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 Pick-Your-Own at a CSA

Many farms in the Pioneer Valley are now growing and selling food and farm products year round, but April remains a time of transition and preparation for the main growing season. Farmers are harvesting out of greenhouses, but also starting seedlings, preparing fields, and setting up irrigation-- and making plans to ensure that all of the products they grow get sold.


We've seen tremendous growth in local farms and market opportunities, including CSAs, farmers' markets, and retail outlets. More than 50 farms will be growing or selling CSA shares in the Pioneer Valley this year! One sign of this growth is the number and variety of ads and promotions featuring CSA farms, including public radio underwriting, radio ads, and a billboard. It's a great demonstration of the ways that dollars spent in local businesses circulate in our own community!


On-farm CSA pick-up works well if the farm is convenient to your regular travel routes, but can be harder if it is not. Luckily, both farms and other businesses are offering more pick-up and delivery options in more locations. Check CISA's complete list of CSAs for farm-by-farm information, or consider delivery through Valley Green Feast, Fresh and Local, or Gardening the Community's GtC Eats! program, providing bicycle-delivered shares in Springfield in partnership with Next Barn Over Farm.   


We have more CSA choices than ever before, thanks to the industrious farmers of the Valley, and they need our support to thrive!


Margaret Christie 

Special Projects Director 



CISA's Executive Director to serve on Massachusetts Food Policy Advisory Committee

The Massachusetts Food Policy Council was established in 2010 to promote Massachusetts-produced food, support farmers, and provide healthy local food options for Massachusetts residents. The Council is made up of 17 public and private members, including state legislators, government officials, and industry representatives. The Council has created an Advisory Committee composed of members who represent different facets of the agricultural community. CISA Executive Director Philip Korman was chosen to fill the "food distribution, processing and marketing" role because of his knowledge of local food systems and experience promoting Massachusetts-grown food.  


Agriculture Day at the State House

April 3rd was Agriculture Day at the State House in Boston. CISA staff and representatives from many agricultural organizations met with lawmakers ahead of the House budget release to urge them to work to restore funding to important programs of the Department of Agricultural Resources, such as farmland preservation, as well as programs that directly impact CISA's work, such as funding for the "buy local" organizations and our Senior FarmShare Program. A full list of CISA's Ag Day priorities is here.


CISA Executive Director Phil Korman was joined by staff member and farmer Kristen Wilmer of Wild Sky Farm, whose experience as a young farmer on protected farmland in Easthampton was interesting to lawmakers. At the end of the day, lawmakers and staff poured into the Great Hall for a meal prepared by Worcester Technical School students using locally grown ingredients sourced by the seven state "Buy Local" organizations. Local Hero farms and businesses that participated include Four Star Farms, Joe Czajkowski Farm, Plainville Farm, Diemand Farm, Lakeside Organics, Swaz Potato FarmsThe Gill Greenery and the FCCDC Western MA Food Processing Center.


Annual Meeting and Annual Report

On March 16th, CISA presented our annual Local Hero awards to Glenroy Buchanan of the Pioneer Valley Grower's Cooperative, the Cider Days Volunteer Committee, and the Hatch/Crosby family of Upinngil Farm. The awards topped off our Annual Meeting, which drew 140 people and featured a delicious meal, remarks on scaling up the local food system from CISA staffer Margaret Christie, and lively discussion from participants. Dennis Egan, Sherry Hager, and Daniel Prestegaard joined CISA's Board. Our annual report is available for download.  


Perks for CISA Community Members

Join with CISA as we celebrate Franklin Land Trust's 25th anniversary on Saturday, May 12th, 10am-noon at Pioneer Gardens in Deerfield. Pioneer Gardens is a wholesale perennial nursery located on Franklin Land Trust-protected land in the South Meadows of Old Deerfield. The tour will be given by co-owner and FLT board member Jaap Molenaar, who will explain the basics of plant propagation using state-of-the-art and environmentally-friendly techniques. Free, but advance registration required. Contact Linda to sign up, or 413.625.9151 x108.


Are you a dues-paying member of CISA? Get a discount on farm camp at Little Brook Farm this summer, or on a tour of western Massachusetts' only emu farm (see an enormous green emu egg, or even hold a chick!). Not sure if you're enrolled in the CISA Community Membership program? Email with questions, or sign up and donate online. Memberships begin at just $35.


Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

This spring and summer, CISA will attend many community events and farmers' markets to share information about what CISA does and to spread the word about our Community Membership program. We're putting the call out for volunteers: find more here, or email

Lots of news this month from Valley Malt, the only malt house east of the Mississippi. A new loan from the PVGrows Loan Fund will allow them to expand their malting capacity and reduce their energy use. Owners Andrea and Christian Stanley will expand their own farming operation, Slow Tractor Farm, with a lease at the Northampton Community Farm. Visit Valley Malt's website to learn which regional breweries are using their malt or to delve into the history of malting in Hadley.


Visit our press page for interviews with farmers from Hardwick Winery and Next Barn Over, plus Local Hero restaurants Coco and West End Pub, plus a WGBY video on maple sugaring. Visit our Local Heroes in the Press page for an article about dairy farmers shifting to meat production, featuring Wheel-View Farm.

Seasons at Our Table: share a story and win a CSA share!

Hilltown Families is currently working on a project titled "Seasons at Our Table," inviting readers to share recipes and stories inspired by our local food culture. Hilltown Families' sponsor, Crimson & Clover Farm, a community based farm on the Northampton Community Farm land, is offering an incentive to readers to share their favorite stories and best family recipes. Share a family recipe you're looking forward to preparing this spring with fresh local produce, embellished with the story behind this favorite dish, and be entered to win a small CSA Share from Crimson & Clover Farm, a $375 value! Deadline to enter to win is April 16th by 7pm. Details on how to enter to win here.


Massachusetts wineries report 66% increase in sales, thanks to farmers' markets 

A new report from MDAR shows wineries hiring more employees and expanding production, thanks to a 2011 law that allows the sales of wine at farmers' markets and agricultural events. There was a 66 percent increase in overall sales at Massachusetts wineries last year. Read the synopsis of the report

Visit CISA's events calendar for a full listing of festivals as well as workshops, forums, films, and more. Here is just a small sample of what you'll find on our website.  


Community Meeting for an Amherst Food Coop
Saturday, April 21 from 2pm-5pm
106 North Pleasant Street, Amherst
Do you live in Amherst? Are you frustrated by the lack of a grocery store downtown? Those of you without access to a vehicle, are you tired of taking buses to Hadley to do your grocery shopping? Are you passionate about locally grown, healthy food? We invite you to attend a community interest meeting about the Amherst Community Market, a food cooperative for our town. In addition to the discussion, representatives from the Valley Alliance for Worker Cooperatives and the Neighboring Food Coop Association will be there to share their insights about the cooperative movement and why a food coop would benefit Amherst. More details here


Building Raised Bed Food Gardens
Saturday, April 28, 9am-12pm
Crimson and Clover Farm, 215 Spring Street, Florence
Do you have space for a garden but don't know how to build it? Maybe you would prefer to keep your soil ecosystem intact and avoid rototilling. Join us as we build the children's garden at Crimson and Clover Farm and explore the many different ways to build raised gardens for fun, food, and family! Construction techniques, soil composition, and what to plant will all be covered. $25/family. For more information, click here

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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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