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Visiting farmers' markets and farm stands, joining a CSA, or looking for those yellow Local Hero stickers at grocery stores are probably the most clear ways to support local farms. But restaurants are a vital component of our local food system with a real impact on the food economy -- in fact, Local Hero restaurants spent over $2 million on local food last year. With 40% of American food dollars going to restaurants, it's a no-brainer to support the efforts of the restaurants that are committed to supporting local farms. And fresh, in-season food tastes better, too!     


The Alvah Stone

On Tuesday, August 25th and Wednesday, August 26th, Local Hero restaurants all around the Valley will be highlighting local specials during Local Hero Restaurant Days. We've got a full list of participating restaurants and their specials here (including 10% off coupons to Cup and Top Cafe and The Farm Table!), and you can join the event on Facebook to stay up to date on what's happening and to help us spread the word.     


Local Hero Restaurant Days also marks the beginning of our Local Hero Restaurant Raffle. Dine out at three different Local Hero restaurants between August 25th and September 30th, and you can enter to win a five-course wine dinner for six at Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow! And even better: if you're a CISA Community Member, we'll count your entry twice! Details about the raffle are here.  


And there's a singular opportunity to enjoy a truly special local meal and evening out on September 18th: our annual fall harvest dinner and fundraiser, Taste the View! Find more details below, or click here.




CISA staff  


In honor of Local Hero Restaurant Days, we're featuring three Local Hero restaurant profiles this month. These are only three of the sixty-four participating restaurants, though, so be sure to check out the full list or visit our Facebook page for many more!

Bread and Butter
Bread and Butter is a new addition to the restaurant scene, serving breakfast and lunch in North Amherst's up-and-coming Mill District. But owner Brian Knox has ambitions: he'd like to see Bread and Butter become a community event space and a hub for the local food movement. For now, he's focused on establishing a destination for staple foods made with exceptional care, including his already-famous pork belly! Read all about Bread and Butter here.

Center Square Grill
Owner Bill Collins combines a lifetime in the restaurant business with a passion for exceptional local ingredients to provide customers with an experience he and his team hope they won't soon forget. After managing a group of restaurants, he's focusing all his energies on Center Square Grill, and says, "I feel like the luckiest guy in the world." Read all about Center Square Grill here.

Wagon Wheel
From food cart to something-for-everyone joint, the Wagon Wheel in Gill has become a Pioneer Valley institution. Its eclectic menu boasts everything from tacos to tabbouleh, and locally grown ingredients are the common thread: "locally grown is a no-brainer," says owner Carolann Zaccara. Read all about Wagon Wheel here.

Photo credits: Bread and Butter; Jason Threlfall; CISA staff.
Taste the View: A local harvest dinner and auction to benefit CISA
A fall harvest dinner, catered by The Lone Wolf and made with ingredients purchased from our Local Hero farms, Taste the View will be held on Friday, September 18th at Quonquont Farm in Whately. The event features great food, good company, and a tempting array of auction items. Like to vacation on the water? Come and bid on two different weeks on the Cape, four days in Nicaragua, or a weekend in Maine. We have Red Sox tickets, Christmas trees, and local staycations, so come and bid on these and other exciting auction items! Tickets are limited. Get yours soon to save your seat at the table! More information and tickets here.

Sign up now for the Clarkdale Cider Run!

Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of Clarkdale Fruit Farms on November 15th with a 12K road race to support CISA. The race will be on a beautiful loop course on Upper & Lower Roads in Deerfield & Greenfield. T-shirts guaranteed for the first 100 entrants, so sign up now, and help us spread the word on Facebook!

CISA Community Member discount at Red Fire Farm
Through September 30th, Red Fire Farm is offering a discount on all bulk orders to CISA Community Members. Receive $2.00 off any summer bulk order of organic pickling cucumbers, saucing tomatoes, peaches for jam, and more. Join CISA's Community Membership program today to access this and future benefits!

