Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture: Annual Report 2019

Greetings during this challenging time.

At the time of this writing, the spread of COVID-19 is shaping the coming year for CISA, the farms and businesses we work with, and our entire world in unexpected and still undetermined ways. This crisis has required a sudden shift in our priorities as we work to limit disruption to our local food system, especially small local businesses and the most vulnerable members of our community.

Still, this Annual Report gives us an opportunity to share the results of our work in 2019, and reflect on how the foundation we’ve laid will guide us. We spent the final year of the decade solidifying our work and looking to the future. We grappled with the complicated issues that will shape our local food system and guide our work for the years to come.

We have a long track record of building connections between our local communities and local farms, and of providing training and support to help farm businesses grow and navigate obstacles. As we move into a new decade, farm viability remains core to our work. At the same time, we have deepened our understanding of how intractable social issues like climate change, racism, income inequality, and immigration policy intersect with our local food system.

The local food system we’re building here must not be a microcosm of the troubled global food system, but rather a resilient and diverse local food economy where farms are viable, working conditions are fair and just for owners and workers, the environment is respected, and locally grown food is available for all.

We are glad that the groundwork we laid in 2019 is solid enough to guide our work and thinking about the future, even as we adapt that thinking to include the impacts of a pandemic. Please read on for a snapshot of our work in 2019 and how we’re looking ahead.

Respectfully yours,

Al Griggs, CISA Board President
Al Griggs signature

Al Griggs
CISA Board President

Philip Korman, CISA Executive Director
Philip Korman signature

Philip Korman
Executive Director

Farm Business Success

Farm Business Success

A vibrant local food system depends on local farm businesses that are financially stable and have access to reliable markets. CISA works directly with local farms to improve their business skills and builds the market for local food through promotion and education aimed at the general public.

Diemand Farm, Wendell   Elizabeth Solaka photo

Farm Business Success

Marketing workshop Marketing workshop   CISA photo

Direct support to local farms

CISA’s technical assistance program links farmers to information and experts through workshops, networking opportunities, intensive one-on-one support, and referrals.

Our 2019 Winter Workshop Series focused on branding, marketing, and reaching new customers, which is an area of ongoing need for local farmers. Additional workshops focused on a range of topics, including: skill-building for supervisors and crew managers; maximizing point-of-sale systems; and a special presentation called “Serving Social and Economic Justice on the Farm.” In 2019, CISA’s technical assistance program provided direct support to 269 farmers, market managers, and business owners.

Building connections and engaging the community

Community support for local farms is vital to their success. CISA connects the community to local farms by providing opportunities for farmers to share their stories and experiences, and by sharing analysis of complex issues.

Wellspring Harvest, Springfield, CISA photo Wellspring Harvest, Springfield  CISA photo
Local Hero Spotlight: Wellspring Harvest
WRSI, April 1, 2019

Fred Rose talks about Wellspring’s cooperative model and growing lettuce in Springfield in the largest urban greenhouses in the state. Listen:

Hettie Belle Farm, Warwick, CISA photo Hettie Belle Farm, Warwick  CISA photo
Valley Bounty:
Lamb with Hettie Belle Farm
Daily Hampshire Gazette, April 8, 2019

Jennifer Core explained that as the family cares for the flock throughout the winter months, they keep a careful eye on the ewes’ swelling bellies. “We’re constantly playing family games about how many lambs we think are in this sheep or that sheep. We all make our predictions, and everyone has their favorite.” Once lambing season begins in mid-February, her daughters celebrate it like a second Christmas. “You don’t know what will be awaiting you every time you go to the barn!” Read more …

Guest Column: The View from the National Agricultural Census
Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 28, 2019

The Ag Census highlights the reality that our local food system, and the condition of local farms, doesn’t function independently of the larger world. Even as agriculture here takes its own Massachusetts-specific shape, farmers in our region face many of the same challenges as their peers throughout the nation. Read more …

Peter Melnik, Bar-Way Farm, Deerfield, CISA photo Peter Melnik, Bar-Way Farm, Deerfield  CISA photo
Local Hero Spotlight: Bar-Way Farm
WRSI, August 16, 2019

Steve and Peter Melnik, the father-son duo who run Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield, talk about celebrating their dairy farm’s 100th year and their recent strides towards sustainability, including their methane digester which uses cow manure and food waste to power 5,000 homes each day. Listen:

Video: Daily Operation and Warner Farm
September 20, 2019

“Daily Operation definitely wouldn’t be the same without River Rock Farm, without that specific beef. Same thing goes for Kitchen Garden Farm and all the things they grow, and the same thing goes for Warner Farm. Like, when it’s time for corn, there’s only one corn that I’m gonna buy for the restaurant, you know, from Warner.” We interviewed David Schrier of Daily Operation about the ethos and specific magic behind the restaurant. Watch:

Guest Column: The Next Generation of Farmers Needs Support
Daily Hampshire Gazette, October 31, 2019

Farmers need support at every stage of their business, whether they are brand new or many decades in. But as we consider the future of our local food system, we must take special care to ensure that young farmers have equitable pathways into agriculture. Read more …

Field Notes

In November, CISA’s 2nd annual Field Notes: An Afternoon of Storytelling brought ten local people to the stage to tell their true local food and farm stories. You can watch the whole moving, hilarious event here.

