2018 Conference Presenters
Each year, conference participants tell us the great line-up of presenters with their practical experience is what makes our conference program so valuable. These people know their stuff and are willing to share their expertise. Successful farmers and ranchers, along with well-respected educators and local food organizers from around the region, all with extensive knowledge and most importantly, practical experience, will lead all conference sessions, pre-conference courses and field trips.
Nancy Adamson (NC) is the East Region Senior Pollinator Conservation Specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in Greensboro, NC. She promotes habitat restoration on farm lands and in community and home landscapes. She loves sharing her passion for native plants and all the wildlife they support. She earned a PhD in entomology from Virginia Tech and an MS in natural resource sciences from the University of Maryland. To learn more about conservation through planting habitat, minimizing pesticide use, and sharing awareness of how insects support a healthy world, visit www.xerces.org
Jeannette Beranger (NC) is the Senior Program Manager for The Conservancy. She came to the organization with 25 years of experience working as an animal professional including veterinary and zoological institutions with a focus on heritage breeds. She has been with The Conservancy since 2005 and uses her knowledge to plan and implement conservation programs, conduct field research, and advise farmers in their endeavors with rare breeds. She is co-author of the best-selling book An Introduction to Heritage Breeds. At home she maintains a heritage breeds farm with a focus on rare breed chickens and horses. In 2015 she was honored as one of the top “45 Amazing Country Women in America” by Country Woman magazine for her long standing dedication to endangered breed conservation. She is the co-author of An Introduction to Heritage Breeds. livestockconservancy.org
Patryk Battle (NC) is director of Living Web Farms a nonprofit educational farm which has employed small-scale, low-tech no-till methods since 2011. Patryk sees no-till as a major solution to the 21st-century challenges of soil regeneration and maximized carbon sequestration. In 1983 he began his market gardening career double digging in the manner promulgated by Alan Chadwick. Over the next two decades as he expanded his operations he moved to mechanized tillage but was increasingly troubled by the results. His efforts to reconcile the demands of efficient soil preparation and soil food web protection culminated in the purchase of a rotary spader in 2004. He last used the spader in 2008 and has been finding his way with no-till methods since then. livingwebfarms.org
Andrew Branan (NC) is a practicing attorney in North Carolina and Virginia, based in Hillsborough, NC. He has over 15 years of experience working with farmers and rural landowners and various matters including asset transfer, contracts, leases, estate planning and regulatory matters. A native of Texas, Andrew attended Hampden-Sydney College in rural Southside Virginia. Andrew graduated with distinction and later attended Wake Forest University School of Law. He gained various experience in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Vermont before relocating to North Carolina to begin a family. Andrew and his wife, a photographer, reside in Cedar Grove, north of Hillsborough, North Carolina, with their two great kids.
Mark Cain (AR) has been farming organically in the Northwest Arkansas Ozarks since 1984. He was a student of master gardener Alan Chadwick in the late 70s, and apprenticed at the Farm and Garden Project of the University of California in Santa Cruz. For the past 30 plus years he and farm partner Michael Crane have owned and operated Dripping Springs Garden, an intensively-cropped, four-acre certified organic market farm near Huntsville, AR. Their cut flower and vegetable crops are sold at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, through a CSA, and at a handful of selected natural foods stores and restaurants in Fayetteville. In addition to flowers and vegetables, Dripping Springs turns out a crop of trained garden interns each year who are secretly taking over local school garden programs, sustainable food hubs, and farmers markets across the country! drippingspringsgarden.com/
Joe Cloud (VA) is the co-owner and managing partner of True and Essential Meats (aka T&E Meats), in Harrisonburg, VA., a small USDA-inspected abbatoir and meat processing facility specializing in the packing of private label meats. Although small, T&E Meats is one of the premier slaughter plants working directly with farmers and sustainable meats suppliers in the state of Virginia. Joe believes that education around meat is part of T&E’s core mission, and creates space around that idea in a number of ways. He is also part owner of Greenmont Farm in Fishersville, VA, a 450-acre family farm. Prior to purchasing T&E in the summer of 2008, Joe had a successful career over several decades in consulting as a landscape architect/urban planner with EDAW, Inc.— an international planning and design firm. He has always been interested in environmental and sustainability issues, and was one of the first landscape architects to have become LEED-accredited through the US Green Building Council. Joe has a degree in Biology from Reed College in Portland, OR, and a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s School of Design. A life-long cook, he believes that the availability of quality food grown with integrity is an essential component of life. Joe lives in Fishersville, VA with his wife, Brydie. He is the father of two grown children, Kaitlin and Christopher. www.temeats.com
Tradd Cotter (SC) is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. In 1996 he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries and currently maintains over 200 species of fungi for food production, mycoremediation of environmental pollutants, and natural alternatives to chemical pesticides. His primary interest is in low-tech and no-tech cultivation strategies so that anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world. Mushroom Mountain is currently expanding to 42,000 square feet of laboratory and research space near Greenville, South Carolina, to accommodate commercial production, as well as mycoremediation projects. Tradd, Olga, and their daughter, Heidi, live in Liberty, South Carolina. www.mushroommountain.com
Mike and Joseph Cunningham (GA) are father and son organic farmers of Country Gardens Farms in Newnan, Georgia. Mike has a degree in Horticulture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, and over 40 years of experience farming and managing a nursery. Along with wife Judy and their sons, they farm on land that has been in the family for three generations. Their garden is two acres and growing. They also have numerous pastures where they raise both beef cattle and milk cows, plus free range chickens. The Cunninghams sell raw milk, farm fresh eggs, grass fed beef, garden produce, plus other products at multiple locations each week. The family has raised and home-schooled four sons. Joseph and Ashley Cunningham produce raw cow’s milk, free range eggs, from their farm just down the road from the farm stand location. At Country Gardens Farm they work over 150 acres of rich farmland to bring you fresh, natural products. Cattle are raised on pasture all the time and are never given antibiotics or hormones. Happy hens graze all day on grass as nature intended. The dairy cows also enjoy pasture that is chemical-free and are never given hormones or antibiotics. http://countrygardensfarm.com/
Karen “Mimo” Davis (MO) and Miranda Duschack (MO) have owned and operated Urban Buds: City Grown Flowers in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri since 2012. Additionally, Mimo serves as a Cooperative Extension Educator for Lincoln University, Missouri's 1890 Land Grant Institution and HBCU. She works with both urban and rural farmers, as well as community gardens and not-for profit projects. Previous to Urban Buds, Mimo owned and operated WildThang Farms a rural cut flower farm in Ashland, Missouri from 1994-2004. She has a Master’s Degree in Horticulture from North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, North Carolina (2008). www.urbanbudscitygrownflowers.com
Jamie and Sara Jane Davis (NC) started A Way of Life Farm in 2009 in Sunshine, NC, where they raise a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and pastured pork. Farming is their full-time occupation, and they market their produce and pork through a year-round farmers' market and a 32-week CSA. The farmland includes an intensive vegetable operation of about two acres and the long-term restoration project of about 30 acres of clear-cut land. As a student of music, yoga, and permaculture design, Jamie strives to apply observation, creativity, discipline, and care for the land in his approach to farming.
