Sept. 2008
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What's for lunch?
As students of all ages go back to school this month, they all have one thing in common-school lunch. Not all school lunches are created equal, and some have come a long way from the days of mystery meat. As Local Hero members, several local schools and colleges are making great efforts to be sure that their students are eating healthier meals made with locally grown produce. UMass Amherst recently won the prestigious Ivy Award for excellence in food service-largely earned from their commitment to integrating fresh, local produce into the menu. Likewise, Northfield Mount Hermon, a private boarding school in Gill, not only makes it a priority to purchase locally-grown produce; they grow a portion of their cafeteria food on their school farm! At Northfield Mount Hermon, knowing where cafeteria food comes from is part of the curriculum, culture, and practice of the institution.

September 22-27th marks the second annual Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week. This week-long event is organized by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, and is designed to highlight the work that schools all over Massachusetts are doing to serve local food to their students, and to help more schools get started serving local foods. Most schools will participate by serving up local fare and inviting local legislators and farmers to share the meal. Some schools may take field trips to local farms to find out exactly where their lunch comes from. Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, Inc. will celebrate the week by sowing 2,008 seeds in the school gardens they've helped to create.

Kelly Erwin, Managing Consultant for the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, notes that schools that buy locally often see a financial benefit because more students buy school lunches as the meals become more appetizing. Worcester Public Schools, for example, have seen a fifteen percent increase in school lunch purchases since the district began buying locally. But these benefits aren't limited to the schools. The sixty farms providing products to local schools in Massachusetts are generating more than $700,000 in additional revenue each year. To date there are more than 160 public school districts and 30 colleges across the state serving local food on a regular basis.

Want your schools to buy more local food? Start by letting your school's administration and cafeteria manager know how you feel. Then get more information about the Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week and the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. Contact Kelly Erwin at (413) 253-3844 with additional questions about how to get started.

To sign up for CISA's quarterly Farm to School eNewsletter, e- mail Claire Morenon.

Eat the View
Join your friends and colleagues on October 3, 2008 for a festive evening to benefit CISA. Eat the View will feature a bountiful feast of local food, an entertaining live auction, and a celebration of CISA's 15 years of working to support local agriculture. To preview auction items or to order tickets, please visit our website.

CISA at FarmAid Concert
CISA and WRSI 93.9 "The River," are working together to draw attention to a winning combination of family farms and great music - Farm Aid, to be held on September 20 in Mansfield, Massachusetts. During the course of four on-air promotions, tickets to the concert will be given away along with a basket filled with a smorgasbord of items from Local Hero farms and businesses.

Local Hero members that contributed to the baskets include: Shattuck's Sugar House, Hardwick Winery, Hedgie's Hot Stuff, Sentinel Farm, Butternut's Restaurant, Diemand Farm Store, Hickory Dell Farm, Greenfield Farmers' Cooperative Exchange, Atkin's Farms Country Market. The baskets also contained gift certificates from Go NOMAD Café and items from CISA's own pantry.

There's still time to win tickets: go to Barstow's Longview Farm on Saturday, September 13 (10:00am - noon) or Bueno y Sano in Northampton on Friday, September 19 (4:00 -6:00pm). You must be present at the time of the drawing to win.

And speaking of Farm Aid, CISA staff and board members will be at the concert, talking up the benefits of supporting local family farms and the impact these valuable small businesses have on the local economy. Concert-goers will be encouraged to think about how a buy local message might work in their neighborhood and can design their very own Local Hero-style advertisement. The best artwork (as determined by CISA staff) will be displayed online at a future date.

