March 2010 Issue
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Garlic plantings

Lunch conversations at CISA lately have focused on seed orders and whether or not it's time to tap our small backyard sugarbushes. Many farmers are way ahead of us on the seed ordering, and have moved on to starting seeds and the complicated business of allocating greenhouse space and planning waves of planting, transplanting, and seeding for multiple varieties and diverse crops. Orchardists are finishing up their winter pruning, and syrup producers are watching the weather! As farmers do more winter production and marketing, the traditional period of winter rest has gotten shorter, and by March it's coming to an end on most farms.

Luckily, the rest of us don't need to plan ahead as carefully in order to enjoy the spring and summer bounty to come! It's easy to stop at a farmstand or pick-your-own operation at a moment's notice. But if you're interested in a CSA share or summer farm camp for your kids, we recommend signing up now. Check CISA's events page, too, if you want to find a workshop, farm tour, or other opportunity to learn about starting a garden or preserving some of this year's harvest for eating next winter.

Photo by Margaret Christie.

Potluck attendees in 2009

Get Inspired at Annual Meeting
CISA's annual business meeting and potluck will take place on Friday, March 12, at Amherst College. We'll be celebrating the 2009 Local Hero Award winners--The People's Pint, LaSalle Florists, and Seeds of Solidarity Farm & Education Center--and sharing our plans for the future. This is a great opportunity for CISA staff, Local Hero farmers, and community members to come together. If you didn't receive a postcard invitation, but would like to attend, contact the Development Office at 413-665-7100. P.S. If you are attending and would like to help, we could use a few extra hands in the kitchen to ensure that all the food gets out on the table. Please let Jennifer know if you can take a kitchen shift (we promise we won't trap you in the kitchen all night).

Can You Lend a Hand?
CISA's success at promoting local agriculture is due in a large part to the many volunteers who work in our office, help with our events, or staff booths at local events. A volunteer training session will be held from 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday, March 23, and Tuesday, March 30, at the CISA office (One Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield, Mass). Each session is aimed at potential community outreach volunteers but open to all who want to volunteer with CISA. To register for this training, contact Tracie Butler-Kurth at 413-665-7100 x 12.

Staff Change at CISA
We're sad to report that CISA staffer Jess Cook is leaving CISA--but delighted that she will become the program manager of the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program at Berkshire/Pioneer Resource Conservation & Development. The Farm Energy program is a great resource, helping farmers to adopt energy efficiencies and renewable energy measures that lower their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Jess has done valuable work here at CISA on our infrastructure programming, including slaughter and meat processing, salad greens and food safety, winter storage, and the new PVGrows network. We wish her all the best, and look forward to working with her in her new position!

CISA job opportunity
The new Program Coordinator (full time, 1 year) will work with the Program Team to implement programming related to infrastructure development and technical assistance, including (1) facilitating PVGrows (a collaborative effort to enhance the ecological and economic sustainability and vitality of the Pioneer Valley food system); (2) supporting our research and evaluation of infrastructure projects (such as mobile quick freeze, slaughter and meat processing, and salad greens processing); and (3) implementing our farmer mentor program. Please review the full job description and application instructions. Review begins 3/8/10, position open until filled.

Previously we invited you to submit recipes using "oddball" root vegetables, and you responded with a variety of recipes using radishes, celeriac, beets and more. Check them out and get inspired! And send us your honey and maple recipies. We'll post our favorites online.

Photo by Jason Threlfall.

Jill Horton-Lyons and Jim Lyons with guests Calla and Larkin
Profile of Winterberry Farm in Leverett
During April vacation week eight lucky kids will attend "sheep week" at Winterberry Farm in Leverett. Owners Jill Horton Lyons and Jim Lyons also offer programs for adults and families throughout the year, focused on farming, food, and fiber. Read more...

Join your local CSA now!
If you want a CSA share for the coming season, now is the time to sign up! Shareholders at Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, farms purchase a share of the full season's harvest. Each week, they pick up (or get delivered!) a bounty of fresh, seasonal farm products. Although arrangements vary, many shareholders pay for their summer shares in the winter or early spring, providing farmers with working capital when they need it. In return, shareholders receive delicious locally grown food, a connection to the people who've grown it, and opportunities to visit a farm throughout the seasons of the year. If prepaying for your food in a lump sum is difficult, farms may offer payment plans, and the UMassFive College Credit Union is offering special no-cost, no-interest Farm Share Loans to its members who enroll with a CSA. UMassFive will pay the farms up-front in full, and you repay the credit union over six months.

Most CSA farms grow mostly vegetables, but meat, fruit, grain, and egg CSAs also exist in our region. Our online guide has a complete list of Local Hero CSAs, but we are keeping track of CSA farms that have openings for the 2010 season. Some farms sell out of shares every year--so sign up early!

Summer on the Farm
Several of our local farms host summer day camp opportunities for kids young and old. Check out the list we're maintaining on our web site for ideas on where to educate and entertain your little farmer this summer.

Potato farm Celebrates 100 years
Hatfield based Szawlowski Farm faced economic hardships, blight and bad weather this past season, but the family sees a bright future for their farm. They're increasing efficiency, expanding their land base, and selling more product direct to consumers. Learn more about Szawlowski farm, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2010, in this Springfield Republican article and video.

Photo by Nicholas Jones.

Aerial vier of Bean Farm
In December, we reported on the efforts of several local groups to permanently secure farmland for the purposes of community agriculture-- community gardens, CSAs, agricultural education, or commercial production for local markets. In Northampton, much has happened in the last three months. Read more...

Photo by Seth Gregory.
Below are a few upcoming farm and farm-related events of interest. 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.

  • The 3rd annual Cabin Fever Seed Swap is happening Saturday, March 13, from 1-4pm in the upstairs meeting room at Green Fields Market. If you saved more seed than you need, come trade them for different plants or varieties.

  • Monday, March 15, is the deadline to order your tree, shrub or plant via the Franklin Conservation District. Every sale supports soil, water and natural resource conservation projects in Franklin County

Be sure to check out CISA's events page for a full list of upcoming events.
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Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture
is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Phone: (413) 665-7100