John Dean (LA) is the Director of Rural Prosperity Initiative for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA). In this role, Dean helps lead the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, which aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local food economy while also increasing access to fresh food for all the region’s citizens. Dean also directs Maker Mornings, a CLEDA initiative to engage creatives and makers from throughout the region. Dean has over ten years of research and professional experience focusing on rural economic development through local food and other creative endeavors. Dean is originally from Washington State and earned Master’s degrees in both Sustainable Agriculture and Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State University in 2012. http://www.cenla.org
Mark Dempsey (NC) is Farm Services Coordinator with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. He grew up in Georgia and moved to North Carolina for the first time to attend Appalachian State University. There he received his BS in Environmental Biology, and then he moved on to receive his MS in Soil Microbiology from Miami University in Ohio. After graduating, Mark worked as a researcher and equipment operator in Penn State’s sustainable agriculture program, focusing on ways to reduce tillage in organic systems and to incorporate or better manage cover crops in both conventional and organic systems. He moved back to western North Carolina with his wife in 2015 and lives Swannanoa. Mark provides technical assistance to farmer members who are interested in transitioning to certified organic production through organic production and certification consulting services and can also draft conservation activity plan (CAP) for farms, which forms the basis of an organic system plan. www.carolinafarmstewards.org
Vail Dixon (VA) is a regenerative farmer and holistic grazing mentor and founder of Simple Soil Solutions™, Grazing Power™, Grow Your Soil, and ABC Beef (About Being Conscious Grass Beef). Vail intensively researches and demonstrates ways to repair damaged soil biologically, and economically, fostering a connection between soil, plant, animal, ecosystem and human health. She is building her farm in Nelson County, VA into a regional training center for regenerative farming and living that integrates holistic management, permaculture, and biological farming. Vail is interested in building strategic partnerships and collaborative community across the food and soil health movements, so that we all can learn from and help each other achieve positive change for our planet. http://simplesoilsolutions.com/
Sheri Doyel (IL) is Program Facilitator, Angelic Organics Learning Center. For over a decade, Sheri has worked in support of small- and mid-sized farmers. In 2007 she was the Farm Forager for the City of Chicago farmers market program and Green City Market, recruiting producer-vendors to meet the growing demand while also shaping rules and regulations to strengthen the markets. In 2009 she started at Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) as the Program Director for their Farmer Training Initiative, scaling back responsibilities in 2011 to Program Facilitator in order to launch her own small farm business, Tiny Tempest Farm in Lake Geneva, WI. Since 2011 Sheri has focused on leading the Stateline Farm Beginnings program at AOLC, and as liaison to the Farm Beginnings Collaborative, she is managing the effort to bring more organizations on board so they they too might offer Farm Beginnings—a training program with an approach she feels passionate about. Sheri grows vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings and winter vegetables for various markets in Chicago and southern Wisconsin.
Joel Dufour (KY) was raised on a farm in Southern Indiana, where his family ran a small engine business and an organic vegetable farm. He has been using, maintaining, and selling gardening tools for over 35 years. Joel’s business, Earth Tools Inc. in Owenton, KY, is a major supplier of professional gardening tools in North America. Joel lives with his wife and two daughters on a farm north of Frankfort, KY, in an off-grid house he and his wife built. https://earthtoolsbcs.com
Amanda Edwards (AL) has experience working in various food industries. From growing vegetables and raising poultry to educating, cooking and marketing. Her favorite vegetable is artichoke and her favorite fruit is blueberry. Amanda has a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and has had the fortune of studying ecology at Whittier College, California and at the School of International Training in Quito, Ecuador. She has also conducted field research in Tana River, Kenya. While living in Alabama, she has begun to reconnect with her southern roots. She enjoys meeting new people at art shows and farmers markets. http://www.eatsouth.org
Cameron Farlow (NC) is the Farmer Programs Director at Organic Growers School (OGS). Hailing from Greensboro, NC with dairy farming in her blood, she has now made her home in Western NC. After earning her undergraduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, Cameron dove headfirst into the realm of sustainable agriculture and local food systems, and later completed her Master’s Degree in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. She also brings experience in the realms of adult farmer education, farmland preservation, food security, farm to university, and land access for farmers. She came on board with OGS in April 2012. http://organicgrowersschool.org
Iris Figueroa (DC) is a Staff Attorney at Farmworker Justice, where she engages in advocacy and community education for farm workers on issues related to immigration, labor rights and occupational health and safety. Throughout her career, Ms. Figueroa has collaborated with various civil society organizations throughout the U.S. and Latin America, including in Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Ms. Figueroa also has experience providing direct legal services to survivors of gender-based violence. Ms. Figueroa is a native Spanish speaker, with fluency in English and French. Ms. Figueroa graduated from Georgetown University in 2007 and earned her JD from Columbia Law School in 2010.
