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Season of Berries Summer is the season of berry picking and canning! It’s the time of year when pies are baked and fruit is canned to enjoy during the colder months. During the months of July and August, blueberries become ready for picking. There are many farms in Western MA where you can pick your own berries, or farm stands and markets to purchase local berries to enjoy at home. At http://www.poets.org,… Read More

Farm life follows the path of the seasons. In March and April it’s a time of new life on the farm when animals are born. The most place-based of local baby animal-learning resources in Western Massachusetts are of course our local farms, many of which allow visitors to meet the animals they raise and rely upon both for food and for farm tasks. And at living history museums, folks can visit baby animals each spring such as newborn lambs, calves, and piglets while learning about historical farm practices.

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, August 29, 2016. This month Sienna and Lauren talked about agricultural fairs, fall festivals, one room schoolhouses and apples featured in the debut of “Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA.”

Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.

Funded in part by Mass Humanities, Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a NEW bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.

By emphasizing place-based exploration through humanities inquiry, these cultural itineraries connect residents of all ages to their place, helping to shape a more comprehensive understanding of our cultural identity, heritage, and history. This contributes to establishing meaningful relationships between young people and elders, and more active citizens.

With these FREE downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history and a strengthened sense of place. Click through to download a free 38-page PDF!

Summer offers learning opportunities that integrate culinary arts with botany and agriculture. In addition to many, year-round offerings of culinary workshops and resources in Western Massachusetts, seasonal events such as guided wild plant walks can open up new doorways of interests and add local, fresh ingredients to your cooking practice.

Whether you are interested in wild plant walks, gardening, farming, or cooking, there are ample opportunities for you and your family to connect with your community through food and plants. Here are several community-based educational resources and events to support your interests while engaging in your community this summer…

The MA Agriculture Calendar photo contest for the 2017 calendar is looking for pictures of all types agriculture. Even children can enter their photos since there is no age limit.

Needed are pictures of farms/activities featuring cranberries, maple sugaring, dairy, flowers, growing Christmas trees, fruit trees, and any farm animals.

Discover the complex story of Greenfield, a city stamped with impressive architecture, art history, diverse restaurants, community gardens, and an innovative eye to the future, during a day long tour, “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” This enriching trip weaves together the many aspects of community crucial to the workings of a vibrant and progressive city, and will provide a unique lens into learning about a diverse, yet connect, series of interests!

Amherst Cinema will screen the film “More than Honey,” partnering with CISA to bring a panel of local community members to discuss the vital relationship between humans and bees, and addresses the mysterious, drastic decline of honeybee colonies around the world in the last 15 years…

Agricultural fairs are an important tradition in New England, and all across the country. Such events showcase rural skills and traditions, and help to promote a strong connection between communities and their physical surroundings. Of course, families can learn about agriculture & rural skills by viewing displays, watching demonstrations, and meeting local experts. However, a learning opportunity that is perhaps even more valuable for kids is becoming a fair exhibitor!…

Pothole Pictures presents “Root Hog or Die” May 17th & 18th in Shelburne Falls, MA Nearly forty years after its first release, “Root Hog or Die,” the Franklin County documentary film on the last of the old time horse farmers in Western Massachusetts, re-appears on the big screen in Shelburne Falls. On Friday and Saturday, May 17th & 18th at 7:30pm, Pothole Pictures presents two screenings of “Root Hog or Die” in… Read More

Local premiere of Fresh to benefit the Northampton Community Farm! The film Fresh celebrates the innovative farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Grow Food Northampton hosts the area premiere of this inspiring film at the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, MA on Friday, November 5th at 7pm.  All proceeds go to buy prime farmland in Florence, MA for the establishment of the Northampton Community… Read More

UPDATE: Read about CISA’s 2011 Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide HERE. CISA’s 2010 Locally Grown: Farm Products Guide Summer is almost here, and the bounty of locally grown produce and agricultural products continues to grow. Western Massachusetts farms are geared up to provide everything from asparagus and alpaca wool to zucchini and zinnias. But where to begin your search for the best that Valley farms have to offer? With the annual Locally Grown:… Read More

The Future of Agriculture: Forum & Film FARMING FORUM On Thursday, May 13th at 7:00 pm, CISA is hosting a Local Food and Agriculture Forum at the Northampton Senior Center (67 Conz Street) to discuss the important role consumers, farmers and local government play in supporting a healthy, sustainable and thriving local food system. Please join CISA staff, Rep. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington), Rep. John Scibak (D- South Hadley), Cris Coffin of American… Read More

Research Shows Children are Critically Susceptible to Pesticides By Michael Jolliffe A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has revealed that children are dangerously vulnerable to the effects of environmental pesticides, and for far longer than originally suspected… … Of particular concern to the researchers were chlorpyrifos and diazinon, pesticide chemicals still used ubiquitously in US agriculture. Pesticides have been cited as a possible cause of developmental difficulties and… Read More

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