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It's time to get ready for the growing season! Farmers are planting seeds, planning market displays, and shearing sheep. Local eaters are getting ready, too: planting seeds of their own, choosing a CSA farm, learning something new about cooking, preserving, or growing some of their own food. Will you try backyard chickens this year? Plant a container garden? Or make a weekly farmers' market part of your routine? Now's the time to make a plan for eating local this summer!


CISA's Local Hero Challenge provides a way to share your best tips for local eating with your friends and neighbors. In April, share one way you are preparing for the growing season. We have lots of ideas! Attend a workshop on gardening, raising chickens, or developing your home orchard. Draw up your garden plan or order seeds. Sign up for a summer CSA. Stitch up some farmers' market bags, or make a plan with a friend to meet at a summer market once a month. Think about what you can do now that will make it easier to connect with more local farms and eat more local food during the season, and do it!


To join the Local Hero Challenge and share your preparation tips, visit our Local Hero Challenge page.


Philip Korman 

Executive Director

CISA's Executive Directors, past and present!

20th Anniversary Celebration!

About 200 CISA supporters, founders, former staff and board members, volunteers, and enthusiastic community members celebrated CISA's 20th anniversary on April 5th with a potluck meal followed by birthday cakes from River Valley Market and Green Fields Market. Congressman Jim McGovern, who has embraced his newly agricultural district and brings a long-term commitment to improved food access and nutrition, provided the keynote address. Local Hero Awards were presented to Juanita Nelson, Michael Docter, and the five food cooperatives of the Pioneer Valley. We've "preserved" a canning jar of birthday wishes from attendees to open at our 30th birthday. Although most of the wishes will remain a secret, we loved Ben and Tom Clark's hope for a long life of farming and CISA involvement for their youngest family member, Emerson (who was present, but at nine weeks of age, not yet ready for public speaking). Read The Recorder's retrospective on CISA's 20 years here.


Tour Two Local Hero Specialty Producers This Saturday

Join CISA Community Members and friends this Saturday April 13, 2-4pm on a tour of Artisan Beverage Cooperative and Real Pickles. Explore their neighboring facilities, learn about their products, and enjoy a discussion about their newly-adopted cooperative business models, followed by a tasting of pickles and mead. Tour starts at Artisan Beverage Co-op, at 324 Wells Street in Greenfield. Space is limited; please RSVP online, email Sarah at CISA, or call (413) 665-7100 x19.


CISA's Emergency Farm Loan Fund Supports Three Farms

CISA's Emergency Farm Fund has made three $10,000, no-interest loans to farms that lost greenhouses in the blizzard of February 8th. The loan funds will allow Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Blossoming Acres in Southwick, and The Kitchen Garden in Sunderland to rebuild their greenhouses to allow production of seedlings and summer season crops. The fund will re-open in the event of a future disaster. 


Make your gift count!

Give to CISA for the first time or increase your giving and CISA will receive TWO DOLLARS for every dollar! Thanks to several key supporters, CISA has set up a $100,000 Anniversary Fund. Learn more and make a contribution here, or send a check to CISA, One Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373.

We share the sadness of the agricultural community, the Golonka family, and sweet corn and vegetables lovers across the Valley at the loss of Mary and Sonia Golonka of Golonka Farm. As the Daily Hampshire Gazette noted in an editorial, the mother and daughter and their family helped feed the Valley for more than half a century from their farm in Whately.


Red Gate Farm is home to chickens, sheep, oxen, and, over the years, many children and community members who contribute to the work of the farm while learning farm and community skills. In 2013, they'll start offering overnight programs for schools, and they've mounted a kickstarter campaign to fund the stove they need to feed those hungry kids and teachers. Read our full profile of Red Gate Farm here.


Local Hero farmer Tory Field of Next Barn Over has co-authored a book, Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas. Available in print or as a downloadable pdf from the publisher, the book illustrates the connections between urban youth farming programs, local food revitalization, indigenous land access, and the rights of food workers. "How we feed ourselves and each other," the authors note, "is the backbone of how, historically, we have organized our communities and societies." Stories and photos from farm and food workers, community activists, farmers, youth, displaced and immigrant farmers are paired with a great list of action steps and resources.


Visit our press page for an interview with Chicoine Farm, and news of a new partnership between Our Family Farms and the Northampton Survival Center.  

Senator "Mo" Cowan to Hold Two Listening Sessions April 19

Senator Cowan is serving as Massachusetts's interim senator in the seat vacated by former Sen. John Kerry. Cowan is a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and he'll hold listening sessions in Worcester and Middleborough on April 19th.  

Food Safety Modernization Act

Proposed rules for this major overhaul of our food safety system have been released, and the comment period is open until May 16th. We recommend the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's food safety website for help understanding the proposed rules and navigating the comment process.


"Investing in Local Food Businesses for Community Health and Wealth"

A short profile of Pioneer Valley Grows' finance work is at the end of this Forbes magazine online article. PVGrows is an independent network hosted and staffed by CISA.


New Land Access Resources

Land for Good has released new resources for farmers looking for land and landowners interested in leasing to farmers, including written publications and the New England Farmland Finder, a free, simple and searchable website that serves as a farm property clearinghouse for the region.


Greenfield Native Kathleen Merrigan Leaves USDA

Kathleen Merrigan began working on agricultural issues during a college internship in Congressman John Olver's office, when wells and groundwater in Whately were found to be contaminated with an agricultural chemical. She was a Senate Agricultural Committee staffer for Senator Patrick Leahy when the national organic legislation was passed, and has served as second-in-command at USDA since 2009, championing USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program. Like many advocates for more local and sustainable agriculture, we regret her departure. Read more here.

Pruning, cheesemaking, chickens, apples, plus gardening with young children: visit CISA's  events calendar to find lots and lots of ways to prepare for a full season of local food and farm products!


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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