Dec. 2008
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Local Holiday Gift Ideas
Looking for a unique gift this holiday season? Join the growing trend and buy locally grown or produced items for your loved ones. Buying locally during the holiday season helps many local farmers keep sales up through the slower winter season and it keeps your dollars in our local economy. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas for your holiday shopping.

Give the gift of a CISA membership to family and friends. Memberships are available at several levels for individuals and families. Perks of membership include a subscription to Field Notes, our print newsletter, and an invitation to CISA's Annual Meeting and Potluck Supper on March 13. Gifts of membership can also be made in memory or in honor of someone of your choosing.

Justamere Tree Farm's handmade brooms are an exceptional gift made from local forest products. These brooms were highlighted on the Martha Stewart Show in 2007, and continue to receive rave reviews. Who wouldn't be delighted to receive a gift that turns the chore of sweeping into a pleasure?

Other pleasurable gifts from local ingredients are soaps, lotions, and lip balms. Take your pick of soothing ingredients: goat's milk, emu oil, or beeswax from Potash Hill Farm, Songline Emu Farm, and Warm Colors Apiary.

If you've got some time and knitting talent, try making a gift from locally produced wool products. Not sure what to make? Check out this new online knitting magazine, Twist Collective, featuring Local Hero wool producer, Barbara Parry of Foxfire Fiber. Don't worry, if you don't have enough time or interest to make your own, several local fiber producers also offer knit items at their farmstands.

Everyone has someone on their list that is difficult to shop for. Make it easy on yourself and give them a local gift basket filled with a variety of western Massachusetts delights. Or, try locally grown poinsettias from Dave's Natural Garden. Dave's poinsettias are only $10 a piece and are available for wholesale. If you've got someone with a sweet tooth on your list, try a box of chocolates made with local cream and maple syrup from Richardson's Candy Kitchen.

For more holiday gift ideas, visit our online Farm Products Guide. And remember, winter is not a busy season for most farmers, so be sure to call ahead and confirm their hours before heading out in the cold.

Film Screening: Fridays at the Farm CISA is offering a public screening of Fridays at the Farm, at the Community Room of the Media Education Foundation (60 Masonic Street, Northampton, MA) from 6:00-7:30pm on December 11th.

Using digital timelapse photography, Richard Hoffman documents his experience as a CSA member at Red Hill Farm in Pennsylvania over one growing season. Following the viewing, CISA staff members Devon Whitney-Deal, Local Hero Member Services Coordinator, and Tracie Butler-Kurth, Community Membership and Development Associate, will lead a discussion about what people can do to support local agriculture in the Pioneer Valley.

There is a $5 suggested donation at the door. Anyone who joins CISA's Community Membership initiative that evening will receive a $5 discount on their membership. If you are planning to attend, please contact Tracie Butler-Kurth at (413) 665-7100 x12 so that we can plan accordingly.

Special Tax Incentive for Charitable Giving

The IRA Charitable Rollover tax incentive, which is available through 2009, allows individuals aged 70½ and older to donate up to $100,000 from their Traditional or Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) directly to charitable organizations without having to count the distributions as taxable income. This giving incentive is particularly beneficial to those individuals who do not itemize their tax deductions and is intended to benefit donors at all incomes levels. Now is your opportunity to take advantage of this valuable incentive. Please contact Pamela Barnes in CISA's development office for additional information or to make a contribution.

Vote for CISA!

Two local businesses allow customers to help choose the charities to which they donate. We'd appreciate your support for CISA! Florence Savings Bank customers can help CISA win a Customers' Choice Community Grant of $500 or more. Click here to vote online or vote at a nearby Florence Savings Bank office. CISA needs just 1% of the total votes to win. Voting ends on December 31, but please don't wait! Vote today for CISA and ask your friends and family members to do the same. If you choose to vote online, you will need to enter CISA's address: One Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373.

River Valley Market selects a charity every month to receive a donation from customers who bring their own bags. Stop by the customer service desk at the market to nominate CISA. Thanks to these local businesses and thanks to you for your support.

