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You are here: Home ›› Events ›› Tilth Conference: Workshop Presenter Bios

Tilth Conference: Workshop Presenter Bios

Tilth Conference 2019

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Scholarships 


Jason Alves

Jason Alves is a Navy veteran, having served from 2001 to 2005. He now works for the Washington State Department of Veterans affairs, and serves as the interim chair for the Washington State Chapter for the Farmer Veterans Coalition. Jason is a member of Agriculture Forestry leadership class 40, and is committed to supporting the connection of Veterans to Agriculture as a means of transition, employment and health. He lives in Olympia, where he manages his own hobby farm/ orchard with his wife and two young sons.

Jennifer Antos

Jennifer Antos is the Executive Director for the Neighborhood Farmers Markets in Seattle, whose seven markets serve over 200 farmers, ranchers, and food producers. A Northwest native, Jennifer has over 15 years’ experience managing programs, business operations, and events in the non-profit sector. She started her career at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco where she produced large-scale special events in 1930s-era military piers. She worked most recently for IslandWood, an organization out to educate the next generation of environmental stewards. Jennifer holds a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College and her MPA from Seattle University. 

Layton Ashmore

Layton Ashmore is a third year PhD student in Food Science under Dr. Tom Collins at WSU’s Wine Science Center in Richland. He received a bachelor of science in Mathematics from North Carolina State University in 2007 and later dual bachelor of science degrees in Chemistry and Fermentation Science from Appalachian State University in 2016. His main research interests are in flavor and aroma chemistry and applying analytical chemistry techniques to the analysis of wine and spirits. This has included the ongoing smoke-affected wine and grape research project, as well as whiskey and gin analysis from raw materials to final products.

Griffin Berger

Griffin Berger is the Operations Manager at Sauk Farm LLC. Sauk Farm is an organic family farm in Skagit county specializing in the production and processing of apples, peaches, table grapes, and wine grapes. In 2016, Griffin received a bachelors in integrated plant science at Washington State University. Besides over 12 years of experience working with trees and vines on the family farm, Griffin has also worked at orchards in various locations including Pullman, Wenatchee, and Poggio Renatico, Italy.

David Bill

David Bill co-owns and operates Midnight’s Farm on Lopez, where they turn agricultural waste and other islander’s yard debris and wood waste into compost and mulch, raise beef and pigs and are committed to providing public benefit through reducing burn piles, providing locally made organics, exceptional local food and education. He has environmental engineering degree in water resources and a commitment to advocacy for climate change mitigation.

David Bobanick

David has more than two decades of experience in non-profit management.  Since David joined Harvest Against Hunger in 2001, the organization has quadrupled the amount of produce collected and distributed annually and significantly expanded its strategic impact at the local, national and international levels. David has led the development of the Harvest VISTA program and Farm to Food Pantry, nationally-recognized programs that collaborate with partners like AmeriCorps, WSDA, USDA, and other entities to enhance connections between growers and local hunger relief programs. David participated in the inaugural Non-Profit Executive Leadership Institute at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington as well as Executive Leadership Institutes at Stanford University’s School of Social Innovation. 

Stephen Bramwell

Stephen Bramwell is the Director and agriculture extension agent for WSU Thurston County Extension. He earned a Masters Degree in Soil Science from Washington State University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Community Development at the University of Washington. His areas of work include market development for local agriculture, specialty grain production, new farmer training, and conservation on working lands. Recent projects include evaluation of barley varieties for craft beverage industry, feasibility assessment for minimally processed fruit and vegetables, and habitat conservation in Southwestern Washington grazed prairie ecosystems. 

Chandler Briggs

Chandler Briggs co-owns and runs an 8-acre draft-powered mixed vegetable and fruit farm, marketing to farmers markets, restaurants, and a farmstand. Starting out as a farm apprentice he is now co-owner and operator of Hayshaker Farm in the Walla Walla Valley.

Louisa Brouwer

Louisa Brouwer is the technical adviser to the Foothills Farm fermented feed research trial. She obtained her PhD in crop science from Washington State University in 2017. As part of her research, she studied the performance of hulless oats in feed for laying hens. Louisa now lives on San Juan Island in northwest Washington and manages her own seed production company, Ferry Boat Seeds LLC.

