Special Guest Speakers

at the 24th Annual Spring Conference

For Pre-Conference Workshop Descriptions, click here.  For Keynote Address Descriptions, click here.

Gabe Brown

Gabe Brown, of Brown’s Ranch, is regenerating landscapes for a sustainable future. A conventional farmer in the 90’s, Gabe is now a cover cropping and soil-building pioneer, speaking all over the world about the advantages of soil health. A North Dakota farmer with over 5000 acres in production, Gabe teaches techniques, that when applied in concert, can achieve similar success anywhere. Field trials, scientific data, personal examples, and two decades of experience back up the productivity gains. Brown’s Ranch has eliminated the use of all synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides, they use minimal herbicide and are striving to eliminate it and they do not use GMOs or glyphosate. The results in increased production, profit, and quality of life is the very definition of sustainability.

For Gabe’s All-Day, Pre-Conference Workshop, click here.  For his Keynote Address, click here.

 Matthew Raiford

CheFarmer Matthew Raiford, is the executive chef and owner at The Farmer and The Larder, featured in January 2016’s Garden & Gun as one of the South’s most exciting new restaurants A classically trained French chef, Matthew served as the program coordinator and associate professor of Culinary Arts at the College of Coastal Georgia. He has a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies degree in Culinary Arts from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from University of California Santa Cruz and The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Raiford is also the farmer at Gilliard Farms in Brunswick, Ga. where he is the sixth generation to farm on the land that has been in his family since 1874.

For Matthew’s Keynote Address, click here.

Althea Raiford

Althea is a farmer, electrician, teacher, and retired US military. She got the bug to farm as the youngest of the cousins on her Nana’s homestead in Southern Georgia, gathering eggs, harvesting pears, picking pecans and greens and cotton, and hearing stories of how her family had come to be part of the backbone of the community. In addition to the life lessons learned, she draws continuous inspiration from the hard work and relentless spirit of those that came before her. Her passion to reclaim Gilliard Farms comes from her love and appreciation for her family’s legacy and her family’s future.

For Althea’s Keynote Address, click here.

Pat Foreman

Pat Foreman is a poultry pioneer, local foods and sustainability fanatic, organic farmer, author, pharmacist, international consultant, and instructor extraordinaire. She is the founder of The Gossamer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to global sustainability and local foods and the developer and lead instructor of the Chickens and You Training Series leading to the Master Backyard Chicken Keeper Certification. She is the author of City Chicks, co-author of Chicken Tractor, Day Range Poultry, Backyard Market Gardening and A Tiny Home to Call Your Own. Pat has kept poultry for about 25 years with experience ranging from community farm, to a commercial operation with free range, organic layers, broilers and turkeys. Pat has been featured on NPR & BBC.

For Pat’s All-Day, Pre-Conference Workshop, click here.

Beginning Forest Farming Team

Jeanine Davis

Jeanine M. Davis has been a horticulture professor with North Carolina State University since 1988. She’s located at a research and extension center in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. She is passionate about plants and people and working to keep farms profitable. Her research and extension activities are focused on developing new and unusual crops, such as hops, truffles, medicinal herbs, and organic farming. www.NCHerb.org. She is a frequent speaker, author of hundreds of articles, blogs, and websites, and coauthor of the book ‘Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals”. She lives with her family on “Our Tiny Farm” where she strives to practice what she preaches about sustainable living.

Jim Hamilton

Jim Hamilton, PhD, is a County Extension Director for the Watauga County Cooperative Extension. He specializes in farmworker safety training, Christmas tree  production, forest landowner education, agroforestry, ginseng production, and forestry. He has his PhD in Forestry from NC State University, his MS in Forestry from Auburn University, and his BS in Natural Resources and Anthropology–University of the South (Sewanee). He was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay specializing in Agrofestry.

Jeannie Dunn

Jeannie Dunn is the owner of Red Moon Herbs, a manufacturer of natural tinctures and herbal medicines. As an herbalist and NC native, Jeannie has been wildcrafting and making herbal extracts, oils and salves for about a decade.  She studied at the NC School of Natural Healing and One World Healing Arts, but her herbal roots go much further back, to the back-to-basics lifestyle infused in her as a child. Jeannie oversees both the art and the science of this earth-based, Wise Woman herbal business and apothecary.

Jennifer Flynn

Jennifer Flynn is a business consultant, educator and program specialist. She is a former owner of a natural products company, current Brand Manager for the North Carolina Natural Products Association‘s Blue Ridge Naturally program, Program Director for the Grass To Greens Program of Bountiful Cities, consultant to Accelerating Appalachia, ecopsychologist and permaculturist with 15+ years experience in working to connect people to their place through community development, one on one advising, and small business consulting in rural WNC. She is also an artist and an herbalist by training and loves connecting with plants for healing.

Jennifer Gerrity

Jennifer Gerrity is the Executive Director of Operations of Mountain Rose Herbs and has been with the company since 2004. She has a bachelor’s degree in Plant Science from Rutgers University specializing in plant propagation and agro-business management. During her study there, she focused on tropical agriculture, bioremediation, and tissue culture and continued doing research for the university and the EPA after graduation. She assures the overall inner workings of Mountain Rose by overseeing the staff and production of this vibrant ever-expanding company. In addition, Jennifer oversees and takes special interest in procuring high quality organic herbs, spices, and teas for our customers.

Margaret Bloomquist

Margaret Bloomquist is a Research Assistant with Dr. Jeanine Davis’ Alternative Crops and Organics Program of NC State – Primarily working with medicinal herbs, woodland botanicals, organic vegetables, the Eastern broccoli project, and other specialty crop research and extension efforts. When outside the fields and forests of Western North Carolina, Margaret serves on boards with the NC Natural Products Association, NC Ginseng Association, Azalea Mountain Waldorf School, and other community groups. Margaret has studied and worked in three countries with sustainable agriculture and rural community development. She is constantly continuing education and wisdom through her research and personal interests; including topics in soil ecology, plant medicine, biodynamic agriculture, homeopathy, communication, education and more.

For this All-Day, Pre-Conference Workshop, click here.