25th Annual Spring Conference // March 9–11, 2018
Alexis Baden-Mayer, Regeneration USA
Alexis Baden-Mayer is the National Coordinator of Regeneration USA and the Political Director of the Organic Consumers Association, a network of more than 1 million activists. Alexis a lawyer and key organizer of some of OCA’s most popular campaigns, including the “Cook Organic, Not the Planet.”
Amanda Carter, Cool Hand Meats
Amanda Carter has spent six years at the epicenter of the southeast’s pastured poultry industry. Manager of the Foothills Pilot Plant facility, owner of Cool Hand Meats, and an experienced pastured poultry farmer, she takes great pride in advocating for transparency, accountability, and compassion in Alternative Agriculture.
Ameena Batata, UNC Asheville
Ameena Batada is a faculty member at UNC Asheville. She teaches courses and conducts research in the areas of health equity and justice, community health promotion, health communication, and policy advocacy. Ameena serves on the board of Bountiful Cities and does work with the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council.
Andrew Goodheart Brown, Urban Orchardist & Barefoot Permaculture
Andrew, a 40 year resident of WNC and a passionate home orchardist with over 46 varieties grown ecologically. Andrew is an international consultant in small scale sustainable agriculture projects, an endangered species observer, field biologist, naturalist, permaculturist, gourmet natural food cook, educator, gardener and beekeeper.
Andrew Tait, EcoForesters
Andrew Tait has been the Director of EcoForesters since 2015. He also worked for the USFS’s Research Station in Asheville for 6 years, focusing on upland hardwood silviculture (how to grow trees, oaks in particular) and integrated forest health management to conserve, restore, and enhance our forests.
Angie Lavezzo, Sow True Seed
As a gardener for over 20 years and a seed saver for 10 of those years, the magic of a sprouting seed is still Angie’s favorite thing. Her job as General Manager for Sow True Seed gives her a perfect outlet for her passion for seeds and plants. She is a farmer, beekeeper, maker of things, and an avid reader.
Annie Louise Perkinson, Flying Cloud Farm
Annie Louise owns Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview, NC with her family. Their focus is season extension, storage crops, and variety for year-round cash flow. Their full-time farm business began in 1999 with blueberries and 1/2 acre of vegetables. They now sell at tailgate markets, farm-stand, and offer a CSA.
Benjamin Portwood, EYG Landscapes
Benjamin Portwood has been working with perennial agriculture, edible landscaping, and rainwater harvesting since graduating from Montsant Permaculture Institute in 2007. He is passionate about many permaculture practices, including rainwater harvesting.
Bill Whipple, Acornucopia Project
Bill Whipple began his agricultural career as an apple picker at the age of 18, which has led to lifelong passion for growing fruits and nuts. He orchards in WV and Asheville and teaches horticultural skills to new enthusiasts through the Buncombe Fruit Nut club, Barkslip’s fruit school, and the Nutty Buddy Collective.
Brandon Greenstein, Organic Growers School
Brandon is the OGS Consulting Director and Sustainability Coach, providing support services to farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, and those seeking sustainability solutions. His background is in Renewable Systems, Earth Works, Energy, Water, Homesteading, Permaculture, specifically providing consulting, design, and technical services for the creation of low impact, energy conserving, and integrated systems.
Brian Upchurch, Carolina Truffiéres, LLC
Brian Upchurch brings over 25 years of experience as a plant propagation expert, a grower, and in agri-business development. He also has undertaken projects dealing in international horticulture and commerce as well as in horticulture trade associations and industry leadership positions. He is the president of Carolina Truffiéres, LLC.
Nicole Hinebaugh, Bountiful Cities
Nicole is the Program Director at Bountiful Cities overseeing the Community Garden Network, the Urban Agriculture Alliance, the Asheville/Buncombe Food Policy Council, the Grassroots Equity Alliance, the Food Waste Recovery Summit, the Invest Health Home Team, the Community Health Improvement Process, and planning efforts for a Community Land Trust.
Cassandra Lee Nicholson, Plant Princess Enterprises
Cassandra Lee Nicholson is a clinical herbalist and runs a classic apothecary in Savannah, GA. As the Director of Education and Maintenance at an edible landscaping company, she manages multiple multi-use organic properties. Her company, Plant Princess Enterprises, promotes better living through botanical education both virtually and in the community.
