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I'm back to doing the morning chores in the dark, following the clock shift over the weekend. But even in the darkness, the birds are awake and singing when I go out at six. The sap is starting to run and the steam to billow out of local sugarhouses (want to visit one? Here's our list).


Even if you won't be putting any seeds in the ground yourself, this in-between season is a good time to plan for the freshest local food this summer. Join a CSA now, and you'll provide up-front income to the farmer, financing early-season expenses and making planning easier. Plus, you get the biggest selection of CSA options. See our guide to choosing a CSA and our full CSA list, and remember, in addition to a large selection of farms offering vegetables and small fruits, a few farms have meat, grain, dairy, egg, plant, and herb CSA shares available.


Other options include a market card, which gives you a discount at farmers' market booths and farm stands. Or plan a regular farmers' market stop into your week. It won't be long before summer markets are opening up, but meanwhile, don't forget the winter markets, which need our support in order to make business sense for farmers.


CISA's Annual Meeting and Potluck is Friday, March 21st. Brian Donahue of Brandeis University will speak about increasing the percentage of local and regional food in our diets. We'd love to see you there! Please RSVP, because space is limited. Find details here



Meanwhile, enjoy the light, the mud, and the anticipation!


Margaret Christie

Special Projects Director



Volunteers needed for CISA's Annual Meeting Potluck

Are you a mover and a shaker? How about a chief cook and bottle washer? If so, we need your help at CISA's Annual Meeting, Friday, March 21st from 6:00-9:00pm at the Northampton Senior Center. We need help setting up the tables at 5pm; organizing the food in the kitchen as it arrives for this amazing potluck for 200 CISA supporters; and cleaning up both during and after the event. Please sign up for a shift as short as 45 minutes and enjoy the rest of the annual meeting. Email Jennifer or call 413-665-7100.


CISA Publishes Financing Case Study of Real Pickles

Local Hero member business Real Pickles makes naturally fermented and raw pickles from regionally-grown vegetables in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Instead of selling their growing company to a large industrial food corporation, Real Pickles' owners chose to keep the business small, locally owned, and mission-driven. In 2012, the company converted to a worker-owned cooperative, and funded the co-op's purchase of the business through a highly successful community investment campaign that raised a half-million dollars.  Our 12-page case study, Our Community Investment in the Local Food System, provides a detailed explanation of this innovative and replicable financing strategy.


Farmers' Market Manager Forum

New and returning market managers and steering committee members are invited to share challenges and successes. Discuss how you operate your market, marketing ideas, vendor needs, EBT usage, increasing SNAP transactions, market structure, dot surveys, and much more. Thursday, March 27th, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College. Light dinner is provided for a donation. RSVP to Devon by Wednesday, March 26th. 



People's Pint Kicks off Monthly Trivia Night with Benefit for CISA 

Hang out with your friends, drink beer (or house-made soda), show off your trivia chops, and support our work! This will be the first of many monthly trivia nights to support local non-profits. At The People's Pint in Greenfield, Thursday, March 20th, 9-11 pm. 


Perks and Discounts for CISA Community Members

March is Maple Month in Massachusetts and CISA Community Members can enjoy savings at several Local Hero Maple Producers. Diemand Farm and Brook's Bend Farm are also offering discounts to members on locally grown turkey and organic lamb. Find the details here; if you are not yet a member, sign up here! Community members also enjoy first dibs on farm tours and other events, including our April 12th tour at Little Brook Farm in Sunderland.

It's Maple Month! Don't miss out on the seasonal treat of a visit to a sugarshack or pancake house. Use our Maple Menu to create a full meal's worth of maple goodness. We're also highlighting local apples, which are still sweet and delicious. To combine our two Local Hero products of the month, try Maple Apple Chips, Maple Apple Upside Down Cake, or Oven Roasted Maple Apples.


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: South Face Farm
Tom McCrumm's South Face Farm in Ashfield is one of the region's most popular sugar shack restaurant destinations. When McCrumm says "I'm making magic," he's referring to the syrup itself, but he's also built a business that attracts a loyal following of people willing to wait in line to eat fritters, French toast, and pancakes covered with just-made syrup. Find our full profile here.


Visit our Press Room for articles and interviews with several other local maple syrup makers, as well as Yard Birds and Natural Roots Farms and recent op-eds from CISA.

Franklin County Farmer Survey Results

The Franklin County Regional Council of Governments, supported by an Advisory Group that includes CISA, surveyed 134 Franklin County farmers about their needs related to infrastructure, services, and land access and tenure. The survey also served to connect interested farmers to resources and information. Learn more about the results from The Recorder or New England Public Radio.

Find workshops, films, and farm and food festivals on CISA's Events Page. In March, among many other events, you'll find a beekeeping class and a maple syrup recipe contest.

All of the photos featuring maple products in this e-newsletter are credited to Tom McCrumm and South Face Farm. 


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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