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Even in the depths of winter there is an abundance of amazing local food! We're celebrating the winter bounty with Winter Fare, a special day of workshops, bartering, music, and fun at the regular winter farmers' markets in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and Springfield. CISA will also be matching the first $10 of all SNAP/Food Stamp purchases.


On Saturday, January 17th, join CISA at the Northampton Winter Farmers' Market from 9am-2pm at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.

On Saturday, January 24th, visit the Amherst Winter Farmers' Market from 10am-2pm at the Amherst Regional Middle School AND the Springfield Winter Farmers' Market from 10am-2pm in the Old Monkey House at Forest Park.


On Saturday, February 21st, visit the Greenfield Winter Farmers' Market from 10am-1pm at the Greenfield Middle School. 


Highlights include: free workshops on fermented pickle-making, herbal medicine, beekeeping, and more! Food swapping with Valley Food Swap! Fun for kids with Full Moon Girls! And all the food, crafts, and more that these markets bring all winter long. For details on what is happening where, click here.


Join us, and bring a friend!



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. 


CISA's Local Hero Open Enrollment

If you are a farmer in the Pioneer Valley, now is the time to sign up for the 2015 Local Hero program. Retailers, restaurants, institutions, specialty producers, and garden centers/landscapers with a demonstrated commitment to purchasing local agricultural products are also eligible for membership. Marketing benefits for members include: a listing in the Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide publication and in CISA's online guide, access to Local Hero branded marketing materials, inclusion in CISA's ongoing outreach to increase awareness around the importance of supporting local agriculture, and much more. Find all the benefit details on CISA's website. Contact Devon Whitney-Deal (Franklin/Hampshire County businesses) or Kristen Wilmer (Hampden County businesses) at 413-665-7100 with questions.   


Valley Gives and CISA's Year End

CISA participated in Valley Gives Day in December and what a success it was! We received almost $20,000 in donations from 275 donors, 67 of whom were new donors to CISA. The generosity of you, our supporters, surpassed our expectations and CISA ended the year making its financial goals and then some. Thanks to all of you, we are well positioned to continue expanding our initiatives in Hampden County, increasing SNAP use at farmers' markets in western Massachusetts, and, with partners, promoting the new Pioneer Valley Grows Community Investment Fund at the Franklin County CDC, to be launched in the next 6-8 weeks. 2015 here we come!   


CISA Days at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant 

Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in Florence is generously donating 10% of their sales to CISA on Sunday, January 25th and Sunday, February 22nd. Support CISA and enjoy a great meal at the same time! And if their generosity inspires you, contact Judy to talk about ways your business can support CISA.     


Become a Community Member Today

There is no community supported agriculture without community support. Support local farms. Become a CISA Community Member today.


Goodbye, Abby and Sam!
We're happy/sad to report that Sam Stegeman and Abby Getman have taken jobs with other worthy nonprofits and are moving on from CISA. Many of you have interacted with Sam in his capacity as PVGrows Coordinator or manager of CISA's Emergency Farm Fund, and with Abby as phone-answerer and jack of all trades. Best of luck to both!  


Check out Valley Bounty, our weekly column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, for recipes and cooking tips for seasonal delights. This month, we've highlighted roast beef, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes ... mushroom bake or sweet potato gnocchi, anyone?

Find local food all winter long using the special lists we've pulled together about fall and winter CSAs, farmers' markets, and bulk purchasing of produce for home storage.


Local Hero Restaurant Profile: Buon Appetito Ristorante

At Buon Appetito Ristorante, local food meets global fare. For chef and owner Mino Giliberti, freshness is the cornerstone of authentic Italian cuisine. Mino is passionate about preserving the integrity of Italian cuisine, whether through an annual trip to Italy to expand his repertoire, using the freshest local farm and garden produce, offering cooking classes, adapting his menu to highlight the season's bounty, or through his weekly radio show on Italian cuisine. Read more about this Westfield restaurant here. 

