Board of Directors
Al Griggs, Chair
Al is a strategic thinker and community leader. Al was active with CISA working on our Strategic Plan and establishing CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1963 and was a jet pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963 to 1968. He received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1970. He is a former Coca-Cola Bottler. Al has 30 years of experience as a trustee of nonprofit organizations in western New England. He and his wife, Sally, live in Northampton, MA and Sunapee, NH.
Shawn Robinson, Vice Chair
Shawn is the Director of Vocational Services at ServiceNet. His responsibilities include overseeing Prospect Meadow Farm, which employs 70 people with developmental disabilities, autism, or brain injuries who raise chickens, sell eggs, manage a large log-grown shiitake-mushroom operation, sell wood products, and operate catering and community landscaping services. He has been sitting on boards since he was a teenager. Shawn sits on the Town of Hatfield Finance Committee, and he recently completed two terms as president of the board of the Highland Valley Elder Services. Shawn has served on the Holyoke Community College Board of Trustees, MA Board of Higher Education, the Cooley Dickinson Healthy Community Committee, and the Hatfield Council on Aging Board of Directors, among others.
Pete Solis, Treasurer
Pete owns and operates Mockingbird Farm in Easthampton, where he raises a small herd of grass-fed and grass-finished Devon cattle. Previously, Pete was the Livestock and Pasture Manager at the Hampshire College Farm Center, where he oversaw an expansion of the College’s livestock program including a meat CSA and a breeding herd of Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. He is interested in exploring issues of scale, efficiency, and novel sales approaches for local meat producers.
Helen Kahn, Clerk
Helen owned and operated Cup and Top Cafe in Florence from 2006 to 2017. Due in part to its play area and support for local artists, authors, and musicians, it evolved into a destination for the community. Cup and Top was a Local Hero Restaurant which purchased food and dairy from over a dozen local farms every year. Helen continues to purchase dairy, vegetables, and meats for her family from local farms though CSAs, farm stands, and farmers’ markets.
Insiyah Mohammad Bergeron
Insiyah completed her master’s degree in city planning in May 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she focused on housing, community, and economic development. Her graduate research explored cases of adaptive reuse of former prison sites to spark economic development in rural communities. Before MIT, she worked for the New York-based nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, where, along with government partners she developed strategies to keep young people out of the criminal-justice system. She blogs for CoLab Radio, an online outlet that highlights stories of people seeking to effect social change in their communities. She served as a student trustee on the board of Bennington College.
Glenroy started the Pioneer Valley/New England Growers Co-op in 1988. Glenroy has often creatively stepped in to fill gaps in the local food economy by vending at farmers’ markets in Holyoke and Springfield and collaborating with Hampden Bank to open farmers’ markets in three locations in Hampden County. Glenroy sits on the Amherst Ag Commission and has served on the board of Gardening the Community.
Ben and his father grow over 100 varieties of apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and cherries at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield. They also grow pumpkins, squash, and gourds and press apple cider. Ben is actively involved in the community, volunteering as a firefighter for the Deerfield Fire Department and serving on the Board of Directors for the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and the Mass. Fruit Growers Association.
Amy owns Sidehill Farm in Hawley with her husband Paul. They made the switch from growing greenhouse tomatoes and winter salad greens to producing grass-fed milk and yogurt in 2006. They graze their herd of Normande and Jersey cows on 125 acres of certified organic pasture. The on-farm creamery produces more than 1,500 gallons of Sidehill Farm yogurt and sour cream a week, which is available all over Massachusetts. Amy has served on CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund committee since it launched in 2012.
John Kokoski owns Mapleline Farm, a dairy farm in Hadley. When John, the fourth generation, took over the reins from his dad in 1980, he expanded the dairy herd. In 1995, he began trucking the milk to a small processing plant in Ware for bottling, and then sold it at the farm, from a tiny store off the front of the original dairy barn. Customers loved the idea of local farm fresh milk in glass bottles, and Mapleline purchased the plant in Ware and relocated it to the farm in 2004. In 2006, a new free-stall barn and milking parlor were built to accommodate the growing needs of the expanding herd.
Steve is a former State Representative of the 1st Franklin District for 25 years. Steve was given the Local Hero Award last year by CISA for playing an essential role in many of the long-standing state programs that support local agriculture: the Agricultural Preservation and Restriction Program, the Community Preservation Act, and the Dairy Farm Tax Credit. Steve introduced the legislation that created the Massachusetts Food Policy Council which led to the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan. Steve has been critical in getting expanded state funding for the Healthy Incentives Program into the budget.
Beth is the owner of Vehicle Inspection Center. She started the first standalone vehicle inspection site in the Commonwealth in 1999 as an experiment on how to incubate a small business to stand on its own. Guess the idea worked. She has been in the automotive industry since 1984 connecting the basics of practical ways to build business while building consumer trust and bottom line profitability. Beth downsized for a simpler life from her two dealerships in 2010. She has served as Co-Chair of the Greenfield Community College Foundation Annual Fund in 2011, 2012, and 2013. She is a Past Board member of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Franklin County.
Sasha has worked in the Amherst School District for nine months and she has been in school food service for five years. Previously she was a teacher in the Ministry of Education in Jamaica for 12 years and got her BA in Food and Health. She manages a $30K farm-to-schools planning grant from the USDA to bring local food into the cafeteria, reduce waste and other inefficiencies, improve cultural diversity on the menu, and connect food and nutrition education into classrooms and teaching gardens.
Caroline and her husband Tim started Kitchen Garden Farm in 2006 on one acre of rented land and have expanded the farm greatly in recent years to 50 acres of organic specialty vegetables. The farm was selected for USDA Value-Added Producer Grants and Massachusetts Food Venture Program grants to help build a commercial kitchen and expand production of their value-added products including award-winning sriracha and salsa. Kitchen Garden Farm hosts Chilifest, a weekend-long hot pepper festival every September that has grown into a major ag tourism event.
Catherine Sands, MPPA, is director of Fertile Ground, working with organizations and foundations to maximize strategies that promote healthy and empowered families and communities. She currently provides evaluation technical assistance to 25 innovative food access organizations across New England with DAISA Enterprises for the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation and teaches food systems and policy at UMASS Amherst. She also facilitates conversations with organizations, schools and universities to reimagine and build just, equitable, shared systems and processes. Catherine is a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Good Food for All policy group and the PVGrows Steering committee, where she co-directs the Racial Equity committee.
Casey is co-owner of Old Friends Farm in Amherst, which is a certified organic farm growing cut flowers, salad greens, veggies (including ginger) and eggs. CISA worked closely with Casey on research about the safe handling of salad greens. He sells at farmers markets in Amherst, Northampton (Tuesday), Newton, & Copley Square. Casey has served on the board of Amherst Conservation Commission.