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Workshop photo
Participants in CISA and the FCCDC's workshop, "Helping Food Businesses Go Local," enjoy animated conversation and a local lunch from Hillside Pizza.

Local food tastes great. It's good for the local economy, and helps keep farm fields, orchards, and pastures in agriculture. For many of us, an added plus is the pleasure of knowing the people who grow our food. Recently, I was reminded that this benefit applies to wholesale buyers as well as individual shoppers.


Last month, CISA and the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (home of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, a shared-use kitchen) held a training for agencies and consultants that provide support to small businesses -- everything from business planning, to financing, to workforce training and accounting services. We asked several local food business owners to talk about why their businesses focus on locally grown ingredients, what challenges that decision presents, and what advantages it brings.


For each business owner, relationships with their farmer suppliers are an important part of what makes buying local work. Their relationships bring pleasure to their business day -- in many cases, they've become friends with their suppliers -- but they also make the business run more smoothly. For example, if bad weather cuts into the tomato crop of one of the growers supplying Steve Nelson of Hedgie's Hot Stuff, the grower often finds local replacement tomatoes, instead of just calling Steve and saying, "Sorry, can't help you this year." When GoBerry lost power in last year's October snowstorm, farmers from Mapleline Farm showed up in the store, ready to carry the inventory of milk, cream and yogurt back to their generator-powered coolers. "They saved us a lot of money," owner Molly Feinstein remembers. "And we've become friends. They were the first people we called, after our families, when we had a baby." 


Evelyn Wulfkulh, co-owner and buyer at Hope & Olive and Magpie restaurants in Greenfield, concurs. "Our farmers are our customers," she says, describing the balancing act of building a thriving local economy. "We need to pay them enough that they can come in and eat in our restaurants."


It's a pretty good mix of business and pleasure.


Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director



CISA Farm Tour at Natural Roots, Sunday October 14, 2-4 pm

Join CISA at beautiful Natural Roots in Conway, a horse-powered vegetable farm that uses sustainable practices to nourish and care for the land while growing delicious and nutritious food. Learn about their vegetable crops, soil-building cover crops, pastured laying hens and compost-turning hogs, as well as the herd of work horses. This outdoor walking tour will be fun for all ages. Email with questions.


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!


Volunteer with CISA and enjoy community events

Thank you to the many wonderful volunteers who have helped out recently at community events and fundraisers! Grow Food Northampton's Community Farm Fest is Sunday, October 14th and CISA is looking for volunteers to help table at the event. Email to sign up for 1-2 hour shifts between 11:30am-4:30pm.


Save the date for CISA's Taste the View 2013

After such a successful Taste the View last month (find photos here), we are already planning next year's event! CISA's annual dinner and auction, Taste the View, will take place next year, again at Quonquont Farm, on Thursday, September 19, 2013. We even have our first auction item: a week-long stay at the gorgeous Le Petit Reve in France! Save the date for a chance to bid on this beautiful vacation cottage, enjoy a dinner made of your favorite local foods and of course support CISA's programs and initiatives.


The Old Creamery
The Old Creamery.
Photo credit: Paul Shoul.
Profiles: Valley Green Feast and The Old Creamery

Rebekah Hanlon of the co-op Valley Green Feast makes no bones about her belief that "co-ops are going to change the world." Indeed, they already have: more people in the world are employed by co-ops than by multinationals, and in the United States, over 1 in 4 people belong to a co-op. Co-ops come in many forms, but what defines them all is that they are owned and democratically controlled by their members, and these members share in surplus revenues of the business in proportion to their use of the cooperative, not in proportion to their ownership share.


For the next couple months we will be sharing stories about our Local Hero member co-ops. Read about Valley Green Feast's recent transition to worker-owned co-op. Or learn about The Old Creamery in Cummington's process of transitioning to community-owned co-op to ensure the sustainability of this valued community center.


Real Pickles Goes Co-op
Greenfield's Real Pickles announced this week that they will become a worker-owned cooperative. Founders Dan Rosenberg and Addie Rose Holland, who plan to continue with the company, explained that they hope to "
re-write the standard storyline for a successful organic food business ... creating a new structure for the business which will support both its continued financial success and success in contributing to a better world." Read more on their blog


Baaay State Blanket Project  

Sojourner Sheep is participating in the Baaay State Blanket project this year, producing both scarves and throws with wool from several Massachusetts farms. Holidays, weddings, birthdays ... these make wonderful locally-produced gifts. Read more here.


Farms and Food in the News

Local restaurants growing their own ingredients and energy improvements at Simple Gifts Farm: find great stories about local food and farm businesses on our Local Heroes in the News page.  


Learn about Russian Queens (honeybees, that is), cider donuts, and on-farm energy savings in CISA's Press Room.

No Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill expired at the end of September, without being replaced or renewed. Visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's What's at Stake series to find out what that means for many important Farm Bill programs. "The first programs to be shut down," they note, "... are precisely the ones that invest in a more equitable, sustainable, opportunity-generating farm and food system."


Grow Food Northampton Offers Microplots for Commercial Farming

In 2013, Grow Food Northampton will offer for lease small plots (.25 to 1.5 acres) of prime farmland for intensive commercial farming on the "South Field" of the Northampton Community Farm in Florence, MA. Applications are due November 1, 2012 for leases in 2013. To learn more and request an application, please e-mail

Farm tours, farm feasts, and farm festivals continue in this harvest season! Visit CISA's events calendar for a full listing. Here is just a small sample of what you'll find on our website: 


Barleyfest, Hadley, Oct. 21. Run in the Kestrel Trust's 5K for Farmland, then travel down the road to celebrate Valley Malt's successful second year with locally grown beer, kids' activities, pizza, music, beer making tips, and a tour of the malthouse.


Classes abound as well on the fall schedule -- in October and November alone, you'll find cheesemaking, seed saving, winter gardening, and several fiber-related topics (at the New England Fiber Festival).


Are you a CISA member? Join more than 800 others in supporting CISA's work. We've been sustaining local agriculture by building connections between farmers and the community since 1993!


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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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