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The traditional season of rest that winter brought to New England farmers--time to repair equipment, review the books, make plans, order seeds, maybe even take a vacation--has changed significantly as more and more farmers grow and market crops year round. This winter's weather extremes have complicated the work of picking crops in unheated greenhouses, washing and packing, and transporting crops to market. On the other hand, selling products all year round can maintain a farm's customer base, reduce staff turnover, and, perhaps, create a more balanced year-round workload.


The work of farmers and their crews results in a wonderful array of winter products available through a growing number of outlets. CISA's annual Winter Fare events, held in collaboration with winter farmers' markets in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and Springfield, celebrates that bounty. Visit the markets on Winter Fare days for workshops, tastings, music, and bartering opportunities (and, of course, vegetables, meats, cheeses, grain, bread and pastries, and lots of prepared foods). And on every cold, snowy, or slushy winter Saturday, remember that local farmers have braved the elements to bring out beautiful food and other products, waiting for you at market! Find their schedules and locations here.





The CISA Staff

Save the dates for Winter Fare

Join CISA at your local winter farmers' market for special Winter Fare days in January and February! On these days, the markets will feature special workshops, music, tastings, bartering, and more, in addition to the amazing local food you expect at every market. Join us at the Amherst Winter Farmers' Market on January 25th, the Greenfield Winter Farmers' Market on February 1st, and at the Northampton and Springfield Winter Farmers' Markets on February 8th. Details can be found here


Winter Fare: Volunteers Needed
From decoration and set-up to workshop assistance and clean-up, we've got a job for you! Contact 
Judy to volunteer, and thank you.


Seeking Nominations for Local Hero Awards

Do you know someone doing great work for local food and farms? We want to give them an award! Since 2003, CISA has recognized farmers, institutions, businesses, and everyday community members whose work helps sustain local agriculture -- see our all-star recipient list. Awardees will be profiled in Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide and will be honored at CISA's annual meeting in 2015. Nominations are due January 10th. See criteria here. You may submit your nominations online here, or mail a brief description of why you think the nominee is qualified and your contact information, to CISA, 1 Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373.


CISA's Winter Workshop series on Farm Labor

Our six-workshop series runs January 29th to March 13th, and is designed to help farmers navigate labor regulations, improve efficiency, reduce turnover, and better understand labor costs. Find details here, and please help us spread the word.

Valley Gives

CISA participated in Valley Gives for the first time in December and what a success it was! We received over $20,000 in donations from over 200 donors and came in 6th place for the most donors and 10th place for the most money raised. One supporter commented that Valley Gives felt like a joint community effort, very different than writing a check alone in her house. Thank you to all who participated in this great event.


Become a Community Member Today

CISA Community Membership has its benefits. Stay tuned for upcoming discounts and tours at Local Hero Farms. Not a member yet? Sign up here. If you have a favorite farm, specialty producer, vineyard or greenhouse and you'd like a behind-the-scenes visit, send your suggestions to Judy.

Look for Winter Squash and Beets at Local Retailers 

Need inspiration for cooking with winter's ingredients? Find recipes, and preparation tips on our recipes page, including seasonal menus for at-home movie night & Valentine's Day. In January, we're highlighting winter squash and beets. Find our list of participating retailers here. If you don't see local products in the store, ask! Join our Action Group to get more involved in advocating for local food in grocery stores.

Local Hero Profile: Four Star Farms

As the L'Etoile family tells the story, Four Star Farms was started on a dare. Find out how the Northfield farmers became one of the leaders in the resurgence of local grain production by reading their profile.


Visit our Press Room for interviews with local food business owners, including Leyden Glen Farm, Gray Dog's Farm, Bug Hill Farm, and Paul's Sugarhouse, plus press coverage of local food and farms.

Food Safety and Modernization Act

The FDA issued an encouraging initial response to input from farmers and consumers on December 19th, indicating that it plans to make significant changes to the rules based on the extensive comments it received. The FDA intends to publish the revised rules by early summer 2014 and accept a second round of public comments on the revisions. Stay tuned for more information. Thanks to the many people who spread the word in person and on Facebook, signed our petition, and submitted their own comments.


Federal Farm Bill News

Behind the scenes negotiations on a five-year Farm Bill continue. The bill may go to a formal conference committee this week, but is currently snagged on a new insurance program for dairy farmers.

Find workshops, films, and farm and food festivals on CISA's Events PageHere are just two of many events to whet your appetite:


NOFA Massachusetts' 27th Annual Winter Conference

January 11, 2014

NOFA Mass Winter Conference is this Saturday, in Worcester. More than 60 workshops, exhibits, vendors, and a potluck lunch. Register here


Dinner with Chef Sanford D'Amato

January 15, 2014

The Blue Heron Restaurant and Chef Sanford D'Amato will prepare a six-course meal featuring dishes from Chef D'Amato's new cookbook/memoir, Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer. Go and enjoy an excellent meal, plus a talk and book-signing. The menu and details can be found here.


CISA is looking for winter and spring semester interns, and there are more job and internship postings on our classifieds page.

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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