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I love that in our valley March Madness is not just about basketball, but about maple and the extremes we'll go to make, eat and share maple syrup. Most of the 40-60,000 gallons of maple syrup made in the state comes from west of Worcester, generating about $3 million in revenues. Sugar shacks (find our list here!) will bring in another $1.9 million, for a total of almost $5 million, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.


We've had some March Madness of our own at CISA, getting ready to launch our new Local Hero Challenge. Throughout our 20th anniversary year, we'll offer monthly challenges and activities that will help you connect to more local farms, put more local food on your table, and share your stories about growing, buying, and eating local. (Plus: prizes and fun!) Our belief is that by sharing our stories, tips, and recipes, we can all help each other learn how to use more local farm products every day.


As a backyard sugar-maker, I have lots of maple stories of my own to share. I've also been lucky enough to hear great stories from other sugarers, including Howard Boyden, who's been boiling since he was a babe. Listen to our interview with Howard here, and learn how the temperature of the sap affects the quality of the syrup.


Sign up here for the Local Hero Challenge, and have fun with the first month's challenge, which is to visit a sugar shack you've never been to before. Use it as an opportunity to catch up with friends or family, and tell us about it via email, Facebook, or Twitter! We'll share our favorite photos and stories back out. But watch out for sugaring fever, or you may find yourself outside next February in front of a fire with a pan of sap boiling away.


Philip Korman 

Executive Director

Make your gift count!

Give to CISA for the first time or increase your giving and CISA will receive two dollars for every dollar donated! Thanks to several key supporters, CISA has set up a $100,000 Anniversary Fund. Every new dollar (a new gift from a new donor or a bigger gift from a current donor) will be matched by two dollars from the Match Fund, up to $50,000! If we reach our goal, CISA will have $150,000 in new resources to be used to support beginning farmers, expand our work in Hampden County, and scale up the Local Food System to provide more local food to more residents of our region. Give online here or send a check to CISA, One Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373.


Special maple event for CISA Community Members

Are you a CISA Community Member? If so, you and your guests are invited to attend a special tour at Williams Farm Sugarhouse in Deerfield on Sunday March 24, 2:00-4:00pm. Please RSVP to or call 413-665-7100 x19. If you are not a CISA member and would like to attend this event or other fun gatherings and tours, you can join our membership program here.


Final two weeks of recovery funding for farms damaged in recent blizzard

CISA re-opened the CISA Emergency Farm Fund to aid Pioneer Valley farms damaged by the blizzard of February 8, 2013. The first loan recipient in this round of loans is Mountain View Farmin Easthampton. The farm lost its main production greenhouse under the weight of the snow, with a replacement cost of $16,000, not including labor. "These were expenses not factored into our budget for 2013," said Elizabeth Adler, one of the two farmers at Mountain View, "so the zero-interest loan from CISA is especially helpful. The application process is designed to be farmer-friendly and fast, and now we have a check in hand just six weeks after the day the storm hit." The application period closes on March 31, 2013. More details and an online application can be found here


Volunteers needed for CISA's biggest Annual Meeting Potluck yet!

CISA's Annual Meeting will be held Friday, April 5th from 6:15-9:00pm at the Northampton Senior Center. CISA needs volunteers to help set up the event, receive food from guests, and organize potluck buffet lines. You can volunteer for the whole event, or sign up for a single shift and enjoy the rest of the annual meeting (don't forget to RSVP!) Email Sarah or call 413-665-7100 x19 to learn more or to sign up.


Follow CISA on Twitter!

We've decided to take the plunge into the Twitterverse! Follow us @CISAstaff for local ag news and updates.


Workshops for farmers

CISA's winter workshops continue with a March 20th panel on policy and advocacy for farmers and a March 21st workshop on energy efficient refrigeration and cooling. Find out more on our events page.

Local Hero member Real Pickles offers an investment opportunity to Massachusetts and Vermont residents in support of their transition to a worker cooperative. Find out more here, or at an in-person event. Read CISA staffer Margaret Christie's take on why Real Pickles' decision to become a worker coop is good for all of us who care about local food.


The Amherst Summer Farmers' Market is looking for input on market plans. If you shop at the Amherst market, or would like to, please fill out their short survey here. The market will open for the season on April 20th!

Read about the wide variety of crops grown by immigrant farmers at New Lands Farm (if you'd like to make these crops part of your weekly diet, consider joining the CSA at New Lands' West Springfield location).


CISA's latest op-ed considers how our daily food choices lead to the food of our future-will it be dependency on large companies selling us energy-intensive, unhealthy food, or will we use local resources and talent to enrich our diets and our communities? You'll find that and several good interviews with Local Hero businesses on CISA's press page.   

Visit CISA's events calendar for a full listing of workshops, festivals, forums, films, and more.  


In March you'll find lots of opportunities to get ready to grow some of your own food next summer, plus the annual Full Belly Dance Party, a chance to dance the night away with local farmers and friends, enjoy local snacks and drinks, and benefit the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Kestrel Trust. Saturday, March 23rd, 8:00pm-Midnight, JCA Social Hall, 742 Main Street, Amherst, MA.


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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