July 2008
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The Grill on Locally Grown
The 4th of July is the unofficial kick off to the summer's grilling season--and there is no better way to enjoy a cook out than with local goods on the grill. Meat, fish or vegetables, the Valley has all you need to keep your grill supplied. We focus here on meat--local vegetables abound in the summer months at farmstands, farmers' markets, and gardens, and fish can be found here, but local meat can be a little harder to locate.

Several smaller Local Hero Retailers carry pre-cut local meat. You can also find local meat at farmstands and farmers' markets. Some community-supported farms, or CSAs, offer meat as an additional option for purchase, while Chestnut Farms offers a meat-only CSA.

Locally grown meat is available year-round, but may be more abundant in the summer and fall. Stocking your freezer will help ensure you have the cuts and types of meat you prefer throughout the winter and early spring. One way to do this is to buy a whole, half, or quarter animal. You'll get a variety of cuts of meat, from high-end to ground meat, generally for one price per pound (sometimes this is the "hanging weight," before the animal is cut up and trimmed). Talk to the farmer to make sure you understand what you're getting and how long it will last-smoked meats like bacon and ham, for example, don't last as long in the freezer. Good Morning America recently suggested that buying a half cow will feed a family of four for a year, with a net savings of $1,500 annually over buying that meat cut by cut at a retailer.

Find producers in our online Farm Products Guide (you can sort by distance from you), and call first to check on availability and price.

Some things about buying a whole animal may be unfamiliar, but there are resources out there to help. If you're not familiar with some of the cuts of meat you receive, ask the farmer how he or she prepares them, or check a cookbook or on-line recipe guide. If you're used to serving boneless breasts, but buy a whole local chicken, this guide to cutting up a whole chicken, prepared by the Vermont's Mad River Valley Localvore Projects, can help.

Finally, if you're really interested in the details of local meat production, you may be interested in CISA's recent report on the challenges of finding slaughter and processing options. See below for a summary, or click for full report.

New Logos for CISA, Local Hero
In June CISA embarked on a number of exciting initiatives to strengthen our mission and better position us as the "go to" organization for sustaining agriculture here in the Valley and beyond. As part of that effort, we created a new look for both CISA and Local Hero that will enhance CISA's role as a leader in the locally-grown movement. The 2008 Farm Products Guide was our first use of the new logos and colors. Watch for re-designed Local Hero materials, including bumper stickers, in the coming months. And in early 2009, we'll be unveiling a completely re-designed web site to provide more content and easy-to-access resources for farmers, consumers, and supporters.

Save the Date!
Join us for a festive evening to benefit CISA. Our event will feature a bountiful feast of local food, an entertaining live auction, and a celebration of CISA's fifteen years of working to support local agriculture. 'Eat the View' will be held at The Garden House at Look Park, in Northampton on Friday, October 3rd, 2008 from 6:00-9:00pm.

Slaughter Study Results Available
It is a real challenge for many farmers raising animals for meat in this region to find appropriate slaughter and meat processing services. Last fall, CISA surveyed farmers to understand the volume of demand for these services, and the choices farmers have to make as they bring their meat to market. CISA used this information to recommend next steps in figuring out the meat processing challenge.

A couple of the study's highlights include:
  • There is significant demand for meat processing services. Survey respondents from central and western Massachusetts reported at least 730 cattle, 1050 small ruminants (goats and sheep), 210 hogs, and 3,060 poultry will go to slaughter this year.
  • Survey respondents represent predominantly small, somewhat diversified farms. This means that finding a way to butcher these animals would have a positive impact on more farm businesses and landowners. 50%-86% of respondents who own cattle, goats, or sheep send 1-10 animals to slaughter every year. 49% of respondents raise at least two species of animals.
  • There is an opportunity for substantial growth of farms and improved farm viability, if the slaughter and processing bottleneck can be resolved. 59% of survey respondents would expand their farms if they had better access to a reliable USDA-inspected facility, doubling their herds on average.
  • Proximity is a major consideration for farmers deciding where to bring their animals for slaughter. Shorter commutes mean better treatment for animals, higher quality meat, a smaller carbon footprint, and more viable farm businesses with lower fuel costs. Location was the most commonly noted quality desired in a new slaughter or processing facility, noted by 57% of respondents. Of those farmers, the largest pool (36%) resides in Franklin County.
  • Scheduling, USDA inspection, affordability, communications, humane operations, customer service and quality assurance are high priorities for slaughter facility customers.
To read the full report, please click here.