Portia Fulford (AL) is wealth strategist with a focus in land ownership, niche markets, and brand opulence. She is the owner of Organpi Farms, LLC one of the largest woman-owned commercial farms in Central Alabama. She also owns Organpi Farmhouse & Juice Bar in downtown Historic Selma on the Riverfront of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Most recently Dr. Fulford opened a fourth company—Noirbelle Dynasty—a financial services company that teaches people how to correct and build personal and business credit, become their own banker, and preserve wealth in land and gold. Fulford is a lifelong learner, mother, wife, and serial entrepreneur that has a professional background in education, medicine and business. Overall, she seeks to help farmers secure their land in trust, acquire niche markets and brands, while building businesses and wealth from these entity. It is her goal to see farmers win in the credit, banking, and wealth arenas. Farmers are extremely hard workers, and should be explicitly taught how to build generational wealth from their lands and businesses. www.noirbelledynasty.com
Kanika Ghandi (DC) holds an MPA concentrating on Food Systems and Agricultural Policy, as well as a B.A. in Public Policy and Italian Studies from Brown University. Kanika manages the Research, Education, and Extension Committee and co-manages the Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). In addition, she helps to advance NSAC’s diversity efforts. Before joining NSAC, Kanika worked as a Policy Specialist at the Federal Trade Commission. Prior to that, she spent time farming in southern Vermont and worked as a Research Associate focusing on agricultural policy at Brown University in Rhode Island, both at the Urban Environmental Lab and the Taubman Center for Public Policy. http://sustainableagriculture.net/
Jennifer Taylor and Ron Gilmore (GA) own Lola’s Organic Farm—named after Taylor’s grandmother, a sharecropper who eventually bought it and farmed successfully. In the six years since their organic certification, Taylor and Gilmore now sell organic onions, tumeric, ginger, kale and specialty melons.
Davon Goodwin (VA) After serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Davon returned to the U.S. injured in 2010. He had lost his sense of purpose and found it difficult to get started in a professional career— until he found farming. With the support of helpful landowners and organizations like NYFC, he was able to start OTL (Off The Land) Farms in North Carolina where he raises muscadine grapes, along with pastured poultry, pigs, goats and sheep. Farming returned hope and joy to Davon’s life, and more importantly, allowed him to continue serving his country as a steward of the land and local community, combating hunger with good food. Davon is now helping other young farmers by serving on the NYFC board.
Mengmeng Gu (TX) earned her BAgr in Landscape Horticulture and MAgr in Ornamental Horticulture from Beijing Forestry University. She received her PhD in Plant Science/Horticulture from the University of Arkansas. From 2006-2011, she served as Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at Mississippi State University and in January of 2012 became Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist at Texas A&M University. She is also a member of the graduate faculty of Texas A&M University and can serve as a chair, co-chair or member of graduate student advising committees. Her specializations are ornamental horticulture, landscaping, plant stress physiology, and sustainable agriculture. She works closely with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association to provide educational programming and industry support. She regularly provides agent training and writes extension publications on green industry through face-to-face workshops and online webinars. She communicates regularly with stakeholders through conventional and social media platforms. She also has close relationship with the sustainable agriculture community through her tenure as a board member of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. She has been the PD/co-PD on four SR MEC projects.
Bryan Hager (GA) and his wife Wendy own Crager Hager Farm, a diversified fruit and vegetable farm in Carroll County, Georgia. Crager Hager Farm sells at two farmers markets, to local restaurants and a regional wholesaler. The farm is certified organic and has moved to reduce tillage and use permaculture principles. For the past fifteen years Bryan has been working to promote farms and preserve farmland in Carroll county. He is president of the board of Cotton Mill Farmers Market, served on the Carroll County Farmland Preservation Advisory Committee, the board of Farmers Fresh Food Network, and was a member of the advisory committee for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at UGA. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science from the University of West Georgia with a major in geography. Prior to farming Bryan was involved in transportation, land use and environmental policy for Georgia while serving with the Clean Air Campaign of Metro Atlanta, Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Georgia Environmental Council, Governor’s Environmental Advisory Committee, and Georgia Forest Watch. Bryan’s current focus is on improving the sustainability of America’s farming and food system by involving new people in growing food, rebuilding the local food system and developing low impact ways to grow food.
Josh Hardin (AR) is a fifth generation vegetable farmer from Grady, AR who operates Laughing Stock Farm, a certified organic fruit and vegetable farm near Sheridan. He also co-manages 50 acres of summer vegetables on the family operation in Grady called Hardin Family Farm. He holds a B.S. Degree in Agricultural Education from UA Pine Bluff, as well as certificates in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Diesel Mechanics at Pulaski Tech Little Rock.
Stefan Hartmann (NC) was born in Germany to an American mom and a German dad. Hartmann later graduated from a German university with a degree in agriculture. He began farming his maternal grandparents' farm in 1984 in Ivanhoe, North Carolina. Hartmann selects a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits to grow and targets farmers’ markets, local grocery stores, CSA and to ECO (Eastern Carolina Organics) located in Durham, NC for his markets. Hartmann’s farm was certified organic in 1989 and kept the certification for his 26 acres. Hartmann is now searching for ways to shrink the farm utilizing greenhouses and high tunnels. http://blackriverorganicfarm.com
Alex Hitt (NC) has been farming in central North Carolina for 36 years with his wife Betsy and for the last seven with their business partner Jennie. They produce cut flowers, small fruits and vegetables and make their entire living off of 2 ½ acres. They market their crops at farmers' markets and direct sales to restaurants, but they have also sold by pick-your-own, roadside stand, to grocery stores, florists and floral wholesalers. They were named 1995 Small Farmers of the Year by N.C. State A&T Univ., 1995 Farm Stewards of the Year by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Assoc. and in 2006 awarded the Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture. In 2008 they were inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans and Chefs. In 2010 Peregrine Farm was included in the National Academy of Sciences report Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century. https://peregrinefarm.net
Carolyn Hoagland (TN) manages the farm at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. She brings experience as a cattle producer, greenhouse nursery manager, Army Reserves vehicle mechanic, internet database programmer and network analyst. She has a M.S. in soil and crop science from Colorado State University and a permaculture design certificate from Oregon State University. She is writing her PhD dissertation about microbial communication in soils. She is a MAKER, and she enjoys robotic development. http://www.sewanee.edu/offices/oess/university-farm/
Elizabeth Little (GA) grew up on a diversified organic farm in the Hudson Valley of New York State and obtained her BS in plant pathology from Cornell University. After working in landscaping and nursery production for several years, she enrolled at the University of California at Davis and earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology researching integrated cultural approaches to managing bacterial diseases in California vegetable transplant houses. Elizabeth has been at the University of Georgia for 20 years and is now an associate professor/extension specialist in the department of plant pathology. Her program focuses on developing and disseminating information on the sustainable management of plant health for organic growers as well as for home and community gardens. She also works directly with organic growers to provide answers on their specific plant disease concerns. Her applied research program develops methods for the organic management of fruit and vegetable diseases. In recent years she has focused on finding solutions to disease and pest problems in organic squash production.