Here’s a highlight: When Nancy Hanson’s father woke her up in the middle of the night yelling “feet on the floor,” she knew it could only mean one thing: the cows were out. Watch:

Climate Change
and the Environment

Climate Change and the Environment

Farmers are among the first in our region to face the challenges of a changing climate, which poses a deep threat to our society and environment. We are focused on helping farmers prepare for and adapt to these changes.

Sweethaven Farm & Flowers, Ashfield   CISA photo

Climate Change and the Environment

CISA’s Commitment to Addressing Climate Change

CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund, established in 2012, was created to help farmers survive the financial losses resulting from extreme weather events—but we know that an emergency stopgap isn’t enough to prepare our region for the changes to come. In 2019, we convened a Climate Change Task Force made up of CISA board and staff, farmers, activists, and experts. This group set CISA’s three-pronged approach to climate change for 2020 and beyond:

  • Increase CISA’s technical support for farmers who want to change their on-farm practices to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
  • Advocate for policies that support farmers in addressing climate change, including expansion of funding for renewable energy and on-farm approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Continue to grow CISA’s expertise on climate change issues and educate the public about how climate change and agriculture intersect.

Pollinator Habitat at Astarte Farm

Astarte Farm, Hadley Astarte Farm, Hadley  Astarte Farm photo

Farms host complex ecosystems, and supporting a healthy range of plant, animal, and insect life is foundational to environmentally friendly farming practices.

The farmers at Astarte Farm, a 6.5 acre vegetable farm in Hadley, have received support from CISA to develop and maintain habitat for pollinators and beneficial predators. This practice supports the farm’s commitment to no-spray, no-till agriculture by increasing yields and reducing pest pressure. No-till farming practices contribute to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon. Successful experimentation and modeling by small farms like Astarte is vital to the possibility that larger farms may be able to adopt this practice.

Farmer Dan Pratt says, “We’ve been focused on establishing beneficial plants in the organic buffer zone around our field and building the first “beetle bank” in New England! For that, we built a raised structure in the field which is planted with perennial grasses that attract ground beetles that nest around their roots. They come out at night and do a wonderful job as predators. Our cucumber plants used to be eaten alive by cucumber beetles, and by establishing the appropriate flowering crops we now hardly see any cucumber beetles at all.”

Chicoine Family Farm, Easthampton, CISA photo
Chicoine Family Farm, Easthampton   CISA photo

Read More: Land Use and Local Farms

Daily Hampshire Gazette, August 26, 2019

A vast new report, Climate Change and Land, from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, lays out in stark detail the impacts of human land use on global warming and the opportunities that land offers for remediation and adaptation to a changing climate. Read CISA’s analysis of this report.

Farm Labor

Farm Labor

We envision a system where farm viability isn’t at odds with equitable pay and good working conditions for people who work on farms. CISA is committed to working with farm owners, farmworkers and the organizations that represent them, and residents of our region to understand this complex issue and work towards sustainable, equitable change.

This is a new area of work for us. 2019 has been a year of learning, building new connections with partners, and working to identify how CISA’s existing areas of expertise and relationships can contribute to ongoing work led by others.

Quonquont Farm, Whately   Elizabeth Solaka photo

Farm Labor

Lessons for English Language Learners

In 2019, CISA established a new partnership with the Massachusetts Migrant Education Program (MMEP). With the help of an experienced English teacher and a wonderful group of volunteer instructors with farm experience, we are supporting English language instruction for 14 farmworkers who would otherwise be ineligible for MMEP’s services.

Work and Family Mobility Act

CISA supports the advocacy effort that would make undocumented immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses. We believe that Massachusetts should take this practical step towards acknowledging our reliance on the 200,000 undocumented immigrants who live in the state, as fourteen other states have already done. CISA staffer Kristen Wilmer presented CISA’s testimony in support of the Work and Family Mobility Act at the State House on September 4, 2019. Read CISA’s testimony.



CISA’s vision is of a local food system where local farms can thrive, and where nutritious, culturally appropriate local food is available to everyone. Our mainstream food system puts these goals at odds, pitting the needs of people with low incomes against the needs of people who grow food—with real consequences for everyone. We support programs that build connections between people facing hunger and local farmers.