Barstow's Longview Farm Opens Dairy Store
The long-awaited dairy store at Barstow's Longview Farm in Hadley had a soft opening June 30th. Support has been pouring in from new customers, many of whom have been waiting for months. "We started this project two years ago," says Store Manager, Paula Barstow. "It has been a wonderful process." The farm has been owned and operated by the Barstow family since it's founding in the early 1800's. "The new store has been a great way to get the whole family involved. Every family member has a role: the farmers, the bakers, and even the kids work the counter." The new store offers baked goods, ice cream, sandwiches, and a wide variety of local farm products. "We realized a long time ago that this store isn't just about us. It is a chance for all of our farmer friends to get their products out to more people." The store will have a grand opening in the fall to celebrate their success. Until then, feel free to drop by and enjoy a snack on the patio overlooking a beautiful vista. In a hurry? Not to worry, they even have a drive thru!

New England Wildflower Society Kicks Off New Project
On June 19, 2008 the New England Wildflower Society broke ground on its $2.8 million native plant center and multi-use agricultural building at Nasami Farm and Sanctuary in Whately. In describing this unique agricultural resource, Conway resident Ruah Donnelly, a society trustee, and chair of the building committee, stated, "We need to re-teach ourselves to garden in a way that is sustainable and uses plants that are native to our home ground." The LEED-certified building features a resource center, seed drying and cold storage rooms, a multi-purpose room for classes, workshops, seed cleaning, and community projects as well as indoor and outdoor sales areas. Nasami Farm, a participating Local Hero farm, produces 700 varieties of native plants and is one of the largest native plant resources in New England. The new center will aid the society's participation in the Millennium Seed Bank, a worldwide conservation effort to conserve seed from 10 percent of the world's seed-bearing plant species. The late Bob August and his wife Nancy sold Nasami Farm to the Framingham-based non-profit in 2003. Members of the August family participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Local Hero Website Innovations
Here in western Massachusetts, we have the great pleasure of being able to visit local farms and see where our food and other farm products are grown. Sometimes, however, we also enjoy the great convenience of quick access to on-line information. Luckily, you can have it all here in western Massachusetts! Here are a few of our favorite Local Hero websites:
  • Tabella Restaurant lists the farms they buy from on the menu and on their website. The menus are updated regularly, ensuring that the fresh, seasonal meals listed will be available that day at the restaurant. Providing links to the websites of farms they purchase from allow consumers to get one step closer to knowing exactly where their food is coming from.
  • Swartz Family Farm in Amherst now offers pre-ordering through their website. Click the mouse, place your order, and pick it up later in the week.

Local Recipe: Lemon Butter Barramundi
Cook and Prep Time: 10 minutes.
4 barramundi fillets (skin on or off)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4-6 leaves fresh basil, minced (or ¾ tsp dry)

For the Fish: Rinse fillets and pat dry with paper towel. Spray fillets with canola or olive oil. Sauté the fillets on high heat for 3 minutes (skin side up). Flip and cook 1 more minute. Transfer to serving dish.

For the Sauce: Gently sauté the garlic in butter for about 2 minutes. Stir in salt, lemon juice and basil. Remove from heat and spoon over fillets immediately before serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve on a bed of lightly steamed young green beans and add chopped, fresh tomatoes for color. Serves 4.

Thanks to Australis Aquaculture in Turners Falls for sharing this delicious recipe. For more recipes with barramundi, click here.

World Food Prices
Every other day there is a new article about the causes of the world food crisis. Some writers focus on increased diversion of food crops into biofuels, Asia's demand for more affluent diets, or high fuel costs which impact food transportation and the cost of fertilizers and running tractors. The recently passed farm bill had many critics who cited US farm subsidies and global food policies that have left many countries reliant on food imports as culprits in this crisis.