Jenny and Chris Jackson (GA) are entering their 12th season farming full-time in west-central Georgia on land Jenny grew up on. They grow vegetables intensively on one and half acres as well as oversee a small fruit orchard, produce microgreens and vegetable transplants, and make medicinal tinctures sold at their weekly on-farm market. Their 120 member CSA along with a few restaurant sales are located within 30 miles of the farm. www.jennyjackfarm.com
Mohamed Jalloh (AL) graduated with honors from Woodlawn High School in 2015. He currently attends Lawson State University and concurrently serves as Farm Manager for Woodlawn High School Urban Farm, one of the seven school-based sites where Jones Valley Teaching Farms are located. He immigrated to the United States from West Africa when he was sixteen years old and speaks six languages. http://jvtf.org
Diana Jerkins (VA) has worked in the area of sustainable agriculture—teaching, conducting research, and managing research funding at several universities and with the federal government for over 30 years. Currently, she is the Research Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation in California leading their efforts to provide direct funding to researchers, farmers and ranchers to conduct scientific research and educational advancements for organic producers. Her areas of expertise include food production systems, natural resource use, ecosystem services, and small to medium sized farming systems. She holds degrees from Emory University and the University of George in psychology, agronomy, and entomology. She consults internationally on sustainable agriculture issues, including organic and Natural Agriculture practices. She also owns a farm in Virginia producing vegetable crops for direct market sales. http://ofrf.org
Ravi Jadeja (OK) serves as food safety specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University. During the past several years, Jadeja focused his attention on the development of strategies to control foodborne pathogens and to improve the safety and quality of a variety of food products at pre- and post-harvest levels. This tenure-track faculty position is 70 percent teaching and 30 percent extension related to food safety. The principle responsibilities include teaching and outreach programs in Hazard Analysis and critical control points, food safety, food security and global food safety initiative platforms. His overall goal is to work with faculty members and experts to develop a well-recognized and strong food safety option program, which trains and prepares students for food safety related jobs in the food industry after graduation.
Chloe Forkner Johnson (NC) is an attorney practicing in Hillsborough, NC with the Branan Law Firm, PLLC, which provides legal services to the agricultural community. Chloe represents landowners and farmers on a variety of issues, including zoning, business formation, and real estate matters. She has particular interest in the formation of agricultural cooperatives, land-based cooperative housing arrangements, and heirs property matters. Chloe began her legal career as a public defender and, over the past decade, has served the criminal justice legal community in a variety of roles: as a litigator, mediator, and leading a nonprofit dedicated to improving policies around race and the criminal justice system. Chloe brings her concern for fairness and equality to her current transactional practice, choosing cases that protect the rights of small farmers, promote progressive business ideals, or promote the needs of historically disadvantaged groups. When not practicing law, Chloe grows cut flowers at a local farm and is active in her local agricultural community in Orange County. Chloe is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.
Cathy Jones (NC) and husband Michael Perry own and operate Perry-winkle Farm outside of Chapel Hill, NC. In 1991, working just a quarter acre of land, they took their first crop to market. Currently, they have about three and a half acres in vegetable and cut flower production, and five more acres in pasture-based poultry. They sell at three weekly farmers' markets, including the famous Carrboro Farmers' Market, and to numerous restaurants in the area. They have been sharing their knowledge and mentoring new farmers through paid internships on their farm, workshops in their area and trainings around the South for years. Cathy and Michael collaborate with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, participating in on-farm research projects, hosting field days and farm tours. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/perrywinkle.htm
Jeremiah Jones (NC) raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens along with Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Non-GMO pigs at Grassroots Pork Co. in Beulaville, North Carolina. Jeremiah has a long history of farming and has earned multiple degrees at NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Jeremiah is also the president of the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association (NCNHGA), a cooperative of Animal Welfare Approved pastured pork producers supplying a variety of restaurant and retail markets in the Southeast region.
Tamara Jones (GA) brings more than 17 years experience providing strategic leadership, organizational administration, program management, and team development. Her skill at leading organizations through effective planning and implementation resulted in her being honored as a 2011 White House Champion of Change. Tamara currently serves as the Interim Executive Director of the Southeast African American farmers Organic Network (SAAFON). SAAFON's mission is to ensure the viability and economic success of Black farmers by increasing their organic and sustainable farm practices; advocating for Black sustainable farm ethic and values in the food system; and promoting links among Black farming, culture and history. SAAFON is the first and largest network of African American organic farmers in the US founded in 2006 and representing farmers in eight states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and the Virgin Islands. Tamara also serves as the Founder of Evident Impact LLC— a management consulting firm based in Decatur GA. The firm specializes in leading organizations through robust and impactful planning, evaluation, and program management in order to help them achieve their strategic goals. She has extensive experience in the government and nonprofit sectors and holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus.
Rochelle King (OK) is a commercial USDA certified organic grower. She owns and operates seven acres which is called The Garden Spot. Rochelle is a native of Spencer, Oklahoma and she is married to Marvin King. They have one daughter— Monique— who is also the farm's manager. During her 11 years of growing, Rochelle has obtained many awards for her growing practices. She was recently selected and featured as a recipient of the Significant Women in Oklahoma Agriculture award. Rochelle is also a master gardener and enjoys sharing her knowledge through workshops and tours. While supplying her organic produce to grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Natural Grocers, Rochelle believes that her community should also enjoy wholesome food and offers her produce at the Community Health Center Farmer's Market as well as at the local food bank.
Matthew Kleinhenz (OH) is a Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist in the Dept. of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University. He is based at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, OH. Vegetable production involves many tools and methods, partly because production challenges are complex and require multiple partial solutions (i.e., a holistic approach). Matt helps create and growers to use improved tools and methods. These tools and methods usually involve establishing and maintaining productive combinations of crop, crop variety, and growing environment.