Your New Year's Resolution: Volunteer with CISA
CISA is looking for volunteers to help grow its Community Membership Program and to help plan its 2009 signature event, Eat the View.
  • Several individuals are needed to help staff information tables at local events, answer inquiries regarding CISA, its programs and membership, and distribute informational and membership materials. If you enjoy talking with people about local food and agriculture and can commit to volunteering at 2- 4 community events in 2009, please visit the CISA website for a volunteer application or contact Jennifer Williams at the CISA office, 413-665-7100, ext. 10.
  • Can you plan a menu? Have a flair for table decorations? CISA is looking for individuals to serve on the 2009 Eat the View committee. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of this important event, including food and beverage selection, ambiance and décor, ticket sales, and planning for the live auction portion of the evening. Visit the CISA website for details on upcoming volunteer meetings and job descriptions, or contact CISA's development office at (413) 665-7100.

Website Survey Results
Thank you to everyone who participated in our website survey last month. We appreciate hearing from you and we hope to continue to get your feedback and thoughts. According to the responses, a large number of you read the eNewsletter for the notices about local events, news about CISA's programs, and commentary on news or policy affecting agriculture. We'll do our best to keep providing this information to you.

When asked about what kinds of information people would like to see more of on our website, an overwhelming number mentioned recipes for cooking and preserving, "how to" resources on eating local, and more analysis of food trends and agriculture politics. As we redesign our website next spring, we will be working to make these types of information more accessible to you. In addition, we received many ideas about how to strengthen our programs and fulfill our mission more effectively. Community feedback helps to inform our choices as an organization, and understand how our message is received. We hope that you will continue to be in touch with CISA with your ideas and feedback. Thank you again for your participation in the survey and your continued support for CISA.

Women In Agriculture Workshop
Since 2005, CISA's Women in Agriculture Network has been providing women farmers with technical assistance and networking opportunities through quarterly workshop offerings. Over the years, workshops have focused on a variety of subjects, including tractor maintenance, avoiding injury on the farm, marketing, and maintaining a solid work-life balance. The workshop topics are usually generated by participants in the network, and are often led by farmers themselves. They are a great opportunity for women farmers to learn new skills and to meet and network with one another.

Our next Women in Agriculture event will be held on Saturday, December 13th at 10:00am, and it will be a hands-on balsam wreath making workshop. Lilian Jackman of Wilder Hill Gardens and Sue Atherton of The Atherton Farm will share techniques that can be applied to making wreaths out of balsam, dried herbs and flowers, and fresh flowers. This is a skill that can help farmers extend their season and expand their farm offerings, and participants are invited to stay for lunch and social time with other women in agriculture.

Women who farm, are interested in agriculture, and others who support them are welcome to attend. The fee for the workshop is $10, which includes materials and lunch. Please remember to bring clippers and gloves. To RSVP for the event, contact Claire Morenon at (413) 665-7100 by Wednesday, December 10th.

Farmers & Buyer Networking Event Success
CISA's first Restaurant/Retailer/Grower Meet and Greet was held on Tuesday, November 18th. A total of 44 Local Hero member farmers, restaurant owners, retailers and specialty product producers were present to meet one another, exchange business cards and build relationships that will allow more local produce, fruits and products to be available in each of these venues.

Participants had the opportunity to hear from Barry Steeves, former co-owner of La Cazuela restaurant in Northampton and longtime CISA board member, about his success in gradually adding local produce onto his restaurant's menu. Barry found that customers appreciated his support of local agriculture and often commented on how good the food tasted. This confirmed for Barry that "this wasn't just something that felt good, but something that was good for business." Participating growers and buyers also discussed challenges and solutions to building strong market relationships between farmers, restaurants, and store owners.

Several farmers came prepared with samples to entice retailers and restaurateurs to purchase their goods, and participants commented that valuable new business connections were made. CISA looks forward to facilitating relationships between more farmers and businesses in the coming year.