Brook Brouwer

Dr. Brook Brouwer is San Juan County WSU Extension Director and Regional Agricultural Specialist. He has a background in crop science, barley breeding and crop variety evaluation for organic production and local food systems. Current programs include addressing production challenges on diversified farms, crop variety evaluation and island food system infrastructure. 

Dan Carlson

In the 1970s Dan worked to protect farmland in the Seattle metro region through purchase of development rights. This led him to start his own farm on Vashon Island growing berries and sunflowers for cut flower bouquets. As a board member of Vashon Island Growers Association he championed the creation of VashonFresh and helped secure start up funding from King Conservation District and the Bullitt Foundation. Dan is a retired senior lecturer in public policy and urban planning at the University of Washington.

Anna Chotzen

Anna is the Business & Sales Manager at Viva Farms, a farm business incubator and bilingual training program based in Mount Vernon, WA. She supports beginning farmers to become financially literate and build viable businesses, teaching business planning, basic accounting and financial record keeping, and developing market outlets for farmer product. She believes that with the right resources and support, all farmers can learn to interpret financial statements, manage cash flow and scale their businesses to achieve both their mission and their livelihood.

Nyema Clark

Located in the Beacon Hill, Seattle area is Nyema Clark​ who founded Nurturing Roots Farm in 2016​​. ​They grow over 80 varieties of herbs, plants, and produce which goes directly to Black families and families of color who have experienced displacement and/or negative effects of our food system. 

Steph Coffey

Steph Coffey has 20 years of experience as a graphic designer and broadcast commercial producer for cable companies and NBC affiliate in Duluth Minnesota. The past 14 years she has been doing nonprofit management for social services, a food bank, and the Ag Guild since 2017. B.S. from University of Wisconsin – Madison in art with emphasis on computer graphics. Island Grown in the San Juans is a branding program to increase income for farmers and businesses that use locally sourced products by engaging visitors in the historical and present-day agricultural landscape of the islands through an Eat Island Grown campaign. 

Matthew Cox

Matthew Cox and Christina Miller are the co-owners of Green Bow Farm, a 56-acre pasture based operation in Kittitas valley producing grass finished beef, lamb, pasture raised pork, chicken and eggs. They use regenerative farming practices such as rotational grazing, nutrient distribution and no-till forage restoration. Green Bow is committed to building healthy soil, animals, and humans. 

Venise Cunnigham

Venise Cunningham is co-owner of Simple Goodness Sisters, the owner of Simple Goodness Farm, and a real estate agent specializing in farm properties. She left the corporate world in search of literally greener pastures, and grows cocktail-ready herbs and flowers for her line of craft simple syrups. An active member of the local farm community, Venise supports South Sound farmers with her work with Pierce Country Fresh and sources ingredients from her fellow farm friends and neighbors.

Maureen Darras

Maureen Darras (she/hers) grew up in Queens, NY in an immigrant community. She began learning about agroecology and farming in Chile, where she lived and farmed for years. She now works with C2C as a co-developer of farmworker-owned worker cooperatives, towards C2C's vision of establishing a local solidarity economy. She coordinates C2C's agroecology training garden where we restore the land and support food sovereignty for farmworkers and low-wage workers in Bellingham.

Mia Devine

Spark Northwest is a nonprofit organization that accelerates the shift to clean energy one community at a time. Mia Devine manages the rural energy program, providing technical assistance and grant-writing support for farms and rural small businesses interested in renewable energy or energy efficiency.  Mia has nearly twenty years of experience working in the renewable energy industry. Mia holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Grinnell College and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition to being a renewable energy engineer, she operates a solar-powered market vegetable farm in Whatcom County.

Colleen Donovan

Colleen Donovan is the Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. She has been working with direct marketing farmers and farmers markets throughout WA since 2003 – wearing a variety of hats, always keen to help farmers and markets succeed.  Originally from California’s Central Valley, Colleen lives in Ellensburg, WA. She has a BS from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and MA from the University of Washington.

Melony Edwards

Melony Edwards is a first-generation farmer currently working as the Farm Manager at Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle. Bringing her unique perspective as a young, African American woman working on a small farm, she is looking to bring more young African Americans interested in farming to local Pacific Northwest farms so they can experience farming and get their hands dirty.

