July 2010 Issue
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I recently accompanied my daughters' third grade class to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, where they were celebrating Strawberry Thanksgiving. Although I hadn't heard its name before, we've celebrated this holiday for at least two generations in our family. My father-in-law grew up on a strawberry and apple farm in New York, and he never lost his love of fresh strawberries; every day of the strawberry season he bought two quarts of strawberries, finishing one on the drive home from work and eating the second all evening and for the next day's breakfast. We continue this pattern in our family, but since there are more of us, we pick a flat every couple of days, filling in on off days with just a quart or two. And while we eat plenty straight up, we're also fond of shortcake, whipped cream, chocolate, and maple syrup with our berries. Although you might call this Strawberry Gorging, it comes with a full measure of gratitude, even reverence, for the pleasures of the season and the hard work and fruitful soil that makes them possible.

If your family has yet to adopt Strawberry Thanksgiving, act fast! You have only a few days left. Luckily, you can move right on to Raspberry Thanksgiving, Tomato Thanksgiving, and Corn Thanksgiving, all worthy of celebrations of their own.


Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director

Bidding on art work in 2009
Preview of auction items for Taste the View
September seems far away but we're already starting to gather auction items for Taste the View, CISA's annual celebration of the beauty and bounty of our local landscape. So far, auction items include: If you own a vacation home, operate a unique service, or have a farm-inspired item that you are interested in donating, please contact Jennifer at 413-665-7100.

Tickets for Taste the View will be made available in August. CISA's community membership participants will receive an invitation to the event in advance of the general public and can purchase tickets at a discount.

CSAs growing and shares still available!
If you didn't get a chance to purchase a CSA share this spring, a few shares are still available at local farms. Farms in our region are growing more than 6,000 shares for sale through community supported agriculture in 2010, an increase of 25% over last year. That's about 24,000 people eating from the Pioneer Valley (and neighboring community) CSA farms this summer! Growth was particularly strong in the number of shares grown here for delivery in the Boston area. To learn if a farm convenient to you has shares available now, contact Devon or Molly at 413-665-7100.

Sharing in the harvest
This summer low-income seniors are receiving 10 weeks of freshly picked produce as part of CISA's Senior FarmShare program. At this time last year, we learned that the Senior FarmShare program would not be funded in the 2010 state budget, and made the decision to reach out to our family of donors to save the core aspects of the program, getting fresh food to low-income seniors. The response was tremendous. Public support for this valued program garnered the attention of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elders Affairs, which recently allocated $50,000 through its Service Incentive Grant program. Thanks in no small part to the many supporters of Senior FarmShare, CISA has matched 12 Senior Centers/Councils on Aging with 12 farms to provide 350 low-income seniors with fresh vegetables via 16 distribution sites. CISA has a Senior FarmShare account to hold funds in reserve for next year's program since we've been told that we shouldn't anticipate state funding for this program in the future. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Senior FarmShare program can do so by going to the donations page on our web site and indicating in the comment field that the gift is for Senior FarmShare.

Local chefs go all out for local food
On Wednesday and Thursday, August 18 and 19, chefs at the 47 Local Hero restaurants will celebrate locally grown food during the 7th annual Local Hero Restaurant Celebration. "Our Local Hero restaurants already do a great job sourcing their ingredients from local farms - to the tune of over $1 million last year," comments Local Hero Membership Coordinator Devon Whitney-Deal. Many chefs will be creating special menu items for the two-day celebration. Show your support for the creative partnerships between chefs and farmers and plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner on those two days at as many Local Hero restaurants as you can. We'll highlight menu specials later this summer once chefs can better anticipate what farm fresh ingredients they'll have to work with.

When locally grown is home grown
Margaret Christie, CISA's Special Project Director, was featured in a Valley Advocate article on the burgeoning interest in growing some of your own food. For Margaret's family, that means growing and harvesting lots of food, and also preserving food grown by local farmers for use in the winter. When she is not busy taking care of her family's nutritional needs, Margaret can be found in the CISA office shepherding projects related to large volume sales of locally grown products (aka agricultural infrastructure).

Submit your recipes!
This month, CISA is looking for tasty summer squash and zucchini recipes to post on our web site in August. If you know a great way to fry squash blossoms, bake zucchini bread, or any other way to utilize these mid-summer vegetables in your cooking, please email your recipes to Claire.

