CISA's April 09 eNewsletter
April 2009
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Dear Jennifer,

Food safety is front and center in the news these days. Salmonella, E. coli, peanuts and spinach, recalls and government bureaucracy: ensuring the safety of our food supply is a complicated business. A year or so ago, we learned that some local farmers were losing markets for greens as buyers began to require extensive food safety audits of products they consider to be "ready-to-eat". At CISA, we hate for local growers to lose market share - or for shoppers to lose a source of good local greens - so we began to examine options and identify the costs for food safety standards that could work for smaller, diversified Massachusetts farms.

Massachusetts farms should, and often do, have procedures in place to make sure their products are healthy and safe. There are some straightforward ways for farmers to manage risks - but the audited protocols required by large buyers are designed for large-scale growing and packing operations, which process greens harvested from thousands of acres and ship product across the U.S. These plans require documentation and equipment that are beyond the budgets of many Massachusetts farms.

Recent outbreaks of salmonella in peanuts revealed the inability of our current monitoring and inspection systems to prevent food safety problems from reaching the marketplace. These food safety scares have become more frequent and wide-reaching, and members of Congress have recently introduced legislation that would change the way that government oversees food safety.

These bills have inspired wide-ranging responses - from support for a more transparent system to concerns that the legislation will unfairly threaten small-scale, diversified farming. If you'd like to read more, here are a few places to start:

Of course, local farms aren't immune to food-borne pathogens. But regulations should account for the unique characteristics of locally-grown food, such as the shorter chain that links farms and consumers. For example, local food businesses are directly liable to their customers - they need to respond quickly to any problems to keep their neighbors and their market safe. And there's less of a chance for cross-contamination between the products of different farms with limited use of centralized processing facilities.

Our food shouldn't make us sick. And the regulations we create to solve the problems expressed on a large scale by industrial food production shouldn't destroy small farms and businesses along the way. We'll be looking for national food safety legislation that meets both of these goals. Meanwhile, we appreciate the opportunity to buy food from local farmers whom we know and trust.

Jess Cook
Program Coordinator


Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director

Photo by CISA.

CISA releases 2008 Annual Report
CISA celebrated many successes in 2008. Most notable were a 20 percent increase in the number of farms and businesses enrolled in our Local Hero program and the launch of a community membership program. During our initial ten-week drive more than one hundred of you became community members of CISA. You can download our complete 2008 Annual Report .

New Members Elected to CISA's Board of Directors
CISA members and supporters voted in the following slate of new Board members at the March 13 Annual Meeting:
  • Mitch Anthony, advertising and design consultant and chair of CISA's Marketing and Communications Committee;
  • Ann Burke, Vice President and Director of the HomeField Advantage program at the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts;
  • Nancy Hanson, Manager of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program at the Hampshire College Farm Center;
  • Rachel Moore, Director of Campaign Initiatives Leadership Support, Smith College;
  • Sara Coblyn Porth, 4-H/Youth Horticulture Coordinator at the University of Vermont Extension Program and co-owner of Atlas Farm in South Deerfield;
  • Risa Silverman, coordinator for the Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach, UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
Each new member will serve a three-year term. In addition, the following current Board members were elected to second three-year terms:
  • Dō-Han Allen, Media Consultant
  • Sheila Dennis, Vice President for Development, The Wilderness Society
  • Mark Tanner, attorney with Bacon & Wilson P.C.
CISA also acknowledged two long-standing members who rotated off the board this year. They both joined the CISA family early in the organization's history. Barry Steeves joined CISA's Board in 1999. As the owner of La Cazuela, Barry recognized before most the value of the Local Hero brand to restaurants, and he embraced the "buy local" message as a business owner. Faye Omasta joined CISA's Board in 2003. With her husband John, Faye farms and operates Hickory Dell Farm in Northampton, which includes a farm stand and gift shop. An early member of the Local Hero program, Faye recognized the program's ability to help build connections with consumers and to foster local business.

