To: email@example.comSubject: CISA's August 09 eNewsletter
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Packaging greens safely on small farms
In July, CISA staffer Jess Cook spent a day on Old Friends Farm in Amherst with farmer Casey Steinberg, food safety expert Brian Norder, and a representative from Silliker, Inc., an internationally accredited food testing and consulting firm. The purpose of the visit was to better understand how a food safety plan and audit for packing greens would work at a small farm. The group watched the farm crew harvest salad greens and toured the washing and packing stations at the farm. Increasingly, national chains and large buyers are requiring farmers to have audited Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans in place. Local growers, like Casey, are weighing the costs and benefits of preparing for and paying for outside audits.
If you've been following the news, you know that both the public and Congress are eager for improvements in the government programs intended to protect food safety and public health. Currently, a patchwork of federal agencies monitors food safety. Many products, such as salad greens, are subject to an equally confusing array of rules created by wholesale buyers. Everyone agrees that food safety is important, but there's less agreement about how best to protect it.
It's clear, though, that growers and food processors will need to more carefully assess and document each step of their planting, growing, harvesting, washing and packing procedures in the future. CISA wants to make sure the required procedures are responsive to real risks -- such as those created by consolidating greens from many farms and the use of specialized packaging for long-distance shipping -- which are most often associated with large industrial processors. Think of it this way; whether you're crossing a country road or crossing Interstate 91, the hazard is the same: you might get hit by a car. But the odds of encountering that hazard are different. CISA is working with partner organizations across the country to make sure that recommended procedures recognize the conditions and risks specific to small family farms and small- scale packing facilities in our region.
We've learned a lot from our work over the past year on HACCP plans for salad greens. For the most part, we don't believe that creating and following these plans will be too difficult for greens growers in our region, but some prerequisite programs could prove costly. We've created a template HACCP plan which growers can modify for their own farm situation, and we've developed a network of experts to contact when questions arise. That's the good news.
On the flip side, there are still a lot of obstacles to getting locally grown greens into all market outlets in our region -- issues related to price, volume, and the need for new production and harvest equipment suitable for higher volumes. And there's another health and safety protocol that may create greater challenges for small-scale, diversified growers: GMPs or "good manufacturing practices" require the equivalent of a commercial kitchen setting on the farm with washable walls and ceilings, detailed and documented procedures, and dedicated staff trained and suited up for packing products. CISA will continue to work with our team of growers, food safety and processing specialists, and partner organizations to make sure that our work to enhance farm viability includes helping farmers both shape and meet market requirements relevant to scale.
Creating a work-life balance on the farm
CISA's Women in Agriculture Network held its annual summer celebration this past July at the North Hadley Sugar Shack. Sorrel Hatch from Upinngil Farm, Anne Diemand from Diemand Farm, and Beth Cook from Flayvors of Cook Farm led 45 participants in round- table discussions of their personal challenges and experiences working on a farm with family. A key to success mentioned in the discussions was setting responsibilities so that everyone involved in the family business knows what he or she is doing. Anne, Beth and Sorrel also talked about the new product lines they developed to help diversify their farms and how they've achieved a work/life balance through it all. The open discussion forum, the sharing of personal experiences and the dinner catered by Diemand Farm were enjoyed by all. To learn more about the Women in Agriculture Network and upcoming events, contact Devon Whitney-Deal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat the View tickets - buy online!
Don't miss out on the Pioneer Valley's premier opportunity to taste delectable tidbits from the best local restaurants while supporting CISA. Our annual benefit will take place on Friday, October 2, at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton. Sunderland's Blue Heron Restaurant is the lead caterer with other Local Hero restaurants and farms providing mouth-watering appetizers and dessert. Join us for an evening of great locally grown food, an exciting array of items in our silent and live auctions, and the chance to meet and mingle with friends old and new. Get your tickets online at www.buylocalfood.org.
Help CISA on October 1, 2, and 3
CISA is looking for a cadre of volunteers to help with the set-up, production, and clean-up of Eat the View, our annual fundraising benefit (see above). We need your help to transform the main arena at the Three County Fairgrounds into a wonderful showcase of local farms and the foods they produce. Volunteers are needed to assist with setting up tables and assembling decorations as well as other pre-event tasks. Assistance also needed to help with post-event deconstruction. Some heavy lifting may be required. If you are available during daytime hours Thursday - Saturday, October 1-3, please contact Tracie at email@example.com.