Sweeten Up Your Holidays
If you'd like to go local this holiday season, a great place to start is by replacing sugar used in cooking and baking with local honey or maple syrup. Many cookbooks have "replacements" sections in the back where you will find rough estimates for replacing white and brown sugar with honey or maple syrup. To get the real scoop on cooking with local sweeteners, we asked our experts.

Bonita & Dan Conlon, of Warm Colors Apiary, cook with honey as a replacement for sugar in everyday cooking. Their first advice is to start small; try replacing half of the sugar in a recipe with honey, and then experiment from there based on your results. Dan reminds us, "One of the things about honey is that it is a sugar, but it isn't sucrose like cane sugar. The bees break it down into another sugar, so when you eat honey, your body says to you rather quickly that you've had enough. So you can use far less honey than sugar and get the same effect." Dan also suggests starting with a lighter, milder flavored honey.

Using honey is a great way to make your baked goods stay moist longer and prevent early molding, because it has a preservative quality. When replacing sugar with honey, reduce the other liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey you use. You will also need to reduce the oven temperature by around twenty-five degrees to prevent over-browning.

Maple syrup can easily replace sugar in recipes, especially recipes calling for brown sugar. Like honey, maple syrup is much sweeter than table sugar, so replace one cup of sugar with ¾ cup of pure maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the recipe by three tablespoons for each cup of syrup. Again, the higher sugar content will cause the baked goods to brown more easily, so lower the oven temperature by twenty-five degrees. When measuring out honey or maple syrup, coat the cup with oil before adding the honey or syrup. This will save you a sticky mess and make measuring a piece of cake!

Honey and maple syrup are also great for home preservation. Devon Whitney-Deal, CISA's Local Hero Membership Coordinator, uses honey for making jam, which she sells under the Beaumont's Berries label. She also uses maple syrup when canning fruit. Instead of preserving the fruit in syrup made from table sugar and water, she uses a mixture of one cup of B grade syrup to five cups of water.

Ready to give cooking with local sweeteners a try? Try these recipes using honey from the National Honey Board or these suggestions from the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. Visit our online Farm Products Guide to find local honey and maple syrup.

Post-Election Buzz
Now that we know who our president will be for the next four years, discussions are flying about how to promote sustainable agriculture within the new administration. There are many ways that farm policy finds its way to the president's plate, so we've pulled together a few interesting suggestions and debates for your consideration.

Many of these discussions were prompted and encouraged by Michael Pollan's open letter to the next president, published in the New York Times magazine on October 9th. The fourteen page article is a quick backgrounder for the new president, explaining how we came to find ourselves in our present agricultural mess and providing policy suggestions.

The White House Organic Farm Project and Eat the View are non- partisan, petition-based initiatives to request that our 44th President create an organic farm on the grounds of The White House. This wouldn't be the first time the White House lawn has been converted to productive use: During World War I, Woodrow Wilson grazed sheep to free up men for the war and to help with wool shortages. Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden on the White House grounds to encourage Americans to grow more of their own food during World War II. Now, Americans are encouraging the President to take the lead again, and plant an organic farm on the White House lawn to encourage consumption of local, organic food. The produce from the garden would be served in the White House, and also donated to local food banks and schools. You can sign the petitions at their respective websites.

Among those interested in farm and food policy, speculation about Obama's nominees focuses on the Secretary of Agriculture. Several lively discussions on this topic have emerged, highlighting the pros and cons of many of the potential candidates. For some background and an introduction to the six most likely candidates, see this article at The Ethicurian.

Alpaca Holiday Farm Event
Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7

Craigieburn Farm Alpacas will again be hosting a holiday event this year. The farm will be open to visitors to see alpacas, learn about living the alpaca lifestyle, and shop in the store for luxurious alpaca products. Alpaca fiber is softer, stronger and warmer than wool. It's hypoallergenic and doesn't itch. Come and feel for yourself! Refreshments will be served. We will be open from 10:00am-4:00pm. For more information, please visit the farm's website.

Holiday Photo Days
Sundays, December 7-21

Have your photo taken with Santa and/or a llama from 1:00-3:00pm at Hickory Dell Farm in Northampton! Photos are available in many formats. For more information, call (413) 586-0031.