Thank you Volunteers!
Kudos to community outreach volunteers Amy-Louise Pfeffer and Ann Pemberton for helping to promote CISA at recent events around the Valley. Thank you for representing CISA so handily at the WinterFare Farmers' Market, WGBY's Wine Tasting, and the Master Gardeners' Symposium. We'd also like to thank Erin Williams, Thomas Williams, Katie George, David Carlson, Andrea Love, Allison Chuang, Mike McCusker, Judith Seelig, MA Swedlund, Julia Grimaldi and Lissa Ganter for their help shepherding food and people at the Annual Meeting. We couldn't have managed a potluck for more than 170 people without you!

In addition CISA would like to thank Amherst College, particularly Charlie Thompson and Molly Morrison, for the hospitality we received at our annual meeting in March.

Help Spread the word about CISA
Community Outreach Volunteers are needed to represent CISA at local food and farm events in the Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin County areas throughout the spring and summer. Training sessions for community outreach volunteers are scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 and Saturday, April 25. Details can be found online at If you'd like to attend one of these sessions or are interested in volunteering with CISA, please contact Tracie Butler-Kurth, Community Membership Coordinator or Jennifer Williams, Office Manager, at 413-665- 7100.

Congratulations, Sharon Rudnitzky
Last fall, we asked readers of this newsletter to fill out a survey about CISA's website, and more than 500 of you responded. All respondents were entered in a drawing to win a gift basket, and Sharon was the lucky winner. Sharon received a gift box with a CISA tote bag, T-shirt and bumper sticker, samples of Local Hero products including Apex Orchard honey, Hedgie's Hot Stuff salsa and Appalachian Naturals salad dressing, and gifts from local businesses, including tickets to Amherst Cinema. Thanks to all of you who provided many thoughtful comments about our website.

Photo by Jason Threlfall.

Farm profiles: The Kitchen Garden
As part of CISA's ongoing efforts to bring the faces of local agriculture to the forefront, we are adding a farmer profile to our newsletter. With over 170 farms in the Local Hero program, we won't be able to introduce everyone to you at once, but over time we hope to show you the breadth and scope of farms in our area.

The Kitchen Garden aptly describes the vision Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox have for their 7-acre Sunderland farm, where their farming and business practices reflect their passion for the culinary arts. Caroline and Tim's colorful array of more than 100 different vegetable and herb varieties, grown without synthetic fertilizer or chemical sprays, have delighted local chefs and farmers' market customers since they began farming in 2006.

Caroline studied at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, lived for a year in Paris, and was the Valley Advocates restaurant critic for nearly two years. Tim's love of good food led him to Italy to research radicchio in Treviso, work the olive harvest in Abruzzo, and tend sheep in Tuscany. Caroline also spent a summer working on an organic farm in Italy.

The young couple met while working at the Union Square Farmers' Market in New York City. She was a market manager and he was selling produce for a New Paltz farm. A graduate of Hampshire College, where he worked on the school's farm, Tim was familiar with western Massachusetts' strong interest in locally grown food. Like many young farmers in the area, Caroline apprenticed at the Food Bank Farm.

Having successfully launched The Kitchen Garden, Tim and Caroline are expanding their culinary farm business to include a new home-delivery CSA service in partnership with Valley Green Feast. For 22 weeks from June through October, Caroline and Tim will carefully select produce from their own farm that can be combined into wonderful recipes for seasonal feasts. In addition, they will provide local asparagus, sweet corn and fruit from neighboring farms. The shares will also include labor-intensive crops such as peas, beans and cherry tomatoes. Caroline and Tim will continue their practice of providing a comprehensive users' guide to all the vegetables grown on the farm as well as storage tips, canning and freezing techniques, and recipes. For more information on having The Kitchen Garden delivered to your home or business, call (413) 387-5163.

Growing a locally grown garden
The Pioneer Valley has a bounty of local greenhouses, garden centers, and landscapers for all of your seeds, starts, and plants needs. Buying locally grown nursery stock from Local Hero garden centers means that you will get top-notch advice from garden professionals who understand the growing conditions of our region. Plus, plants grown and cared for in the area are more likely to thrive in your backyard. But most importantly, supporting these independent, locally-owned businesses means that you are investing in our local economy. To find locally-grown nursery products, take a look at our online Farm Products Guide, or browse through the guide by item: CSA updates
Many local CSA farms continue to have shares available. If you are interested in pre-purchasing your summer produce, check our list of openings or visit our extended list of CSA farms on our online farm products guide to find out if a CSA near you has a waitlist.