Photo by Jason Threlfall.
Local Hero profile:
For Carmelina's at the Common being a Local Hero restaurant means supporting local farmers by integrating their products into the menu, promoting these ingredients to customers, and expanding the base of people who recognize the value of locally grown products.
Martin Amaya, owner and chef at the Hadley restaurant for the past 15 years, has created a menu of authentic Italian cuisine. He and co-owners Debbie and Dave Windoloski have built a wonderful atmosphere and a delicious sampling of locally grown foods.
As soon as local products are available, Debbie, Dave and Martin get them on the menu. "Having been a member of a CSA farm, I got to appreciate what it meant to eat freshly picked produce direct from the field," comments Debbie. "I want the guests at Carmelina's to have a similar experience."
Carmelina's purchases a variety of fresh vegetables from Lazy Acres Farm, asparagus from Alligator Brook Farm, and strawberries from LakesidePick-Your-Own. The restaurant has enjoyed a long-term relationship with Mapleline Farm, which supplies milk and cream. In addition, the restaurant has even started a backyard garden and is growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, leeks and herbs. With the restaurant and the farms located in Hadley, you'd be hard-pressed to find ingredients fresher than these!
Of course, because so much locally grown food is used, Carmelina's menu varies and reflects seasonal changes. The menu's four special items -- an Appetizer Trio, Pasta di Cucina, the Chef's Special Pesce and Special Prime Rib -- change each night to allow Martin creativity in utilizing fresh, seasonal ingredients. Other menu staples are subject to the same seasonal adaptations: pasta dishes include in- season vegetables and local fruits find their way into tasty desserts and sauces. With all this variety, Carmelina's has something fresh and delicious for any visitor.
By Daniel Frieje
Join CISA in celebrating all of our Local Hero restaurants on August 18-19. Carmelina's and 38 other Local Hero restaurants are preparing special locally grown inspired dishes to highlight the myriad of food that our farms produce. Sample menus can be found online at www.buylocalfood.org.
Hadley recognized for protecting farm land
The town of Hadley received commendations from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) for its work on protecting farmland under the agriculture restrictions program. As part of Hadley's 350th anniversary, the town, the Kestrel Trust and farmers have placed FOREVER FARMLAND signs on protected APR farms so they can be easily identified. Despite being increasingly known for its malls and box store developments along Route 9, over 2,400 acres in the town have been permanently reserved for farming. In fact, MDAR reports that Hadley has preserved more farmland than any other town in the Commonwealth.
New Northampton option for purchasing locally grown
The former Cahillane Dodge dealership on Route 10 in Northampton has been transformed into mini-mall of small entrepreneurships. Part flea market, part artisan store front, and part farm stand, the new Mill River Marketplace is open for business each Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm. Several Local Hero farms have set up booths at the marketplace, including Teddy C. Smiarowski Farm, Stone Soup Farm, River Rock Farm, and River Bend Farm.
Infamous fungus hits Massachusetts
Late blight, the fungus that spawned the historic Irish Potato Famine, is hitting tomato and other crops across Massachusetts. Organic farms are being hit particularly hard, since they cannot use the fungicides most effective in combating the disease. Speaking to the Boston Globe, Local Hero farmer Ryan Voiland of Red Fire Farm reported that "the economic impact could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars worth" for his farm. For more information about late blight and what you can do to combat this highly contagious disease in your garden, and thus protect local farms, visit the UMass Extension web site.
Jay Healy named to USDA position
Charlemont farmer and former Massachusetts Agricultural Commissioner Jonathan "Jay" L. Healy has been named a regional Director of Rural Development with the USDA. During his service in Massachusetts as a legislator and agriculture commissioner, Healy was known for supporting local farms and developing innovative programs that enhanced the value of small, family operations. He was also an early supporter and advocate for CISA. In his new role, Healy will ensure that the federal government pays attention to the rural needs of the area. We wish him all the best.