Charlotte Caplan, Asheville Mushroom Club
Charlotte is the past-president of the Asheville Mushroom Club and has been studying fungi for over 40 years. She loves to introduce others to these fascinating and beautiful organisms.
Chloe Lieberman, Bittersweet Farm
Chloe Lieberman and her family tend a diverse homestead/farm where they raise about 80% of their food. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and a cook. She sees food and nutrition as a day-to-day opportunity to remember the mutual reciprocity that exists between humans and the living world.
Chris Link, Adaptive Design
Chris Link manages operations at the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Community Farm, working to grow the Beginning Farmer Incubator Program while managing the varied projects and infrastructure. He holds a degree in landscape architecture from Clemson University and PDC from The Permaculture Institute.
Chris Smith, Sow True Seed
Chris Smith is an enthusiastic grower and permaculturalist from a green-thumbed family. He has immersed himself into the world of seed and southern growing. On his urban homestead, Chris is experimenting with landraces, selective seed saving, crop trials, grow outs and edible seed oils. Chris works for Sow True Seed.
Clint Corley, Forest Floor Wilderness Programs
Clint Corley is Founder and Executive Director of Forest Floor Wilderness Programs, which provides Nature-Connection Mentoring programs to youth and adults in the greater Asheville area. Having spent a year living primitively outdoors, Clint is now passionate about the healing power of building relationships between humans and the natural world.
Curt Burnside, Sospiro Farmstead
Curt is the owner of Sospiro Ranch, a working family farmstead outside of Asheville, raising meat goats, meat rabbits, honey bees and laying hens. The farm provides education about raising food, farming, and personal resilience.
Dan Hettinger, Living Web Farms
Dan Hettinger is the manager of the Living Web Farms Biochar facility, where the crew develops appropriate technology for closing waste streams and maximizing small farm efficiency. Their latest projects range from improved waste oil atomizers to farm-scale recycling and biomass processing equipment.
Dan Kittredge, Bionutrient Food Association
Dan operates a 24 acre farm which has 2.5 acres of intensive vegetable production. His is the Founder of the Bionutrient Food Association. He speaks to growers across the US.
Diane Almond, Honey Bees and Heather Farm, Bee City USA, BeeHab
Diane has kept bees for 16 years. As Master Beekeeper and Master Gardener she’s led workshops across the state, and is dedicated to demonstrating that, as her honey label proclaims, “We Are ALL Keepers of the Bees.”
Doug Elliot, Possum Productions
Doug Elliott is a naturalist, herbalist, storyteller, basket maker, back-country guide, philosopher, and harmonica wizard. He has broad, practical, scientific and cultural knowledge of the area’s many useful wild plants and interesting critters. He has authored five books, and a number of award winning recordings, and is seen on PBS-TV.
Dylan Ryals-Hamilton is a permaculture professional with thirteen years of edible and ecological landscaping experience. Seeing the need for permaculture strategies at the community scale, he’s been involved in many community food projects throughout Asheville and beyond. He’s never owned a home.
Ellen Polishuk, Potomac Vegetable Farms
Ellen Polishuk spent 20 years as co-owner of Potomac Vegetable Farm where she cultivated 20 acres of organic vegetables. She is now a biological farm consultant and teacher, helping farmers, agricultural professionals and eaters appreciate and understand the complexity and beauty of food: the nexus of plants, soils and people.
Emma Hutchens, NC 10% Campaign
Emma is an organizer and educator with the NC 10% Campaign, mentoring students, supporting farmers, increasing access to local foods, improving university food purchasing and shifting money back into local economies. Locally, she works with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and directs News and Community Affairs at Asheville FM.
Frances Tacy, Franny’s Farm
Frances Tacy is co-owner of Franny’s Farm, a 38-acre diverse, agri-tourism farm in Leicester NC. She has degrees in Forestry & Education & has been involved in the heritage poultry movement 5+ years teaching dozens of workshops on & off her farm in incubating, hatching, raising & processing poultry. She is skilled in construction, gardening, cooking, processing/preserving harvest, livestock & poultry management. Her passion is Farm Camp where they inspire the youth to learn these skills.
