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Shawn Robinson, Chair
Shawn is the Vice President of Vocational Services and Day Programs 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.
Jenny Ladd, Vice Chair
Jennifer Ladd, Ed. D has been a philanthropic advisor as well as fundraising coach, group facilitator, and trainer on race and class issues. She co-founded Class Action with Felice Yeskel, www.classism.org, an organization dedicated to building world without classism. She is dedicated to creating resilient community by helping resources move where they are most needed. She was on the founding board of the Women’s Fund of Western Mass, and has served with the Peace Development Fund, Temenos, and currently works with Wellspring Cooperative’s Development Committee. She lives at Rocky Hill Co-housing community in Northampton, MA.
Al Griggs, Treasurer
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.
Myra Marcellin, Clerk
Myra serves in the local community participating in the music ministry at her church and she had served on the Board of Directors of the Boy & Girls Club Family Center up until mid-2019. Myra has served in the agricultural community representing Farm Credit East in various capacities and have previously served on the Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom Board of Directors. She currently serves as a Regular Trustee to the Eastern States Exposition representing the State of Massachusetts.
Hameed is the owner/operator of Agric Organics. He is a result-driven, community-oriented farmer, pharmacist, biotechnology, and business professional with over 10 years of experience in farming, leading, and managing complex business challenges. Hameed’s domain specialties and proven knowledge includes organic farming practices, crop management, operational strategy, supply chain management and strategy community and relationship building, inventory management, research, and patient/ customer care. Hameed is a forward-thinking professional who is passionate about using his skillset to provide innovative solutions to complex issues.
Benjamin Lee Bland, III
Benjamin was born and raised in Springfield Massachusetts where he currently serves as the Mass in Motion Coordinator within the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, where he has worked for over seven years. He holds a BA in English with a focus in Critical Theory and is currently working on his Masters in Public Health at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. Benjamin has dedicated his career to achieving a vibrant and more equitable food system that meets the health, cultural, and nutritional needs of all people. His work at the municipal and regional level champions food as a catalyst for economic development, and examines the complex intersecting social and economic systems that prevent people from reaching their full health potential.
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.
Kat Chang Laznicka
As a first-generation farmer with several years of experience in farmsteading prior to starting Reed Farm in 2019, Kat offers multiple perspectives on community supported agriculture and local food systems. With her partner Peter, Kat owns and operates Reed Farm in Sunderland, a small-scale pastured poultry farm and licensed poultry processing facility offering processing services to the local farming community. Reed Farm was awarded several federal and state grants to upgrade and expand the processing facility and is actively progressing towards a USDA grant of inspection. When off farm duty, you can find Kat tending her Romeldale CVM sheep flock, playing with fiber, and handspinning.
Julia returned home to western Massachusetts from the Pacific Northwest in 2009 after a decade of studying and working in various fields of agriculture, food access, and local food systems. She established Mycoterra Farm in 2010 from humble beginnings in a basement in Westhampton. The farm, now located in South Deerfield, has grown to become the largest certified organic commercial mushroom producer in the state of Massachusetts. In March of 2020, Julia and her team rapidly adapted to the pandemic’s effects on Mycoterra’s direct marketing strategies by launching Mass Food Delivery, an online ordering and home delivery service connecting local food producers with consumers throughout the state. While Mass Food Delivery effectively “saved the farm”, Julia also gained valuable insights and connections into the MA food systems.
Wally Czajkowski owns Plainville Farm in Hadley with Mary McNamara. They grow tobacco and vegetables on some of the best farmland in the state. Wally’s family has farmed in Hadley since the early 1900s. Plainville Farm is 99 percent wholesale, and survives because of an amazing staff, and longtime, committed customers.
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.
Sam is the owner/operator of Fruit Fair Supermarket and has been working on food access across the gateway cities of Chicopee and Springfield. Her mission is to feed her Environmental Justice neighborhood with fresh nutrition foods.
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.
Jeremy Werther is the chef and owner of Homestead in Northampton. After six years away following graduation from UMass Amherst, Jeremy returned to the Pioneer Valley after shaking pans at some of Boston’s finest, busiest, and tastiest establishments. Always learning and putting out the best plates he can, he’s finally created a Homestead of his own in Northampton where he makes all the pasta from scratch, maintains a seasonal, inventive menu, and listens to rock all in a warm, friendly, and open dining room. Chef’s vision is to welcome everyone into his kitchen the way his family did, always spending time in the kitchen during gatherings and celebrations.
Tessa returned to her family farm in 2017 after working in the social work field for many years. She is the third generation to work the Diemand Farm in Wendell, raising grass-fed beef cattle, broiler chickens, cage-free laying hens, and pasture-raised turkeys. The farm also has a small commercial kitchen that produces value-added products which are sold at their small farm store and across the Pioneer Valley. Tessa has brought a fresh viewpoint to the farm. Her organizational skills are a great asset in helping with succession planning from the senior generation and looking to the future.
Community members who sit on CISA committees