Mixed Greens - Decorate your home for the holidays!
Saturdays, December 6, 13 & 20

Make a wreath, kissing ball or centerpiece with fresh local greens at Hickory Dell Farm in Northampton. Private evening parties for groups of 5 or more are also available. Fee for supplies. For more information, call (413) 586-0031.

Documentary Screening: Fridays at the Farm
Thursday, December 11

CISA is offering a public screening of Fridays at the Farm, at the Community Room of the Media Education Foundation (60 Masonic Street, Northampton, MA). Using digital timelapse photography, Richard Hoffman documents his experience as a CSA member at Red Hill Farm in Pennsylvania over one growing season. Following the viewing, CISA staff members Devon Whitney-Deal, Local Hero Member Services Coordinator, and Tracie Butler-Kurth, Community Membership and Development Associate, will lead a discussion about what people can do to support local agriculture in the Pioneer Valley. $5 suggested donation at the door. The film will start at 6:00pm and discussion will wrap up at 7:30pm. Registration requested for planning purposes. To register, please contact Tracie Butler-Kurth at (413) 665-7100 x12.

Make-it-Yourself Family Craft Fair
Saturday, December 13

Bring your family to the Montague Grange for affordable, guided craft activities for all ages to make great holiday gifts. Cool jewelry, jewelry boxes, gnomes, beeswax candles, candle holders, glass ornaments, paper crafts, picture frames, sachets, and lots more! Warm food and baked goods available to fuel the gift making. Proceeds to benefit the Montague Grange and CISA's Senior Farm Share Program. The fair will run from 10:00am-3:00pm at the Montague Grange. For more information, call Laurie at (413) 367-9608, for directions, click here.

Women In Agriculture Workshop: Wreath-Making
Saturday, December 13

Join us for this hands-on balsam wreath making workshop at The Atherton Farm and learn techniques that can be applied to balsam, dried herbs and flowers, and fresh flowers. This is a skill that can extend your season and expand your farm's offerings. Stay for lunch to meet and network with other women in agriculture. The workshop fee is $10 for materials and lunch. Bring your own clippers and gloves. Please RSVP by Wednesday, Dec. 10 to Claire Morenon at (413) 665-7100.

Holiday Fair in the Red Barn at Hampshire College
Saturday, December 13

Come to the Holiday Fair in the Red Barn at Hampshire College from 9:00am-3:00pm. You'll find a mix of holiday crafts and local farm products-perfect for all of your holiday needs.

Enterprise Farm Holiday Open House
Tuesday-Thursday, December 16-18

Join Enterprise Farm for their Holiday Open House from 12:00-7:00pm. There will be free food and drink available. Local and regional holiday items will be for sale, including Massachusetts meats, cheeses, cranberries, greenhouse greens and herbs, as well as North Carolina pecans and sweet potatoes.

Grant Proposal Workshops: Renewable Energy & Efficiency
Wednesday, December 17

Attend a free workshop series for farmers and forest product business owners about financial incentives available through the USDA 9007 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), part of the current federal Farm Bill. REAP funding supports a diverse range of clean energy technologies: not only biofuels, but also wind, solar, biomass electricity, biogas and energy efficiency. The first workshop will be held on Dec. 17, 9:00am- 12:00noon at the US Fish & Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA (Located behind the Staples at the intersection of Routes 116 and 9). A photo ID must be presented to enter this Federal Building. For more information or to register for a workshop, please contact Emily Boss at Massachusetts Woodlands Institute, at (413) 397-8800.

Felted Family Feet
Saturday, December 27

Join Winterberry Farm for a chance for two or three families to spend a day making a wonderful pair of felt slippers for each participant. We'll design our creations, card the wool we'll use, and then we'll felt away. The final part of the process is a slipper-on-foot massage. We'll start at 9:00am and probably finish around 4:00pm. A farm lunch is included, as are, of course, animal visits. Fee is $90 per adult, $50 per child, including materials. Contact Jill Horton-Lyons at (413) 548-3940 to register.