Gabriel Noard, Pangaea Pants Medicinal Herb Farm
Gabriel Noard is the owner and operator of Pangaea Plants Herb Farm in Lake Lure, NC. Pangaea is the east coast’s largest certified Biodynamic® medicinal herb farm. Gabe’s farm recently won “Best Farm Startup” in American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Gabrielle White, Patchwork Urban Farms
Gabrielle White is an Air Force Veteran, Permaculture Designer, massage therapist, and homesteading adventurer. A student of natural building, gardening, orcharding, food preservation, and all things “primitive skills”, Gabi is dedicated to building community and creating social justice through activism and farming. She’s striving to create a fruit CSA in Asheville.
Holly Whitesides, Against the Grain
Holly Whitesides and her family have been farming biodynamically for 5 outside of Boone, NC. They raise a broad spectrum of vegetables, pasture beef, pork, chicken, turkey and goat, all for direct market. Holly is committed to regenerative agriculture that serves to heal people and the soil.
Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Ira Wallace, author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, is a Master Gardener and a worker/owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She serves on the boards of Organic Seed Alliance and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.
James Geoffery Steen, Raven Ridge Farmscapes
Geoff is an agro-forester, educator, farmer, orchardist, designer, and installer who has recently been involved in planting more than 15 acres of multi-specie orchards and silvo-pastures in three states. His style of instruction is engaging and helps people gain confidence to take action. He lives with his family in Marshall.
Jeanine Davis, NC State University
Jeanine Davis, Ph.D., is a researcher and extension specialist with NC State University where she runs a program dedicated to organic agriculture and alternative crops (e.g., hops, truffles, stevia, herbs). She is the lead author of Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and co-owner of Our Tiny Farm.
Jill R. Sidebottom, North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Jill Sidebottom has 29 years of experience helping Christmas tree growers and landowners safely control pests using integrated pest management. Her emphasis has been on practical approaches to scouting for pests and understanding the biology and ecology of pests and their natural controls.
Joel Dufour, Earth Tools
Joel Dufour grew up on a 5-acre organic vegetable farm, using hand tools daily. He owns Earth Tools, one of the leading suppliers of high-quality garden tools in the USA. Joel still gardens on a 1/4 acre for home use and is excited to share his passion for good tools.
John Henry Nelson, Stone & Spade
John Henry Nelson is a native of WNC and owns Stone and Spade a permaculture design and installation company with a focus on Earthworks and water harvesting systems. He has spent the last 25 years cultivating his relationship with design, agriculture and construction.
John Mahshie, Veterans Healing Farm
John Mahshie is the Founder and Executive Director of the Veterans Healing Farm, a nonprofit community farm based and operated in Hendersonville, NC. John has developed numerous low-tech farm tools and techniques which he has chosen to share freely and openly in a style he calls “disruptive agriculture.”
Josh Fox, Fox Herbs & Acupuncture LLC
Josh Fox is a licensed acupuncturist and herbal clinician at Fox Herbs & Acupuncture, incorporating Chinese medicine and Western herbal studies into his practice. He is a core faculty member of the Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine and Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts.
Julia Gaskin, University of Georgia
Julia Gaskin is an Extension Soil Scientist in the Sustainable Agriculture program at the University of Georgia. She has research and worked with organic vegetable and grain farmers and conventional no-till production. Always with the goal of restoring degraded agricultural soils.
Karen Washington, Rise & Root Farm
Karen is a farmer, writer, activist, and international speaker. For decades, she’s promoted urban farming for all New Yorkers to access to fresh, locally grown food. She is the co-owner of Rise & Root Farm, helped launched a Black Urban Growers, and City Farms Market, and, in 2014, won the James Beard Leadership Award.
Keenan is a builder, home renovator, and finish carpenter. He has designed and built a mobile, double-wide, off-grid small house (310 sq ft) and a permanent foundation tiny house (200 sq ft). He has lived in both, successfully, with his partner for the last 2 years.
