for production or are not widely available. As climate change alters growing conditions, the genetic diversity represented by these nearly-extinct varieties may prove valuable. Oftentimes, local, heritage, and heirloom varieties are at highest risk of being lost. Seed banks are formed in response to this and other looming problems facing the future of agriculture.

Farmers have practiced the art of seed saving throughout the history of agriculture, but in recent times, many farmers have stopped collecting seed for a variety of reasons, including the increasing availability of cheap seed from commercial suppliers and rising popularity of hybrid and cloned plants. Despite this widespread trend, there are some local farms that are choosing to preserve their seeds for future plantings, some of which contribute to local seed banks. Red Gate Farm in Buckland, Mass. has a small seed bank with fourteen varieties available for purchase this season.

For information about how to save seeds from your garden, visit the International Seed Saving Institute.

Above photo courtesy of Mari Tefre and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Bare Cupboards?
Local food can be hard to come by in April. If your pantry or freezer are getting empty and it feels like a long time until asparagus season, consider these options for locally grown food:
  • The winter farmer's market at Enterprise Farm in Whately runs through April 26th, Saturdays from 10 until 3. Local milk, cheese, cider, eggs, and greens, and a wider variety of crops from farms in the southeast are still available.
  • The Franklin County Green Fair and Better Living Show will be showcasing locally grown food and crafts Sunday, April 20th from 10-4 at the Franklin County Fairgrounds. More information: (413) 774-2791 or Nancy Stone.
  • Farmers' Markets are starting up in May!
  • Watch this space over the coming months for tips on seasonal eating, including ideas about food preservation, so that next April you'll be sitting pretty.
  • Don't forget about all the delicious local meat, cheese, milk, eggs and yogurt that are always available from local farmers.

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Community Film Screening and Discussion
Wednesday, April 9th

This film depicts how a society dependant on fossil fuels was able to rise from the hardships of an economic crisis to completely transition its once mechanized, industrial system to its current system of organic farming and local, urban gardens. Community discussion on building sustainable communities will follow the screening. This event is hosted by the Mount Holyoke College Center for the Environment and Gardening the Community. The event will be held in Hooker Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College, with the program beginning at 4:15pm. For more information, contact Ruby Maddox- Fisher at (413) 538-3091.

Wheat Planting Workshop
Sunday, April 13th

The Little Red Hen Project is sponsoring a wheat planting workshop on the front lawn of Hungry Ghost Bread at 2:00pm. Come learn how to prepare the soil and how to sow the seeds that will, come summer, bring forth those amber waves of grain in your very own backyard. The workshop is free and open to all.

Nasami Farm Grand Opening & Open House
Sunday, April 20

Come see all of the native plants growing on our property in Whately, Mass. For details, call (413) 397-9922 or visit our website.

All About Herbs Workshop
Saturday, April 26th

Local Hero farmer Lilian Jackman of Wilder Hill Gardens will speak at Annie's Garden Store in Amherst, Mass. on culinary and medicinal herbs as well as designing your herb garden.

Saturday & Sunday, April 19 & 20
Green Fair 2008

The Franklin County Green Fair 2008 is expanding into a two day event this year at the Franklin County Fairgrounds. Saturday's events will include a collection of over 30 vendors, a Green Career Awareness Event, a kid-friendly environmental art workshop and a parade. Sunday will feature local farms and food folks to help kick-off the growing season. We will be open 10am-5pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. For more information, contact the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce at (413) 773-5463 or e-mail Nancy Stone.

Family, Fiddleheads, Flowers & Frogs
Saturday, May 3rd

Families will enjoy three rites of spring in one magical evening. Stroll along the banks of the Connecticut River and feast your senses on the beauty of spring wildflowers, the green/earthy taste of just picked and boiled fiddle heads and the sounds of an enthusiastic spring peeper chorus. Program begins at Northfield Mountain Visitor Center and runs from 5:30-8:00pm. This event is offered as a part of the annual Turners Falls Crabapple Blossom Festival. This is the third program of our eating local series. Pre-register by calling (800) 859-2960.

5th Annual Fleece Market at Webs
Saturday, May 17th

Once again we will be hosting our Annual Fleece Market on the first day of our Tent Sale. Many local sheep and alpaca growers will be on hand to offer a variety of fleeces, fiber and yarn from their very own animals. Come browse, buy from the producers, talk spinning and even bring your wheel. Check the website for a list of participants as the event approaches. The event will be from 10:00am-5:00pm.

2008 Grazing Workshop Series

NOFA Mass, USDA NRCS, and UMass Extension have organized seven Grazing Workshops as a continuing education resource for Massachusetts farmers. Topics at each event will vary, but will include pasture management, organic transition and heard health, forage species, soil fertility, fencing and water systems, and summer and winter grazing. For more information about each of these sessions, please visit this website or contact Winton Pitcoff at (413) 634-5728, UMass Extension at (413) 545-2250, or Tom Akin at (413) 253-4365.
Market Opportunity: CISA seeks produce farmer who is interested in setting up a weekly farmstand at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield this coming season. This is a great opportunity to sell directly to the hundreds of people who work there! Please contact Claire at (413) 665-7100, ext 16 for more details.

