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Express your gratitude for our region's farmers by speaking up for regulations that protect food safety without jeopardizing their livelihood. With only a day left before the comment period closes, our petition to the FDA has nearly 500 signatures, so we know many people care about this issue! Now the FDA needs to hear from you personally--each thoughtful personal letter is worth hundreds of petition signatures. Submit your comments now and spread the word to your friends, family, customers, colleagues, church congregations and fellow local farm fans.


Once that's done, we can help you plan a truly local Thanksgiving feast! Although American culture can often seem divorced from seasonality and local food production, we enjoy a holiday that focuses entirely on celebrating the fall bounty. So this year, make your Thanksgiving meal a real celebration of the local harvest. Many Valley retailers stock local ingredients, and farmers' markets are still open or are moving indoors. Visit Thanksgiving Central on CISA's website for inspiration, recipes, and links to sources of turkeys, pies, and much more. We also recommend our guide to local eating all winter long.


Thanks for your support of local agriculture. 

The CISA Staff

Mark your calendars, Valley Gives Day is December 12, 2013 

Thousands of area residents will show their support for their favorite non-profits during Valley Gives, a 24-hour online campaign urging residents to make gifts to the organizations of their choice. Please support CISA and other nonprofits working to make our region an amazing place to live!


Help us spread the word: bookmark this link and share it with your friends and family.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Let's get some excitement going - please be our CISA ambassadors!


Senior FarmShare 2013

In 2013, CISA's Senior FarmShare program provided 365 low income seniors with $100 worth of vegetables and fruit from local farms. We worked with twelve farms, and produce was distributed at the farms and at farmers' markets, senior centers and Councils on Aging in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties. Some seniors who picked up their shares also visited the farm, with tours offered at Red Fire and Wilder Brook Farms. One participant commented, "I was born and raised on a farm in Ware, and I know fresh. All the veggies I received had to have been picked that very morning--the corn in my freezer tastes as good as the morning you picked it." Since the program's inception in 2004, over 2,765 shares have been distributed to seniors in need, and local farmers have received more than $315,000 for their produce. Senior FarmShare is supported by private donations, grants, state funding, and most seniors paid a $10 cost share. Consider supporting this important program for the 2014 season by clicking here.


Local Hero Business Meet & Greet

CISA's Meet & Greets introduce buyers to growers and specialty foods producers, showing them the wealth of local products available and helping them forge new business relationships. Our Fall Meet & Greet will be on Monday, December 2nd, 5:30-8:00 pm, at Rockridge Retirement Community in Northampton. Food, networking, and a panel of buyers explaining what makes local sourcing work for them. Open to all purchasers but limited to Local Hero member farms; contact Devon to RSVP. 


Look for apples and potatoes at local retailers 

Each month, CISA highlights two crops and works with local retailers and farmers to ensure that those crops are available in grocery stores. For Thanksgiving, and all of November, we're focusing on apples and potatoes. Find our list of participating retailers here. If you don't see local products, ask! Join our Action Group to get more involved in advocating for local food in grocery stores.


Looking for recipes for seasonal ingredients? 

CISA's recipe and Thanksgiving pages are full of good ideas.

Local Hero Profile: Eastside Grill

Jake Perkins, Executive Chef at Northampton's Eastside Grill, describes how loyal, long-term relationships--with farmers, staff members, and customers have built a restaurant with staying power (and delicious local food!). Read more here


Local Hero Profile: Hardwick Vineyard & Winery

The way they tell it, John and Audrey Stamek made the switch from dairying to wine-making via an enormous, beautiful, but dilapidated house. We think there were a few more steps involved, including lots of hard work, learning, and a knack for welcoming people. Read our profile here, or visit the winery to taste for yourself! 


Northampton Winter Market Starts November 23rd

Now in its 5th year, Northampton's winter market is finalizing a new location and plans to open on Saturday the 23rd. Watch their facebook page for updates! Find information about other winter markets here.


Visit our Press Room for interviews with local dairy and meat producers, an article about local food reaching local schools via the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, and local news coverage of the proposed food safety regulations. 

The Farm Bill

There's hope for a new farm bill, with a conference committee finally convened by Congress in late October. Their goal is to reach a comprise between the Senate's Farm Bill and the House's divided bills, one covering farm programs and one dramatically reducing funding for SNAP, or food stamps. Other parties are also weighing in: the National Conference of State Legislatures, for example, urged the committee to eliminate the
King Amendment, which prevents states from legislating production practices for food produced out of state. Thirteen senators asked for a crop insurance program that better serves diverse and organic producers, and 29 organizations advocated programs that support rural development, entrepreneurship, and value-added production. 

Congress went on recess shortly after the conference committee convened, but local Representative and conference committee member Jim McGovern used that time to meet with farmers and others interested in local agriculture, including CISA's Philip Korman. This infographic from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition illuminates the path to a new farm bill.

CISA's Events Page is packed with workshops and conferences focused on farming and homesteading skills--marketing, seed saving, butchering, and more!

CISA is looking for winter interns, and there other job and internship postings on our classifieds page.

Are you a CISA member? Join more than 600 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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