Kevin Moorhead, UNCA Asheville
Kevin is Professor of Environmental Studies at UNC Asheville and teaches courses in soils, agriculture, wetland ecology, energy, and environmental restoration. His research focuses on plants and soils and ecosystem restoration.
Kim Bailey, Milkweed Meadows Farm
Kim has worked as an environmental educator for over 20 years. She first visited the monarch overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2002 and has since co-led several trips to the area. She now grows milkweed, flowers, fruits, and vegetables at her family’s farm in Fruitland, NC.
Lars Peterson, FERMENTI
Lars Peterson and his wife have been primitive homesteading for 10 years without power, running water, or internet. What arose is an appreciation for heritage trades and a desire to use them in our modern economic lives. Lars has a degree in Fine Art.
Laura Lengnick, Cultivating Resilience
Laura is an award-winning soil scientist who has explored agricultural sustainability for more than 30 years as a researcher, policy-maker, educator, and farmer. She owns Cultivating Resilience, a private firm offering resilience planning services and her book, Resilient Agriculture, examines issues of climate change, resilience, and the future of food.
Luke Cannon, Astounding Earth
More than a botanist, Luke Cannon is an avid naturalist, long-time learner, and teacher of our astounding natural world. Luke offers regular classes in WNC on plants, birds, insects, lichens, and fungi. He has great enthusiasm for building closer relationships with the wilds around us.
Marissa Percoco, Wilderlandia
Marissa Percoco is an avid fermentation enthusiast who spent the last eight years exploring fermented cultures, local plants, and their synergy. Traveling throughout the US, with her four amazingly adventurous children, Marissa has gathered cultures and recipes from far and wide.
Mark Dempsey, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Mark Dempsey is the Farm Services Coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, helping farmers implement conservation practices and transition to organic production. His background is in soil microbiology, weed science, and cover crop research.
Matt Poore, NCSU Extension
Matt Poore is a Professor of Animal Science and Beef Specialist with NCSU Extension. His research is focused on making the most of pasture-based systems for producing beef cattle and understanding the local beef finishing systems. He manages his family farm which finishes most the steers for the local market.
Matthew Bennett, Sundance Power Systems
Hailing from Athens, Ohio, with 22 years of solar experience, Matt joined Sundance Power Systems in 2014. Previously, he founded Dovetail Solar & Wind and became a NABCEP Certified PV Installer in 2003; he has designed and installed hundreds of Solar PV systems. He enjoys hiking, paddling, playing Ultimate and working on his homestead in Madison County.
Meagan Roberts, Western Piedmont Community College
Meagan Roberts is owner of Upper Yadkin Heritage Poultry in Happy Valley, NC. With her husband and children, she raises rare and endangered breeds of heritage chickens on pasture. She also teaches Sustainable Agriculture in Morganton, NC.
Meg Chamberlain, FERMENTI.
Meg is the creatrix of the highly popular gourmet food purveyor Fermenti, a WNC-based fermented foods business focusing on hand-crafted, probiotic-rich food, beverages, and seasonings. She is also fine artist, off-grid homesteader, and mom. She is passionate about fermentation and the Art of Food.
Meredith Leigh, Mereleigh Foods
Meredith Leigh has, over the past 17 years, worked as a consultant, farmer, butcher, chef, educator, non-profit director, shop owner, co-op founder, food activist, and writer, all in pursuit of sustainable food and the reimagining of mindful foodways. She is the author of Ethical Meat Handbook, and the forthcoming Pure Charcuterie.
Michael Sheehan, Biochar Central
Mike Sheehan has a degree in Environmental Design and for 26 years focused on the built environment. In 2011 he produced a simple to use, low-cost, smokeless Biochar kiln and in the process discovered the many benefits of carbon negative BIOCHAR.
Mike Weeks, Fifth Season Gardening Company
Mike Weeks is a long time employee/owner of Fifth Season Gardening Company and has been working with small scale farms and gardeners in WNC since 2003. He has a passion for creating healthy, bio-diverse soils that will produce the healthiest crops.
Nancy Lee Adamson, Xerces Society & NRCS
Nancy is a bee biologist who supports conservation on farms through USDA-NRCS and is a Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the Xerces Society.
Osker Brown, Glorious Forest Farm
Osker Brown manages Glorious Forest Farm, where he is working to develop wild staple foods, silvopasture, and coppice systems in rural Madison County.
