Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture: Annual Report 2017


with Nancy Hanson, Board Chair and Philip Korman, Executive Director

CISA at a Glance

274 local hero farms in 2017 25 years of CISA making an impact 75 farmers’ markets, CSAs and farm stands accept SNAP/HIP 180 farms and businesses received Technical Assistance in 2017
274 local hero farms in 2017 25 years of CISA making an impact 75 farmers’ markets, CSAs and farm stands accept SNAP/HIP 180 farm and business owners received Technical Assistance in 2017

2017 Highlights

For 25 years we’ve provided technical assistance to farms in the Valley.

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!

2017 Highlights

Healthy Incentives Program (HIP)

Rainbow Harvest at Forest Park Farmers’ Market, Springfield, CISA photo Rainbow Harvest at Forest Park Farmers’ Market, Springfield   CISA photo

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.

2017 Highlights

Technical Assistance

Lean Farming at Outlook Farm, Leslie Lynn Lucio photo Lean Farming workshop at Outlook Farm   Leslie Lynn Lucio photo

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.

Riverwood Farm, Haydenville, Massachusetts“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

Farm Support

In 2017 we dug in to provide more technical assistance to farms. Read on to learn more!

Sidehill Farm, CISA photo Sidehill Farm   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 Safety

Amherst Farmers’ Market, photo by Rachel Chandler-Worth Amherst Farmers’ Market   Rachel Chandler-Worth photo

In 2017, farmers worked to comply with recent federal food safety regulations. CISA helped by:

  • Hosting a workshop demonstrating on-farm produce wash systems and equipment at Atlas Farm.
  • Connecting farms to expert help at UMass and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
  • Helping farmers with grant applications for programs that fund food safety related improvements.

Beginning Farmers

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 ownersNutwood 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

2017 Highlights

Promoting Local

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!

Gardening the Community, CISA photo CISA photo

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!

Kristen Whittle, Little Brook Farm“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

Restaurant Promotion

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.

Chef Chris Menegoni, CISA photo Chef Chris Menegoni   CISA photo

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, Leslie Lynn Lucio photo Belly of the Beast, Northampton    Leslie Lynn Lucio photo

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

Farms & Community for 25 Years

CISA staff

CISA celebrates 25 years of supporting farms in the Pioneer Valley! 2018 marks our quarter century—we couldn’t have done it without farms, committed partners, and supporters!

Use the arrows to navigate the timeline and click on the year in the horizontal scrollbar above to read more.
  1. CISA celebrates 25 years of supporting farms in the Pioneer Valley! 2018 marks our quarter century—we couldn’t have done it without farms, committed partners, and supporters!




    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.


    Massachusetts College of Agriculture1863—Massachusetts College of Agriculture (now the University of Massachusetts) is founded in Amherst.


    Special Collections, UMass Amherst Libraries
  2. 1972–1982

    Farmers’ markets launched in Amherst, Northampton, Greenfield, and Holyoke; Springfield wholesale market opens to the general public.

  3. 1993

    Pioneer Valley Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (PVASA), precursor to CISA, begins regular meetings. Coordinating Council Members, CISA photo

    Coordinating Council Members   CISA photo
  4. 1994

    Kellogg Foundation logo 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.

  5. 1996

    CISA launches the FarmNet Information and Referral hotline—the start of our technical assistance program. Farmland, CISA photo CISA photo

  6. 1998

    Members of CISA’s Dairy Action Group launch Our Family Farms milk marketing cooperative. Warren Facey of Bree-Z-Knoll Farm, Leyden, CISA photo Warren Facey of Bree-Z-Knoll Farm, Leyden   CISA photo

  7. 1999

    Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown® campaign is launched with farm and retail members at Nourse Farms in Whately. Nourse Farms native strawberries available at Stop & Shop, CISA photo

    Nourse Farms native strawberries available at Stop & Shop   CISA photo
  8. Maggie Zaccara, Bottle of Bread, Rachel Chandler-Worth photo2000

    Restaurants are added to CISA’s Local Hero campaign.


    Maggie Zaccara, Bottle of Bread   Rachel Chandler-Worth photo

  9. Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Jason Threlfall photo2001

    Communities around the country replicate CISA’s local promotion efforts, many with help from CISA staff and a printed toolkit.


    Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield   Jason Threlfall photo

  10. 2004

    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.Holyoke Senior Center participants visit Riverland Farm, Sunderland, CISA photo Holyoke Senior Center participants visit Riverland Farm, Sunderland   CISA photo

  11. 2005

    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. Women in Agriculture Network retreat, CISA photo Women in Ag retreat   CISA photo

  12. UMass Amherst FarmFest 2006, CISA photo 2006

    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.


    UMass Amherst FarmFest 2006   CISA photo

  13. 2008

    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! Greenfield Winter Fare 2009, Jason Threlfall photo Greenfield Winter Fare 2009   Jason Threlfall photo

  14. 2009

    Pioneer Valley Grows logo 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.

  15. 2010

    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. Northampton Winter Fare 2010, Rachel Chandler-Worth photo Northampton Winter Fare 2010   Rachel Chandler-Worth photo

  16. 2011

    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. Natural Roots flooding from Hurricane Irene, CISA photo Natural Roots flooding from Hurricane Irene   CISA photo

  17. 2012

    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. Forest Park Farmers’ Market, Springfield, CISA photo Forest Park Farmers’ Market, Springfield   CISA photo

  18. 2014

    PVGrows Investment Fund logoCISA 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.

  19. 2015

    The Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan was launched—CISA provided valuable insight to help inform the final plan.


    Harold Grinspoon logoCISA 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!

  20. 2016

    Senior FarmShare distribution at Mason Square Senior Center, Springfield, CISA photo 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.

    Senior FarmShare distribution at Mason Square Senior Center, Springfield   CISA photo

  21. 2017

    CISA deepens technical assistance support and has a staff member trained in whole farm planning.


    HIP logoHIP 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. Workshop and networking event at the Northampton Brewery, Elizabeth Solaka photo Workshop and networking event at the Northampton Brewery   Elizabeth Solaka photo

  22. 2018

    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. CISA: Farms & Community for 25 Years


Board of Directors
as of 12-31-17

Nancy Hanson, Chair
Director, Hampshire College Farm

Al Griggs, Vice Chair
Community Philanthropist

Pete Solis, Treasurer
Owner, Mockingbird Farm

Elizabeth Wroblicka, Clerk
Attorney, Etheredge & Steuer

Glenroy Buchanan
Pioneer Valley Growers Collaborative

Ben Clark
Owner, Clarkdale Fruit Farms

Ronn Johnson
CEO, MLK Family Services Center

Helen Kahn
Community Member

Amy Klippenstein
Co-owner, Sidehill Farm

John Kokoski
Owner, Mapleline Farm

Gene Kosinski
Owner, Kosinski Farm

Beth Lorenz
Owner, Vehicle Inspection Center

Rachel Moore
Director of Gift Planning, Deerfield Academy

Risa Silverman
Coordinator, Office for Public Health Practice & Outreach

Casey Steinberg
Co-owner, Old Friends Farm


Philip Korman
Executive Director

Noah Baustin
Program Coordinator

Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director

Kelly Coleman
Program Director

Regina Gillis
Financial Manager

Lisabeth Jasniewicz
Development Coordinator

Mia Kortebein
Program Coordinator

Claire Morenon
Communications Manager

Stevie Schafenacker
Program Coordinator

Alexis Schneeflock
Development Director

Brian Snell
Communications Coordinator

Aja Talarico
Program Associate

Devon Whitney-Deal
Local Hero Program Manager

Jennifer Williams
Office Manager

Kristen Wilmer
Program Coordinator


Thanks to our longstanding generous donors Brian Adams and Morey Phippen!

CISA’s roof with solar, Northeast solar photo
CISA’s roof with solar!   Northeast Solar photo

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.

We’d like to thank all our business sponsors, your investment in the community is tremendous and appreciated. A special callout to our top business supporters in 2017:

River Valley Coop
PeoplesBank Greenfield Northampton Cooperative bank Lightlife UMassFive College Federal Credit Union


Hover, click, or tap the charts below for more information. Download this pdf for a comparison with FY2016.

Revenue and Support
Net Assets

Thank you to the 1,200 people who gave over $436,000 to support our work!

Watch the video below for a short video about why one donor is inspired to support CISA!