Raw Milk Dairy Day
Eight Massachusetts dairies that sell raw milk will open up their farms for tours and other activities on Saturday, September 13th. Raw milk is unpasteurized and unprocessed milk. In Massachusetts, raw milk is only available to consumers on site at farms that meet high sanitary standards and are regularly inspected. Curious about why a growing number of people prefer raw milk? Now is your chance to find out all about it and meet the farmers that are meeting this need. Here are the events available at four Local Hero farms that offer raw milk:
  • Bostrom Farm, Greenfield, Mass. Visit this small grass farm raising unique foods from 10:00am-3:00pm. Enjoy a walk through their pastures and pat the pigs!
  • Chase Hill Farm, Warwick, Mass. This farm produces organic raw milk, farmstead cheeses, pasture-raised veal and beef from grass-fed cows, eggs from pastured poultry and whey-fed pork. The farmers will offer grazing tours of their farm and cheese making facilities from 10:00am-4:00pm. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch.
  • Robinson Farm, Hardwick, Mass. Come take a self-guided tour of the farm to see chickens, calves and grazing cows on pasture between 2:30-5:30pm. Join the farmers for a hayride at 3:00pm, help move the cows from pasture at 4:00pm, or watch the cows being milked at 4:30pm. Bring a picnic supper to enjoy by the perennial flower beds.
  • Sidehill Farm, Ashfield, Mass. This farm will offer a guided tour beginning at 2:30pm, including visits to pastures, the town's oldest milking parlor, and their unusual facilities - a milk room built into a step van and a yogurt plant in a semi trailer. Stay after the tour for samples of their raw milk and yogurt.
For more information about Raw Milk Dairy Day including a full schedule of events and more background on raw milk, please visit the NOFA/Mass website.

10 Years of the Festival that Stinks!
Mark your calendars for a 'scent-sational' tenth anniversary celebration of The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. Fill your weekend with a wide variety of family-friendly activities from chef demos to workshops to massages. There really is something for everyone. Between events attendees can peruse over eighty art and agriculture booths featuring hand made and locally grown items. Not to mention the live performances ranging from jazz and juggling to belly dancing, bluegrass, storytelling and soul. And the one event you just can't miss is the annual raw garlic eating contest. If you can't stomach the forty-five cloves it might take to win, you can opt to enjoy one of the garlic growing workshops held each hour and take some home to plant.

The Garlic & Arts Festival is organized, in part, by Local Hero member Seeds of Solidarity and a volunteer committee. The festival runs from 10:00am-5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20-21st, rain or shine. Admission is $5 per day for adults or $8 for a weekend pass. Kids twelve and under get in free. For more information, including directions and a schedule of events, visit the festival's website.

Packing Local Lunches 101
Packing your child's lunch every day can be a challenge. Below are some tips for cutting down on costs, time, and energy you put into your child's brown bagged lunch-and adding some locally grown goods!
  1. Most importantly, keep it simple. Making lunch for your child doesn't have to be a struggle or a competitive sport. Just be sure you're including a good variety: a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, and a whole grain.
  2. Cut extra raw vegetables when you are making dinner, and then toss them into small containers for the kid's lunch. The cut veggies should keep well in the fridge, so cut enough for a few days of snacks. Want to be sure they eat their vegetables? Include a dip, hummus, or goat cheese they enjoy for dipping the veggies in.
  3. Children are almost universally drawn to the sweetness of fresh, local fruits and berries. When fresh fruit is available, pack small containers with ready-to-eat fruits. Consider slicing apples and pears into wedges, as many kids prefer the bite sized pieces. To prevent browning in the lunchbox, add a little lemon juice. When fresh fruits aren't in season, you can rely on frozen fruits to do the job. An overabundance of fruit in the growing season can easily be transformed into frozen treats for later in the year. Frozen fruit makes a great lunch treat for you or the kids, particularly mixed into yogurt or with long- storing fruits such as apples.
  4. Take your child to the farm. Go to a farmstand or farmers' market with your children and let them help pick out their fruits and vegetables. Kids that participate in growing, choosing, or cooking the food they're served are much more likely to eat it. Pick your own fruits are a great way to involve the kids in putting their lunches together. At the farmstand, you can sometimes hand pick the size of apples or peaches - small for kids, and larger for adults.
  5. The more colors the better! Entice your child's interest in lunch by providing a variety of colors in their meal, thereby magically turning it into "Rainbow Meal!" Likewise, you can highlight a fruit and vegetable of a different color each day of the week so that your child will always be wondering what is special in their lunch for Red Monday, Green Thursday, or Purple Friday. Or, if you're up for a challenge, try to create a few meals where the majority of the contents are one color- make it Monochrome Mondays with a different color each week!