Edgar Franks

Edgar Franks (he/his) is a an organizer who has strong farmworker roots in Skagit County where he grew up. In 2006 he helped form La Liga Tlaxtli Club de Futbol in Skagit County, a soccer club that was created to make the sport accessible and affordable to farmworker families and working class youth. It now has over 500 people participating. Edgar honed his labor organizing skills supporting the formation of the first independent farmworker union in WA State since 1986, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, where he now works as the Washington State Political and Campaign Director.

Chris Hedgpeth

Chris Hedgpeth is co-owner and co-farmer with his wife, Lisa Hasselman at Forest Garden Farm, a certified organic produce and flower farm on the north end of Vashon Island. 

Lisa Helm

Lisa Helm has been a guest speaker at many events including the American Community Garden Association National Conference and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Conference. She founded Dayton’s Garden Station in 2008 and hosted workshops and EarthFest for as many as 5000 attendees there before the city sold the space to a developer. The hoophouses from Garden Station found a new home at Dayton Urban Grown Cooperative’s new training farm in 2016. Lisa has studied intensive small scale, no-till, year-round regenerative vegetable production with Singing Frogs Farm, Neversink Farm, Clay Bottom Farm and many others and has blended all her training to train new farmers. DUG farm currently produces over $20K worth of produce on 1/10 of an acre annually.

Chris Henderson

Chris Henderson co-owns and operates Small Acres, a mixed-vegetable market garden in Whatcom county in operation since 2013. Chris has presented at several compost workshops in Whatcom county and helped a number of farms develop their own ASP compost systems for on-farm use. In addition to being a compost aficionado, Chris has a masters degree in mechanical engineering and worked as a wind energy engineer on wind farms throughout North America. 

Edward Hill

Edward Hill is founder and owner of Urban Civic Group West, his latest iteration of over 20 years of justice and equity-based food business incubation, farm program development, training, and community engagement in urban and rural food systems in the Northwest. Hill’s work is rooted in equitable development, supporting economic opportunities for diverse communities. He is currently working with Vets Cafe, Living Well Kent, and Mudbone Grown- three large acre projects in the region. Hill has 15+ years experience designing, securing funding, and managing beginning farmer training programs for immigrants, refugees, and BIPOC communities. 

Roxanne Hudson

Spring Rain Farm & Orchard is a certified-organic small family farm located in the heart of Chimacum on the Olympic Peninsula. They grow food in a system of integrated practices that attempt to mimic natural ecosystem functions. As part of their diversified approach, they produce many different crops that harmonize well spatially and seasonally. Roxanne Hudson and John Bellow own the farm and work with a terrific crew to make things happen. While John is the main farmer responsible for the day-to-day work of the farm, Roxanne concentrates on value-added processing of surplus berries and herbs into farmstead jams and pestos along with marketing and accounting. Roxanne also works as a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.   

Chris Iberle

Chris Iberle coordinates WSDA Regional Markets' Farm to School program and supports regional supply chain development projects. Chris develops materials, trainings and provides technical assistance and outreach to schools and farms to support farm to school at districts throughout Washington State, and leads research and implementation efforts to increase farm to school procurement with innovative approaches such as food hubs, co-ops, and regional processing for school markets. Chris coordinates the statewide Taste Washington Day promotion in October, and recently supported the launch of the Washington State Farm to School Network. Chris and WSDA Farm to School serve as Core Partner for Washington State on the National Farm to School Network, and holds a BA in Political Science from Seattle University, a Certificate in Sustainable Food & Agriculture Business from Pinchot University, and is currently pursuing a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

Andrew Ide

Andrew Ide co-owns and operates Bright Ide Acres with his wife Micha. Their farm, located in Orting, WA, is a 30-acre pasture-based multi-species livestock operation committed to raising meat ethically. As a student of philosophy, pastoral regenerative farmer, and halal abattoir Andrew approaches humane animal husbandry and holistic land management with curiosity, dedication, and compassion. 

