December 2009 Issue
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Winter produce

"I just want to tell you that the yellow local farm sign has already been noticed at our farm ... three cars STOPPED dead in their tracks and watched the animals and noticed the sign. I saw their heads turn and thought nice thoughts about my investment in membership."
-- farmer, a week after joining CISA's Local Hero program in 2009

Few non-profits have such an immediate and dramatic impact. The Local Hero program, providing marketing and business development assistance to farmers, is the flagship of CISA. Due in part to a 78% reduction in state funding over the last 18 months, CISA is facing a budget gap of $25,000.

We need your financial support so that we can continue to provide the aid our farmers deserve and to involve the community in sustaining agriculture in meaningful ways.

Here are some simple ways to support our work during the holiday gift giving season:

  • Make a donation to CISA
  • Join CISA as a community member (or ask a friend to join with you)
  • Honor a friend or relative with the gift of a community membership. We'll let the honoree know of your generosity if you provide us with contact information.
  • Visit our online store to purchase cookbooks, note cards, totes and T-shirts.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Philip Korman
Executive Director

PS. New donations and memberships or increased gifts from current donors will be matched if the contributions are received before December 31.

Photo from CISA file.

Young shoppers at Winter Fare in 2009.
CISA helps farmers extend the market season
Buying locally grown food during the spring, summer, fall AND winter is getting easier and easier - even when the temps are chilly and the ground is frozen. To help people experience the winter bounty and build demand for more winter crops, CISA is hosting a special Northampton Winter Fare market on Saturday, January 9th, at the Smith Vocational High School. More than 30 local farmers and specialty food producers will be on hand to share their products with you. But Northampton Winter Fare is more than just a farmers' market. There will be delicious soups to taste, a barter session for you to share your home-preserved food, and workshops to enhance your food production and gardening skills.

CISA needs volunteers to help us with this great community event! Contact Claire Morenon, Program Coordinator, at 413-665-7100, to find out how to get involved. We're also supporting the third annual Greenfield Winter Fare, scheduled for February 6th at the Greenfield High School, and volunteers are welcome for that event as well.

Local Hero Business-to-Business Networking Pays Off
A successful local food economy relies on strong business relationships between farms, restaurants, and retailers. That's why CISA brought together Local Hero growers, restaurant owners/chefs, and grocery store representatives for a networking session in November at the historic Hotel Northampton. Alden Booth, founder of The People's Pint in Greenfield, spoke about his experience as a business owner who strives to buy and serve local as much as possible. Alden stressed that the personal and professional rewards for supporting local farms are immense, despite the challenge of keeping the menu seasonal and continually training staff so they understand the value of buying local.

A buffet dinner featuring locally grown food, donated by farms and markets, gave everyone a chance to taste the range and quality of products that our farms can provide -- from local greens and crudités to goat cheese truffles and blackberry cordial. The room was buzzing with 55 representatives from five retailers, ten restaurants and twenty-one farms deep in conversation and forming beneficial business relationships. The connections made that evening will help farmers, restaurants and grocers plan for 2010 and beyond. A very successful event indeed!

Technical Assistance Workshops
CISA is holding a six-workshop series from January 28th to March 25th on Financial Management Practices to help farmers improve their financial management and think holistically about financial planning. The workshops include:
  • An Introduction to Financial Management Practices;
  • Resources for Record Keeping;
  • Farming Smarter, Not Harder, Using Enterprise Analysis;
  • Financial Decision Making;
  • Raising Capital, and
  • Is Credit Good for Your Farm/Business?
Workshop fees are $10 per session/$40 for the series for Local Hero members and $15 per session/$50 for non-members. For more information or to register, contact Devon Whitney-Deal at 413-665-7100. This work is supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2007-49200-03888.

How local is your app?
A couple of months ago, Margaret Christie, CISA's Special Project Director, downloaded a little "app" for her Google home page that purported to tell her what local produce is available in Massachusetts throughout the year. Here's what she reports: "It was reasonably accurate in September and October, but I glanced at it this morning and realized that it says 'nothing is in season at this time.' " A reminder that it's good to have local sources for local information! If you're wondering what is available in western Massachusetts and where to get locally grown products this time of year, keep coming back to CISA's Find Local this Winter page. We're regularly updating this list of winter markets, winter shares, and other sources as we hear new information about Winter CSAs, farmstands remaining open, winter farmers' markets, and other opportunities. And don't forget that many of our Local Hero grocers are doing a great job sourcing locally in every season!