Learn to Spin
Tuesday, December 30

Winterberry Farm will be helping anyone 14 or older learn to make yarn. We'll go over the process and then make yarn with several different spinning tools. You'll choose and prepare wool for spinning and you'll handle a variety of fleeces. You'll be introduced to other animal fibers, and also some that come from plants. A great farm lunch is included, as well as a chance to meet the fiber-bearing animals here on the farm. Workshop runs 9:00am-5:00pm. Fee is $100, including lunch and materials. Limited to 4 participants. Contact Jill Horton-Lyons at (413) 548-3940 to register.

Wet Felt & Needle Felt
Saturday, January 3

Felt is a wonderful material made without any spinning/knitting/weaving/crocheting. This beginning felting day will spend the morning on wet felting and the afternoon on dry (needle felting). You'll get to make a flat piece and a ball or dish; then you can make an animal or vegetable and embellish your morning creations. We'll have a good farm lunch in between. Jill will teach this one with her artist- daughter Megan. Limited to 8 participants, running from 9:30am-4:30pm. $100 includes lunch and all materials. Contact Jill Horton-Lyons at (413) 548-3940 to register.

USDA REAP Grant Writing Workshop
Wednesday, January 7

This grant writing workshop is for those interested in applying for a REAP grant and/or guaranteed loan. Pre-registration will be required for this session and participants must have attended a prior USDA REAP informational meeting (see December 17 event, above) or previously applied for a USDA energy grant. Refreshments will be provided. Funding for this free workshop series has been made available through a USDA-RD Rural Business Enterprise Grant, and both Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D, the administrator of the MFEP, and MWI are equal opportunity employers. For more information or to register for a workshop, please contact Emily Boss, Massachusetts Woodlands Institute, at (413) 397-8800.

Continuing The Legacy of Your Farm: Succession Planning for Retiring and Next-Generation Farmers
Wednesday, January 21

It's never too early -- or too late -- to plan for your farm transfer. If you hope to pass your farm to the next generation or to someone outside the family, this workshop is for you. In this introductory session, Dave Gott and Kathy Ruhf will go over the basics of farm succession planning, from goal setting to land use, retirement, estate and legal issues. Workshop participants are eligible for follow-up small group or individual sessions to get into more detail. Dave and Kathy both live in western Massachusetts and have worked with farm families around succession issues for many years. The workshop is sponsored by the Transferring the Farm Project and Land For Good, with support from the USDA/Risk Management Education Program to the University of Vermont. The workshop will be held at the CISA office (One Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, Mass.) from 6:00 to 8:30pm. To register for the event, or for more information, please contact Devon Whitney-Deal at (413) 665-7100.

Is Leasing Right for You?
NOFA/Massachusetts Winter Conference
Saturday, January 17

Access to farmland is one of the biggest challenges for new farmers. For many, leasing may be an effective strategy. Leases can offer you affordable, flexible and secure access to farms, land, and buildings. Join Land For Good for a workshop and an online tutorial on leasing for farmers. Find out about leases and leasing -- what's in a lease, types of leases and how to negotiate a good lease. More information under NOFA Winter Conference, below.

22nd NOFA Annual Winter Conference
Saturday, January 17th

Join the Northeast Organic Farming Association for the 22nd Annual Winter Conference, Organic Farming: The Roots of a Sustainable Community. The conference will be held at Worcester Vocational Technical High School in Worcester from 9:00am-5:30pm. Pre-registration is now open. For more information, visit the NOFA/Mass website or contact Conference Coordinator, Jassy Bratko at (978) 928-5646.

8th Annual NOFA 5-day Organic Land Care Accredidation Course
January 14, 15, 16, 20 AND 21
This course covers all topics of organic landscaping, taught by experts, scientists and professionals in the field. The class will be held at the Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster, Mass. For more information, contact Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830 or visit the website.