Micha Ide

Micha Ide owns and runs Bright Ide Acres with her husband Andrew. Located in Orting, WA the farm is a 30-acre mixed species pasture-based livestock operation that produces "ethically raised meat." Before farming Micha gained several years of sales and marketing experience in the corporate world. Micha is also the program manager of Pierce County Fresh, a "buy local" regional marketing program designed to increase consumer awareness and consumption of Pierce County agriculture. 

Mary Lee Jones

Mary Lee Jones has coordinated Traditional Food Seminars throughout the Pacific Northwest and is herself a gatherer of first foods as a member of the Xapnish Creek Longhouse. Her unique sense of place draws from a tribal Creation Story that lays out the collaborative relationship between people and land in order to co-exist. In her professional work, Mary Lee works with the Bureau of Indian Affairs doing outreach to people living and working within ceded area. Priorities also include social songs and dances.

Alyssa Jumars

Alyssa has been farming for nearly 15 years and has worked on small farms in Maine, Vermont, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. However, as a Washington native, she has found that she can never stray very far or very long from the Cascade Mountains. Alyssa and her husband now own and operate a 10-acre organic berry farm in the Methow Valley.  Alyssa also works for a local land trust, the Methow Conservancy, where her role is connecting farmers, ranchers and aspiring producers to useful information, existing resources, new opportunities, and land. 

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly holds a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from UC Berkeley and has studied the socioeconomic effects of conservation programs.

Susan Kerr

Susan Kerr worked for WSU for 22 years, first as director of WSU-Klickitat County Extension then as the NW Regional Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist. After retirement in 2018, she joined the WSDA as an Education and Outreach Specialist.

Jennifer Kleffner

Miles Away Farm was founded in 2011. It's a small 4 acre permacuture farm. Jennifer Kleffner started the business after 20+ years of hobby farming, a degree in biology, and zero experience running a business. She sells produce, plant starts, jam and soap at local farmers markets. On farm we also raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and American Blackbelly Sheep. Walla Walla Grown is an informal cooperative of Walla Walla Valley Farmers and Ranchers, focused on high quality produce, cut flowers, eggs, meat and jam. We have a website, a Facebook & Instagram page and a logo. Originally formed in an effort to find a year round venue for selling our products. A partnership with Harvest Foods, a local grocery, filled that need. We're now working towards a local food hub and regional value added products. 

Eric Lee-Mäder

Author, ecologist, and farmer Eric Lee-Mäder co-directs the Pollinator Conservation and Agricultural Biodiversity program at the Xerces Society. In his professional role, he collaborates closely with government agencies, international development organizations, organic and natural food companies, and individual farmers to create and protect wildlife habitat on working farms. Since 2008, Eric has supported a team of insect ecologists conducting large-scale wildflower restoration for pollinators across more than 400,000 acres. His work has been featured in major media, cited in a 2016 White House report on pollinator conservation, and he is the lead author of several books including the best-selling Attracting Native Pollinators, and Farming with Beneficial Insects: Strategies for Ecological Pest Management. Eric’s background includes pollination beekeeping, crop consulting for the native seed industry, and a stint as an Extension professor in entomology. He and his family farm on Whidbey Island in Washington’s Puget Sound.

Dylan LeValley

Dylan LeValley is a real estate and business attorney focusing on agricultural issues for large and small farms, family farms, agricultural cooperatives, investors, and landlords. Dylan is passionate about the health of Washington’s farm community, and assists his clients in all matter of farm management issues, including lease drafting and negotiations, easements and other property use agreements, purchases and sales of real property, succession planning, business formation, planning and structure, and financing. Dylan also has an active litigation practice and is experienced in guiding farming clients through all stages of real property and business disputes.

Ryan Lichttenegger

A young, passionate farmer, Ryan Lichttenegger was born to play in the dirt and proficiently use (read: ride and play with) tractors. Raised in rural Minnesota next to a seasoned, well-educated dairy farmer, he brings his midwestern roots and passion for the land here to the Northwest. A creative thinker, Ryan received his degree in digital animation before returning to the land. Steel Wheel Farm is a small, first-generation family farm with one goal in mind: To improve the way in which produce is grown, harvested and distributed. Everything we do is guided by our mission of being quality-driven, environmentally friendly and stewards of the land. We believe that quality food begins with the farmer, and because of that, we provide only fresh, local and naturally-grown items.