SNAP & Save makes farmers' markets more accessible 
CISA launched a new program called SNAP & Save at participating farmers' markets, giving anyone with SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) up to a $5 match per customer per market for the rest of the market season. For more details about the program and each participating market, click here. We need your help to support this new program -- please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to SNAP & Save.   
Northampton Farmers' Market, Jason Threlfall photo
What's in season now? Pretty much everything! Corn, tomatoes, peaches, basil, eggplant ... it's high season in the Valley. Use our online database to search for specific products or businesses, or sort geographically.

If you're interested in putting food by for the colder months, this is the time! Whether you're planning to toss some fruit in the freezer or thinking about big canning projects, check out our list of food preservation resources.

Our Daily Hampshire Gazette column often includes food preservation tips in addition to recipes and inspiration. Click to read our recent Valley Bounty columns about broccolini, raspberries, eggplant, edamame, basil, and cilantro.

Visit our press room for recent news stories, including the commitment that Chicopee Public Schools has made to local food, predictions for a good apple crop this year, and Sidehill Farm's "Green Pastures Award" win.

You can also listen to our weekly radio interview series on WRSI with Local Hero businesses. Featured this month: Burnt Hill Farm, Fungi Ally, Frizzell Hill Farm, Ciesluk Farm Stand, Atkins Farm Country Market, and Hilltown Grazers.  


Pioneer Valley economists challenge local food detractors -- and supporters, too!
Some economists have argued that stronger local food economies will contribute to environmental damage, human impoverishment, and increased risk of future food shortages by ignoring comparative geographic advantages which make it cheaper (and thus better) to produce agricultural products in one place versus another. Westfield State University economist Anita Dancs and Hampshire College economist Helen Scharber, the economists we worked with to create CISA's Local Food Calculator, review these arguments in a recent piece at, concluding that these arguments tend to ignore the power dynamics that contribute to comparative advantage -- the subsidized water that makes it cheaper to grow spinach in California, or the ready supply of underpaid laborers that support low-priced Florida vegetables. They don't let local food advocates off the hook, though, urging us to "mov[e] beyond the idea of shopping our way to a better world," to implement broader policy changes that can create a food system that provides all of us with good food without damaging the environment. It's worth a read

Pioneer Valley food justice and clean energy advocate in the national press
The number of new farmers in the Pioneer Valley rose by 44% between 2002 and 2012 (US Census of Agriculture), thanks in part to good training opportunities and enthusiastic community support for local farms and food. The Pioneer Valley is also a training ground for advocates for local food, food justice, and related issues. This article at profiles Diego Angarita Horowitz, a Hampshire College graduate who's worked at Nuestras Raices and at Coop Power here in the Pioneer Valley. He's now pursuing an MBA, and hopes to "use for-profit smarts for non-profit goals," including sustainable energy, climate change, and environmental and food justice.
CISA's events page is absolutely packed with farm tours, field days, festivals, and more! Here are a few highlights:   
Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival
August 22, 8am-5pm
Red Fire Farm, Granby
The Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival is a great day at the farm, with everything from a 5K Tomato Trot field race to hay rides to cooking demonstrations to live music to crafters and a smorgasbord of local fare from area producers. Come and visit! Find more info here.

Greenfield Free Harvest Supper
August 23, 4:30-6:30pm
Court Square, Greenfield
The Free Harvest Supper is an annual community event celebrating local food, farms, and community. Donations collected support the Farmers' Market Coupon Program established by the Center for Self-Reliance. The supper features a bountiful free meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs (spearheaded by Hope and Olive and Magpie), as well as live music, children's activities, educational displays, and the hugely successful "Really, Really Free Market" where all are welcome to bring home produce from the season's overflow donated by farmers and gardeners. Find more details here.

Film Screening: A Long Row in Fertile Ground
August 27, 5:30-7:30pm
Evangelical Covenant Church, 915 Plumtree Road, Springfield
The Springfield Food Policy Council is hosting a screening of this recent WGBY documentary, which highlights local farmers and food in western New England and tells the story of our agricultural legacy. A light dinner will be served. Please RSVP to Johnetta Baymon at 413-263-6500, ext. 6539. Find more details here

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