All of these factors underlie a crisis, but it is a crisis of cost, not of supply. The world is still producing enough food despite the floods in Asia and the droughts in Australia; it's just that more people can no longer afford to buy that food. What will the impact of this global rise in food prices be here in western Massachusetts, living as we do on some of the most fertile land in the world, in one of the richest countries in the world?

Some pundits and economists suggest that as the cost of food goes up on the world market, food that is grown and sold locally will become more competitive. It is true that the cost of transporting a head of lettuce from California or even Chile is rising and as a result our local lettuce, coming from Orange or Hadley, won't incur additional expensive transportation costs. But because we are part of the global food supply, local food may also increase in price. Farmers in our Valley are not isolated from the global market. As fuel prices rise, so do the costs of running a local tractor. As more and more corn is diverted to ethanol the cost of corn seed to plant local fields also goes up.

We are lucky to live in a place where agriculture is still a healthy part of our economy and our culture - and we reap the benefits: fresh asparagus, ripe tomatoes, grass-fed beef. But if we want to keep agriculture local and access a bounty of fresh agricultural products, we need to continue to support our farmers as they weather the very same factors that underlie the global food crisis. And on the long-term we must work for a saner global food economy that supports all of us.

Know Your Farmer
It might be tomatoes, or it might be jalapenos, or it might be something else. At any rate, some food has been giving people all over the country salmonella since April, and nobody yet knows exactly what it is or where it came from. If you want to know where your food was grown and who grew it, find your local source here!

Picnic Feast in the Fields
Saturday, July 19

Join Red Fire Farm in Granby, Mass for a delicious picnic on the secluded Little Hill Field. Enjoy a wagon ride out to the field at 5:00pm and enjoy a seasonal picnic made of produce straight from the farm. Tickets are limited, so call (413) 467-SOIL to make your reservation.

Canning Clinic
Saturday, July 19

The Hardwick Farmers Exchange is hosting a free canning clinic on Saturday, July 19, from 9:00am- 12:00pm. The clinic will cover the basic principles of canning and the water bath method. Anyone who attends will receive $5 off a $30 purchase of canning supplies. For more information, click here.

Collie Herding at Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival
Saturday, July 19

Join Local Hero farmers Kristen Whittle (Little Brook Farm) and Denise Leonard (Tanstaafl Farm) for a collie herding demonstration at the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival. The demonstrations will take place at 10:00am & 1:30pm at Look Park in Northampton, Mass. For more information, visit the event's website.

Big Y Native Farmstands
Saturdays & Sundays in July & August

Drop by your neighborhood Big Y to meet one of the many local farmers supplying Big Y with local produce. Big Y will feature one farm and farmer every weekend until Labor Day at weekend-long farmstands. The first week, beginning July 19th & 20th, will highlight Doug Coldwell from Happy Valley Coop in East Whately, Mass. Contact your neighborhood Big Y to find out which weekend they will be highlighting local farmers.

7th Annual Wild Blueberry Jubilee
Saturday, August 2

Celebrate the Blueberry harvest at The Benson Place in Heath, Mass. Great food, live music, art activities, farm learning, and lovely views. For more information visit the farm's website or call (413) 337-5340. The event will run from 2:00-8:00pm.

Blueberry Festival and Tasting
Sunday, August 3

Join West Granville Blueberries for blueberry food tasting and recipes, children's activities and blueberry picking at the farm in Granville, Mass. The festival will take place from 10:00am- 4:00pm. Call the Blueberry Phone for daily picking information at (413) 357-6697.

Blueberry Days of Summer
Sunday, August 3

Enjoy an afternoon of blueberry picking, pie contests and Chester Hill Winery wine tastings at the Kelso Homestead in Chester, Mass. The celebration will also include a tractor tour of the blueberry fields, fiber spinning demonstrations, and doggie duck herding. The festival will run from 10:00am- 4:00pm. For more information, visit their website.

Northeast Organic Farming Association's 34th Annual Summer Conference
Friday-Sunday, August 8-10

This year's NOFA Summer Conference will feature keynote speakers Mark McAfee and Arden Andersen as well as over 150 workshops on a wide range of topics. The weekend will also include a family contra dance, zydeco drumming, an Old- fashioned Country fair, live music, a farmers' market, games and fun! For more information, visit NOFA Massachusetts' website or contact Julie Rawson at (978) 355-2853.