Farmers launch new networking site
Local Hero members Joe and Sarah Swartz of Swartz Family Farm have teamed up with Mary Hager, a local farmer and web developer, to launch to connect local growers with local buyers. Mary, Joe and Sarah hope to provide local farmers with a simple and inexpensive way to market whatever they've got, while giving local restaurants, markets, and others a simple, local, quick solution to finding what they need. Registration for the site is free as are the first three ads that farmers place.

Wilbraham's Rice Fruit Stand Closes
Rice Fruit Stand, the retail operation of the much- beloved peach and apple orchard in Wilbraham, has closed its doors and the 90-acre farm is currently up for sale. Current owner, Jesse Rice, inherited the farm in 1939 after graduating from high school. His son, Wayne, ran the farm successfully for a number of years and managed the business operations of the farm with his daughter Amy. Wayne's unexpected death in 2007 left the family struggling emotionally and financially. An article in the Wilbraham Reminder provides details on the farm's closing.

Photo submitted by The Kitchen Garden.

New Ag Commissioner appointed
Scott Soares was appointed Massachusett's Commissioner of Agriculture on Friday, April 3. He has been the department's assistant commissioner since November 2007. Soares has been with the agriculture department for the last 13 years. As assistant commissioner, he co-chaired the Massachusetts Dairy Farm Revitalization Task Force, which led to legislation to preserve and strengthen the state's dairy industry. Soares is replacing Douglas Petersen, who resigned last week and will step down on April 10.

CISA staff members have worked with Scott for a number of years in his capacity as Acting and then Assistant Commissioner. We've found him to be knowledgeable, pleasant, and capable, and we look forward to working with him in his new position!

Attention Job seekers
Looking for a job in agriculture? The Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development has a number of online job postings from area farms. In the job category, choose Farming, Fisheries and Forestry Occupation. Then enter your zip code and press "search."

White House grows an edible garden We loved seeing Michelle Obama and DC schoolchildren breaking ground for the new White House garden. If you missed the photos, you'll find a couple here: Gardening/.

Photo from MDAR.
Be sure to check out CISA's events page for updates and additions throughout the month.

Sunday, April 12
Lamb Open House at Winterberry Farm

Join Winterberry Farm in Leverett for its Easter tradition. Many of the lambs will have been born, so there will be lots of frolicking! The farm will also have baby chicks, and may have baby rabbits and ducklings or goslings (no promises here). And of course adult goats and poultry, in addition to the sheep. Come between 2:00 and 4:30 pm and watch lambs leap! The event is free of charge, but donations for Right Sharing of World Resources are most welcome. Contact Jill Horton-Lyons at (413) 548-3940 for more information.

Tuesday, April 14
CISA Volunteer Training

If you want to learn more about CISA and how you can spread the word about the benefits of locally grown food and farm products, come to this training. You'll leave ready to represent CISA at upcoming farm festivals and other events. Most of all, you learn how to be a better advocate for local farmers. Be a part of CISA's growing team of Community Outreach Volunteers. The training will be held from 7pm to 8:30pm at CISA's office (1 Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield, MA). Sign up today. Email or call 413-665-7100 x 12.

Wednesday, April 15
Mass Farm to School Statewide Convention

Some of the best farm to school practitioners from across the country and our own back yard will be on hand to share their expertise with local advocates at this first statewide convention. Learn about what is happening in classrooms in Holyoke, Orange, Boston and Williamsburg as well as the Food Trust's successful kindergarten initiative in Philadelphia. Talk to innovative food service directors and their advocates in Somerville, Lawrence, and Cambridge, and to Tony Geraci, food service director of the Baltimore Public Schools. 12:30pm to 6:30pm at Old Sturbridge Village. To register for this event, send in the registration form.

Thursday, April 16
Farm Viability and Ag. Environmental Enhancement Info Session

Craig Richov and Gerard Kennedy from the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources will provide information on two of the department's signature programs - the Farm Viability Program and the Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program. 6 pm, Spencer Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall on Smithville Road in Spencer. For more information contact the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1723 or AEEP at 617-626-1773, or read about the programs at the MDAR website. Application deadline: June 25.