Gabraelle Lane (GA) is a public affairs strategist who serves Southern SAWG by facilitating federal food and agriculture policy advocacy efforts. Her work in agriculture began with a simple search for great turnip greens. From this search, she received a great education from farmers on the gaps in farm policy. Using her extensive background in public affairs, she currently assists farmers and food activist with grassroots organizing, public affairs events and deciphering legislative policy. It is her life’s mission to help farmers by continuing to ensure they have a represented voice with local, state and federal policy makers. She is currently a public health analyst with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Lindsey Lusher-Shute (NY) An Ohio native, Lindsey first developed her love of farming on her grandfather’s land in the rolling hills of Appalachia. She and her husband now own Hearty Roots Farm, a 900-member CSA in the Hudson Valley of New York. As Executive Director of the NYFC, she has grown the organization from a few volunteer farmers to a nationwide network with 36 chapters in 26 states and a grassroots base of over 120,000 supporters. Lindsey has edited and authored ten reports for NYFC, including the 2017 National Young Farmers Survey, which outlines the challenges being faced by young farmers and a strategy to help them succeed. She was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama and was recently named among “20 Food Leaders Under 40” by Food Tank. http://www.heartyroots.com/
Joe Mari-Maja (SC) is a Sensor Research Engineer. He works with research scientists within Clemson and South Carolina farmers in developing sensor and automation technology. He is currently designated as the official UAS pilot at Clemson University and has been working with agricultural applications of UAS in several southern states. He is currently managing the Sensor and Automation Laboratory where UAS technologies are developed. He is also a founding member of eXtension UAS LN and currently a member of the MS-54 Precision Agriculture of ASABE, Editorial board member of the AIMS Agriculture and Food, and the chair of the IEEE Savannah River Section.
Jeff Mattocks (PA) has over 20 years’ experience working with Organic, Pastured, and Sustainable Agriculture. He is actively involved in diet formulation for all types of livestock and poultry for organic and sustainable farmers. Jeff also assists and educates farmers with better management practices increasing animal health, productivity and return income from poultry and livestock. The education includes local farmer meetings, speaking at conference workshops, hosting field days and conducting field trials on controversial feeding methods. Over the past few years replicated field trials to show the comparison of Soy vs. No Soy broiler feeding trials to see what the isoflavone content differences and growth comparison would be. He is always striving to learn and understand more about how to keep poultry and livestock healthy, productive and profitable.
Scott Marlow (NC) currently serves as RAFI’s Executive Director. He previously directed the organization’s Farm Sustainability Program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers seeking to increase the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets. His specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management for value-added producers. Scott has served on the steering committee of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, the Organization Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Board of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Board of the North Carolina Farm Transition Network, and currently serves on the NC Agricultural Advancement Consortium and the Advisory Committee of the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Scott holds a Master’s degree in Crop Science from NC State University and a BA in Political Science from Duke University. http://rafiusa.org
Gary Matteson (DC) works for Farm Credit’s trade association in Washington, DC as Vice President, Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach. This includes policy work on local foods, sustainable agriculture, and direct-to-consumer agriculture. He frequently speaks to beginning farmers, training on basic financial skills and recordkeeping. For thirty years Gary was a small farmer raising greenhouse wholesale cut flowers marketed in the Northeast and beef cattle for local sales. He has served on numerous boards of directors including Farm Credit, the Boston Flower Exchange, and many non-profits. https://www.farmcreditnetwork.com
Priscilla McCutcheon (KY) is an assistant professor of geography and geosciences at the University of Louisville, who specializes in human geography, food, and race. McCutcheon’s primary research focus is on the intersection of agriculture, racial identity formation, and religion. In her dissertation, “‘Heaven on Earth’: Race, Food and Space in Black Religious Food Programs,” she examines racial identity and place making through the lens of three black religious food programs—from a black Protestant church’s emergency food program to a black nationalist Christian organization that is farming over 4,000 acres of land. McCutcheon has previously held positions at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where she was a post-doctoral fellow, and the University of Connecticut, where she was an assistant professor. She holds a B.A. from Spelman College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
Judith McGeary (TX) is an attorney, activist, and sustainable farmer. After earning her B.S. from Stanford and her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, she practiced environmental and appellate law. During that time, she and her husband established a sustainable livestock farm. After seeing how government regulations benefit industrial agriculture at the expense of family farms, she founded the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance to promote common-sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems. Judith has been profiled in the Texas Observer and Edible Austin, appears in the documentary Farmageddon, and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows across the country. You can contact Judith at Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org.
Tameka McGlawn (CA) is the Chief of Strategy, Learning and Collective Impact for the Leading for Equity Collective Network, an organized, complex and dynamic leadership collaborative that builds coherence and alignment across systems to optimize performance, strengthen capacity and produce impactful results. She has provided servant leadership to learning and leading communities for nearly 25 years, and is considered a seasoned collaborator and evidence-based strategist and advisor. Having served in a myriad of settings and professional roles, She offers a unique perspective on implementing systemic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives, tactical strategies to achieving equity-based outcomes and effective institutional and organizational practices. Her actionable research interests where she has served and facilitated professional learning and development include strategic reform implementation, systemic accountability and institutional equity, culturally responsive pedagogy and leadership, and building network alliances through innovative collective impact initiatives. She is a proud graduate of both the CSU San Diego’s Community Based Block Multicultural and Social Justice Master’s Program, and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California where she earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership. She also has credentials in Administrative Services and Pupil Personnel. An effective consensus builder and action-oriented research practitioner, She brings an ideal synthesis of research savviness, practical application and a deep commitment to increased structural opportunities for all.
Natilee McGruder (AL) is the Development Director at E.A.T. South, a nonprofit teaching farm in Montgomery, Alabama where she coordinates the program Montgomery Roots, a volunteer council that educates and connects stakeholders in the community around building a local food system. She currently serves as on the Diversity and Grassroots Committees of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), as the policy liaison to NSAC for the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) and as a member of the Food Policy Network Advisory Committee. Natilee earned a B.A. in Spanish from Howard University, a Juris Doctorate with a Public Interest Certificate from the University of Alabama School of Law. She obtained her Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies from the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney while serving as a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow in Australia. She loves cooking, coaching, music, traveling and learning about new cultures.
Emily Moose (NC) is Director of Communications and Outreach for A Greener World. Emily Moose works to build consumer awareness of AGW’s leading third-party certifications (Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW) and provide farmers and ranchers with the highest level of service and support. Emily leads the nonprofit’s outreach team throughout the U.S. and Canada, guiding communications and developing new programs and initiatives within the organization—including AGW’s labeling support, volunteer and membership programs. She is a co-editor of Food Labels Exposed, AGW’s definitive guide to food labels, and has been featured in numerous conferences, publications and media outlets including Rodale’s Organic Life, Civil Eats and NPR. Emily developed a love of agriculture at an early age during summer visits to her cousin’s hog farm in eastern Virginia. She is a graduate of UNC-Asheville and the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Agricultural Leadership Development Program and is based in rural North Carolina.
