Nov. 2008
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Photo by Jason Threlfall

Friends of Fermentation
What better way to ring in the fall season than with a glass of locally grown and processed hard cider? After all, cider is nothing short of a New England tradition. According to Ben Watson's Cider, Hard and Sweet, by 1775 one out of every ten farms in New England owned and operated its own cider mill. Around that time roughly 1.14 barrels of cider were consumed per capita in Massachusetts. Although production of cider today is down from its peak in early America, local orchardists continue the cider tradition--making both hard and sweet cider for our enjoyment.

In contrast, there is not a long tradition of commercial wine production in New England, but an increasing number of local farmers and vintners are experimenting with new wine grape varieties. Although table grapes have been grown in the region for generations, wine grapes have not traditionally been in the mix. Wine grapes prefer a warm, dry growing season--something New England does not offer. New varieties, however, are able to thrive in our temperamental local climate.

Growing wine grapes requires new equipment, an investment of time, and a willingness to experiment and take a risk. Farmers and vintners are creating many kinds of wine with local crops--some mixed with traditional wine varieties grown elsewhere, some with new grape varieties, and some made with other fruits. And the experimentation is paying off: "We have some merlot and other more traditional wines infused with our fruit. Those are the wines that people first ask for, but our own pure wines are our best sellers," says Richard Krupczak of Echo Hill Orchards. Richard's most recent winemaking innovation is pumpkin wine, made entirely from their own pumpkins, resulting in a wine that tastes of pumpkin pie. It seems blueberry, apple, and apricot wines are just the tip of the iceberg here in the Valley.

So this year, reach for a bottle of local wine or cider to toast the winter season and warm the upcoming holidays and family gatherings. The variety of western Massachusetts wines and hard ciders ensures that there is something for almost everyone- perfect for holiday gifts! For help finding local wines and ciders, visit our online Farm Products Guide.

Photo by Jason Threlfall
Giving Thanks for Local Farms

"The king and high priest of all the festivals was the autumn Thanksgiving. When the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold, and the corn was husked, and the labors of the season were done, and the warm, late days of Indian Summer came in, dreamy, and calm, and still, with just enough frost to crisp the ground of a morning, but with warm traces of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over the community a sort of genial repose of spirit - a sense of something accomplished."
--Harriet Beecher Stowe

This year, as you gather family and friends around a Thanksgiving feast or other harvest supper, take a moment to remember the local bounty that fills our plates and the farmers that make it all possible. The traditions of Thanksgiving are all based around the New England harvest, which makes finding the ingredients for your local cornucopia easy as pie. But Thanksgiving is about more than just turkey and cranberry sauce. In the face of a food system that is increasingly homogenized and a population that is increasingly detached from their food sources, Thanksgiving is an opportunity for us to remember where our food comes from and reconnect with its seasonality. It is also an opportunity for us to imagine a different yield for agriculture--one where local land meets local needs, empty bellies are filled, and communities come together in support of agriculture. So, as many Valley farmers put their land to rest for the winter, take a moment to give thanks for the farmers that provide all of that delicious food and the communities working hard to sustain them.

Workplace CSA Manual Available
CISA is pleased to announce the release of a new resource, "Community Supported Agriculture for the Workplace: A Guide for Developing Workplace Community Supported Agriculture Distributions." The manual outlines CISA's Workplace CSA program, how it is managed, and key lessons we have learned from running the program for four seasons.

Since launching the Workplace CSA program in 2005, CISA has worked with nine local farms and seven workplaces to build off-farm CSA distributions. We match farms with interested workplaces and work with both to ensure that shares are sold and that the arrangement is mutually beneficial for the farmer, the workplace, and the shareholders. Developing an off-farm CSA distribution site can be a great and creative way to grow a farm business and reach new customers, but there are logistical and bureaucratic hurdles to getting started and keeping it sustainable.

Over the years, we've learned how to make solid matches between workplaces and farms, how to market the program to shareholders, and best practices to ensure that the season goes smoothly. The manual is designed to guide other non-profits, farmers, or workplaces through the process of starting a workplace CSA program. It can be accessed here, or contact Claire Morenon at (413) 665-7100 to request a copy.

