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Buy Local for the Holidays!

All the winter holidays look very different this year — and thinking local for your gifts, holiday decorations, and special meals is a great way to build local connections and support local businesses. Local farmers and artisans are producing all sorts of tantalizing, delicious, cozy, and beautiful items for your loved ones and for your own table. CISA has looked to our hundreds of Local Hero farms, food producers, retailers, and other members for inspiration.

One easy gift for yourself or a loved one is a CISA tote bag loaded with goodies from local farms and businesses! This gift directly benefits the local food economy and CISA’s efforts to support it.

Give Food!

Prepared foods: Share the season’s harvest through the winter by gifting savory and sweet preserves, dips, mustards, pesto, salad dressing, salsa, relish, sauces, apple butter, honey, maple products, pickles, smoked meats, and more. Many farmers and specialty producers make prepared foods that use local ingredients. You can also find local baked goods, or dry goods like local popcorn.

Cheese: Yes, cheese gets its own category! We’ve got local farms creating beautiful, delicious cheeses that make great gifts, especially with a loaf of local bread or a bottle of local spirits.

Farm Shares and Gift Cards: Several farms sell gift certificates good for purchases at farm stands or farmers’ markets, including Atlas Farm, Old Friends Farm, Blossoming Acres, Diemand Farm, North Hadley Sugar Shack, Red Fire Farm, Upinngil Farm and more. Farmers’ market tokens and market merchandise like shopping bags are a great way to offer your giftee the opportunity to purchase from farms they like and choose items they want most.

You can also give a farm share from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, which provides your giftee with a weekly share of produce, eggs, flowers, meat, or other farm products during the growing season.

Crafts and Body Products

Fiber: Local fiber farmers offer scarves, hats, mittens and other cozy gifts made from local fiber, and beautiful yarn and fleece for the knitters and crafters in your life.

Crafts and Candles: Candles made from local beeswax, and fun, decorative crafts like gourd birdhouses to light up your loved ones’ homes.

Body products: Look for local health and beauty items, such as lip balms made with local beeswax, handmade soap, and lotions for all-natural body care.

Wood products: Consider wooden bowls, cutting boards, and other wood products made from local wood.

Setting the table

Local drinks: This one is a no-brainer. Make your year-end toasts with a bottle of local mead, wine, or hard cider!

For your smaller celebrations: More of us are marking the season in smaller family or friend units, or solo. One way to feel connected to our larger community is by choosing to put food from local farms on your table. Valley farmers offer great selections of sustainably raised meats and poultry, salad and braising greens, all kinds of root vegetables (including potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, onions, and more), winter squash, eggs and dairy, apples, pears, and other seasonal products all winter long. Our online guide can help you find food all year round.

Non-Tangible Gifts

Non-tangible gifts from local farms are a great idea. Summertime farm tours and petting zoos, and cross-country skiing in the winter offer opportunities to explore local farms firsthand. Give the gift of discovery and time together and invite your friends and family to explore with you!

Donating to a good cause is a thoughtful gift for anyone who supports local farms, but doesn’t want more “stuff.” Donating to CISA is one great option (or, we offer a “stuff” option too: CISA t-shirts, baby onesies, and more).

Holiday Decorations

This time of year, many people are decorating their homes with wreaths, swag, and Christmas trees. Evergreens from local farms are as fresh as they can be, and are grown by people who are stewarding land in our region.

CISA’s tips for finding local

Research: Our online guide offers a wealth of information about hundreds of Local Hero businesses throughout our region.

Read labels: Look for the Local Hero logo when making your local food and farm product purchases.

Stay committed: Sometimes you have to dig a bit to find them, but many of the foods we eat can be found locally. Just ask your grocery store produce manager where the local products are, and let them know you want them as an option.

Spread the wealth: Try serving locally sourced, in-season foodstuffs at your office party, or ordering menu items with farm-fresh ingredients at restaurants.