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Whether or not we ever get some real winter weather, the calendar is turning towards spring. Syrup producers are tapping, fruit growers are pruning, and vegetable farmers are starting seedlings. It's time to sign up for a CSA share. Find our list of Local Hero CSAs here, and remember that many CSAs fill up, so don't wait. The UMassFive College Federal Credit Union offers zero-interest loans for CSA shares, which allows you to pay a portion of your CSA membership each month, rather than paying it all up front. CISA community members can join UMassFive to access this benefit!


The CISA staff



The beautiful photo of freesias in the greenhouse in our banner was provided by LaSalle Florists.  Remember to think of local flowers and other farm products for Valentine's Day!




The Massachusetts Budget Process and CISA's Priorities

Budgeting season in Massachusetts kicked off on January 25th, when Governor Patrick sent his version of the upcoming fiscal year 2013 budget to the State House. In the current fiscal year, CISA received state funding for our "buy local" activities, as did our sister groups across the state, and for our Senior FarmShare program. Neither of these programs were included in the Governor's proposed 2013 budget, which starts July 1. We will be working to fund these valuable activities, as well as other priorities, in collaboration with our agricultural partners across the state to help ensure that the funding priorities of the farming community are met. We offer more detail on the budget process and CISA's priorities here.


Get Inspired at CISA's Annual Meeting   

Save the date for CISA's annual business meeting and potluck: Friday, March 16, at Amherst College. We'll be celebrating the 2011 Local Hero Award winners: Glenroy Buchanan, the CiderDays Committee and Upinngil Farm. Postcard invitations were sent to CISA's members and donors. If you didn't receive a postcard, but would like to attend, contact the Development Office at 413-665-7100. We can always use volunteers to help set-up, greet, and serve food. Please let Jennifer know if you can help--we promise we won't trap you in the kitchen all night!


Finding Wholesale Success and other upcoming workshops

The Massachusetts Farm to School Project recently reported that demand for locally grown food in schools is "skyrocketing," outstripping supply in 2011. Other new ventures, such as the Franklin County CDC's Extended Season project, which freezes local produce for sale to schools, are also generating new demand for wholesale local produce. CISA's Finding Wholesale Success workshop on March 7th will feature a panel of growers and distributors and lots of information about how to enter, expand, or increase the success of growing for wholesale. A follow-up "Meet and Greet" on March 12th gives wholesale growers and buyers an opportunity to meet. Find more information and our full winter workshop schedule here.


Farms, Local Food, and SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits

If recent national Food Stamp name-calling has you confused, the Food Bank's Andrew Morehouse reviews the numbers in a Daily Hampshire Gazette op-ed column, noting that SNAP purchases are an important source of revenue for food sellers like farmers, retailers, and farmers' markets. CISA has compiled a list of farmers' markets and farms that accept SNAP, and can assist any farmers or market managers interested in doing so. See our resources here. We're also working to help farms and markets participate in the HIP program, a Hampden County-based research project testing the premise that rewarding fruit and vegetable purchases with additional SNAP dollars will lead to increased purchases of produce.


New CISA Staffer

We are delighted to welcome Kristen Wilmer to CISA! Kristen farms at Wild Sky Farm, where she grows winter greens for sale at the Northampton Winter Market. She has also worked at Next Barn Over and Atlas Farm, and at the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program, so she brings lots of great experience to CISA.

New CISA staffer Kristen Wilmer worked last summer at Next Barn Over Farm in Hadley, and gives us an inside look at the farm, now entering its third season, and farmers Ray Young and Tory Fields. Read more ... 


Profiles of Greg Monette of Chandler's Restaurant, Australis Aquaculture, and Leyden Glen Lamb appeared in print in recent weeks. Find them all on CISA's Local Heroes in the News page. Park Hill Orchard received a Gold Star Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for "uniquely blending community arts and commercial farming with last summer's 'Art in the Orchard'." Real Pickles brought home their second Good Food Award. Read Dan Rosenberg's acceptance speech to learn why pickles are an important part of a new and better food system. And if our not-so-wintry weather leaves you feeling blah, the Advocate's profile of Bug Hill Farm explores the power of elderflowers for your health. Local residents continued to discuss national issues that impact food and farming; see Ashfield farmer Ed Carter's thoughts on genetically modified crops here.

PVGrows Accepting Presenter Applications for Spring Forum

Do you have a business, project, or venture that involves local food? Could your enterprise benefit from the insights and experience of a network of passionate and experienced Pioneer Valley residents? PVGrows invites you to submit your enterprise as a case study for the PVGrows Spring Forum: Working Together to Make Local Food Work. The Forum is April 11, 2012, at the Smith College Conference Center, Northampton.  
If your project is selected, a team of 15-20 members of the PVGrows network will work with you at the Forum to forge potential solutions to the challenges and opportunities you have identified. Farmers, processors, distributors, institutions, food service providers, educators, schools, and non-profit community organizations are all encouraged to apply. Applications will be accepted until March 1, and can be found at


How much food could we grow here?

CISA regularly receives inquiries about how much of the food we eat in our region is grown here, or could be in the future. Although solid numbers do not exist, rough estimates hover around 10 percent (one state-wide analysis, which comes up with an even lower number, is here). Brandeis professor Brian Donahue is exploring how that number could grow with changes in eating habits, land use, and production patterns. Richie Davis' recent interview with Donahue, who has purchased land in Gill and is starting a farm, explores the parallel trajectories of his academic and on-the-ground work.

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.


CISA's Winter Workshop Series on marketing continues with "Writing for Electronic Communications," February 29th, 6:00-9:00pm, at Potpourri Plaza in Northampton. Sign up here (scroll down) to attend one or all remaining workshops in the series.

The Farm Education Collaborative offers February vacation programs for kids at the Hampshire College Farm Center, February 20-24, 9am-3pm. Care for animals, harvest greens from the greenhouse, cook, craft, and more. Ages 6 to 10. Click here for more information and to register online.

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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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