Got Community?
Be sure to sign up for CISA's new community membership program. Your membership gift of $35 for individuals or $60 for households helps CISA engage farmers, retailers, policy makers and people like you in the complex task of rebuilding our depleted food system. For more information contact Tracie Butler-Kurth or visit our website.

CISA would like to thank Whole Foods Market in Hadley for allowing us to recruit members in the store on Wednesday, November 22 and 29. Thank you for helping us build community!

Help CISA in Five Minutes or Less
A big part of CISA's work involves spreading the word about the importance of supporting local agriculture--and, as part of our community, you can help! Please click here to fill out our five minute survey. (If you tried to access the survey yesterday and could not, please try again! We fixed the problem.) Your input is critical as we continue to improve our website, programming, and public education efforts.

Surveys completed by November 24th will be entered into a raffle and you could win a goody bag of local products. The information you provide will not be publicly available or shared with third parties.

Photo by Jason Threlfall
Thanksgiving Done Locally
If you're looking to create a local Thanksgiving feast this year, the Food Bank Farm's annual Thanksgiving Store is the perfect place to collect all of the fixings. The store is open to the public and offers fresh baked pies, locally-raised turkeys, Massachusetts grown organic cranberries, and fresh organic produce. If you are looking for a turkey for your spread, be sure to pre-order one by calling (413) 582-0013. The store will be open at the farm on Tuesday, November 25th and Wednesday, November 26th from 8:00am-5:00pm.

The Food Bank Farm is a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in Hadley. The farm donates half of its annual harvest to Food Bank member agencies and the Brown Bag program for low-income Valley residents. Proceeds from the annual Thanksgiving Store help support the farm's operating budget. For more information about the Food Bank Farm, please visit their website.

Amherst Farm Guide
In an effort to educate the Amherst community about the area's agricultural history and the importance of supporting local agriculture, local authors Ruth Owen Jones, Sheila Rainford, and Peter Westover put their creative talents together to create the Amherst Farm Guide. The idea for the book began with an informal, biweekly gathering of friends for coffee and conversation about Amherst's history. Soon, the authors decided to launch a more ambitious project, as Sheila Rainford explains: "Pete Westover, Ruth Jones and I decided together to write something that would make the general public more aware of our farmers and the pressures they face. Many of our farms are 'hidden' because they sell only at wholesale, grow crops on back acres not visible from the street, and grow crops such as hay that may look like only an open field to the casual passer-by. We know that this situation is similar in other communities and hope that our guide will be a helpful model and resource for them."

The guide, published by Merrylegs Charitable Literary Trust, encourages community members to purchase locally grown farm products whenever they are available. It was printed by Collective Copies and is available at Amherst Books. The book will also be available at several farmers' markets and other locally-owned area bookstores.

Above photos by Jason Threlfall
COOL New Rule
After six years in the making, the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Rule is now in effect, meaning that many items in the grocery store will now bear labels defining where they are coming from. Retailers are required to notify their customers of the country of origin of beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, fruits, vegetables, peanuts, pecans, ginseng, and macadamia nuts. Most processed and packaged foods are not affected by this rule.

Many hope that this new labeling system will allow for quicker response times to food scares at the supermarket level. Others are anticipating higher sales of US products because consumers will opt for US grown and raised items over imported. In any case, the labels will provide consumers with additional information about the food they buy.

COOL first became law under the 2002 Farm Bill, but was delayed due to concerns about the cost of implementation. Origin labelling for some imported products has been required in the past, and wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish have required labeling since 2005.

There are exemptions for very small retailers, but you will likely begin to see changes at the grocery stores you frequent. Although the rule is now in effect, enforcement will not begin until April 1st, 2009, with hefty fines for non-compliance. The rule also allows state, local, or regional labeling of produce, such as "Massachusetts Grown," to be used to identify origin, which means that you can continue to look for the yellow Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown stickers at local grocery stores and farm stands to know exactly where your food comes from.

Have a Story to Tell?
StoryCorps in collaboration with WFCR will be coming to Franklin County. The mobile booth will be located at the GCC Main Campus on Thursday, November 20 through Saturday, November 22. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans. We at CISA would like to encourage community members to share stories about the agricultural landscape of western Massachusetts.