Vote for Your Favorite Farmers' Market
There is still time to vote for your favorite farmers' market and help it win "No Farms, No Food" tote bags to hand out to customers. This American Farmland Trust popularity contest will determine which small, medium and large farmers' markets receive the bags. We've got some great markets in western Massachusetts, but none have made the top 20 list yet. There is still time. Vote today!
Photo from CISA files
Below are a few upcoming farm and farm-related events of interest. Additional events in July and beyond can be found on the events page on our web site.
Be sure to check out CISA's events page for updates and additions throughout the month.
Seeking an apprentice/volunteer/wwoofer during August and September at Seeds of Solidarity in Orange, MA. Apprentices work Monday through Friday on the farm, receive room and board and have the opportunity to participate in "Grow Community," our neighborhood's efforts to become food and energy secure, and preparations for the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival. Inquiries welcome at 978-544-7564 or firstname.lastname@example.org for all or part of the two month period.
Retail farm stand position available in South Deerfield during weekdays for the late summer and fall 2009 season. Must have good people skills as you'll be working directly with customers. Some heavy lifting (50lbs) involved. Looking for an independent, self motivated and reliable person. Contact Betsy at 413- 665-5025.
Tripple Brook Farm, a small plant nursery located in Southampton, is seeking assistance from people interested in working for plant credit at a rate of $9.50 per hour as well as a 33 percent employee discount. Plant credit is treated as compensation for Social Security tax purposes, meaning that you could purchase just over $13 worth of plants for each hour of work credit. The nursery operates 7 days a week from 10 am to 10 pm. Interested people should contact the farm at (413) 527-4626 or at email@example.com. Learn more about Tripple Brook Farm at our EBay web site.
Equity Trust, a small, national, nonprofit organization based in Turners Falls with a focus on protecting the affordability and use of land to meet long-term community needs, is seeking an Executive Director. Candidates should have experience working with a nonprofit board, including strategic planning; understand current issues faced by farmers, combined with basic understanding of preserving farms and farm affordability (conservation easements and purchase options in particular). Candidates should enjoy problem solving and thinking creatively. Telecommuting negotiable, but regular presence in the office is required. Candidates must be willing to travel. $42,000 - $48,000 plus benefits. A complete job description can be found at http://www.equitytrust.org/pressrelease.htm. A letter of interest and resume should be submitted to the Equity Trust board chair at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15, 2009.
Strapping young couple ready to work exchange for a place to live! We have spent the past year exchanging our labor on farms from New Zealand to Hawaii to Vermont, and now are ready to settle down in the Northampton area. Jess will be teaching at The Renaissance School in Springfield, and Matt is a skilled youth worker and bike mechanic currently seeking work opportunities. We are looking to put our farm experience to work and gain a little more! In our travels we gained experience with landscaping, organic gardening (lots!), chicken rearing and butchering, saw milling, logging, rustic furniture making, cooking/preserving foods, and childcare. We'd love to have you take advantage of these skills in exchange for a place to live. We are looking to live in a space that is private, good for us and our future canine companion (negotiable). Contact Matt and Jess at email@example.com.
Local photographer/artist/farmer available to help you document and promote your farm. Are the photos on your website 10 years old? Do you need to update or create a brochure, flyer, or logo? I'll spend a few hours on your farm capturing images of your activities and products from a farmer/artist/consumer perspective. I'll work with you to create just the right look and feel for your marketing materials. Reasonable rates. Discount for first-year farmers. CISA and Nuestras Raices have used my images in their print and on-line materials. Please contact Rachel Chandler-Worth at 413-695-6997 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FARM with large classic colonial house with updates and wrap-around porch, 2 vehicle garage, barn with new additions including workshop, newer building used for retail, 2 woven-wire fenced in pastures, all on just under 5 acres of land. More land available for rent. Located on quiet country back road in West Northfield, yet just 10 minutes from I-91. Email email@example.com for more information, pictures.
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.
Please do not take images or content to use on your own site or project without the CISA's explicit permission. Please feel free to link to our newsletter. Archives can be found at www.buylocalfood.com/Newsletterarchive.htm
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Phone: (413) 665-7100