Local Waves of Grain
Western Massachusetts farmers produce an astonishingly wide range of crops, which makes it possible for local eaters to fill their plates with local fruits, veggies, cheeses, meat, and much more. As consumers start to think more and more about the impact of their food choices on the local economy and the environment, demand has grown for an even wider range of local products, especially wheat. The recent interest in local wheat has sparked several local projects and raised a host of interesting questions about environmental and economic sustainability for local farms.

Cliff Hatch of Upinngil Farm has been growing grains in Gill for years, starting with barley for his livestock. He also used grains as cover crops and as mulch for his berries. Several years ago, he was approached by Bread Euphoria, a bakery in Haydenville, about growing wheat for their bread, and as a result he started growing wheat for human consumption. For Cliff, the deciding factor was how well the grains fit into the farming system that he has developed over the years. The downsides of growing wheat, which include the low value per acre planted, are balanced for him by the very low labor costs and the fact that the crop worked well in his rotation. This year, Cliff is growing about 15 acres of grains, including spelt and rye. He's also experimenting with a white wheat and expanding into growing other dry goods, such as flint corn and dry beans. Most of his wheat is sold directly to customers at his farmstand in Gill, and is available as whole wheatberries or ground into whole wheat bread or pastry flour. Bread Euphoria continues to sell bread made purely from Upinngil's whole wheat flour. Look for the "Granary Loaf" made weekly at the bakery.

At Crabapple Farm, Tevis and Rachel Robertson- Goldberg have been growing wheat for two years, but are offering it for sale for the first time this year. Says Tevis, "We have an interest in growing good food for our neighbors, and grain is something that very few people grow around here." Crabapple Farm is part of Northeast Organic Wheat, a NESARE (Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education)- funded project devoted to restoring heritage varieties of wheat through crop trials and education throughout the Northeast. For Tevis, it's clear that small farmers in the Northeast still have huge competitive disadvantages when it comes to wheat, due to the extremely high land values, the still relatively cheap cost of shipping, and the lack of harvesting, processing, and storage infrastructure. However, he believes that wheat has potential as a financially viable crop because of the growth of support for local agriculture and the importance of wheat in many people's diets. Therefore, the experimentation at Crabapple Farm is focused on learning about the logistics of growing wheat in our region, but also on testing the market for local wheat. Their wheatberries are for sale at their stand at the Greenfield Farmers Market and at their farmstand in Chesterfield.

Local bakers are also actively pursuing local wheat. The local wheat project that has probably gotten the most attention and community support is The Little Red Hen project being spearheaded by Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei of Hungry Ghost Bakery in Northampton. In the spring of 2007, Jonathan and Cheryl convened a group of farmers, eaters, and bakers to discuss possibilities for increasing wheat production and availability in the Valley. In the spring of 2008, they launched the Little Red Hen Project, through which local residents were invited to pick up seeds and plant a 10'x10' trial plot in their garden or yard. Nearly 100 people participated, and they trialed three different varieties of wheat. Jonathan and Cheryl are planning to send samples of the local wheat to a lab in Quebec to test gluten level and other characteristics that are vital for bread-baking. They will mill some of the wheat and make it available for sampling at the bakery's fifth annual "Wonder-Not!" Bread Festival on Sunday, September 21st. Trials of winter wheat varieties will be planted this fall, and funding has been secured for a small mill. If you'd like to participate in the winter wheat trials, you can pick up seeds at the Bread Festival. For more information, visit the bakery or call (413) 582-9009.