Nelida Martinez

Nelida Martinez owns Pure Nelida Farm in Mount Vernon and grows a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and berries. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Nelida spent about 10 years farming in California before coming to Washington in 2008. Nelida began farming at Viva Farms in 2010. Asked about her experience farming, Nelida says: “Me gusta mucho crecer las plantas y producir bien alimentación para alguien más. ¡Me gusta mucho, este trabajo es mi pasión!” “I like to grow plants and provide nourishment for everyone. I like it a lot, this work is my passion!”

Jeff Mathias

Jeff Mathias returned to Walla Walla five years ago to direct the Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) Food Bank because of a passion for making fresh nutritious food available to all.  The BMAC Food Bank gathers food from over 100 different sources per month and distributes 1.8 million pound per year to 24 agencies in five counties in Southeast Washington.  After attending Whitman College 30 years ago Mathias has apprenticed on farms throughout the Northwest and has used his BA in Human Resources Management from George Fox College to bring people together to build strong local food systems.  On Vashon Island WA, Mathias developed and operated Journey School Food Community, a certified organic community supported agriculture farm.  In addition to sustainable living and farming workshops, Journey School provided 40 families with farm fresh food year round.  Moving to Northeast Oregon to raise milk cows and pasture-fed chickens, Jeff extended his local food system leadership even further using his skill and passion to help other people realize the ability to grow their own food, sell to their neighbors, and donate to the local food banks.  Then as a Community Organizer for Oregon Rural Action, Mathias promoted family based sustainable agriculture, and community food systems by developing community leaders and advocating for policy change in local, state, and national legislatures.  Jeff believes Food Banking is not just about feeding the hungry, but about integrating production and nutrition with availability and access to food for the good of the whole community.  

Amy McCann

Amy co-founded Local Food Marketplace in 2009 to help level the playing field for local, sustainable food. Local Food Marketplace is the perfect blend of her two passions – local food and technology. As CEO, Amy focuses on bringing business best practices and innovative solutions to local food.  Amy holds a BSE from Princeton University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Business Practices from University of Oregon. She is a former board member and Past President of Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, a Eugene-based non-profit. She was named 20 under 40 Rising Business Star by her peers in 2012. She lives and gardens in Eugene, OR with her husband, Matt, and two children, Cameron and Elliott. Founded in 2009, Local Food Marketplace (LFM) provides market-leading sales and distribution software for farms and food hubs, enabling them to grow profitably and sustainably.  LFM offers a complete solution for sales channels – including wholesale, consumer, CSA, and farmers market – from production planning, online ordering, harvest, pack, invoice, and delivery.   Our team of experienced farm managers and food hub managers offers one on one assistance throughout the onboarding process to help you tailor the system to your unique needs and get the most out of the system. 

Christina Miller

Christina Miller and Matthew Cox are the co-owners of Green Bow Farm, a 56-acre pasture based operation in Kittitas valley producing grass finished beef, lamb, pasture raised pork, chicken and eggs. They use regenerative farming practices such as rotational grazing, nutrient distribution and no-till forage restoration. Green Bow is committed to building healthy soil, animals, and humans. 

Kelly Morales

Kelly Morales is a Washingtonian and has called Yakima home for the last five years. She has been the Inspection Supervisor for the WSDA’s new Produce Safety Program for two years. Before that, Kelly spent three years inspecting fruit in warehouses throughout the Yakima Valley. With an education background in nutrition and public health, Kelly strives to promote a safe and healthy produce supply in the state of Washington. 

Amy Moreno-Sills

Amy discovered her passion for agriculture while attending The Evergreen State College. Upon graduating she began her farming career in the Snoqualmie Valley of King County. It was there that she learned the business of farming and became an advocate for a myriad of agriculture-related issues. Amy and her husband met while working together on a King County farm and moved to Pierce County to farm in 2009. They started their own farm business, Four Elements Farm in 2014, and currently grow organic fruits and vegetables on PCC Farmland Trust conserved land. As a farmer and a conservation advocate, Amy has a deep desire to keep farmland in production. She is excited to help support the viability of farmers and farmland through her coordination of the Farm to Farmer program. 

