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The CISA staff gets ready for spring by putting together our annual guide to Pioneer Valley farm products, Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide. This year, we've worked with 376 Local Hero members to finalize their listings in the guide, so that you can find good food, wood, fiber, and other locally grown items all year long. The print guide comes out in May, but the on-line version is available all the time right here. In both places, you'll find information about 247 farms, 34 retailers, 55 restaurants, 19 institutions (such as colleges and hospitals), 16 specialty product producers (jams, relishes, pickles, and more!), and 5 landscapers and garden centers.


All those business people that grow and use local farm products are busy getting ready for the season of bounty ahead. How about you? If you have questions, we can help.

Remember that several winter markets are still open in April, and enjoy the spring weather!


The CISA Staff

Agriculture Day at the State House
Above: Barbara Zheutlin 
from Berkshire Grown, Gov. Patrick, Kelly Coleman of CISA, and Jim O'Brien of Northeast Harvest
On Agriculture Day in late March, farmers, CISA staff, and representatives from many agricultural organizations went to Boston to feed and meet with lawmakers. We urged them to adopt improvements to the state's farmland preservation program (APR) and to support programs that directly impact CISA's work, such as funding for the 'buy local' organizations and our Senior FarmShare program. CISA was represented by Executive Director Phil Korman and staff members Kelly Coleman and Abby Getman. Find a full list of our Ag Day priorities here.


Local food is a highlight of Ag Day, and lawmakers and staff poured into the Great Hall for a meal prepared by Assabet Technical High School students using locally grown ingredients sourced by CISA and partners. Pioneer Valley farms and businesses that participated include: Apex Orchards, Cabot Cheese, Diemand Farm, Four Star Farms, Joe Czajkowski Farm & Lakeside Jam, the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, Plainville Farm, and Swaz Potato FarmsTheir good food convinced one Boston Globe columnist that Massachusetts might be an agricultural state after allMany thanks to these generous producers!


CISA's Annual Meeting

More than 175 people turned out for CISA's Annual Meeting on March 21st. The keynote address was given by Brian Donahue, Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies at Brandeis University, Environmental Historian at Harvard Forest, and Gill farmer.  Professor Donahue has been instrumental in the development of the New England Food Vision, which "calls for our region to build the capacity to produce at least 50% of clean, fair, accessible and just food for New Englanders by 2060." Thanks to all attendees, potluck contributors, and volunteers. 


Local Hero Awards were given to Warren Facey of Bree-Z-Knoll Farm in Leyden, Hope and Olive restaurant in Greenfield, and the Land Trusts of the Pioneer Valley (Franklin Land Trust, Hilltown Land Trust, Kestrel Land Trust, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, Pascommuck Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations). Our 2013 Annual Report was available at the meeting and is now online.  


Photo credit:
Kristen Whittle
Special Event for CISA Community Members

Are you a CISA Community Member? If so, you and your guests are invited to attend a special Open Farm Day at Little Brook Farm in Sunderland on Saturday, April 12th from 10 to noon. Enjoy 10% off lunch at nearby BridgeSide Grille, too! Please RSVP to Judy. If you are not a CISA community member and would like to attend this or other events and tours, join our membership program here. Next up, a pre-Mother's Day Farm Tour at Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst on May 10th


Networking and Training Meeting for Farmers and Buyers

April 14th, 5:45-8:15pm
Polish American Citizens Club, South Deerfield. 
CISA's Spring Meet and Greet on April 14th offers an opportunity for businesses to find new sources of locally grown products, and for farmers and specialty producers to connect with new buyers. In addition, we'll offer short one-on-one trainings with Benneth Phelps from The Carrot Project for finance questions; CISA staff on marketing your business; a web designer, Jess Marsh, on what it takes to create or update a website; and Michael Botelho from Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources on the Commonwealth Quality Program. The event is free and open to all purchasers, but limited to Local Hero member producers. Please RSVP by April 11th to Devon, and let us know if you want to display materials or samples. 

Spring-dug parsnips are a New England delicacy, sweet and delicious after a winter under the snow. Get 'em while they're fresh
! Winter farmers' markets are still open, with carrots, squash, greens and many root crops available, along with a full array of dairy, meat, maple and specialty products like salad dressings and jams.

Photo credit: Left Field Farm
Local Hero Profile
Left Field Farm owners Maureen Sullivan and Mitch Feldmesser have cultivated a beautiful farm in the woods and an attitude of care and attention that benefits their forest neighbors, their products, and their customers. Read our full profile here.  


Local Products Sampling at Serio's Market

April 18th, 4:00-6:00pm

65 State Street, Northampton

Be sure to stop by Serio's Market on Friday, April 18th to sample some of the best Local Hero products in the Valley! Hilltown producers Sangha Farm, Sidehill Farm and Bug Hill Farm will be sampling their products from 4:00-6:00pm. Try delicious goat cheese, yogurt and a variety of spreads, and meet the owners of Sangha and Bug Hill Farms. Serio's has been a supporter of local producers for many years, and with your support they will continue to bring fresh, local products to your table.  


Meat Award Goes to Carolyn Wheeler of Wheel-View Farm

Local Hero member Carolyn Wheeler of Wheel-View Farm in Shelburne received the New England Producer of the Year award at the New England Meat Conference. The award presentation noted that "Wheeler is a leader in the direct marketing of high quality beef, having developed and expanded her markets and now working with neighbors and other farmers to market their beef through her brand. She is a born educator and has directly helped many start-up beef operations...and has been an example to other producers of how farmer and processor can work together." Last year, Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol received the Processor of the Year award, so our region has been well-represented!


Visit our Press Room for interviews with Brookfield Farm, Cup & Top Cafe, Dufresne Sugarhouse and Johnson's Farm, as well as articles about Hungry Ghost, Massachusetts brewers, and restaurant sourcing of local meat.  

Photo credit: Jason Threlfall
Land, Water, and Food

Brian Donahue, keynote speaker at CISA's Annual Meeting last month, spoke about the New England Food Vision, which outlines diet and land use patterns that would allow New England to produce 50% of the food we eat by 2060. In late March, American Farmland Trust, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Northeast Sustainable Working Group published New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System, outlining policy priorities to support that goal, with sections pertaining to land; food production; food safety, processing, aggregation and distribution; markets; and waste streams.  In releasing the report, its authors have noted the importance of protecting the land base for food production in New England in light of climate change and the major California drought. If you wonder how California produce keeps rolling into New England despite the drought, here's one explanation from Grist


Farmers, Brewers and Researchers Comment on Proposed Regulations

Proposed regulations governing manure spreading and the use of spent brewing mash as animal feed have generated a strong response from farmers, brewers, and researchers. Many commenters argue that current practices have not been shown to jeopardize public health or water quality, and that the proposed rules ignore best practices for our region and threaten to turn valuable by-products into waste. More on manure here and on spent brewers' mash here.

Find workshops, films, and farm and food festivals on CISA's Events Page. This month, there are lots of opportunities to learn about growing some of your own food: gardening, permaculture, beekeeping, and more. Also, put Revisioning Sustainability Conference: Campuses as Catalysts for Regenerative Food Systems on your radar for June!

Do you value the news you get from CISA? 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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