Ben and Adrie Lester, who own Wheatberry Bakery and Cafe in Amherst, are working with Arnie Voehringer at White Oak Farm in Belchertown, which is part of the New England Small Farms Institute, to launch Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains, a project devoted to re-establishing local grain production. After a year of planning, fundraising, trials, and research, they are launching a local wheat and bean CSA for 2009. The vision for the CSA is that shareholders will receive 150 lbs of mixed, whole grains, beans and oilseeds like flax in one bulk delivery. Ben says, "We went into this project interested, as bakers, in the possibility of bread flour we could use at the bakery. The CSA model is a way to build community support and involvement, and also to give us a chance to learn about suitable varieties for the region and as an intermediate step for dealing with challenges like processing and storage." The hope is that someday the infrastructure, market, and growers will be in place to make local grains widely available, but for now Ben says, "We're just really committed to local agriculture and sustainability and making food more interesting."

For information on Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains and the wheat and bean CSA, visit their website.

New Northampton Farmers' Market
Tuesdays, September 2-October 28

Located in the pedestrian area behind Thorne's Marketplace. The market will start September 2nd and run every Tuesday through October from 3:00-7:00pm. Please contact Ben or Oona at (413) 586-7586, and they'll send you more information.

Rockridge Farmers' Market in Northampton
Mondays, Throughout the Season

Rockridge Retirement Community will host Bloody Brook Farm of South Deerfield for a weekly farmer's market. The market will be held at Rockridge from 10:00am until noon on Mondays. The market is open to the public.

Pick Your Own Raspberries
Weekends, Through September

Enjoy the sunshine out in the fields and pick your own raspberries at Nourse Farm in Whately. Pick your own raspberries will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00am- 3:00pm throughout September, weather permitting.

Raw Milk Dairy Day
Saturday, September 13

Eight Massachusetts dairies that sell raw milk will open up their farms for tours and other activities. Visit your local dairy and learn why raw milk tastes so good and why it's so good for you! Meet your farmers and their cows or goats and get to know where your food comes from. For information about Raw Milk Dairy Day, click here or contact Kate Rossiter, NOFA/Mass Organic Dairy Coordinator at (413) 498-2721.

Barstow's Dairy Store & Bakery Grand Opening
Saturday, September 13

The farm is inhabited by four generations of Barstows and a lot of Holstein cows -- and a new farmstand featuring a selection of Hadley grown produce, eggs and meat from nearby producers, and fresh baked goods. Come celebrate with the Barstow family! There will be live music, and tickets to the Farm Aid concert in Mansfield, MA, will be given away.

7th Annual Honey Festival
Saturday, September 13

Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield will be hosting the 7th Annual Honey Festival from 10:00-4:00pm. The event will feature bee talks and live bee demonstrations. Don't miss the honey cooking demos and honey ice cream from Flayvor's of Cook Farm. The festival is free & open to the public.

3rd Annual Bike Springfield
Saturday, September 13th

Join Gardening the Community, a youth agriculture program, for their annual bike event in Springfield. The bike tour covers seven miles, visiting beautiful backyard and community gardens along the way. Registration and bike check is at 9:00am at the Mason Square Farmers' Market (11 Wilbraham Rd, Springfield, MA). There is a $25 suggested donation for Gardening the Community. For more information, contact Kristin Brennan at (413) 782-2136.

Film Screening: Two Angry Moms
Wednesday, September 17

Please be our guest for dinner and a movie. Two Angry Moms is a documentary about two angry moms who are fed up, frustrated, and want to make some changes in the school lunch program. This movie and others are part of a campaign, Live Well Springfield, to increase physical activity and healthy eating in all people who live, work, and play in Springfield. The event starts at 6:00pm at 284 Main Street, Indian Orchard, Mass. Please RSVP to or

Fall Harvest Feast in the Fields
Saturday, September 20

Come celebrate the plenty of fall with a splendid feast in the Red Fire Farm fields. Tickets are limited, so make your reservation now by calling (413) 467-SOIL. For more information, visit the farm's website.

