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Throughout much of the Valley and all of the Hilltowns, much of the ground is still covered with snow.  Nonetheless, there are lots of signs that spring is really coming:  billowing steam from busy sugarhouses, bird song in the morning, the first stalwart bulbs poking through the mud as soon as the snow recedes.  All across the Valley, farmers and gardeners are starting seeds in greenhouses and under lights. 


If your thoughts are turning longingly to summer produce, we can help!  Many CSAs fill up fast, so use CISA's list of Local Hero CSAs to sign up now.  And if you're planning a home garden, read on for a profile of local compost producer Bill Obear of Bear Path Farm, and a review of a high tech option for planning and tracking your garden.


Don't forget to celebrate the change of seasons with fresh maple syrup and pancakes at a sugarhouse!  Local Hero members offering sugar season breakfasts include the following:


Davenport Maple Farm, Shelburne 

Hamilton Orchards, New Salem  

Maple Corner Farm, Granville

North Hadley Sugar Shack, Hadley

South Face Farm and Sugarhouse, Ashfield 

Williams Farm Sugarhouse, Deerfield


For more options, see the Massachusetts Maple Producer Association sugarhouse listing

The CISA staff 


5% Day at Whole Foods to benefit CISA's Senior FarmShare Program
Whole Foods Market in Hadley will donate 5% of their sales on Wednesday, March 30th to CISA's Senior FarmShare program, which provides a share of the harvest to low income seniors.  Thank you for choosing to shop at Whole Foods that day, and to Whole Foods Market for their support.

Young@Heart Chorus Benefit Concert TM tickets now available 

The Young@Heart Chorus TM has performed worldwide and is the subject of an award-winning documentary. On April 10th, they will perform a benefit concert for CISA  and Safe Passage at John M. Greene Hall, Smith College.


New Partnership Benefits CISA and Valley Residents

Want to support CISA and benefit from great local banking at the same time?  CISA's Community and Local Hero members are now eligible to join the UMassFive College Federal Credit Union.  Contact Pamela@buylocalfood.org to learn how to access this new member benefit, and about UMassFive College FCU's no-interest CSA membership loans.


Lessons from CISA's Winter Workshop Series

CISA has run two workshop series for farmers this winter, one focused on Whole Farm Planning and one on farm labor. And on many of the topics, CISA staff members are learning right along with farmers. Complex labor laws for agriculture are one example.  Did you know that there are at least three different minimum wages that might apply to farm workers?  Or that on-farm housing for summer farm employees may have to meet at least one of three different sets of housing standards? Before a farm can even begin getting their housing up to the standards, they have to figure out which federal or state agency will regulate their farm, based on the number and type of employees they hire. Each agency follows a different set of standards for housing and may require, for example, the farmer to provide and launder employee bedding and offer separate bathrooms for men and women. Later this spring, we will have additional resources available to help farmers who were unable to attend the workshops navigate these complicated requirements. 


Office Space Available in CISA's Building

Looking for office space?  Join CISA at our location in South Deerfield. Get the details here .

Bear Path Farm

Bill Obear at Bear Path Farm makes compost from the Tri-County fairgrounds horse bedding, dairy manure, and food waste picked up at his town's transfer station and elementary school. Bear Path Farm compost is boosting fertility, supporting beneficial microorganisms, and providing other benefits to gardens and farms all over the region. Read more about Bear Path Farm, or find other Local Hero compost suppliers here.


Seeds of Solidarity produces new "Food for the SOL" curriculum

Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, Inc., has compiled a collection of youth activities developed and tested in their Seeds of Leadership (SOL) Garden program for local teens. Food for the SOL:  A Food, Justice and Community Building Curriculum for Youth is written in an approachable style and includes games, recipes, garden schedules, theater activities, and background information-plus great photos of SOL gardeners, the food they've grown, and the Seeds of Solidarity farm.


Farmers Hiring Now

It's the season for hiring help for the farm. If you're looking for work, check CISA's classifieds page.

PVGrows Loan Fund For Food and Agricultural Infrastructure Businesses
CISA is a founding member of the new PVGrows Loan Fund, which offers below-market-rate loans to businesses that fill key gaps in the infrastructure of the Pioneer Valley local food system. The Loan Fund is now accepting new applications. Next Deadlines: April 15th and June 15th.


Use your phone to grow your garden!

Planning your garden? Your iPhone can help, says Aaron Belkin, "if you like to combine gardens with gadgets." Read Aaron's review of iVeggieGarden here. 


ServiceNet starts therapeutic farming community in Hatfield

ServiceNet, Inc. , the local non-profit human service agency with main offices in Northampton and programs throughout the Pioneer Valley, has announced the opening of Prospect Meadow Farm. Located in Hatfield on 11.3 acres of land, the farm will provide farming and husbandry opportunities and a residence for individuals challenged by mental illness and developmental disabilities. With spring just around the corner, the farm welcomes assistance, including farming supplies and equipment, technical advice, and monetary donations. Please contact Mark Keller, Director at (413) 297-6399 or mkeller@servicenet.org

Below are a couple of upcoming farm- and food-related events of interest. Find out about workshops, farm festivals, film screenings, and other local farm-related events on our web site.

  1. New lambs, goat kids, and more at April Vacation Camp at Little Brook Farm, April 18-22, ages 8 and up.
  1. Garden Planting Workshop at Wildbrowse Farm in Wendell, April 3rd, 10 am - 1pm.  First in a Homesteading Skill Sharing series planned for the coming months; to register, email wildbrowse@yahoo.com, or call 978-544-6347 (before 9pm).


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.


Phone: (413) 665-7100  

Website: http://www.buylocalfood.org       


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