Easthampton native named new Just Roots executive director

  • Just Roots’ new Executive Director Laura Fisher chats with Congressman Jim McGovern during a farm tour on Tuesday. Fisher’s first day on the job was Aug. 8. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

For the Recorder
Published: 8/19/2022 10:49:26 AM
Modified: 8/19/2022 10:46:00 AM

GREENFIELD — Having grown up on an Easthampton farm, Laura Fisher is getting back to her roots in her new role as executive director of Just Roots farm.

Fisher, whose first day on the job was Aug. 8, replaces Jessica O’Neill, who left at the end of last year after 11 years as executive director. During the interim period, the organization was run by Cathy Wirth, a longtime Massachusetts food system advocate who worked remotely from her home in North Carolina.

After interviewing many candidates from across the country, the organization offered the job to Fisher, whom Wirth describes as having a “great mix of professional and personal experiences that are well-suited to this role.”

“We feel very lucky to have Laura joining the Just Roots community, and to be able to draw on her mix of professional skills, passion for local farming and food justice, and deep grounding in and knowledge of western Massachusetts,” Wirth said in a press release.

Fisher is a fourth-generation Easthampton native. She spent her childhood on her family’s farm there, and still lives in town today on a small, historic farm of her own. Fisher comes to Just Roots from the Western New England University School of Law, where she served as an assistant dean and had previously earned her juris doctorate. She also currently serves on the Massachusetts Advisory Board for the Conservation Law Foundation.

In addition to her legal background, Fisher spent many years working for “the advancement of robust, resilient and equitable farming and food systems in western Massachusetts,” the release states. This experience includes founding the Easthampton Community Garden and coordinating its operations for a decade, and serving as a member of the board of directors for Grow Food Northampton. Fisher is also a mayoral appointee to the Easthampton Agricultural Commission.

Fisher said she was drawn to Just Roots by its pairing of robust and expansive food equity work with its investment in land. She noted that the farm has grown significantly in the past few years, and one of her main goals is to sustain that growth and find out how Just Roots can make the biggest impact in terms of local food system equity.

Just Roots manages a community farm and community gardens on municipal land in Greenfield, and is known for developing and operating its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-enrolled, low-income community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share program. The organization also provides regular educational and community-building programming.

According to Fisher, her first week as executive director was “fantastic.” She said she has enjoyed getting to know Just Roots’ programs and its staff, whom she praised for being dedicated and devoted to events and the community. Long-term, she said she wants to ensure the infrastructure the farm is using is adequate for its intended size and scope, and that Just Roots is a permanent fixture in the state’s food economy.

In the theme of infrastructure, Just Roots is making slow but steady progress on its plans to build a new barn. According to Wirth, C&H Architects is working on draft drawings that incorporate the feedback Just Roots received from a community survey that was distributed in April. The farm’s next step is to see what its fundraising capacity might be. Part of Fisher’s work will be to do that fundraising assessment in hopes of bringing a new barn to fruition in the coming years.


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