North Quabbin 10th Annual Garlic & Arts Festival
Saturday & Sunday, September 20 & 21
Mark your calendars for a scent-sational tenth anniversary celebration of The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. Come find out what brings over 10,000 people to this phenomenal event for the whole family. Festival Admission: $5.00 per day for adults, weekend pass $8.00, kids 12 and under free. Wheelchair accessible parking and restroom facility. Follow your nose to beautiful historic Forster's Farm, 60 Chestnut Hill Road, Orange, MA. Visit the festival's website for directions, pet policy, and the 2008 schedule of vendors, music, performances, chef demos, activities, workshops, and all you need to come have a scent-sational time.

"Wonder Not" Bread Festival
Sunday, September 21

Join Hungry Ghost Bread for a celebration of local bread and local toppings and the locals that make and eat. Featured especially this year will be the fruits of the Little Red Hen Project and other efforts to revive the Pioneer Valley's wheat production. Visitors can jump on the bicycle-powered grain mill, help hand-mix fresh flour into dough, and sample hot flatbread as it comes off the wood-fired hearth. This is a free event and open to all from 11:00am-5:00pm. For more information, email Hungry Ghost Bread or call (413) 582-9009.

Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 27

Join Nuestras Raíces, at their farm, Tierra de Oportunidades in Holyoke for their annual harvest festival. This celebration of community and local food will include exciting presentations for the whole family. The event will run from noon- 6:00pm. For more information visit the organization's website.

North Amherst Harvest Festival
Sunday, September 28

Join Simple Gifts Farm and the North Amherst Community Farm for their Fall Harvest Festival. The celebration will include local food, live music, a pig roast, games for kids and lots of fun! The event will be at Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst, from 12:00- 6:00pm, rain or shine. For more information, visit the farm's website.

Mike's Amazing Maze
September 1-October 31

Celebrate the fall harvest this year by finding your way through Mike's Amazing Maze at Warner Farm, in Sunderland. This year's corn maze will "be an Odyssey". The maze is open weekends from 11:00am-5:00pm. For more information, visit the farm's website or call (413) 665-8331.

"Eat the View"
Friday, October 3

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 15 years of working to support local agriculture. The event will take place at The Garden House at Look Park in Florence from 6:00-9:00pm. For more information, please contact us at (413) 665-7100.
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.

Volunteer: The Federation of Mass Farmers Markets is looking for volunteers to help staff our booth at The Big E in West Springfield, MA anytime between Fri, September 12 and Sunday, September 29. Volunteers typically donate 6 hours of their time on any given day, and in exchange receive free parking and all-day admission to the fair. Mass Farmers Markets sells locally grown products (including fresh fall raspberries!) to the crowds in order to raise funds for our work. If you are interested in volunteering for one or more days, please contact Martha at (781) 893-8222.

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.

Wanted: Farmer with 3+ years experience seeking land tenure/stewardship opportunity to include organic vegetable production using draft horses along with the possibility to graze livestock. Open and willing to work with your situation, rent or lease. Currently apprenticing at Natural Roots in Conway, MA. Please contact Anthony by e-mail or phone at (413) 369-4269.

For Sale: Dairy Goats. Herd reduction. Oberhasli, Toggenburg, Lamancha and Recorded Grade dariy goats for sale. Oberhasli: Milkers, doelings, pet and show quality; bucks - can be wethered. Toggenburg and Lamancha bucks for sale - from high production does. All does have been linear appraised. All milking does have been tested for TB, Brucellosis. All kids have been family raised and bottle fed. Contact Terri at (413) 569-5782.

For Sale: Farm fresh food delivered straight to your door. Delivery is available to the greater Northampton, Amherst, Easthampton, Springfield, and West Springfield areas, beginning the first week of July. For more information about this new service, contact Jessica Harwood at (413) 588-8704. Or, check out their website.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.