Visit our press room for recent news stories about Local Hero farms and businesses, including a hopeful story about succession at Serio's Market, an update about local food in schools via the Franklin County CDC and MA Farm to School, and stories about Austin Brothers Valley Farm and the Amherst and Northampton Winter farmers' markets. Also featured is a special WGBY CISA segment on new milking technologies at Barstow's Longview Farm.

You can also listen to our weekly radio interview series on WRSI with Local Hero businesses: Justamere Tree Farm, The Benson Place, and Hillside Pizza.



New Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth

Governor Baker, who was sworn in today, announced at the end of December that John Lebeaux, a Princeton Town Administrator and Shrewsbury Selectman, will serve as the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources in his administration. Mr. Lebeaux, a six-term Shrewsbury Selectman, was the general manager of his family's business, Shrewsbury Nurseries, for 26 years. He has also served on the Massachusetts Board of Food and Agriculture and currently serves on the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission. "We are so pleased that a 3rd generation farmer with experience in public policy and service will be leading the agency whose mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts," said Philip Korman, Executive Director of CISA.


Six Big School Districts Reject Routine Antibiotic Use in Poultry

In December, the school districts of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas, and Orlando announced a plan to purchase only chicken that is not given routine antibiotics, in order to preserve effective antibiotics for human use. The six school districts serve 2.8 million children, making their market big enough to exert significant pressure on large chicken producers -- and on antibiotic-resistant superbugs. While some schools will seek out chicken that never received any antibiotics, this supply is limited. Most schools will require chicken producers to meet a standard developed by School Food FOCUS and the Pew Charitable Trusts which prohibits routine use of antibiotics but allows treatment of sick animals. 



Visit CISA's events page  for events, workshops, conferences and more. Here's a sample of the activities coming up:


Massachusetts Association of Agricultural Commissions Regional Roundtable
January 10, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, Northampton

The Mass Association of Agricultural Commissions (MAAC) is sponsoring regional Ag Com roundtables this winter. Join them in Northampton on January 10th for a roundtable co-sponsored by the Northampton Ag Commission and CISA. Please register by sending the following information to Pete Westover: your name, email address, home address, and Ag Com affiliation (if any). Indicate that you are attending the Northampton Roundtable. Cost is $5 at the door. All are welcome!


Winter Fare
CISA is bringing Winter Fare, a special day of workshops and fun, to the winter farmers' markets! Join us at the Northampton Winter Farmers' Market on January 17th, the Amherst Winter Farmers' Market and the Springfield Winter Farmers' Market on January 24th, and the Greenfield Winter Farmers' Market on February 21st. Details here.   


CISA Workshop: Advanced Strategic Marketing
January 21, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Food Bank of Western Mass Community Room, Hatfield

Learn how a focused strategy and specific efforts can reduce your marketing labor needs and make every step count from Matt LeRoux of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Learn how to develop a marketing strategy around your core customers and how to develop communications based on this strategy, including customized special offers/promotions. This is the first in a 3-part advanced marketing workshop series, and you can sign up for one or all three here. Each class includes dinner and costs $15 for Local Hero members and $18 for non-members, with reduced prices when you sign up for the whole series. For more information contact Devon Whitney-Deal at 413-665-7100, ext. 22.

CISA Winter Workshop Series: Introduction to Brand Communications
January 28, 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College

Come learn the concept of marketing and branding agricultural businesses and talk about the importance of developing and embodying a brand that works for the farm. Rachael Colacino from Colacino Communications will introduce and help you develop or edit your farm "story," an important backbone piece that is used when speaking to the public directly or via marketing materials, websites, press releases, etc. Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm and Caroline Pam of The Kitchen Garden will share their farm stories and branding best practices. This is the first in a 7-part marketing workshop series, and you can sign up for one or all seven here. Workshops cost $15 for Local Hero members and $18 for non-members, with reduced prices when you sign up for the whole series. For more information contact Devon Whitney-Deal at 413-665-7100, ext. 22.  


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