Tirso Moreno (FL) was born in Mexico and came to this country in 1971 with his family to do farm work. From 1971 to 1982, he migrated from Florida to Michigan, harvesting citrus and apples. After working as an organizer for the United Farm Workers in 1983, he and several other farmworkers in Central Florida initiated the Farmworker Association of Florida. Tirso has served as the General Coordinator of the Farmworker Association since its inception.
Hana Newcomb (VA) 58, grew up working on her family farm in Northern Virginia and is responsible for most strategizing, logistics, field preparation, and general big picture thinking. She likes picking beans on a nice October afternoon to gather her thoughts. Hana understands that resilience comes from the good relationships that develop between everyone on the farm: workers, employers, customers, and fellow farmers. Potomac Vegetable Farms has been in business for 55 years, evolving and changing, currently selling vegetables through two roadside stands, six farmers markets and a multi-farm CSA, and is now becoming a four season operation.
Molly Nicholie (NC) is the Local Food Campaign Director for ASAP, mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. Molly has been working with ASAP for 12 years, first with their farm to school program and now helping farmers with market connections and planning, as well as directing regional local food and farm promotions. She and her husband managed a farm in Yancey County, NC for several years and now live in Asheville with their three boys.
Erik Niel (TN) was raised in Mandeville, Louisiana, a community on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain and an hour away from the Gulf, where he spent afternoons fishing and duck hunting with his dad and brother. Using techniques passed down and experimenting on his own, Niel learned to cook from his catch and mastered the process of preparing food from beginning to end, something that influences his cooking today. Niel attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Vail, Colorado, afterwards packing his bags for Chattanooga. He worked as a Floor Manager at the now-closed Southside Grill and then as a sous chef for two years at mainstay St. John’s. In May of 2005, Erik and his wife Amanda opened Easy Bistro & Bar in downtown Chattanooga, where he serves as executive chef and owner. Seafood has always been a main focus for the restaurant, drawing on his Louisiana roots and love for quality catch. In October 2014, Niel and his wife Amanda assumed operations of Main Street Meats, a neighborhood butcher shop that works closely with Chattanooga’s surrounding farmland. As Chef/Operator, Niel uses craft butcher techniques to offer quality products and a strong charcuterie program, all exploring the distinctive flavors of the region.
Bahia Nightengale (LA) is the Director of Local Food Initiatives at the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA). She works to strengthen Central Louisiana’s (ten Parish) rural economy by providing comprehensive technical assistance to farm and ranch businesses that engage in community-based local food systems. Bahia grew up rural, far from towns and services, food production and preservation a daily necessity. She will always be a farmer first and foremost. After living and working in more than a dozen states, Bahia currently resides with her husband Mark, and their two dogs in Alexandria, LA, growing a small garden and a compost pile.
Asia-Vinae Palmer (LA) was born in San Jose, California, and grew up in Eunice, Louisiana. Asia-Vinae is passionate about encouraging youth to use their voices, challenging them to think critically about the world they live in, and reminding them that imagination is the step before change. Working at Grow Dat has helped Asia-Vinae develop stronger sense of self and grow a deeper appreciation for the world. Asia-Vinae’s roots in the New Orleans community serve as a meaningful guide for understanding and approaching community engagement. Asia-Vinae is encouraged to envision and act for a better tomorrow.
Daniel Parson (GA) has been farming in the South since 1998 when he graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Biological Sciences. First he interned and eventually managed production at Wildflower Organics in Dawsonville, GA. Next, he managed production at the Clemson Student Organic Farm while earning a Masters in Plant and Environmental Science. In 2004, he moved to Atlanta where he spent five years operating two acres of farmland called Gaia Gardens, located inside the perimeter in Decatur. Daniel was named the 2009 Georgia Organics Land Steward of the Year. Most recently, he rented three acres in Clinton, SC to operate Parson Produce, selling through CSA, farmers market, and restaurants. In January of 2014 Daniel started full-time as the first farmer/educator at Oxford College, part of Emory University. He is currently developing the farm into a unique blend of small-scale production, marketing, and liberal arts intensive education. In 2015, the Oxford College Organic Farm was ranked 17 on the College Values Online list of the Top 30 Sustainable College-run Farms.
Ellen Polishuk is a recently retired biological vegetable grower, now a full time farm consultant and teacher. She helps farmers, agricultural professionals and eaters of all kinds to appreciate and understand the complexity and beauty of growing food: the nexus of plants, soils and people. She was one of three owners of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Northern Virginia where she grew Ecoganic produce for seven farmers markets, a 550 member CSA and two roadsides stands. Ellen teaches growers around the country about soils, compost, and growing farm profits. Ellen also works closely with Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) to develop and present Growing Farm Profits, a workshop to educate growers on how to keep records, how to use them to analyze their farms profitability, and how to change management strategies to increase farm profits. She was a lecturer and advisor at the University of Maryland, College Park for two years, working with the Institute for Applied Agriculture.
Jeff Poppen, also known as the Barefoot Farmer, is the owner and operator of one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee. For the past 15 years Poppen has appeared on Nashville PBS’ television program Volunteer Gardener, for over 20 years he has written a gardening column for the Macon County Chronicle, and he is the author of two books, The Best of the Barefoot Farmer Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Poppen runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with the food he grows using about eight acres of his farmland and about 40 head of cattle. This CSA delivers fresh produce to about 150 patrons in the Nashville area, but does not account for all of the food grown at the Barefoot Farmer’s farm. Poppen is always sure to have extra for neighbors, friends, and the surrounding community. While he has only been making and utilizing biodynamic preparations in his farming and gardening for a little over 25 years, he is very proud to have spent the last 40 years providing his own food for himself from what he is able to grow. www.barefootfarmer.com
Jennie Rasmussen (NC) is in her seventh season of farming at Peregrine Farm in Alamance County, North Carolina. She is now a managing partner of the farm and co-manager of field operations. A transplant from the Midwest, Jennie is a first generation farmer with a formal education in Anthropology and Nonprofit Management. Her prior nonprofit career and work for a regional food bank sparked her interest in farming and sustainable agriculture, which she has developed since moving to North Carolina in 2009.