An Introduction to Best Marketing Practices
Wednesday, January 28

This CISA workshop will introduce the concept of marketing and branding agricultural businesses and the importance of putting your customers and their needs at the center of your marketing strategy. The session will help participants define their "target audience" and provide exercises and tools to help farmers develop or update their own plans for reaching out and connecting with their customers. The session will be held at the CISA office in South Deerfield from 6:00-8:30pm. The workshop fee is $10 for Local Hero members or $15 for non-members. This workshop is one in a six- workshop series on marketing. To register for the workshop, contact Devon Whitney-Deal at (413) 665-7100.

Let's Talk Turf: Organic Lawns
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 (snow date January 29)

This workshop, co-sponsored by the NOFA OLC Program and ELA, will be held at the Doyle Conservation Center, Leominster, Mass. The workshop with feature Chip Osborne and Bernadette Giblin. Plus, interactive roundtable discussion on organic lawns, transitioning, selling to clients, and more. Cost: $25 ELA members and NOFA AOLCPs; $35 non- members. To register, call (617) 436-5838 or send your check to ELA, 1257 Worcester Rd., Framingham, MA 01701. Walk-ins are welcome. For more information, visit the ELA website or the NOFA Organic Land Care Program website.
Job Opening: The Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, MA, seeks one full season Assistant Grower and 2-3 full time summer Harvest/Weeder Crew. We are a 7 acre organic (not certified) vegetable farm growing many kinds of specialty vegetables for local restaurants and farmers' markets with the philosophy of providing the highest quality, best tasting, and most beautiful produce to our community. The Assistant Grower position is a full-time, April-October position with competitive salary. We are looking for a highly motivated and hard working individual with at least 2 years of vegetable experience to help with all aspects of running the farm, including but not limited to field preparation, planting, cultivation, tractor operation, greenhouse work, harvesting, packing and delivering orders, running farmers market stand, managing other workers, and generally seeing that things get done. April-October, salary $1600/month, or commensurate with experience. Affordable housing and bus routes within walking distance of farm. Harvest/Weeder Crew positions are full time May 15-September or October. Responsibilities include harvesting all types of vegetable crops, weeding, transplanting and selling at farmers market. Pay is $8-9/hour, depending on experience. Farm experience is preferred, speed, efficiency, and attention to detail are essential. Contact Caroline or Tim at (413) 387-5163.

Job Opening: The Organic Trade Association (OTA) seeks a new staff salesperson for our membership team. The focus of the New Member Development Manager is identifying, recruiting and closing new memberships, via phone and personal visits. We are looking for an organized, enthusiastic, and flexible individual who is capable of thinking on his/her feet and is motivated by OTA's mission. Prospective candidates should have a minimum three years of selling and prospecting with success, proficiency with Microsoft Office software, availability for periodic extended travel, and a desire to succeed. This is a salary plus incentive position with full benefits. For full job description go to our website, Please send by regular mail (no emails) a cover letter, resume, and salary history to Membership Director, OTA, PO Box 547, Greenfield, MA 01330.

Job Opening: Assistant Farm Manager. Atlas Farm, certified organic vegetable farm in Deerfield, MA seeks applicants interested in learning about running a vegetable farm, and willing to make a multi year commitment to the farm. We are interested in training the right person and are looking for someone with 1-2 years experience on vegetable farms, some tractor experience and mostly a strong desire to learn. This person would assist the farm owners with all aspects of farm management including production, marketing, equipment work and field crew supervision. For more information, visit our website or contact Sara.

Wanted: Land. ¼ to ½ acre for a personal or community garden near Deerfield. Preferably non-chemically treated land. Please contact Jan with any leads.

For Rent: Join with leading community groups in a centrally located office space in South Deerfield that puts you at the heart of the northern Pioneer Valley. Rent this 400 square foot space, which includes access to conference rooms and a kitchen. Heat and electricity are included for $795 per month. Call Jennifer at (413) 665-7100 or email at

For Sale: Kohlrabi. Several local farmers are looking to sell large kohlrabi to restaurants, cafeterias, or institutions. Available peeled and sliced. For more information, contact Paul Peckham at (585) 202-7271 or (413) 256-4718.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Phone: (413) 665-7100

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