Thursday, April 16
Nasami Farm Opens for the Spring Season

New England Wildflower Society opens Nasami Farm in Whately for the spring season. The Society's nursery propagates and features over 450 native plant species for sale in Whately and at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. The nursery also grows large special orders for towns and landscapers. Free Sunday Seminars begin in May. Spring hours: Thursdays through Sundays, 10 to 5, through June 14th. For details visit

Saturday, April 18
2nd Annual Statewide Spring Organic Gardening Day

NOFA/Mass is hosting workshops across the state for new and experienced gardeners. To learn about what workshops are in your area visit the NOFA/Mass website or contact Ben Grosscup at

Saturday, April 18
Spring Lambs

The lambs have arrived! Come to Red Gate Farm from 10am to 11am and welcome these babies to Red Gate Farm. See them leap into the air with joy, feel their fuzzy wool, and gently cuddle them. Learn about how the farmers care for the newborn lambs and their mothers. All ages welcome. Please call the Farm Office to register. (413) 625-9503. $5 for Red Gate Farm member families / $10 for non-Red Gate Farm member families.

Saturday, April 18
UMASS Livestock Classic

Come to the UMass Hadley Farm (111 North Maple Street, Hadley) from 8am to 5pm to see our Belted Galloway cows, donkeys, alpacas, horses, sheep and goats. Food, games, raffles, petting zoo and more. Free admission and free parking. For more information visit

Sunday, April 19
2nd Annual Valley Chicken Coop Tour

Spend an afternoon (12pm to 5:30pm) visiting local coops and the chickens that lay in them. Learn from hobbyists and farmers how they made their coops and chicken tractors and how they keep them safe from predators. General topics like nest boxes, egg production, perches, light, winter concerns, outdoor runs, and breeds will be discussed as well. Stops on the tour will include 7 different backyards and farms in Hatfield, Florence, Easthampton, and Chesterfield. Expect lots of useful ideas and even more inspiration. Children welcome, but no dogs, please. Carpooling appreciated. FREE. Sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Backyard Chicken Association (PVBCA).

Wednesday, April 22
Farm Viability and Ag. Environmental Enhancement Info Session

Craig Richov and Gerard Kennedy from the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources will provide information on two of the department's signature programs - the Farm Viability Program and the Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program. 6 pm, Greenfield Community College (270 Main Street) in Greenfield. For more information contact the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1723 or AEEP at 617- 626-1773, or read about the programs at the MDAR website. Application deadline: June 25.

Friday, April 24
Arbor Day

Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a locally grown tree. Visit a local nursery or garden center ask your local nursery if their trees are grown locally.

Saturday, April 25
CISA Volunteer Training

If you want to learn more about CISA and how you can spread the word about the benefits of locally grown food and farm products, come to this training. You'll leave ready to represent CISA at upcoming farm festivals and other events. Most of all, you learn how to be a better advocate for local farmers. Be a part of CISA's growing team of Community Outreach Volunteers. The training will be held from 10am to 11:30 am in the Conference Rom of the Media Education Foundation (60 Masonic Street - behind Woodstar Café on main level) in Northampton. Sign up today. Email or call 413-665-7100 x 12.

Sunday, April 26
Chickens for Beginners

If you have even considered chickens in your backyard, then this Red Gate Farm workshop is for you. The basics of raising chickens - from chick to coop - will be covered. Participants will learn about chicken care, different feeds, and a variety of coops and housing. This is a hands-on workshop and part of the class time will outside. Resource materials will also be available to take home. 1 pm - 4 pm. Ages 12 - adult. Please call the Farm Office to register (413) 625-9503. $20 for Red Gate Farm members / $25 for Red Gate Farm non-members.

Sunday, May 3
Emu 101
In celebration of National Emu Week (May 2-10), Songline Emu Farm in Gill, Mass., will hold a 2-hour seminar on the basics of emu farming from 10am - 12pm, including emu farming, products and market conditions. Tour of hatching, grow-out and breeding facilities provided. Must pre-register to attend. Cost is $10.00 per farm (2 people). RSVP to or 413 863-2700. Space will be limited.