Meagan Roberts (NC) is a teacher of sustainable agriculture at Western Piedmont Community College since 2011. Prior to living in North Carolina, I studied Biology and Environmental Studies at Denison University where I studied plant biology. Subsequently she moved to Raleigh and earned an M.S. in Horticulture Science with an emphasis on weed science in small fruits. She has also worked as a cheese maker and milker at an artisanal goat dairy. Her agricultural expertise focuses on small fruit and vegetable production as well as sustainable livestock production. Her teaching responsibilities at WPCC focus a large part on small grain production and sustainable livestock, particularly critically rare heritage poultry. In 2014, she oversaw the importation of a stone mill from Austria. Her students not only grow and harvest the grain, but they also mill our own flour, cornmeal, grits and farina. Her program is also breeding two breeds of critically rare chickens to save them from extinction. Through our poultry breeding program, I have also focused on on-farm poultry processing and egg production. My biggest goal for the program is to introduce the students to culturally and historically relevant sustainable farming and provide them with the skills to become self-reliant producers in a local food system. I also live on a farm in western North Carolina with my husband, daughter and son.
Jim Robbins (AR) Since 2010 he has been focused on University of Arkansas research and extension efforts related to the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in agriculture. His research has focused on counting plants in open-field situations and monitoring water stress in container-grown nursery crops, both using sUAS. He has written several Extension Fact Sheets on sUAS and authored a chapter in Horticultural Reviews on sUAS.
Brian Rosa (NC) has more than 25 years' experience in waste reduction, recycling and the composting industry. He started his career in recycling at the grassroots level, instituting the local recycling drop off center in his community. Brian owned a successful company, consulting and selling compost equipment. Recently, he retired after 11 years with NC Dept. of Natural Resources as the “Organics Recycling Specialist”. While with NCDENR, Brian provided technical assistance to businesses and communities with a focus of food diversion; including education, collection, processing and regulatory issues. Additionally, over the last decade as owner of BE New Organic World, Brian has delivered organics waste solutions to urban and agricultural clients across the globe. Two years ago started the “The Wormery” that processes certified organic worm castings for the local farm and garden industry. He is always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet!
Rusty Rumley (AR) is a Senior Staff Attorney with the National Agricultural Law Center. His focus is on landowner liability issues including the operation of UAS in agriculture. He has written several articles on legal issues surrounding the use of UAS and presented across the country about concerns on privacy, nuisance, trespass and how state laws are impacting the usage of UAS technology.
Mark Schonbeck (VA) has participated in farm policy advocacy and research for over 10 years, serving as liaison between Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). His policy focus has been on conservation, beginning farmer, local food systems, and organic. He also offers consulting in sustainable soil management, edits VABF's quarterly newsletter, and has served on the Southern SAWG Board of Directors. He enjoys coaching agricultural professionals in organic horticulture through presentations and written informational materials.
Rita Scott (OK) currently serves as Outreach Director for the Oklahoma Farm & Food Alliance, a non profit organization, dedicated to strengthening Oklahoma’s local food system. In addition to defeating State Question 777, Right to Farm, much of Rita’s time is spent consulting with community groups, including local, state, and tribal agencies, as well as coalitions of partners, on food related policies in schools, workplace and communities. Passionate about our environment and healthy food access, she serves on the Double Up Oklahoma Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive ( FINI) Advisory Council, and the Tulsa Farmers Market Board. Supportive of small scale farmers, and the food they produce, Rita publishes annually a Tulsa Food Guide and celebrates Local Food Week every June, during farmer’s market season! www.localfoodweek.org
Nikki Seibert Kelley (SC) is owner of Wit Meets Grit, a company empowering nonprofits and businesses to reach their goals by providing guidance on organizational management, community engagement, marketing, and funding. Mrs. Kelley brings 14 years of nonprofit experience, seven years in the agriculture sector, and a passion for education into every project. Nikki has trained 142 apprentices, coordinated 40+ farmer workshops, and launched SC’s first incubator farm “Dirt Works”. Mrs. Kelley is also an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and serves on the boards of SSAWG, SC Food Policy Council, Green Hearts Project, and Charleston County Farm Bureau.
Clif Slade (VA) alongside his wife Arnetta, farms and operates a large and thriving roadside stand near Suffolk, Virginia. Cliff is a retired Agriculture Management Agent with the Small Farmer Outreach Program at Virginia State University. Before working at Virginia State University, he served for many years as an Agriculture Extension Agent and as an Extension Specialist in commercial production of vegetables.
Blain Snipstal (MD) is a returning generation farmer and part of the Black Dirt Farm Collective in Maryland. As part of the continuation of the 2015 Campesino a Campesino Agroecology Encounter led by farm workers in the US, Blain visited four leading organizations in the US and Puerto Rico in this effort to learn more about challenges and current practices to advance their goals through agroecology. He is also part of the Southeast African-American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON).
David and Margaret Ann Snow (AL) began Snow's Bend Farm 13 years ago, along the banks of the Black Warrior River. They direct market approximately 50 different vegetables, strawberries, flowers, herbs, and pastured pork through a 200+ member CSA, at two farmer's markets, and to 15 area restaurants and small grocers. 2011 brought their first child (Maxwell) and in 2014 their second (Flora). Although the farm has always used organic practices, the farm became Certified Organic for the first time in 2015. http://www.snowsbendfarm.com/
Brad Spencer (MS) is a retired engineering manager who is President and CEOof BJ3 Inc. with a prosperous goat and sheep operation. He is highly proficient in marketing, sales and agriculture business management enterprises. Additionally he is Vice President of UCA CO-OP Farm Group, a legal services advocate, a multi-discipline instructor, and occupational trainer specializing in vocational job preparation.
Mike Stenta (CT) is the founder and lead developer of farmOS, an open-source farm planning and record keeping software application.
