CISA names ‘Local Heroes’

May 30, 2013
The Recorder
Richie Davis

Leyden dairy farmer Warren Facey, Greenfield’s Hope & Olive restaurant, and area land trusts are the recipients of this year’s Local Hero awards from Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.

“We honor Warren Facey for his dedication to improving profitability and quality of life for farmers; Hope & Olive … for demonstrating true commitment to local sourcing and community-building; and the land trusts of the Pioneer Valley for protecting farmland, the fundamental resource needed to grow local food,” said CISA Executive Director Philip Korman. “Taken together, they constitute essential ingredients in strengthening the local food system.”

Facey, who began farming in 1972, is a founder of the Our Family Farms milk-marketing cooperative, who has advocated consistently for improved business conditions and quality of life for farmers, said Korman. “Warren has always been a farmer who thinks about more than just his own farm. Warren thinks about all farmers in everything that he does,” he said.

Facey worked with other Pioneer Valley dairy farmers to create Our Family Farms, which began direct sales of milk around the region beginning in 1998. His family’s Bree-Z-Knoll Farm continues to milk 170 cows twice a day and has preserved much of its 350 acres for agricultural use.

Our Family Farms, which grew out of a CISA working group in the years after the collapse of the Northeast Dairy Compact, was built on the increased consumer awareness of local farm products as a result of CISA’s “Local Hero” campaign, said Facey, who added he was “very proud” of getting the recognition.

Hope & Olive restaurant gets its products from an array of local producers to create its seasonal menu and its sense of community as “part of its mission,” said Korman. “They wouldn’t do it any other way.”

The Greenfield restaurant, owned and operated by siblings Maggie and Jim Zaccara and their friend and partner Evelyn Wulfkuhle, plays a leading role in Greenfield’s annual Free Harvest Supper by opening its kitchen and coordinating preparation of food that local farms and restaurants donate for the event. The restaurant also hosts a monthly Free Soup and Game Night to benefit a designated nonprofit cause.

The Pioneer Valley’s land trusts — including Franklin Land Trust and Mount Grace Land Trust — have worked creatively and consistently to protect farmland and ensure long-term access to land for local farmers, said Korman.

Also recognized by CISA, which marks its 20th year this year, are Kestrel Land Trust, Pascommuck Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations for their role in protecting the land base, including preservation of farmland and helping to address issues of affordable access for farmers. That activity is “critical to our region’s ability to produce food, and to CISA’s announced goal of nurturing a larger and more robust local food system that is capable of doubling the proportion of local food in our diets in the next 20 years,” CISA said in announcing the 11th annual award winners.

The awards, “given to individuals, institutions and businesses that are committed to promoting and strengthening local agriculture, and have demonstrated long-term vision, social responsibility, and/or an environmental ethic in their work,” will be presented at CISA’s annual meeting next spring.