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There are few ways to change the world that are as pleasurable as eating local food. It pays an immediate dividend at your table and provides longer-term benefits to your local economy, open space, and the place you call home. It's great to be able to take concrete action for your community while also putting dinner on the table. 


Making our local food system really robust, however, may require each of us to do a little bit more. Our September Local Hero Challenges focus on ways we can each take action to support local farms and food. Most of these are pretty fun, too -- like hosting a local foods potluck with your neighbors or a harvest meal at your kids' school. Some of them require talking to someone you may not already know, like the produce manager at your grocery store. Mostly, they're about communicating your enthusiasm for local food and helping make that food accessible to more people. Being an ambassador for local food is a pretty good gig, really. You get to eat well, in your own home or in good company, and forge new connections with people in your community. And if you are interested, the job is yours! Want to take it on? Find more information here


The CISA Staff


PS: CISA's new guide, Taking Action for Local Food, will come out later this fall. We'll announce it here, but email us if you'd like to receive a pdf copy directly.


Taste the View

There's only one week until Taste the View, and tickets are almost gone! CISA's annual feast and fundraiser will be held on September 19, 2013, from 6-9 pm, at Quonquont Farm in Whately. We're celebrating the beauty and bounty of the Pioneer Valley landscape and CISA's 20th anniversary. The evening's harvest dinner will be prepared and presented by The Kitchen Garden of Sunderland, a Local Hero farm and caterer, and sourced from more than fifty-five local farms and businesses. The event will also include music and a live and silent auction. Purchase your tickets here.  

Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers

CISA and Holistic Management International (HMI) will offer a workshop series intended to give women who have been farming for fewer than ten years an opportunity to learn from experts and from each other. Topics will include business planning, marketing, goal-setting and financial planning, time management, reading your landscape, land and infrastructure planning, leadership and communication skills. The course will be held over ten sessions this coming winter and spring. Applications are due September 30th; more information here. 


CISA Day at Warner Farm and Mike's Maze

Don't miss this opportunity to benefit CISA on Saturday, September 28th from 11am to 1pm at Mike's Maze, this year exploring illusion through the art of Salvador Dali. The support of our community is not illusory, and we rely on your help to continue our work! Fun at the maze is a certainty, too. Games, a petting zoo, and a mini-maze for kids. Enjoy music from the Milk Bottle Band and purchase lunch at the farm's new Corn Café. If there is heavy rain, it will be held on Sunday, September 29th. Maze fee is $10.


Talk, Tour and Tasting at Sidehill Farm

Sidehill Farm in Hawley is the only commercial, on-farm yogurt maker in Massachusetts -- and their yogurt is delicious! On Saturday, October 5, from 2:30 to 5 pm, enjoy fall foliage, spectacular views, and a pasture walk with CISA, Franklin Land Trust, and farmer Amy Klippenstein. Learn about farmland protection and get a peek into the yogurt processing plant. Make a day of it by picnicking on the farm, shopping in the farm store, or picking apples on your way to the farm (email us for a Local Hero orchard route!). Rain or shine, RSVP to Judy Hall at 413-665-7100.  


River Valley Market Green Stamps Benefit CISA in September

Bring your own bags or ride your bike to River Valley Market to get a stamp on your "green stamps card." Turn in your fully-stamped card to make a donation to CISA during the month of September. Thanks, River Valley Market!


CISA Community Members Save 10% on food and drink at Cup and Top

Stop by Cup and Top Cafe in downtown Florence to try their delicious soups, sandwiches and baked goods made with ingredients from local farms. Enjoy organic coffee or tea, free Wi-Fi, and an inviting kids' play space. Bring your membership card and try them out! (Not a member? Join here.


Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming CISA events:

  • More Than Honey film screening and panel at Amherst Cinema, Tuesday, October 15.
  • Root, Hog or Die film showing at the Academy of Music, Northampton, Sunday, November 3.

Valley Bounty 

Each week, CISA posts delicious cooking and eating ideas from local farms and bloggers on our Valley Bounty page. You'll also find preserving ideas and information about local sourcing. Click over for inspiration about peppers, melons, and beef, among others!


Look for sweet corn and peppers 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. In September, look for locally grown sweet corn and peppers at these participating retailers, and if you don't see them, ask! If you want to get more involved in advocating for local food in grocery stores, join our Action Group.  

Visit our Press Room for news of local farms and food. Read about local school lunch ideas, farmer reaction to proposed food safety regulations, and CISA's 20th anniversary!


McCray's Farm: New Source of Local Milk

Long known for ice cream, a petting zoo, and haunted hay rides, McCray's is also a dairy farm. They've recently built a processing plant and are bottling their own milk, available at the farm store. On a recent visit, CISA staff members were impressed with their careful planning, and we're delighted to have a new source of local milk! Listen to this recent interview with Linda and Steve McCray, and find more information on local dairy farms on our website

The FDA needs your input on food safety rules that threaten local farms

Well over a hundred local farmers attended a recent hearing with FDA officials to voice their concerns about the FDA's proposed food safety rules, and many more are submitting written comments to the FDA. The FDA needs to hear from others who value the local food system as well. We urge you to submit comments to the FDA telling them how important it is to you that the rules don't drive small farms out of business. To make this easy, we have put together a sample letter for you to use or adapt as you like. Putting the letter into your own words, if you have time, always carries more weight.  If you have only a few minutes, we suggest the following: 1) Add a few sentences to the sample letter explaining why local farms are important to you; 2) Read the list of requests in the sample letter and choose the top three that most concern you, and include those in your letter; 3) Add a sentence to each request indicating why it matters to you personally. See all of our resources on these food safety rules here.  


Harvest for Students Week and a job opening at MA Farm to School

The  Massachusetts Farm to School Project is gearing up for the annual Harvest for Students Week, September 30 - October 4. Schools across the state will offer locally grown foods in their cafeterias, as well as educational, media or community events to celebrate Harvest Week. They're also looking for a new Executive Director: find out more here .   


Farm Bill Update 

The Farm Bill Extension passed last year by Congress will expire at the end of September. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition wrote a good summary of options for passing a new one, and how they might be impacted by Congressional debates on Syria, the end of the fiscal year, and the debt ceiling.


CISA's Events Page contains a full listing of workshops, festivals, forums, films, and more. Here are just two of many opportunities to have fun on farms:


Celebrate all things spicy at The Kitchen Garden's 6th Annual Chilifest!, September 14th and 15th, in Hadley. Music, cooking demos, kid's activities, chili cook-off.


Art in the Orchard at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton. Twenty-six works by local and regional sculptors are set in and around the working fruit fields. Art plus pick-your-own: what could be better?

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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Phone: (413) 665-7100  



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