Brad and Jenny Stufflebeam (TX) of Home Sweet Farm, have been commercial growers together for over 25 years and in 2004 began the first CSA farm in S.E. Texas serving over 380 members weekly in the greater Houston area. Their farm and work has been featured in many publications including Acres USA, Hobby Farms, Rodale’s New Farm and others. Soon to be “empty nesters”, today their farm is downsizing to increase efficiency and to focus more upon their local rural market, while preparing to bring on the next generation with new farming enterprises. Graduate of Texas A&M TALL XIV, Brad has served as President of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc., Advisory Board Member for USDA Southern SARE, President of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Chairman/Founder of the Texas Arts and Music Festival and currently serves his local community on the Washington County Chamber of Commerce Board. In 2012 Brad received the Houston Mayor's Award: Champion of Food Justice and in 2015 won edibleHOUSTON's Local Hero Award as well as Washington County Small Business of the Year 2015. Texas Agriculture Magazine has called him "A local food pioneer in the Lone Star State". www.homesweetfarm.com
Coleen Thornton (OK) received her BS in Nutrition from Ohio State University and started her career as a registered clinical dietitian, having of restaurant experience, she moved into management to become Director of Food Service. In 1999 she received her MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Texas, Arlington. Coleen’s love of nutrition called her back to food in its most basic form; as a result she started Heaven Sent Produce, a three-acre urban farm in Arlington, TX, then moved to Oklahoma and expanded to Heaven Sent Food & Fiber, LLC. Heaven Sent Food & Fiber farm is a full diet 60-acre diversified farm near Tahlequah, OK with a three-acre market garden 70-tree orchard, and mixed berry, fig and asparagus patch. The farm also raises Jersey cows and Nubian dairy goats for milk and meat, pastured pork and poultry for meat and eggs, Merino sheep and Alpaca for wool, fiber and meat and has a small commercial beekeeping operation. The farm also produces value-added hand crafted soaps and Merino and Alpaca-blend hand-dyed yarn. In addition to managing the farm with a team of loyal employees, Coleen consults in Farms, Food Systems and Food Safety for rural economic development in an effort to improve food security for the surrounding communities. As a consultant, she assists organizations in their efforts to expand food access, agricultural production, food systems and food security. Coleen is an alumni of the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program, on the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce Board, and holds the agriculture seat on the Oklahoma Workforce Board–Muskogee. She has recently become a certified GLOBALG.A.P® and Harmonized Produce Safety Standard food safety auditor and is working in partnership with OSU Extension on local food safety initiatives for FSMA compliance.
Allison Tohme (LA) is the Farmers Market Program Developer with the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative. She works to strengthen and expand Central Louisiana’s network of farmers markets to support farmers and ranchers and to increase access to fresh, local food. Allison earned a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2011; she is personally and professionally committed to finding ways to eat better, move more, and support all things local. Allison has been involved with CLEDA’s Local Foods Initiative since its inception in 2012.
Ivan Vasquez (FL) was born in Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico. When Ivan was 13, his family decided that it was in their best interest to migrate to the United States. Ivan is currently a sophomore at Seminole State College, where he is protected under DACA until June 2018, majoring in nutrition and dietetics. Ivan recently participated in a hunger strike as an effort to protest ongoing immigration efforts in front of the US Capitol. Ivan has met many politicians to share his story.
Lydia Villanueva (TX) is the Director/Founder of CASA del Llano, INC., (Established since Oct. 2000) a nonprofit rural outreach center that unites the regional education and training interests of other groups with the goals of a community-based, grassroots organization. The organization works toward identifying Latino farm owners in the Texas Panhandle (Hereford, TX) and also works to build leaders who are empowered to take ownership of their own communities. CASA also runs a Summer Youth Program that encourages children (ages 6-12) to continue reading, as well as engages them in activities such as arts and crafts, gardening, cooking classes, and hiking. Lydia served as the SSAWG Policy Education Coordinator from 2005 to January 2014 and she is currently serving on the Policy Council of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and as Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee with NSAC since its inception.
Russ Vollmer (NC) is the owner/operator of Vollmer Farm in Bunn, NC. Vollmer Farm is a fifth generation working family farm that focuses on producing wholesome, organic produce. The Vollmer Farm produces berries and vegetables while cultivating a meaningful farm experience for the whole family and community through agritourism activities. These activities include: school tours, farm vacations, weddings, corporate events and outside movies.
Tamara Walkingstick (AR) has worked for the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service as an Associate Professor of Extension Forestry since 1996. She is also currently serving as the Associate Director for the Arkansas Forest Resources Center based at the UA-Monticello, School of Forestry. Her state-wide responsibilities include general forest management education for adults and youth. In the past few years, Tamara has worked with other UACES colleagues to develop programs and workshops specifically for women woodland owners. She completed her Ph.D. in Forest Economics and Sociology of Natural Resources at the Auburn University, her MS at Oklahoma State University, and her BS at the University of Arkansas–Fayetteville. After receiving her BS, she served in Nepal as a Community Forestry Volunteer for US Peace Corps. Tamara serves on several boards including the Arkansas American Indian Center, the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council, the National Network of Forest Practitioners and is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She and her husband, Dr. Jack Gazin, live outside of Perryville and are non-timber private forest landowners.
Niki Whitley (GA) has been working with sheep and goats for almost 18 years and has worked in four different states (Missouri, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia). She has a PhD from Mississippi State University and MS and BS degrees from University of Georgia. She has managed small-acreage farms with up to 120 ewes (primarily hair sheep and crosses, some with wool) and 120 does (Boer, Savanna, Spanish, crosses). Her research has been in applied, farm-based focus areas including parasite control, feeding/nutrition, and reproduction/breeding.
Sean Winford (AL) is 19 years old and has lived in Louisiana most of his life. Coming from a military family, Sean was born in Kreuznach, Germany, and moved to New Orleans at the age of three. Sean was introduced to Grow Dat Youth Farm by his school counselor during his junior year at Carver Collegiate Academy. Sean took the opportunity to pursue a job at Grow Dat as a way to learn more about sustainable farming, better his skills in public speaking, and to become a better leader. After his first year as a crew member, Sean became an Assistant Crew Leader during the 2015-2016 program year. Now in his third year at Grow Dat Youth Farm, Sean is a Crew Leader and Farm Fellow. In this role, Sean helps lead young people through the fall and spring leadership programs. In the future, Sean plans to travel overseas to Europe to study naturopathic medicine.
Annette Wszelaki (TN) is the University of Tennessee Vegetable Extension Specialist and an Associate Professor. She has statewide responsibilities and has developed a comprehensive educational program in commercial vegetable production. The main focuses of her extension program include production and variety recommendations, diversifying production, organic and sustainable production, season extension, postharvest handling, and food safety.