Felipe Perez III

Inspired by his studies of sustainable agriculture at Seattle Central College, Felipe Perez III threw himself into small scale vegetable and livestock farming. He spent two years farming with Steel Wheel Farm in Fall City, WA, where he had the opportunity to live on-farm. In solidarity with indigenous communities and communities of color around the world, Felipe invites us to think about the ways our exploitative agricultural systems have been a catalyst for climate instability and social inequality. “We need to design pathways that allow us to divorce the act of growing food from economic incentives. Sowing seeds, feeding our communities, and stewarding our lands have to be a right, not a privilege.” - Felipe Perez III

Mike Peroni

Mike Peroni is a Project Manager for the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC). NABC provides business development resources to farmers and agriculture-related business. Mike has over 30 years of experience in leadership roles supporting regional organic agriculture, and extensive knowledge of farm and business management, brand support, public/private partnerships, market development, and regulatory compliance. As part of a team dedicated to developing solutions to the issues facing agriculture in southwest Washington, his current projects include the development of a grain storage and rail transload facility at the Port of Chehalis, and the development of regional aggregation and distribution services with the capacity for value-added processing.

Katie Rains

Katie Rains joined the team at the Washington State Department of Agriculture after ten years working in nonprofits and local food system organizing in the South Puget Sound. She is the former executive director of GRuB, past chair of the Thurston Thrives Food Action Team and the South Sound Food System Network and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. She is a passionate systems thinker and food access advocate who loves gardening, wildcrafting, cooking and sharing a good meal.

Laura Raymond

Laura Raymond leads the Regional Markets Program at the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Laura was raised in the fertile Willamette Valley but fell in love with agriculture on the prairies of the Midwest and the hillsides of Latin America where she witnessed the power of more direct farmer-consumer connections. In her work at WSDA, Laura is responsible for the Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School programs that promote regional food systems, including school procurement of Washington grown products, and increase the viability of small farms with access to local markets.  She holds an MBA in Sustainable Business.

Mericos Rhodes

Mericos Rhodes started to farm grass at age 23 because he wanted to do something tangible and direct about climate change. He is a co-founder at Spoon Full Farm who loves cattle, chickens, sheep, clover, and writing. 

Laura Ridenour

Laura M. Ridenour has spent her life thus far connecting the dots for collaborative and resilient food economies, from California to Washington DC, and from Colorado to Washington State. Since moving to Bellingham 10 years ago, she founded the Eat Local First Campaign, the Northwest Farm to Table Trade Meeting, September Eat Local Month, the Farm Fresh Workplaces CSA program, and is the co-founder of the Whatcom Food Network, and the Farm Fund Revolving Loan. In addition to a breadth of experience as a farm hand and a food worker, Laura holds a Masters of Sociology with a focus on Food and Agriculture, a Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems’ Certificate in Ecological Horticulture, and a B.A. in Food Systems and Social Change.

Marciano Sanchez-Lopez

Marciano Sanchez-Lopez (he/his) Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Marciano is a trilingual indigenous Mixteco farm worker raised in rural Whatcom County. He is the youngest labor organizer with Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ). One of the few indigenous labor organizers in the State, Marciano gives FUJ, the first independent farmworker union organized since 1986, an unprecedented perspective into building worker power in the agricultural industry.

Kether Scharff-Gray

Kether Scharff-Gray is the Ag & Procurement Specialist at Mainstem Malt, a conservation-focused craft maltster in Walla Walla, WA. She works with mid-scale farmers in Washington and Oregon to source grain, forecast and project growth, manage risk, and communicate their story downstream to beer and spirit drinkers. She is a data and information systems enthusiast and loves nothing more than making data clean, orderly, and poised for analysis. When she’s not busy making Excel bend to her will she enjoys processing large volumes of neighborhood-gleaned fruit and cooking prodigious feasts for her loved ones.  

Michael Seliga-Soulseed

Michael Seliga-Soulseed is an Eastern European descendants of Slovak, Slovenian, and Lithuanian heritage, and grew up amongst the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. He came to the NW to study at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning's Community and Environmental Planning Program. After working for several farms in Washington State, he founded Cascadia Edible Landscapes, a Design-Build that focuses on integrating edible plants into all urban, surburban, and rural spaces. He has in-field experience of building hoop houses out to offer. The portfolio of work expands this. Cascadia Edible Landscapes had an edible plant nursery that spun off into an edible plant cooperative in 2019, where each person earns his or her fair share of the profits. Michael's desire to balance food infrastructure for people of all incomes led him to co-found Just Garden (Project), with his lovely wife in 2010. Just Garden built over 100 gardens for lower income individuals and communities that would have otherwise been left out of the joys of growing and sharing food.

