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Show your love for local in February! Take your sweetie to a Local Hero restaurant, or offer him or her the gift of health with a summer season CSA membership. If you are looking for flowers and candy, consider fragrant local freesia or maple candy. You'll be extending your love to the whole community.


CISA's Winter Fare events at Farmers' Markets in Springfield, Northampton, Greenfield and Amherst were a rousing success, with robust sales, friendly bartering, and informative workshops. Winter farmers' markets keep running until April, and they can use a little love, too. Thank your local farmer for keeping you fed through the cold months!




The CISA Staff

Volunteers needed for CISA's Annual Meeting Potluck

CISA's Annual Meeting will be held Friday, March 21st from 6:00-9:00pm at the Northampton Senior Center. We need 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. Email Jennifer or call 413-665-7100 to learn more or to sign up.


Local Hero Enrollment Now Open

CISA's business membership program and marketing campaign, Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown®, offers branding, promotion, outreach, training, and marketing assistance to farms and local food businesses, including restaurants, retailers, specialty food producers, dining services, and distributors. If you manage, or know of, a Pioneer Valley business that grows or uses locally grown products, please tell them about the benefits of Local Hero membership. Join now to be featured in our 2014 print guide, Locally Grown, coming in May!


Workshops on Web Marketing and Farm Labor

CISA's web marketing workshop on Thursday, February 27th is designed to teach farm and food business owners the basics of creating a strong on-line presence using websites and social media. Four workshops remain in our farm labor series, focused on navigating labor regulations, improving efficiency, reducing turnover, and improving understanding of labor costs. All workshops will be held at Holyoke Community College. Click to find the details or read about how two farms have benefited from CISA's technical assistance.


Become a Community Member Today

CISA Community Membership has great benefits, including new discounts each month at Local Hero businesses. Not a member yet? Sign up here.

Look for Carrots and Honey at Local Retailers 

In February, we're highlighting carrots and honey. The Kitchen Garden offers a recipe for a simple and delicious Moroccan Carrot Salad that uses them both together. For more seasonal cooking tips and menu suggestions, visit our recipes page. Winter farmers' markets are a great place to find these local products, and you can also try these retailers that source locally grown.  

Local Hero Profile: The Baker's Oven Bistro   

The Baker's Oven Bistro in Shelburne Falls features local reclaimed wood in their bar, local herbs in their cocktails, and local meat on their tables, plus chef and owner Michele Cardinal's years of experience cooking in restaurants on Cape Cod (beginning at age 13!). Read more here.


Visit our Press Room for several recent op-eds from CISA, gubernatorial candidates' thoughts about Massachusetts agriculture, and coverage of local meat production, including Northampton's new butcher shop, Sutter Meats. You can also find interviews with local food business owners, including Tornado Firestarters, Hosta Hill and Millstone Farm Market, plus press coverage of local food and farms.

Hawlemont School to Focus on Agriculture

The Hawlemont Regional School, serving Charlemont and Hawley, received a $130,000 Community Innovation Challenge grant from the state last week. The school plans to implement "a novel and innovative curriculum of hands-on learning that is focused on agriculture," says Superintendent Michael Buoniconti. The grant funds will allow them to build a barn, greenhouse, and chicken coop before the start of the next school year. The school will draw on the agricultural heritage of the region and the skills and expertise of local residents, as well as Fertile Ground, a Williamsburg-based farm to school initiative that will support teachers and others in the program's first year. Read more from The Recorder.


Federal Farm Bill, Finally

The three-year effort to pass a new five-year Farm Bill has finally succeeded. Our relief is tempered by dismay, since the renewal of some valuable farm programs was accompanied by $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts explains what those cuts will mean to Massachusetts residents, the Conservation Law Foundation summarizes the good and the bad for New England farmers, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition digs deep into the details.

Find workshops, films, and farm and food festivals on CISA's Events Page. Right now, you'll find lots of workshops for farmers, plus a February 16th on-farm cooking class focused on turkey thighs, and the Heath Cellars and Cave Tour on March 8th. If you have thought about putting food away or making your own cider and want to see first-hand what a variety of cellars and a cheese cave look like, this is the tour for you! 

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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