The Berkshire Agricultural Ventures’ team is a small, unique combination of experts, heavily involved in the farming and food business world.
BAV’s Board of Directors and Advisory Committee is comprised of individuals that are local and regional innovators, as well as leaders and entrepreneurs, making significant contributions to the local economy. Together, they strengthen our organization. We have endless appreciation for the time, support, and dedication that our Board of Directors and Advisory Committee members give BAV.
If you’re interested in learning how BAV can assist you, please call our office at 413-645-3594 to talk directly with a staff person or Contact Us and we’ll be in touch.
Glenn Bergman, Interim Executive Director
Glenn’s work in the food industry started in the kitchen. As a chef in the 1980s, he was first faced with the challenge of how to purchase local food directly from farmers. Most recently he ran the notable Philadelphia area food bank, Philabundance, for five years. During this time he expanded their culinary job training program with a $12 million capital campaign oriented toward building a community kitchen that provides meals to those in need.
Prior to this work, Glenn was General Manager at Weavers Way food co-op in Philadelphia, for 11 years. The co-op consists of over 8,000 member households, and includes a non-profit extension that runs an urban farm focused on teaching children and families about farming and nutrition. Glenn has sat on the National Co-op Grocers Board and understands the ins and outs of the co-op world like no one else!
Glenn is thrilled to be assisting Berkshire Agricultural Ventures grow and eager to make a major impact in retaining and expanding the local food economy in the Berkshires.
Ciana Barnaba, Executive Assistant
Ciana was born and raised in the Berkshires. She moved to New York City where she earned a degree in Sociology and International Studies, from Marymount Manhattan College. In 2016, Ciana received a study abroad scholarship leading her to spend four months in Chengdu, China. Here she studied Mandarin and economics, with particular attention on the role of tourism and food.
Following graduation, she interned at the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The highlight of this experience was the opportunity to assist UN SICA Delegates in writing a sustainable development resolution, later adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council. Completing her internship Ciana went to northern Thailand and worked on a coffee and rice farm for three months through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
Returning to New York, Ciana was hired as Greenmarket Manager for GrowNYC. Ciana worked at GrowNYC for three years managing over a dozen farmers’ markets throughout the city. Ciana’s experience working with farmers and diverse communities reinforced that promoting access to affordable, quality food in connection to supporting family farms is her purpose.
Areas of Expertise:
- Food access and food assistance programs
- Farmers market management
- Outreach and promotion
Erica Mielke, Finance Director
Erica has assisted small businesses and nonprofits in the Berkshires for over 20 years. She studied Accounting at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Science in Accountancy. After working for 2 years in Chicago doing cost analysis for private corporations, she realized that her soul simply could not continue helping big firms make money. She quit the world of corporate accounting and has never looked back.
Erica currently lives with her fabulous son in Great Barrington, where she was born. Before coming full-circle to settle back into the Berkshires, she lived in rural central Florida, South Bend, Chicago, Madrid, and most recently, Oaxaca, Mexico. She has a passion for languages and has taught English and Spanish (and dabbled with Italian and Portuguese). Although her experience has not been directly tied to local agriculture, Erica has always firmly believed in supporting the local food economy as a regular patron of businesses that purchase local foods.
Erica joined Berkshire Agricultural Ventures in November of 2019, and her role has since expanded as the organization continues to grow and flourish.
Areas of Expertise:
- Small business and nonprofit accounting
- Translating financial data into accessible terms and useful tools for stakeholders
- Connecting individuals and organizations to local resources
Mark Phillips, Operations Director
Mark is a business advisor, writer, fermented foods educator, and jazz guitarist with a diverse array of experience in food, agriculture, and small business development. As a member of the Climate Adaptation Fellowship’s Vegetable & Small Fruit Program, Mark is passionate about regional agroforestry development as a vehicle for food security, farm viability, ecological restoration, and carbon sequestration.
Prior to joining our team, he spent three years with Hosta Hill, a Berkshires-based producer of sauerkraut, kimchi, and hot sauce, and served as an advisor and contributing writer for Hudson River Flows, a storytelling project focused on the regenerative food economy in the Hudson Valley. He has also written for the Capital Institute and Kosmos Journal.
Before moving to the Berkshires in 2017, he worked in small business and community economic development at the Latin American Economic Development Association in Camden, New Jersey, where he coordinated a 9-week business training program for low-income and minority-owned enterprises. Prior to that, he served as an Americorps VISTA at the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, where he performed outreach and business assistance to Latino business owners in Philadelphia. He graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Temple University with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature and is fluent in Spanish.
Areas of Expertise:
- Value-added processing
- Agricultural climate change mitigation and adaptation
Dan Carr, Outreach & Technical Assistance Coordinator
Dan grew up on the front range of Colorado. After graduating from the University of Montana, Dan spent a year working on a variety of farms in Europe through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. During that experience, he found his passion in regenerative farming.
Dan spent three years as an agriculture Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in northern Malawi. He worked with farmers to implement agroforestry practices and to start other income-generating opportunities like beekeeping and grafting fruit trees. Returning to the US, Dan worked at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY for six years as the assistant livestock manager and the head beekeeper. In 2015, Dan moved to Northwestern Connecticut to help James and Linda Quella start and manage Q Farm, which quickly grew into a highly productive, pasture-raised meat business. He managed the production of sustainable honey, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, chicken, turkeys, and eggs for a variety of restaurants and retail markets.
Dan is now working at Berkshire Agricultural Ventures while running his own farm Beavertides Farm with his wife Marleen, and two young sons Oliver and Orion. They raise grass-fed lamb and meat goats, produce honey and teach beekeeping courses.
Areas of Expertise:
- Livestock management and grazing planning
- Regional Meat Processing Systems
- Honey Bee Management
Board of Directors
Tom Gardner, Board President
- Principal Owner, Gardner Pie Company
- Manages a small farm where he raises Clun Forest sheep and Golden Guernsey goats, Italian Maremma guard dogs, and Australian Shepherds.
- Resides in Richmond, MA
David Valicenti, Board Vice President
- Attorney at Cohen Kinne Valicenti Cook, specializing in business and real estate
- Avid supporter of local food
Dan Schaeffer, Board Treasurer
- Co-founder & Chief Investment Officer
Don Perdue, Board Secretary
- Nationally honored photographer with permanent collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and The International Center for Photography
- Resides in Sheffield, MA
- Director of Operations at the Schumacher Center
- Holds a B.S. in Sustainable Food & Farming from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Former Market Administrator for the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service / Dairy Programs
- Professor of French at Bard College at Simon’s Rock
- Head of the Center for Food Studies at Simon’s Rock
- Author of Sauces: A Global History
Jeffrey Blaugrund, Founder of Braise Worthy
Neil Chrisman, Founding Director of BAV
Will Conklin, Founder & Executive Director at Greenagers
David Curtis, Founder & Chief Catalyst at Cape Catalyst LLC
Brian Donahue, Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies at Brandeis University
Ben Lamb, Director of Economic Development at 1Berkshire
Nick Moore, Board member of Connecticut Farmland Trust and recipient of the Working Lands Alliance Farmland Preservation Pathfinder Award.
Jamie Samowitz, Founder & Executive Director of Roots Rising
Chris Weld, Founder & Distiller at Berkshire Mountain Distillers