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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.
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 and backyard poultry raisers. In 2020, Reed Farm was awarded an MDAR Food Security Infrastructure grant to upgrade and expand the processing facility to USDA specifications. When not on the farm, you can find Kat handspinning, knitting, roller skating, caring for her angora rabbit, and making plans to re-expand her fiber flock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Myra serves as a Vice President and Sr. Loan Officer at Farm Credit East, ACA. She 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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth has dedicated her 25+ year career to protecting our most important natural resources, including many farms and forests in the Valley. Currently, as part of a team of environmental consultants at Conservation Works, LLC, she specializes in land conservation transactions and helping landowners figure out the best way to protect their land. Elizabeth has served as Chief of Wildlife Lands for the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife, as staff at several land trusts, and as an attorney in private practice. In her free time, she volunteers with several nonprofits, is a board member of The Norcross Wildlife Foundation, and enjoys walking in the woods, cycling country roads, and swimming in the many rivers in western Massachusetts.