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another's lives through listening. By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet.

Public reservations open on Thursday, November 13th at 10am. People can sign up at online or by calling 1-800- 850-4406.

Avant-Garden(ers) Art Show
Saturday, November 8

The 2008 farm crew from Food Bank Farm and Mountainview Farm are having a gallery opening on Saturday, November 8th at the Blue Guitar Gallery in Easthampton which is at 186 C Northampton St (Route 10 across from the post office). The show is called Avant- Garden(ers) and will include sculpture, mixed media, photographs, an interactive earth mandala, a shadow puppet show, music, and more. The gallery opens at 5:00pm with food and drink and performances start at 8:00pm.

"New Blue" Wine Festival
Saturday and Sunday, November 8 & 9

Join Chester Hill Winery for their annual blueberry wine festival with wines, hors d'oeuvres, live music & more! Get more details at their website.

Burning Issues: Woodlot Management, Farm Bill Funding and Wood/Pellet Stove Safety
Wednesday, November 12

UMass Extension educator Paul Catanzaro will offer valuable information about strategies and resources for managing woodlots for firewood. USDA/NRCS coordinator Beth Schreier will provide the latest news about forestry funding in the new Farm Bill. Curt LaBell will provide information on wood and pellet stove safety for homeowners. Sponsored by the Franklin Conservation District at 7pm at the Shelburne Grange Fellowship Hall, 17 Little Mohawk Road, Shelburne. For more information call 413-772-0384, ext.110.

Food: A Socially Engaged Spiritual Practice
Friday-Sunday, November 21-23

We have lost our sacred connection with the natural world and whole food processes of cultivation, caring for the land that sustains us, saving food and seeds, cooking, eating togetherand eating intelligently, and sharing food to address world hunger. This workshop, the first in an ongoing series to promote holistic food practices, will feature Kathe McKenna and Christine Evans from Haley House, Sensei Michel Dubois of Paris, and Suzanne Webber and Al Miller of Brook's Bend Farm. For more information about this retreat, hosted by the Maezumi Institute in Montague, please click here.

Local Organic Thanksgiving Store
Tuesday & Wednesday, November 25 & 26

Get all of the fixings for your Thanksgiving meal at the Food Bank Farm Thanksgiving Store in Hadley. From Organic cranberries to organic fresh baked pies and everything in between. The store will be open from 8:00am-5:00pm. For more information, contact The Food Bank Farm at (413) 582-0013.

Open Barn & Studio at Foxfire Fiber & Designs
Saturday, November 29th

Foxfire Fiber & Designs at Springdelle Farm invites you to visit our farm from 11:00am-4:00pm. Come visit our lambs in the Carriage Barn, enjoy a mug of cider, and finish some holiday shopping for the knitters and handspinners on your list. We have gift baskets featuring our hand-dyed, farm raised yarns and hand crafted spindles and knitting needles. Gift certificates are also available. You can find us at 135 Reynolds Road in Shelburne Falls. For more information, contact Barbara at (413) 625-6121 or visit their website.

Alpaca Holiday Farm Event
Saturday-Sunday, November 29-30 & 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
Sunday, November 30-December 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, November 22 & 29, 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.
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.

Wanted: Land. Up to 10 acres of property is wanted for use as a value-added cheese production facility located in Hampshire County. Call John at (413) 339-8500.

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

Wanted: Land. Immigrant & Refugee Agriculture Initiative, based in Westfield, MA, seeks land in Western Massachusetts to expand its program to new participants and assist new farmers in establishing their own operation. We are searching for either individual locations (~4-5 acres) where our farmers could lease or a ~20-acre farm that IMMAG would oversee and support several farmer operations. In addition, we have a number of farmers that are interested in expanding their livestock operations. Again, we could site individual pastureland or have a collective space of ~50-100 acres. We are open to discussing what would work best for all involved. Please contact Shemariah Blum-Evitts at (413) 562-6015, with questions or to offer land/support. For more information, please visit our website.

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: Reside your barn! Re-siding a 14'x60'x16' barn with rough 1x8 pine only costs $2400. 1x8 shiplap would cost $4400. Don't put it off another day! Call Cowls today at (413) 549-0001.

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