Photo by Jason Threlfall.

JP Welch of Justameretree Farm
Profile of Justamere Tree Farm
JP Welch has been farming his land for over 25 years, and he wouldn't have it any other way. When he first settled in Worthington, Mass., he and his wife Marian, "did not have a master plan," but a shared love of working outdoors led them to consider starting a farm.

Justamere Tree Farm was born.

Locally grown products make nice gifts
Looking for some great holiday gift items? Local Hero farms have the perfect gift for family and friends near or far. Goats milk soap, wine, honey, maple syrup, black currant cordial, plants and flowers and lots of items for the knitters in your life - just to name a few. And don't forget that many of our Local Hero farms and businesses offer gift certificates in all shapes and sizes.

Review of People's Pint
The Springfield Republican recently reviewed The People's Pint in Greenfield.

Valley Green Feast holiday special order
Valley Green Feast, now worker-owned, is offering two special holiday deliveries! Get local and organic produce, meat, bread, cheese, cider and more delivered to your door on December 19, just in time to prepare your holiday meal. Or give the gift of fresh local food to your friends and family. Have a gift basket or gift certificate delivered to your door or theirs on December 24. Regular weekly deliveries resume in January.

Spoletto displays art work inspired by local bounty
Northampton's Spoletto Restaurant is hosting a window display through December of preserved food and photographs by Annie Cheatham (former CISA executive director), Ann Taylor Gibson and Mary Clare Powell. From their artists' statement: "Our palette is made of the colors of vegetables and fruits in canning jars, the colors of nature preserved and made into good food... Preserved food reminds us that spring and summer will come again, and that we will have nourishment for the oncoming winter."

WGBY offerings
Last month we told you about several Local Hero members featured on WGBY. On December 3rd, Joan Dahl-Lussier of Roadhouse Cafe in Belchertown was featured on On the Menu. Joan cooked up some of her famous blueberry pancakes and talked about the benefits of working with local farms. And it turns out that you don't need to use Itunes to view the episodes as we told you last month. Making it Here and On the Menu. To see which Local Hero members were highlighted check out our November enews.

CISA photo.

Community members in a field.
Communities in the Valley Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
Communities and residents up and down the Pioneer Valley are working to protect farmland and connect children, adults and families to farms and food production. Newly sprouted grassroots groups, established organizations, and town and city governments recognize the important benefits of keeping agricultural land in production within their towns. "It's really exciting to see people's willingness to step forward and work together. More and more folks are realizing the importance of protecting farmland, agricultural education and how growing food and farm products can build communities," says CISA's Executive Director, Philip Korman.

Among these efforts are exciting new efforts to create community farms and more established projects with experience to share. Read more...

President Obama Proclaims "National Farm-City Week" in November
On November 20, President Obama proclaimed "the week ending on Thanksgiving Day of each year as National Farm-City Week." The President "call[ed] on Americans as they gather with their families and friends to reflect on the accomplishments of all who dedicate their lives to promoting our nation's agricultural abundance and environmental stewardship." In his declaration, President Obama recognized the "vital ties between our urban and suburban communities and their local farmers through regional food systems, farmers' markets, and community gardens."

CISA file photo.
Below are a few upcoming farm and farm-related events of interest. Additional events, in December and beyond, can be found on the events page on our web site. We've added some new icons to help you figure out if the event is geared for the general public or farmers or if the event is CISA sponsored.

  • Red Gate Farm is hosting a "Family Farm Day" on Saturday, December 12. Come make treats from honey and beeswax, meet the animals, and do meaningful work on the farm. Geared for kids ages 2-7 with accompanying adult. Space is limited. $5 for Red Gate Farm families and $10 for non-member families. Call 413-625-9503 to register.

  • King Creek Farm in Ware is hosting a special winter market on Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, from 9am to 6pm. Matt, Sharon and Mike Biskup will help you put together a gift basket for someone special or find the perfect stocking stuffer. Matt is also taking beef orders.

  • The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) is offering two winter workshop series, one for people interested in farming and another for those farmers thinking of expanding or changing their current business focus. Tentative location is in Amherst.

Be sure to check out CISA's events page for updates and additions throughout the month.
Please do not take images or content to use on your own site or project without CISA's explicit permission. Please feel free to link to our newsletter. Archives can be found at

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
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Phone: (413) 665-7100

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