FAQ

General

What is CISA?

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or CISA, is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization working to strengthen farms and engage the community to build the local food economy in the Pioneer Valley region of western Massachusetts. CISA works with other ‘buy locals’ across the state to ensure agriculture continues to thrive in the Commonwealth. Check out these pages to learn more about our history and our programs.

What does ‘Local Hero’ mean?

Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown® is a marketing and awareness campaign aimed at promoting local farms, their products, and other local businesses that support them. Started in 1993, the Local Hero program is the longest-running and most comprehensive ‘buy local’ program for farm products in the country. With over 270 farms and over 150 restaurants, retailers, specialty producers, and institutions participating in our region, the Local Hero program continues to grow and strengthen the local food economy. You can read more about it here.

Who runs CISA?

CISA’s Board of Directors is made up of a mix of farmers and other community members with a stake in the local food economy. CISA’s professional staff works to implement CISA’s programs and spread the word about the local food movement.

Does CISA have a farm or sell food?

CISA does not own or operate any farmland, nor do we buy, sell, or distribute any food or farm products. We work closely with local businesses to help strengthen their relationships with each other and with consumers. If you are looking for any particular farm product, our online guide has all of the information you need about where to find it locally.

Does CISA run farmers’ markets?

The many great farmers’ markets in our area are each independently managed by their own market managers. CISA works closely with local farmers’ markets in a support capacity, helping connect them with local growers and specialty product producers, and offering technical assistance. If you have questions about any particular market, our online guide can provide you with information about their hours, location, vendors, and contact info.

Is CISA the same thing as CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA), also called a ‘farm share’, describes a particular relationship between a farm and its customers. CSA farms offer a limited number of seasonal memberships, in which customers pay (usually up front, though other arrangements do exist) for a ‘share’ of the farm’s harvest, distributed regularly over the course of the season. To find more information about CSA farms in our region, visit our CSA Farm Shares page.

How can I get involved with CISA?

Signing up for our newsletter is a great place to start — we’ll keep you up to date on our programs, upcoming events, and goings-on in the local food scene. If you’d like to help us continue the work we do to support local farms and food businesses, let us know if you’re interested in volunteering, or consider making a donation or becoming a community member.

What will you use my email address for?

CISA sends out a monthly enews filled with information about projects that our staff is working on, news about local agriculture, profiles of local farmers and more. We also use email to send out special event announcements, invitations, and renewal reminders. You can always opt out of receiving any of our communications.

Community Membership

How is membership in CISA different from making a donation?

Both membership dues and donations are essential in our efforts to connect local farms and the community. Both types of gifts are needed to support our mission, programs, and initiatives, and both help ensure the future of our organization. Membership dues, renewed annually, are a reliable and consistent source of funding that CISA can count on month after month, year after year.

How are funds raised through membership put to use?

Your membership dues support a wide variety of programs and initiatives and are applied as needed. For more specific information about how funds are raised and applied, please refer to our annual report for the most recent figures.

How do I renew my membership?

You can click here to renew your membership! If we have your email address we’ll send you a renewal reminder notice a month before your membership expires (we’ll snail mail one if that is your preference).

Can I buy a gift membership?

Absolutely! Simply select “Yes” when asked “Is this membership a gift for someone else?” on our Membership page, and you’ll be given an opportunity to fill in information for the gift recipient.

What can I do with my membership card?

Your membership card gives you access to special benefits and discounts from CISA and our affiliates. Visit this page to see our member benefits!

Join

Become a CISA Community Member.