Erin Smith

Erin Smith started his adult life as a teacher and outdoor enthusiast.  He learned that a healthy body meant quality food and a healthy planet. In 2011, a new adventure began after he and his wife Roni moved onto acreage with a small market garden and laying hens.  Disenfranchised by the current food system, they learned to grow their own food. Shortly after, they purchased their own homestead, "The Smithshyre". That same year 2015, they helped start an online farmers market, "Kitsap Fresh".  In 2018, their efforts were recognized by the Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance, they were both named "Farmer of the Year". Today, "The Shyre" includes greenhouses, 1/4 acre gardens, orchards, berries, dairy goats, sheep, laying hens, turkeys & Goat Yoga! Kitsap Fresh (KF) is an online farmers market, a cooperative of local food producers. KF aggregates and delivers to 10 self-serve pick up locations county-wide, 50 weeks out of the year. What started with 10 farmers is now includes over 40 local food producers as member /owners.  This year we expanded into a warehouse for the first time, having borrowed aggregation spaces previously. In 2019, gross sales are on track to exceed $210,000.

Sara Southerland

Sara Southerland is the Food & Farming Director at Sustainable Connections where she works with food & farm businesses of all kinds to connect the dots, facilitate business relationships, and build a strong local food system that supports the community with every bite. With a background in communications and non-profit marketing campaigns, she works with farmers to market their products, connect with wholesale buyers, and differentiate themselves in the marketplace through a successful Eat Local First Campaign. Sara is the Vice Chair for the Whatcom Food Network, and serves on the board of the Bellingham Technical College Culinary Arts Program. In 2014, Sara co-founded an organic juice bar and café serving locally sourced fare in downtown Bellingham, and helps people connect people to what fuels them both on and off the plate through her holistic health coaching practice, Future Self Health.  

Matt Steinman

Matt Steinman is the owner and manager of Foothills Farm in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Foothills Farm has been in Matt’s family for three generations and he is proud to have been born and raised there. Today, Foothills Farm raises laying hens and goats on pasture in seasonal rotation with five acres of vegetable production. The farm uses no imported fertilizer and no pesticides. Matt is passionate about regenerative agriculture principles and the importance of crop-livestock rotations.

Sarah Sullivan

Sarah Sullivan is the Executive Director of Gorge Grown Food Network, a non-profit working to build an inclusive, resilient food system in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon/Washington.  As former Executive Director of both Hawaii SEED and The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, she has extensive experience in movement-building, organizational management and agricultural policy. She directed the award‐winning school-garden program at Abernethy Elementary in Portland, and trained teachers in garden-based education as an adjunct Professor at Lewis & Clark College. 

April Jones Thatcher

April Jones Thatcher is the founder and farmer of April Joy Farm, a first generation, diversified crop and livestock farm in Southwest Washington. Her WSDA certified organic and Animal Welfare Approved farm has served wholesale and retail customers in Clark County since 2009. April has a undergraduate degree in civil engineering and an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship. She is passionate about nurturing community and soil health and in 2017 she received a multi-year grant to pursue her vision of a soil health roadmap for her farm.

Emily Tzeng

Emily Tzeng is the co-owner of Local Color Farm and Fiber, a 12 acre farm in the Puyallup River Valley. They grow a wide range of market vegetables and natural dye. Emily plants and raises a small flock of heritage breed sheep for fiber and meat. They are committed to rotational grazing and cover cropping to help us rebuild our soils. Their naturally dyed yarn line is our way of providing off season income, while continuing to educate the fiber arts community about pasture based agriculture. 

Karen Ullman

For the last six years, Karen Ullmann has been statewide resource person working to support food and agriculture sustainability for Washington produce farmers. Karen has managed various agricultural outreach projects related to food assistance, Farm to School, business development and market access, public health and food safety. Currently, she is an Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Washington State Department of Agriculture where she develops resources and conducts workshops throughout the state to help farms better understand and comply with evolving produce safety regulations.

