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Last month, 131 Valley residents gathered in Springfield for the Pioneer Valley Grows (PVGrows) Fall Forum. The meeting focused on the twin goals expressed in a new Food Security Plan written by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission: "No one goes hungry. We grow our own food." This spotlight on local resilience and cooperation in reaching shared goals seems especially important following Superstorm Sandy, which exposed the vulnerability of many of the systems we rely on for heat, light, communication, and transportation.   


I left the PVGrows Forum grateful for the energy and inspiration which individuals and organizations bring to achieving these goals here in the Pioneer Valley. I'm grateful for my freezer full of local food, and for its uninterrupted power supply. If you are beginning to plan for Thanksgiving, our annual celebration of gratitude, food, family and friends, let us help you think local! It's a natural fit: mashed potatoes, turkey, roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and apple pie are all traditional Thanksgiving foods that are made from seasonal ingredients, widely available from local farms throughout the fall. We have built a special Thanksgiving page on our website to provide inspiration for bringing the local harvest to your Thanksgiving table with recipes, tips, and info on where to pick up locally grown ingredients. You'll find up-to-date lists of farms that sell Thanksgiving turkeys, plus winter CSAs, winter farmers' markets, and winter farm stands to help you eat well all winter long.


Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director


Announcing a Week of Winter Fare!      

We're proud to announce that, in 2013, CISA will be partnering with each of the regular Winter Farmers' Markets in Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, and Springfield to hold a special Winter Fare market day and a week of related events. The workshops, bartering, hot food, music, and fun that have characterized our standalone Winter Fare in Northampton over the last several years will be coming to each of the weekly markets during the week of January 27-February 3. Stay tuned for more details, and contact Claire Morenon with questions or to get involved.


Buying local throughout the winter

It's easy to eat locally throughout the winter! Check out our winter buying webpage, where you can find info about farms that have winter CSAs available, a list of the Winter farmers' markets in the Pioneer Valley, farms offering root vegetables in bulk, as well as farm stands open throughout the winter selling vegetables, meat and dairy products.


Board of Health Survey  

In Massachusetts, local Boards of Health establish many rules related to food preparation and sale, such as those governing farmers' markets. This example of local democracy in action can lead to confusing, conflicting requirements from town to town. CISA is working to develop model policies and best practices for local Boards of Health and farmers' markets. We need to know what farmers' experiences have been with local Boards of Health and their regulations. Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey, especially if you vend at farmers' markets. Contact Claire at 665-7100, ext. 16 with questions about the project or to get involved.


Connect with CISA on Facebook!

CISA's Facebook page is full of timely updates about what's in season, where you can find it, and how to use it, plus news about what's going on in agriculture around the Valley. If you only get our e-newsletter, you are missing out on relevant updates from CISA- so "like" us on Facebook to stay in the loop!

Food Co-ops Take Local to a New Level

In a world where most investment money goes to Wall Street, food co-ops like River Valley Market continue to foster a thriving system of local investment. River Valley Market's General Manager Rochelle Prunty calls the consumer-owned co-op "a locally-owned economic engine that really does strengthen the local community." River Valley Market got its start largely through loans from its own members, and has in turn provided millions of dollars back to the local community by supporting local farms and other businesses. Read more about River Valley Market.


Buy local ... Christmas trees and holiday decorations!

Locally grown trees, wreaths, roping, and cemetery boxes are available in late November at farms and farm stands across the Valley. Make a family excursion of choosing and cutting a tree, or pick one that's all ready to go. Either way, local trees, wreaths and greenery are fresh and long-lasting, and they smell good, too. Decorate your house while feeling good about your carbon footprint and your support for the local economy! See our list of local farms that sell holiday greenery.     


Farms and Food in the News

Read about Sidehill Farm's move to Hawley, Carr's Ciderhouse in Hadley, Warm Colors Apiary, and 25 years of good food at the Northampton Brewery on our Local Heroes in the News page.


In A Food Day for All, CISA's Phil Korman and Margaret Christie explore two linked challenges: growing income inequality, and federal farm policies that support cheap food with high costs for our health, environment, and local economies. Find more local food and farm news in CISA's Press Room, including a recent study exploring Franklin County's capacity to feed itself and Hampshire College's efforts to take local food to the next level.

Solar Installations on Prime Farmland Raise Questions

With energy costs rising and government incentives for renewable energy projects in place, solar installations on farms are increasingly common in our region. In a compelling recent op-ed, Local Hero farmer Ryan Voiland describes his concern that growing numbers of solar "farms" on prime farmland could reduce our capacity to produce food and support new, viable farm businesses. In Massachusetts, solar installations are currently allowed by right under state law, but towns can adopt zoning bylaws that give them some oversight. For example, local bylaws can encourage solar installations in some locations and not others, and can require designs that ensure that solar panels and mounting equipment can be fully removed if no longer in use, rather than leaving concrete footings in the field. UMass professor Steve Herbert is researching solar panel layouts that are compatible with grazing, but ground-mounted systems are not compatible with field crop production. Towns without solar bylaws may find themselves with few options for influencing their location and design. Growing more food and producing more renewable energy are both critical goals and one shouldn't be sacrificed to the other.  


Pioneer Valley Food Security Plan

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission's Food Security Plan is available in draft form for public comment. CISA has been an active partner in developing the plan, which encompasses both household food security (ready access to healthy food) and regional food security (a strong local food system). Send your comments to Catherine Ratté,

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


Beginning Farmer Network of Massachusetts Meeting, Tuesday, November 13, 10:30 am-2:30pm, Charlton Public Library, 40 Main St, Charlton MA. For more information and to RSVP for the event, click here.


Forum on Local Hunger, Wednesday, November 14, 4:30pm, Greenfield Grille, 30 Federal St, Greenfield. Panelists from diverse Franklin County organizations discuss options for working together to address the challenges our community faces. To RSVP or invite others, click here.

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