Unlock the Mysteries of Canning
Saturday, August 9th

Cathy Halberg has canned and frozen an incredible variety of things and will bring examples of her craft and share tips and tricks from her years of home canning experience. Participants will learn basic canning techniques by donning a head-net and preparing a soft fruit preserve and pickled cucumbers at the FCCDC's Food Processing Center in Greenfield, Mass. Participants will leave with samples of both products and the confidence to go forth and plan canning parties in their own home kitchens. The workshop will run from 10:00am- 2:00pm. Pre-register by calling (800) 859-2960.

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.
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 their website or contact Sara.

Job Opening: NOFA/Mass Community Farm Organizer. This position is a 15-25 hr/week position. The employee will research all aspects of community farms. Send resume and three references or letters of recommendation to Julie Rawson by July 15. For a full job description, please visit the NOFA/Mass website.

Job Opening: NOFA/Mass Extension Educator. This position is a 10 hr/week position, moving up to 40 hr/week in October, pending funding. The employee will work closely with and collaborate with NOFA/Mass programs in all varieties of extension work. Send resume and three references or letters of recommendation to Julie Rawson by July 15. For a full job description, please visit the NOFA/Mass website.

Job Opening: Part-time help. Real Pickles is a small business, based in Montague, MA, producing raw, naturally fermented pickled foods from local, organic vegetables. We are seeking part-time help, beginning ASAP in Greenfield, MA. Work includes all aspects of production, including preparing fresh ingredients for fermentation and packaging finished product into glass jars. Work is physically demanding. Applicants should be hard-working, reliable, and able to lift 50 lbs. This is a great opportunity to learn all about the ancient art of lactic acid fermentation! For more information, call Dan at (413) 863-9063.

Volunteer: Greenfield's Free Harvest Supper organizers are looking for help! There are many ways to be involved-planning, volunteering the day of the Supper, donating food, or providing information for the display area. The organizers are looking for folks to help create the "Map of the Meal" and the supper program and to help with the Really, Really Free Market, as well as people to set-up, serve, and clean-up. To volunteer, donate food, or provide display information, contact us by e-mail or call (413) 773-5029, ext. 3.

Wanted: Part-time farm work. Experienced in organic vegetable production and orchard work. Looking for seasonal work in or near Northampton area. Please contact Daniel by e-mail or phone (413) 584-4090.

Wanted: Land. Farmers and our goats are looking for a long-term lease in the Pioneer Valley area. Home and buildings sure would be a giant plus. We have top-notch hay equipment. Home: (207) 454- 9919; Fax: (207) 454-9929; or Cell: (207) 214-3000.

For Rent: Farmland. 3-4 acres of prime farmland in Whately, Mass. This land is incredibly rich and was formerly used for nursery stock, but has been out of production for several years. Terms of lease are negotiable. Please contact Phil Nash at (413) 539-0433.

For Sale: Classic Greek Revival Mini-Farm in Buckland. 9+ acres of fields and pastures with pond, apple orchard, blueberries, grapes, perennials, herbs and more. Handsome structurally sound house, slate roof, with a separate apartment. New heating system. Multi-purpose outbuilding, views, and tranquility. $395,000. Click here for photos. Please contact Phil Pless, Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont Realtors, 413-625-6366 x14.

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: House lot at North Amherst Community Farm. 30,000 sq. ft. flag lot, adjoining organic farm with beautiful views. Suitable for a single family home, or duplex. Walking distance to local businesses, bus lines, Puffers Pond & Mill River recreation area. For more information, contact David Kastor at (413) 549-4119.

Farm Camp Enrollment: Small Ones Farm is a 63-acre, family-owned farm in Amherst, MA. We use earth-friendly and people-friendly farming practices to grow apples, peaches, pears, vegetables and hay. Our summer programs help children connect to farming and the natural world in a safe, fun environment. Children will assist with the farm's operation, explore the natural environment, and use natural materials for creative projects. Two programs are available: Seedlings (ages 5-6) and Harvesters (ages 11-13). Programs are 1-week long, and run from July 28 through August 15. Contact Sally Fitz, Program Director, at (413) 253-6788. Check out our website for more information.

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