Golonka Farm, North Hatfield   Leslie Lynn Lucio photo


Healthy Incentives Program Farmers’ Market at Forest Park, Springfield   CISA photo

Healthy Incentives Program

HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) is a statewide program that provides an instant rebate when people use SNAP to buy fruits and vegetables directly from participating local farms. At the close of 2019, HIP had helped 71,000 families purchase $14.1 million of local produce since its inception in 2017.

In 2019, CISA served as a link between farm HIP vendors and HIP clients, enabling customers to find locations where they could earn their HIP benefit and stay abreast of program changes. CISA is also a key member of a statewide coalition that secured an increase in funding for HIP, from $6.35 million in FY2019 to $8.5 million in FY2020.

As we look ahead to 2020, CISA and partners around the state are advocating for more funding in the FY2021 state budget to meet the needs of the growing number of people receiving SNAP benefits, to keep the program running year-round, and to allow more farmer vendors to process HIP benefits. To stay abreast of ongoing advocacy in support of HIP, bookmark the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative’s website.

Senior FarmShare

Since 2004, CISA’s Senior FarmShare program has provided low-income seniors with 10 weeks of fresh, local vegetables at the height of the growing season. In 2019, Senior FarmShare served 423 seniors in partnership with 11 local farms and 14 distribution partners, including Senior Centers, Councils on Aging, and senior housing facilities.

Feedback from Senior FarmShare participants:

“If I didn’t have the produce to supplement my meals, I would have had to go without the nutrition my body needed. Because I have stomach issues, there’s not a lot I can eat. So I would say the produce saved my life.”
—Stone Soup Farm member, pickup at The Urban League Springfield


“I grew up on all fresh vegetable and grass-fed meat, as my uncles had a huge farm in Ashfield. Ma and my father always planted a huge garden and had many kinds of fruit at our home. The Senior FarmShare has enabled me to continue to eat all fresh, healthy, vegetables for the season for the past five years.”
—Lyonsville Farm member, pickup at the Greenfield Farmers’ Market

Read More: Hunger and Local Farms

Daily Hampshire Gazette, November 25, 2019

During the last half-century, hunger rates have more than doubled while food prices have fallen by 42%. While falling food prices have not solved the problem of hunger, they’ve exacerbated the challenges of farm viability. Farms throughout the country have felt the squeeze, with an 18.9% drop in agricultural land nationwide since 1964, and a 35.3% drop in the number of farms. Read CISA’s analysis of this conundrum.



Board of Directors as of 12.31.19

Insiyah Mohammad Bergeron
ICA Group, Cooperative Developer

Glenroy Buchanan
Pioneer Valley Growers Co-op, Owner

Ben Clark
Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Owner

Al Griggs, Chair

Nancy Hanson*
Hampshire College Farm, Manager

Helen Kahn, Clerk
Former owner, Cup and Top Café

Amy Klippenstein
Sidehill Farm, Co-owner

John Kokoski
Mapleline Farm, Owner

Steve Kulik
Former State Representative

Beth Lorenz*
Greenfield Vehicle Inspection Station, Owner

Sasha Palmer*
Director of School Food Service, Public Schools of Brookline

Caroline Pam
Kitchen Garden Farm, Co-owner

Shawn Robinson, Vice Chair
Prospect Meadow Farm, Farm Director

Catherine Sands
Fertile Ground, Founding Director
UMass Stockbridge School, adjunct

Pete Solis, Treasurer
Mockingbird Farm, Owner

Casey Steinberg
Old Friends Farm, Co-owner

Elizabeth Wroblicka*
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Chief of Wildlife Lands


Noah Baustin
Communications Coordinator

Alexis Breiteneicher
Development Director

Margaret Christie
Special Projects Director

Kelly Coleman
Program Director

John Eichholz

Emma Gwyther
Development Associate

Lisabeth Jasniewicz
Development Coordinator*

Philip Korman
Executive Director

Mia Kortebein
Program Coordinator*

Claire Morenon
Communications Manager

Stevie Schafenacker
Program Coordinator

Zoey Sloate
Program Coordinator

Brian Snell
Communications Coordinator*

Devon Whitney-Deal
Local Hero Manager

Jennifer Williams
Office Manager

Kristen Wilmer
Program Coordinator

*Stepped down in 2019



Hover, click, or tap the charts below for more information. Download this pdf for a comparison with FY2018.

Revenue and Support
Net Assets

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 2019:

River Valley Coop
Greenfield Northampton Cooperative bank
Farm Credit East PeoplesBank UMass Five College Federal Credit Union

Thank you to the 1,100 people who gave nearly $400,000 to support our work!

CISA is proud to work with many partners throughout Massachusetts and beyond. To learn more about our partner organizations, click here.

To learn more about our funding partners, click here.