Saturday, May 9
Goat Raising Workshop

Little Brook Farm in Sunderland will be holding a hands-on goat workshop on from 9am to 2pm. Topics will include bringing home your first goats, selection, handling, nutrition and management. Bring a bag lunch and your own questions and join us at the farm! CISA Community members $40, non-members $50. Register by calling Kristen at 413-665-3802 or by email:
Job opening: Small Ones Farm, family-owned 63-acre farm in South Amherst, Mass, is seeking teachers for each of its Seedlings (ages 5-6) and Harvesters (ages 11-13) programs from August 3 through August 14 (with mandatory training day in June). Program descriptions can be found at The farm uses natural, earth-friendly and people-friendly farming techniques (no synthetic chemicals) to grow peaches, apples, pears, vegetables and herbs. Its summer programs are designed and led by teachers, and provide children with an opportunity to have fun in a safe and supportive environment, participate in a working farm, and learn about the natural world. Salary based on experience. Contact Sally Fitz, Program Director, (413) 253-6788 or

Job wanted: Young farmer (21 years old) and hard worker looking for work on organic farm in April and May. Previously was a WOOFer, then apprenticed on an organic farm for three years in Hawaii, and now manages a small farm there. Very interested in sustainable agriculture and pitching in where needed to support small, organic farm enterprises. Farming experience includes vegetables, fruits, and coffee, as well as processing coffee and nuts. Hard worker. Preference for Hampshire County but open to anything within 20 or so miles of Northampton, Massachusetts. Please call 413-584-3360 evenings or email

Job opening: Community Organizers wanted. Out of work? Want to get paid to schmooze and network in your community for a couple months? Common Good Finance is looking for experienced community organizers to start common good bank(TM) community divisions anywhere in the world, at $10 to $20 an hour. At first, each organizer will be responsible for starting a community division just in his or her own community, full or part time over the course of a month or two. Successful organizers will likely be invited to continue this work in nearby communities. Organizers will be responsible for promoting the common good bank idea, raising funds and getting people to sign up as future depositors. To apply, see the full job description at Not for you? Get someone else to start a common good bank in your town. Put up this poster.

Vendors needed: Help celebrate Hadley's 350 years of agricultural! A special farmers' market will be held in conjunction with the Antique Tractor show on Sunday, May 24, at Long Hollow Bison Farm (Rt. 9 Hadley) from 10am to 5pm. Rain date May 25. Free 12x12 space. If you would like to sell your produce or other locally grown farm product, contact Bruce Jenks at or 413-588-1716.

For Sale: Emu chicks available for sale. $150.00 per bird, sexing guaranteed. Also looking to form partnerships with people interested in raising emus for our business. Call Dee Dee at 863-2700 or email her at

For Sale: Lots of healthy goat kids! Robust and free of goat diseases such as CAE, Johnnes, Scrapies, etc. Our herd is bred for quality milk production while on grass pasture and minimum grain. Alpine and AlpinexNubian. $40-$75. Hillman Farm, 413-624-3646 or

For Sale: Mirroring the global economic climate, Cowls Sawmill is pretty slow on orders these days. We need to keep our guys busy. We have hundreds of thousand of board feet of 1" and 2" pine that we'd love to use to make any product folks in the agricultural community may need. Do you need boxes or crates for your produce? Shelves? Siding to repair that old barn? Please let us know what your farm could use and we'll see if we can impress you with an attractive price. Thanks in advance for any ideas on how we can keep our men busy and our pine selling. 413-575-2900.

For Sale: Valley Land Fund (VLF), a regional land trust, is selling two farmland properties in Hadley, MA.:
  • Eight acres of flat, tillable land with excellent soil on the corner of Moody Bridge Road and South Maple Street. The land is protected under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR), and purchasing farmer must meet APR requirements. These mandate active agricultural use and prohibit residential or other non-agricultural use. Minimum bid $30,000.
  • Approximately 27 acres of prime farmland along the Connecticut River in North Hadley, with direct access from Meadow Road. Access to the Connecticut River for irrigation is available. The parcel is flat, tillable, and well suited for cultivated crops. VLF is offering the parcel to a farmer, subject to an Agriclutural Preservation Restriction or Conservation Restriction with agricultural use. Minimum suggested bid $165,000.
More information including pictures, maps and bidding instructions at

For Sale: Grass-fed bulls and heifer calves available for sale from Chase Hill Farm dairy operation. Call Jeanette at 978-544-6327 if interested.

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

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