Photo by Ben Barnhart

This month, we profile Skip and Betsy Sobieski of Deerfield Farm. They hope to have strawberries through July 4th, but if you miss the berries, stop by for the raspberries, or blueberries, or tomatoes, or pumpkins, or flowers... Read more on our website.

Establishing a fair price for food
Local Hero farmer Ben James, co-owner of Town Farm in Northampton, is writing a weekly column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. In his most recent column, Ben talks about his thought process for pricing the vegetables he and his family grow on their 11-acre farm. Factors included wages for four full-time field hands (at least $9 an hour), the cost of the soil amendments and organic fertilizers, as well as the cost of tractors, implements, fuel and land. Not to mention the costs associated with any household with young children (Ben has two under age 5). So when you pick up that head of locally grown lettuce this summer, ask yourself if you are paying your farmer enough. Ben sells his for $2.75 at the Northampton Tuesday Farmers' Market .

An ecological look at the farm
Audrey Barker Plotkin, a forest ecologist and wife of Local Hero farmer Jeremy Barker Plotkin of Simple Gifts farm, wrote about the complexity and value of a farm ecosystem in the June 26 edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She notes that understanding a farm's ecology and working within those constraints allows local farmers to build the soil's capacity to produce plentiful crops. Perhaps most importantly, Audrey highlights the intrinsic value of sustainable farming practices when she writes, "At this time in our region's history, land that is open and undeveloped is increasingly uncommon. In this heavily settled town, the farm ecosystem provides important habitat for wildlife and humans alike." Our support of local farms helps to maintain these valuable farm ecosystems throughout our region.

Photo Emily Chiara, CISA intern
Aerial vier of Bean Farm
Growing for immigrant populations
Although the UMass research farm in South Deerfield serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for growing and testing different varieties of kale, broccoli and other vegetables familiar to the stereotypical New England palate, students and faculty are also turning their attention to taioba, maxixe, jiĺo and other vegetables more familiar to recent immigrants. With nearly one-million Massachusetts residents born outside of the United States, these specialty crops have eager customers, because as studies show, recent immigrants are more likely buy fresh produce and make meals from scratch than families who have lived here for generations. UMass students and staff learn to adapt growing practices for these crops to Massachusetts' growing conditions, then work with commercial growers to perfect these techniques and successfully market the products. Read more.

Faces of Agriculture
Launched in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), "The Faces of Agriculture" web page recognizes the individuals, organizations, and schools that have made and are making a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of agriculture in the Commonwealth. New profiles are being added every day, but we'd suggest that you look at the profiles of Peter Westover, who's work on farmland preservation and agriculture commissions has helped many farms in our area; Jay Healy, who's work on local forestry has helped this arm of agriculture increase its economic and environmental sustainability; or Gus Schumacher, who helped launch the farmers' market coupon program allowing low-income mothers and the elderly to purchase food at the farmers' markets at a discount. If you'd like to suggest a face for profile, the guidelines for submission can be found online.

Springfield's Gasoline Alley grows urban garden
Gasoline Alley, a Springfield business incubator, is now home to the area's newest urban garden. Peter Merzbacher, a UMass senior, is growing food at a site reclaimed from its auto-industrial past. In addition, he's working with area youth to teach them farming and entreprenuerial skills. Read more.

Photo by Rachel Chandler-Worth
Find out about workshops, farm festivals, film screenings, farm summer camps and other local farm-related events on the Events and Education page of our web site. Be sure to bookmark the page and check it often as we regularly update the page throughout the month. Here is a sample of what's happening in July.
  • Simple Gifts Farm and the North Amherst Community Farm are hosting a pasture walk from 9 to 11am on Saturday, July 10 to introduce the public to the new grass-fed beef herd that is part of suburban North Amherst. Don't forget to wear your boots.
  • Glenbrook Gardens in Greenfield is hosting a Daylily Festival on Saturday, July 10 from 9am to 4pm, featuring more than 300 varieties of daylilies, workshops, art and more.
  • Nuestras Raices in Holyoke is hosting an open house on Saturday, July 17 from 11am-12:30pm. Come for a tour and see what this urban incubator of small farms and businesses is all about.
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 www.buylocalfood.org.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Phone: (413) 665-7100