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This last snowstorm came just in time to set the stage for the thawing of spring. My recent travels through the Pioneer Valley reminded me of the connection between dairy farms and maple syrup, and the coinciding seasonal rhythms of birth and sugaring.


Almost half of Massachusetts' remaining dairy farms are here in the Valley. They are vital to our agricultural future, since they can produce 83% of the region's dairy needs and steward 18% of the farm land. Read more in this report from American Farmland Trust, and come with WGBY on a visit to two local dairy farms. See the CISA news section, below, for information on state legislation effecting dairy producers who sell raw milk.


Maple syrup production has made it possible for some of these farms to keep going, providing another source of income from the land before the thaw happens. Learn more about maple syrup production and syrup producers' efforts to increase energy efficiency. Get out of your chair and join me in some backyard syrup production, or head off to a sugar shack (or both!). Now is the time to celebrate the sweet stuff!


Phil Korman

Executive Director



CISA's Annual Meeting

There are still a few seats available for CISA's Annual Meeting on March 16th from 6-9pm at Amherst College. Please note that this event is no longer a potluck. Instead, Amherst College will be providing dinner for all. Please RSVP to Jennifer Williams at 413-665-7100 as seating is limited.


CISA Supports Raw Milk Producers and Consumers

Representative Anne Gobi introduced a bill last year that would eliminate many of the hurdles raw milk producers currently face distributing their product. Currently, Massachusetts law allows only on-farm raw milk sales. The bill, HB 1995, An Act Relative to the Distribution of Raw Milk, would allow farmers to deliver milk to customers, either themselves or through a contractor. This would expand customer access to raw milk products by eliminating the need to drive long distances to the farm or to engage in unregulated buying clubs. CISA supports raw milk sales as an important marketing option for dairy farms, giving them a way to increase revenue while providing customers with a fresh, local product. HB 1995 has passed the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and is now under consideration by the House Ways and Means Committee.  Find more information or contact your state Representative.


Full Belly Dance Party
March 24th, 8pm-midnight
Northampton Center for the Arts 

CISA joins local farmers, educators, and food purveyors to sponsor this event benefiting local food security, both at the immediate level, through the work of Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers, and long-term, through the Kestrel Trust's efforts to protect local farmland. Last year's event at the Hampshire College Red Barn raised over $3,000! The dance party features toe-tapping dance tunes by the No-No's, snacks from sponsors, and a cash bar provided by Valley Malt and featuring libations made from locally grown ingredients. There will be great gifts raffled off during the night and we will do our best to raise as much money for our recipients as possible. Tickets are $10. For more information, click here. 


Finding Wholesale Success: Meet and Greet for Growers and Buyers

CISA's Spring Meet and Greet will take place at Smith College's Campus Center Carroll Room, March 12th from 5:30-8:00pm. This networking opportunity is open to all purchasers, and limited to Local Hero member farmers. Contact Devon Whitney-Deal at 413-665-7100, ext 22, to register.

The Kitchen Garden Grows
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Jarrett Man harvests greens from The Kitchen Garden's greenhouses.

Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox of The Kitchen Garden in Sunderland have recently teamed up with Jarrett Man of Stone Soup Farm in Hadley to create a bigger, better Kitchen Garden farm. Read all about it!

Time to sign up for a summer CSA
Don't forget to sign up for a summer CSA share! You'll have the greatest choice of farms if you sign up early. See CISA's list of CSAs here.  


Local Heroes in the news 

Visit CISA's Local Heroes in the News page for stories about unusual Massachusetts agricultural products: grain and hops at Northfield's Four Star Farms and barramundi, an Australian fish, at Turners Falls' Australis Aquaculture. There's also a story about Bistro Les Gras' new street food outlet, Blg's Grub Sandwich Shop.  


On our CISA press page, we feature interviews with Craigieburn Farm Alpacas, North Hadley Sugar Shack, and GoBerry frozen yogurt.

PVGrows Spring Forum 

Registration is now open for the PVGrows Spring Forum, April 11, at the Smith College Conference Center. Entitled "Working Together to Make Local Food Work," the Spring Forum will feature a unique format in which attendees form teams around seven pre-selected farm & food enterprises. The teams will forge potential solutions to the challenges and opportunities faced by the enterprises. The PVGrows Forum will help you expand your network by spending an interactive half-day in partnership with others who are working for a healthy food system in the Pioneer Valley. Visit the PVGrows website for more information or to register. Space is limited to 120. This event is Free. $5 donation requested for lunch.


Hampshire College to expand dairy science project

With support from the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture and Newman's Own Foundation, Hampshire College will build a cheese room at the Hampshire Farm Center's dairy barn. Using small, state-of-the-art milk processing and cheese-making equipment, students will learn both scientific principles and production techniques. Hampshire staff members hope that the facility will trial new products and recipes for local dairy farmers. Read all about it! 

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 four sessions in March; find out more here.


Two great opportunities to learn more about connecting farms and schools, at the Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom conference on March 10th in Ludlow, and the Massachusetts Farm to School convention on March 15th in Sturbridge.

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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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