Job Opening: Clarkdale Fruit Farms is seeking seasonal farm workers. Work is outdoors and covers all aspects of orchard maintenance. Must be physically fit and able to lift 40 lbs. Position requires 2-3 days/week through April, with potential full-time employment through October for the right candidate. Farm experience preferred, but not necessary. Contact Ben. No phone inquiries please.

Job Opening: Full-time farm help needed for Old Friends Farm. Applicant should have prior farm experience, and must be passionate about growing flowers as well as food crops, and supportive of sustainable, local, organic agriculture. Must have reliable transportation. Compensation will be $9/hr, plus farm products as available. Please contact Missy and Casey at (413) 253-9182.

Job Opening: Farm Help. The Farmstead at Mine Brook, home to Goat Rising and Jersey Maid milk and cheese is looking for a hard working person to help with milking and chores around the farm. The ideal candidate will be clean, energetic, patient around animals and will have a desire to learn about the process of cheese making. Prior experience a plus. Contact John Miller by e-mail, mail to 8 Mountain Road, Charlemont, MA 01339, or call (413) 339-8500.

Job Opening: Communications Assistant. Red Tomato, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with ecological New England family produce farmers, is seeking a Communications Assistant. Position is 20 hrs/week based in Red Tomato office in Canton, Mass. Compensation is to be determined based on qualifications and experience. Start date June 2008. Please e-mail resume and cover letter to Susan Futrell.

Job Opening: The Amherst Farmers' Market seeks a Market Manager. The Farmers' Market manager is responsible for the daily operations of the AFM on Saturdays beginning the first weekend in May through the third weekend in November. This is a part-time, hourly position for about 12 hrs/week. Compensation will be $12-14/hr based on experience. For full job description, please contact Casey Steinberg or Sara Porth. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Casey or Sara. www.farmersmarketamherst.com.

Job Opening: Farm Manager. Established PYO orchard in the Pioneer Valley with a loyal customer base seeks farm manager. Experience with tree fruit and marketing preferred. Position is year-round and requires experience with tree fruit and marketing, as well as tractor operation and equipment maintenance. Salary is commensurate with experience. Call (413) 665-4689.

Job Opening: Community Farm Apprenticeship. Five local farms are seeking apprentices from May to August of 2008. Chosen apprentices will get hands-on experience with local farms and homesteads, learning skills in permaculture systems and design, sustainable farming and living skills, and organic garden systems. For more information and application, contact Jono Neiger at (413) 367-2304 or Leesa Crocker at (413) 367-9982.

Volunteer: Greenfield Farmers' Market looking for volunteers to help with regular operation of the market on Saturdays. In particular, we need a crossing guard during the market. For more information, contact Devon at (413) 625- 9907.

Wanted: Living space needed for 2008 growing season (April-October). Seeking a quiet and spacious place to live, either an apartment or a piece of a house. We are looking to spend a maximum of $700 a month without utilities or $775 including utilities. Bikability to Silver Lane in Sunderland (a.k.a. under 9 miles) a must. We are both quiet, love to cook and read, spend time outside, and meet good folks. Please email Sara AND Martin with any leads.

Wanted: G Street Preschool in Turners Falls, Mass is looking for gardening tools and a compost bin to start their garden project. If anyone has any items they would like to donate, please contact Marianne Bouthilette at (413) 475-1415.

For Sale: CSA Shares. Three Sisters Farm has two year CSA shares available for their naturally grown vegetables, herb and flowers. Sign up for this 2 yr commitment and a free winter garden harvest for 2008 will be included. Interested participants should contact Tom Fair at 413-367-0217 or via email at info@threesistersfarm.com. A full share for 2 years is $1200.00 and ½ shares are available for $600.00. One year shares are available upon request.

For Sale: Large classic colonial farmhouse with wrap- around porch, barn, garage, new building previously used for retail, all on 2+ acres in very quiet setting on country back road. Additional land is available for rent or purchase. Perfect for B&B, retreat, stables (plenty of trails for riding), agri-tourism, or small start-up farm. West Northfield. Contact Chee Chee Mamook Farm at alpaca0410@yahoo.com for more info.

For Sale: English Leicester Sheep and Naturally Colored Sheep. Starter flocks and lambs for handspinner's flocks. Contact Lisa Westervelt of Cranberry Moon Farm in Cummington, MA, (www.GoodWool.com) at lisa@goodwool.com or 413-634-5723.

For Sale: Farmland. 35 acres of farmland in prime location/farm community. Property has been family owned since the 1950's-now available to you! Located in Hadley, MA. Pertinent documents available by e-mail. Please contact Sara Gasparrini at 413-668-6774.

For Sale: Tractor. $13,000. Kabota L3010 32hp 4wd tractor with heated cab and engine block heater. Less than 600 hrs on the machine. Purchased for $15,950 from Leahy Equipment, Inc on March 22, 2007. Has a slow leak in the right front tire. Please call Patti at 413-659-0000 after 4pm or e-mail George if interested or to see picture of machine.

All items in classifieds will run for two months unless re- posted. To list an advertisement in the classified section, please contact Allison Neher.

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CISA | 1 Sugarloaf Street | South Deerfield | MA | 01373