Aaron Varadi

Aaron Varadi is the Program Manager and Lead Instructor at the Organic Farm School (OFS) on Whidbey Island in northwest Washington, where he and a yearly class of farm managers-in-training produce vegetables and grains for farmers market, farm stands, and grocery stores. In addition, he and the OFS crew grow many vegetable seed crops on contract for seed companies, as well as collaborate on and conduct their own on-farm breeding projects. He's been growing commercial vegetable seed for the past eleven years. 

Nansy Venegas

Nansy Venegas arrived in Washington from Chilapa, Mexico in 2004. She immediately began work at a flower nursery to support her family of five. She has worked at Helsing Junction Farms, an 80-acre organic vegetable farm in Rochester, WA, for many years.

Paul Weidner

Paul Weidner was born in Pullman, Washington and grew up in the rolling hills of the Palouse. After high school he moved across the state to study at Western Washington University. After two years taking Computer Science classes he took an ecogastronomy class and learned about our global food system, the slow food movement, and the importance of local food systems. Food was a new found passion! While working to finish a degree in Computer Science he continued taking classes centered around Sustainable Agriculture and interned at a market farm in Idaho the summer before graduating college. This year Paul worked at a local market farm and has begun working as a developer for the farmOS project. He is very excited to see what our future will grow!

Stephanie Williams

Stephanie Williams is the Climate Program Specialist for the Nature Conservancy in Washington. Embedded in the organization's Government Relations Team, she works closely with her teammates to advocate for policy that has a positive impact on conservation and communities at the local, state, and federal level. Prior to her current role, Stephanie worked for the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and served in the United States Air Force.

Nicole Witham

Nicole Witham is an energetic farm girl with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, happiest when surrounded by food, friends, verdant pasture, and plump ruminants. The rich intersectionality food has from tradition, culture, practice, and production, are what center her professional and personal passions. A long-seeded desire to be a creative social changemaker pushed Nicole to receive a MA in Environment and Community with a specialization in Sustainable Food Systems and Permaculture Design. Now in her role with WSU Food Systems, she uses her educational background and personal farming experience to lend a whole systems design approach to implementing actions to support sustainable social change, using farming and food systems as a leverage point.

Jennifer Witherspoon

Jennifer Witherspoon began farming in 2009 when she moved to Olympia, Washington. Until recently, she worked at Helsing Junction Farms in various roles, including crew member and co-manager. She is a dedicated farmer, advocate and community organizer in the agricultural and social justice community in and around Thurston County, Washington. She now co-owns Silverwell Farm in North Olympia.

Dorcas Young

Located on Whidbey Island is Dorcas Young, owner of Lesedi Farm: African Foods and Garden. Dorcas has been in the food catering and vending industry for several years. Lesedi Farm is a weekly vendor at the Bayview, U-District and West Seattle Farmers Markets. They provide a unique South African cuisine (dried and prepared) with ingredients from the farm. Dorcas has been featured in Edible Seattle Magazine: Back to that Dirt. 

Javier Zamora

A second-generation farmer, Javier Zamora grew up farming with his father in Michoacán, Mexico, where he worked until he came to the United States in his twenties. Javier started his farm, JSM Organic Farms, on 1.5 acres in Aromas and Royal Oaks in 2012 after completing the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) program in Salinas. Today, Javier grows certified organic berries, vegetables and flowers on nearly 200 acres in California and employs 25 full-time employees. His farm sells at farmers markets, retail stores and restaurants with a dedication to providing affordable, organic produce that is accessible to the local community. He’s also a leader in his community. Javier sits on the board of local non-profits and agencies including ALBA, Eco-Farm and the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, as well as the advisory committee for the USDA Small and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers program. He mentors seven local farmers and serves as a resource for local college students and ALBA farmers by giving tours of his farm and as a public speaker.

Becky Zaneski

Co-founder of City Grown Seattle, an urban market gardening business, Becky Zaneski is a farmer with a software background and a passion for growing vegetables. She currently farms at Full Tilth Farm in Poulsbo, a 5-acre farm producing vegetables, berries, and eggs using organic practices... and spreadsheets!

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