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My 6th grade daughters have been studying immigration all year. Yesterday, their class held a "melting pot" potluck, sampling dishes representing each student's heritage and family traditions. We were unable to come up with a dish that matched my daughters' expectations: something unusual, something that came with generations of stories, perhaps something that arrived in a battered suitcase at Ellis Island. Instead, I suggested that they bring strawberry shortcake. At first unconvinced, they eventually conceded that we do have strong family food traditions, based on eating locally and seasonally. And this time of year, that means strawberries!  


At CISA, as at my house, the arrival of the strawberries is cause for celebration. It also triggers a steady trickle of phone inquiries about sources for organic strawberries. Although there are more local organic strawberries than there once were, there may not be an organic strawberry grower convenient to you. Luckily, many strawberry growers in our region use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  to manage their berries. Thanks to great research and training from UMass Extension, this system of monitoring pest and disease levels and using a variety of management methods (including, but not limited to, pesticide applications) is in widespread use in our region.


IPM has great environmental and economic benefits. In the case of strawberries, for example, growers use white sticky traps that mimic strawberry blossoms to monitor for the insect pest tarnished plant bug. If trap captures indicate that damage will be low, there's no need to spray. Additional research allows farmers to use weather data to understand precise periods of vulnerability to specific pests, to use beneficial insects to control some pests, and to use trapping for pest control as well as monitoring.


In the case of strawberries, IPM has both reduced pesticide use and shifted that use earlier in the season. Insecticide spraying in strawberry fields now occurs primarily during or just after bloom, before the fruit has even formed. If you want to learn more, ask your local strawberry grower! Find pick-your-own opportunities here, all farms growing strawberries here, and strawberry recipes here.  


Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director

Join CISA for the June Local Hero Challenge: cook a special meal using as many local ingredients as you can; pick-your-own strawberries; or make your own yogurt, cheese, or ice cream -- or try all three! Find recipes, resources and details on how to participate here.


CISA Community Members TALK TURKEY ... and more at the Diemand Farm Tour

On Thursday, June 27, from 5:30-7:30pm, learn how the Diemand family is making the transition from wholesale egg production to a diversified farm business. Tour the turkey range, bird dressing plant, woodshop, lumber mill and wind turbine. Then enjoy home-cooked food Diemand-style! Free tour starts at 5:30pm, $8 supper at 6:30pm. 126 Mormon Hollow Road, Wendell, directions here. Space is limited; please RSVP to Judy at CISA, (413) 665-7100 x17. Not a Community Member? Learn more here.


Raising the bar: Local Chili Cook Off benefits CISA
On Saturday June 22nd, The Hampshire County Bar Association is holding a benefit chili cook-off to raise money for CISA. Your $10 admission includes chili tasting and local bands. Cash bar, local auction and raffle items. Top local restaurants (including a handful of Local Hero members!) will compete. Check out the Facebook event for more information.


New resources on financial planning and management 

Based on CISA's most recent workshop series for farmers, we have developed a range of resources on financial planning and business decision making, including financial record-keeping, enterprise analysis, raising capital, and great information from local farmers about how they make decisions in their own businesses. Please share! 


Help CISA increase local products in the Valley's retail stores

Each month, we highlight two locally grown items and encourage you to ask for them in stores. Behind the scenes, we're urging local retailers to carry more local products, and helping them build connections to farmers. Look for lettuce and strawberries in June, and help us get more local items into retail stores by joining our new volunteer action group (contact Judy for more information). This month, you'll also find delicious local options for dressing your fresh June lettuce on our Valley Bounty page.


$100,000 Anniversary Fund - thank you for your help

More than 100 people have already donated from $5 to $4,000 to help CISA raise $50,000, and we have reached 25% of our goal! If you haven't yet taken advantage of this 2:1 match opportunity, please consider giving an increased gift today. Learn more about the Anniversary Fund and CISA's work through this great public radio interview.


You can help make CISA's fall fundraiser a success
CISA is seeking volunteers for our September 19 event, Taste the View. From decoration, design and set-up to food pick-up and kitchen help, we've got a job for you! Contact Judy to help out.


Staff changes

Many thanks to CISA's Development Associate, Sarah Stout, who will be leaving on June 28 to go back to school. We are delighted to welcome Judy Hall to that position. Judy has 32 years' experience as a fundraiser, program director and consultant; most recently, she's worked to increase local food sourcing for food pantries in the Western Mass Food Bank network.

Local Hero profile: Meadowbrook Farm
"It's something that we literally built from the ground up. This was all just a hole in the ground," says John Burney, gesturing toward the sizable spread of greenhouses brimming with flowers and vegetable plants at his farm stand in East Longmeadow. The stand at Meadowbrook Farm will soon be filled with sweet corn, tomatoes, squash and a full range of farm produce. Read all about them...


Visit our Press Room for lots of news from local farms, including an asparagus-pizza-making demo from Warner Farm and CISA and WGBY's visit to Craigieburn Farm and Cranberry Moon Farm, two producers of local fiber!

Senate Passes Farm Bill

The Farm Bill that passed the Senate on Monday included cuts to SNAP (food stamp) benefits and changes to crop insurance, including a new crop insurance program for dairy farmers. Next the full House will take up their version of the Farm Bill; the draft passed by the House Agriculture Committee includes deeper cuts to SNAP and conservation programs than the Senate bill. For a dollars-and-cents view of the House and Senate proposals vs. the status quo, see the Washington Post (scroll down to the chart at the bottom) . For a perspective on the winners and losers in human terms, read Mark Bittman's recent column, "Welfare for the Wealthy." We recommend the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for regular updates and action alerts.

CISA's Events Page contains a full listing of workshops, festivals, forums, films, and more.  

You may also like our Classifieds Page, which right now includes job openings at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center and Valley Green Feast and a 10-acre farm for sale in Hampden County.


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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