In This Issue
Find us on Facebook

Forward to a Friend



CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a pretty straightforward model: CSA members provide the farmer with a committed market, and in exchange, they receive delicious, fresh food. In most cases, members pay up front, giving the farm needed income in the spring, when expenses are high and income low. Members gain a connection to the rhythm of the harvest and the land and people who grow their food.

Pioneer Valley residents can choose from more than 50 CSAs, offering vegetables, meat, fruit, flowers, fiber, and more. CSA farms offer lots of choice in share content and pick-up locations, and many offer additional benefits, including pick-your-own, community events, and convenient access to other local farm products. Many CSAs accept SNAP benefits, low income share options, or payment plans. The UMassFive College Federal Credit Union offers a zero-interest loan to members for CSA membership.

There's been recent news coverage (find it here and here) of a study of 16 Pioneer Valley CSAs, which suggested that some CSA farm owners don't get an adequate return from their farm business. This has sparked some interesting discussions in the CISA office; our sense is that the dozens of CSAs in our region vary widely. Some sell hundreds of shares and others only a few. Some sell all their products through their CSA, while others use a variety of marketing channels. Like other farms in the Pioneer Valley, they operate in a global climate of cheap food and a US economy in which income inequality is growing. As we work with local farms to manage these challenges, we've found that the CSA model has proven to be an important part of many farms' incomes, and a tremendous way to connect people to the sources of their food.

We're lucky to have lots of ways to get fresh local food. If a CSA share is a good fit for your family, now's the time to sign up! Our guide to choosing a CSA will help you weigh the options, and our list of Local Hero CSAs lays out all of the delicious details.

CISA Staff



CISA at Ag Day at the State House

Last week, CISA staff joined dozens of other agricultural organizations and farmers at the State House to talk with legislators about issues important to the agricultural community. To learn more about CISA's budget priorities and Ag Day, click here.  


Thanks for a great Annual Meeting!

On March 27th, 150 people joined us to vote in new Board members, celebrate CISA's successes, hear from new Ag Commissioner John Lebeaux, and sound off on the MA Food Systems Plan. We also honored our 2014 Local Hero awardees: Adams Farm, Maple Corner Farm, and Squash Inc. Read about the event here.


Welcome to our new Board members

At CISA's Annual Meeting, we voted in four new Board members: Al Griggs, a longtime Pioneer Valley community leader; John Kokoski, dairy farmer and owner of Mapleline Farm in Hadley; Gene Kosinski, owner of Kosinski Farm in Westfield, and Matt Perpetua of Baystate Medical Center's Food and Nutrition Services. Read all about them, and all of CISA's Board members, here


Spring Meet and Greet for farmers, producers, and wholesale buyers
Monday, April 20, 5:30-8:30pm
Mi Tierra Restaurant, 48 Russell Street, Hadley
Farmers, buyers, and specialty producers, join us for this networking event and get an in-depth look at beverages made with locally grown ingredients. Andrea Stanley from Valley Malt and Liz L'Etoile from Four Star Farms will talk about growing local hops and processing malt from local grains. Local Hero beverage producers will be offering samples of their products and answering questions. All Local Hero farmers are invited, as are restaurant owners, chefs, produce managers, and other buyers, so come build new relationships! Light refreshments will be provided by Mi Tierra. Please RSVP to Devon Whitney-Deal or call 413-665-7100, ext. 22 by Friday, April 17th.   


Have a thirst for local? Join us for a Cidery and Winery Tour!

Sunday, May 3, 1-4 pm
Artifact Cider in Springfield and Raven Hollow Winery in Westfield
You're invited for a behind-the-scenes tour of two Hampden County producers. The tour begins at 1pm at Artifact Cider in Springfield. Learn how Jake and Sohan, cidermakers at Artifact Cider, are reviving American craft cider and taste some of their latest re-inventions. Next we'll head to Raven Hollow Winery in Westfield to taste some of their wines, made from fruit they grow next door at Kosinski Farms. Open to everyone, but please RSVP to Judy Hall, 413-665-7100, ext. 29.

CISA Membership has its Benefits

CISA Community Members, don't miss out on these special spring discounts at Local Hero farms. Not a member? Join here! 


From now until June 7th, visit Couch Brook Farm in Bernardston and save 10% with your Community Member card on healthy, organic plants that thrive in New England growing conditions, including hanging baskets and many varieties of vegetable, herb, and cut flower starts. Couch Brook Farm is open now through June 7th, Thursday through Sunday 9am - 5pm.


Throughout May and June, Old Friends Farm is offering 10% off to CISA Community Member card-holders at the Saturday farmers' markets in Northampton and Amherst. Old Friends Farm specializes in salad greens, cut flowers, and vegetables.


We're really in between seasons now! Only the Northampton Winter Farmers' Market is still standing, and summer markets will start to open over the next two months. You can find our up-to-date list of summer markets and their opening dates here, so check it out and mark your calendar!

Of course, there are some seasonal specialties, even now. Click to read our Valley Bounty columns about maple, cabbage, parsnip latkes, and spring greens.

Looking forward to the growing season? CSA farms are accepting enrollments now, so sign up to receive shares of vegetables, fruit, meat, grains, herbs, and more!
Local Hero profile: Bergeron Sugar House

In the hills of Leyden, Bergeron Sugar House crafts smooth maple cream, candy, and granulated sugar in addition to delicious maple syrup. Having sugared since he was a teenager, owner Bob Bergeron has figured out a few things, from packing his granulated sugar right as it's made for proper moisture content to creative uses for maple products. Read all about them!

Visit our press room for recent news stories, including a reporter's visit to shearing day at Winterberry Farm, an inspiring community response to a fire at Boyden Brothers Maple, and a LOT of coverage of maple season. Also featured is a special WGBY CISA segment focused on maple sugaring, featuring North Hadley Sugar Shack and Mayval Farm, which just launched their own dairy bottling and cheese operation!

You can also listen to our weekly radio interview series on WRSI with Local Hero businesses Quabbin Harvest, Mi Tierra Restaurant, and Graves-Glen Farm.  


Local food prices comparable to supermarket prices
The Franklin Regional Council of Governments has released the results of a year-long study comparing farmers' market prices to supermarket prices. The results, based on 1,600 prices, show that farmers' market pricing is comparable to supermarket pricing, and sometimes less expensive. The Recorder covers the story here.

Massachusetts receives USDA grant to help SNAP participants purchase produce

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance has been selected to receive a multi-year Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant award. Recognizing that all Americans fall well short of the servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the grants will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. CISA is pleased to be one of the many partners who will be working throughout the state on this project. Read more



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


LAND: the foundation of a healthy  food system
PVGrows Spring Forum

April 15, 9am-3pm

Mill 1, Open Square, Holyoke

How does access to farmland fit into a vision of creating a healthy, resilient, and equitable food system? Sign up for PVGrows' 2015 Spring Forum to learn about the important role that secure access to land plays in our food system - and how we can all work to strengthen this foundation.  Details and registration here


Earth Day at Hampshire College

April 22-April 23 

Hampshire is hosting a multi-day celebration of Earth Day this year, including a panel with David Ott, Andy Kendall, and CISA staffer Margaret Christie on April 22nd at 4pm. Details about this and the full schedule here.  

Do you value the news you get from CISA? Join more than 600 others in supporting CISA's work. We've been strengthening farms and engaging the community to build the local food economy since 1993!


Please do not take images or content to use on your own site or project without CISA's explicit permission. Please feel free to link to our newsletter. Archives can be found at


Phone: (413) 665-7100  



Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Thanks to our sponsors: