with Nancy Hanson, Board Chair and Philip Korman, Executive Director
with Nancy Hanson, Board Chair and Philip Korman, Executive Director
Over that time, we’ve gone from responding to emergency phone calls on a CISA hotline to supporting hundreds of farms through workshops and one-on-one technical assistance to grow their businesses and build resilience to survive tough times. We’ve seen the number of farmers’ markets grow from 10 in 2002 to 36 in 2017 across the three counties!
Interested in what we’re planning for 2018? Click here to read our new strategic plan!
CISA partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the Department of Transitional Assistance to roll out HIP in 2017. HIP is a new instant rebate program that benefits both SNAP recipients and local farmers. This exciting new program lowers the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP clients, and brings new customers and increased sales for farm stands, CSAs, and farmers’ markets. Read more...
We helped enroll 55 western Massachusetts farmers in HIP—but there are so many more farmers, markets, and SNAP clients who could benefit from the program. In the first seven months of the program, all available funds were exhausted. We are working with our elected officials to push for additional funding, but the future of the program remains uncertain.
In 2017, we supported 180 farms and businesses through our technical assistance workshops, referrals, and 1:1 assistance.
Riverwood Farm is a new farm. This year, owner Diego Irizarry-Gerould attended a CISA workshop and our Fall “Meet and Greet” networking meeting.
“I am continuously surprised and grateful for the CISA staff’s commitment to assisting local farmers. A number of times now, CISA folks have reached out to me with helpful information or notified me of new workshops. Thank you!”
—Diego Irizarry-Gerould, Riverwood Farm, Haydenville, Massachusetts
In 2017 we dug in to provide more technical assistance to farms. Read on to learn more!CISA photo
We hosted an on-farm rotational grazing workshop at Sidehill Farm in Hawley to share expert advice about pasture management.
“It was a very enjoyable, informative workshop, and since the farm that hosted it and the presenters were similar to ours (grass-fed, raw milk, yogurt, beef, etc.) it was very relatable.”
—Jennifer Courser, Courser Meadows
Food SafetyRachel Chandler-Worth photo
In 2017, farmers worked to comply with recent federal food safety regulations. CISA helped by:
CISA continues to work with beginning farmers thanks to funding from the USDA. Over 100 Local Hero farms have been farming for 10 years or less. Since the grant started, CISA staff have worked with 75 beginning farmers.
Nutwood Farm • Cummington
One of the beginning farms that we’ve worked with, Nutwood Farm, uses regenerative agriculture techniques to grow tree nuts like hazelnuts, Chinese and American chestnuts, English walnuts, pecans, hickories, butternuts, Japanese heartnuts, and Korean stone pines. Read the full profile...
Nutwood Farm photo
“We are grateful to CISA for supporting beginning farmers like us and for the opportunity to build our network and connect with others working to understand and develop successful new ventures in the Northeast.”
—Seva Tower, owner, Nutwood Farm
Inherent in our mission is promoting local food and agriculture to the community. In addition to our print and on-line Farm Products Guide we bring the voices of farmers to the airwaves. There are a number of ways that we do this—many of which you’re probably seen!
Over the summer, we partnered with Gardening the Community’s youth farmers to tour farmers’ markets and share best practices for setting up an enticing farmers’ market stall. The youth then used what they learned to improve their own market stall!
“I tell other farmers all the time that being a CISA member is the most well-spent advertising money. CISA has done more to create a local market than anything else you could be a part of. MOST of my new meat and egg customers seem to come through CISA!”
—Kristen Whittle, Little Brook Farm
Kristen Whittle photo
Farms were the first Local Hero members, but in 2000 we added a membership category for restaurants and we’ve been partnering with them to promote local ever since! Here’s a sample of some of the fun events we collaborated on in 2017.
Great Falls Harvest
Great Falls Harvest in Turners Falls offered a special Tastings and Pairings dinner featuring a variety of prepared dishes paired with local beverages featuring many local businesses. Diners got to chat with some of the farmers who supplied the ingredients and Chef Chris Menegoni!
“I enjoy the challenge of making things taste good with simple, local ingredients,” remarks Chef Chris. “It’s more satisfying.”
Rosie the Riveter Dinner
Belly of the Beast in Northampton celebrated local women in agriculture with a special multi-course pop-up dinner featuring three local farms with women at the helm:
“Although I saw so much signage about CISA around western Massachusetts through the years, I really had no idea how incredible an organization it was until we opened and were able to work with you all. It’s a dream to have you guys here doing such great work in the community!”
—Aimee Francaes, owner, Belly of the Beast
Agriculture has long played an important role in this community and many entities have supported farming, laying the groundwork for the agricultural community we know today.
1863—Massachusetts College of Agriculture (now the University of Massachusetts) is founded in Amherst.
Farmers’ markets launched in Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, and Holyoke; Springfield wholesale market opens to the general public.
Pioneer Valley Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (PVASA), precursor to CISA, begins regular meetings.CISA photo
Six PVASA partner organizations—Earth Arts Institute, Hampshire College, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, New England Small Farm Institute, Nuestras Raíces, and University of Massachusetts—receive a Kellogg Foundation grant to form CISA.
CISA launches the FarmNet Information and Referral hotline—the start of our technical assistance program. CISA photo
Members of CISA’s Dairy Action Group launch Our Family Farms milk marketing cooperative. CISA photo
Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown® campaign is launched with farm and retail members at Nourse Farms in Whately.CISA photo
Restaurants are added to CISA’s Local Hero campaign.
Communities around the country replicate CISA’s local promotion efforts, many with help from CISA staff and a printed toolkit.
Senior FarmShare program launches! CISA pays farms to grow produce for low-income seniors in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire County. In 2018, we will provide 420 shares. CISA photo
CISA starts the Women in Agriculture network, providing training and networking opportunities specifically to women. From 2010 to 2015, we offered a statewide whole farm planning course to women. CISA photo
CISA fosters connections between farms and large employers by opening the Local Hero program to colleges, hospitals, and other institutions, helping them source from local farms, and supporting workplace CSA distributions and farmers’ markets.
Winter Fare, the first winter farmers’ market in Massachusetts, is launched in Greenfield. It was a one-day market—in 2018 there are five winter farmers’ markets, most open every week! Jason Threlfall photo
CISA staffs Pioneer Valley Grows, a collaborative network dedicated to enhancing the ecological and economic sustainability of our food system. Today we’re still actively involved in PVGrows! In 2018, the network offers a discussion series on racial equity in the food system, and a one-day forum focused on immigration and the food system, land access for urban and rural farmers, and civic engagement to support food access.
CISA, with other organizations, helps get the Massachusetts Food Policy Council created. The FPC brings together governmental and non-governmental reps to support farming and encourage programs that bring healthy foods to everyone in the state.
CISA brings Winter Fare to Northampton—2,000 people attend the one-day market featuring locally grown food. Rachel Chandler-Worth photo
We fundraised for and launched the Emergency Farm Fund after flooding from Hurricane Irene severely damaged area farms. We offer 0% interest loans to farms affected by severe weather. CISA photo
Hampden County is selected by the USDA for the Healthy Incentives pilot, which gave a financial incentive to SNAP customers when they bought fruits and vegetables. The Pilot laid the groundwork for the statewide Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), launched in 2017. CISA photo
CISA is a partner on the PVGrows Investment Fund, administered by the Franklin County CDC. The fund builds on an earlier pilot, offering financing to food and farm businesses, but adds the option for community members to invest in local food businesses.
The Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan was launched—CISA provided valuable insight to help inform the final plan.
CISA and Berkshire Grown farm members are all eligible for a new $2,500 infrastructure award through the Grinspoon Farmer Awards. To date 130 awards have been given!
CISA’s Local Food for All campaign raises $100,000 to match SNAP at farmers’ markets across the Valley and increase the number of Senior FarmShares we can offer.
The Emergency Farm Fund is opened again to help farms impacted by stone fruit crop loss and drought.
CISA receives a federal grant that allows local farm advocacy groups across the state to support beginning farmers.
CISA deepens technical assistance support and has a staff member trained in whole farm planning.
HIP launches, providing an instant rebate to SNAP recipients buying fruits and vegetables from Massachusetts farms, and CISA provides critical support to help farmers’ market vendors, CSA farms, and farm stands participate. Farmers see increased sales and new customers—a huge success—followed by a statewide effort to ensure ongoing funding for the program. Elizabeth Solaka photo
CISA celebrates 25 years of strengthening farms and communities with a renewed commitment to our vision of a resilient local food economy in which farms are viable, working conditions are fair and just, the environment is respected, and locally grown food is available to all.
Nancy Hanson, Chair
Director, Hampshire College Farm
Al Griggs, Vice Chair
Pete Solis, Treasurer
Owner, Mockingbird Farm
Elizabeth Wroblicka, Clerk
Attorney, Etheredge & Steuer
Pioneer Valley Growers Collaborative
Owner, Clarkdale Fruit Farms
CEO, MLK Family Services Center
Co-owner, Sidehill Farm
Owner, Mapleline Farm
Owner, Kosinski Farm
Owner, Vehicle Inspection Center
Director of Gift Planning, Deerfield Academy
Coordinator, Office for Public Health Practice & Outreach
Co-owner, Old Friends Farm
Special Projects Director
Local Hero Program Manager
In partnership with Northeast Solar, Brian and Morey paid to install solar panels on our building in the fall of 2017. We are just one of the nonprofits in the Valley that are a recipient of Brian and Morey’s generosity and creativity! We’re reducing operating costs and going green.
View a complete list of our current business partners.
Hover, click, or tap the charts below for more information. Download this pdf for a comparison with FY2016.
Watch the video below for a short video about why one donor is inspired to support CISA!