Pam Dawling, Twin Oaks Community
Pam Dawling is the author of the book Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. She also writes for Growing for Market magazine and manages the growing crew at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia.
Pat Foreman, Gossamer Foundation
Pat Foreman has kept poultry for over 25 years, taught extensively and has written several books including City Chicks, Chicken Tractor, and A Tiny Home to Call Your Own. Her commercial poultry operation includes managing breeder flocks, incubating eggs, pasturing poultry, finished processing, and direct marketing.
Patricia Allison, Medicine Wheel Collective
Patricia Allison began teaching Permaculture Design Courses in 1994 and from there put down roots at Earthaven Ecovillage, a Permaculture-based intentional community near Black Mountain, NC. The focus of her teaching is the cultural underpinnings of sustainability and changing our everyday decisions to create a joyful and abundant future.
Philip Ackerman-Leist, Green Mountain College & Chelsea Green Publishing
Philip Ackerman-Leist is Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Green Mountain College, a farmer, and author of A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement, Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems, and Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader.
Phyllis Styles, Bee City USA, Founder/director of Bee City USA® & Bee Campus USA
Phyllis Stiles was named United States Pollinator Advocate for 2015 by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. To date, more than 100 cities and campuses have been certified. Stiles’ career ranges from natural resource and farmland protection to civic leadership development.
Rachel Shopper is an outdoor educator, naturalist, poet, yoga instructor, and permaculture designer. She studied nature connection and primitive skills at the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA. Rachel lives in Barnardsville, NC where she teaches for Alive and Wild Wilderness Retreats, Muddy Sneakers, and Forest Floor Wilderness Programs.
Rebecca R. Word, Blue Ridge Naturopathic Medicine
Rebecca Word is a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) in Black Mountain, NC, and an instructor of Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Diet and Nutrition. Naturopathic Medicine believes in the healing power innate to every living thing and Rebecca is deeply passionate about empowering others to wellness through humor and education.
Richard Boylan, North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Richard Boylan is the Area Extension Agent in the Watauga and New River Headwaters region, supporting diversified and sustainable agriculture and the success of local farms. He teaches the Permaculture Design Curriculum at Appalachian State University, and grows garlic and other crops as the owner and operator of Otus Branch Farm.
Roy R. Harris
Roy Harris is an engineer, gardener, social justice activist and has lived in the Southside Neighborhood for 30 years. The gardens in Southside are in year four of production for the Southside Kitchen with hopes of a commercial farm stand and store.
Rob is a native of NC who has been involved with ground truthing and cataloging primary forests in the Southern Blue Ridge region over a period of 25 years. He participated in early bioregional efforts and worked with the late WNC Alliance.
Russel Hedrick, JRH Grain Farms, LLC
Russell Hedrick runs JRH Grain Farms, operating on 800 acres, growing non-GMO corn, non-GMO soybeans, white wheat, black oats, triticale, barley, raising pasture cattle, pasture Katahdin sheep, and pasture Berkshire pigs. He is a soil health innovator, farming pioneer, and lectures internationally about conservation and how to implement regenerative farming practices.
Sarah McKinney, Wild Mountain Bees, Old World Honey
Sarah McKinney is “kept by the bees.” As owner/beekeeper of Old World Honey and beekeeper for Echo View Farm, she runs Wild Mountain Bee Supply and cares for 80-150 hives. Storyteller and instructor, Sarah is enchanted by the magic of the bees and is known locally as the “Bee Whisperer.”
Sheila Dunn has been growing and hunting for mushrooms for 20+ years. She is an active member of the Asheville Mushroom Club, and chair of the AMC Education Committee. She lives in Weaverville, where she has created an edible landscape, including several types of mushrooms.
Shuvonda Harper, Southside Community Garden
Shuvonda Harper is a native of Asheville, raised in the historically African American Southside neighborhood. She is an activist, board member of the Asheville Housing Authority, parent coordinator with LEAF, Project Coordinator for Kresge FreshLo Project, Office Assistant with the Eddington Center, volunteer at Southside Community Center, and mother of two.
Sobande Greer, NCB School of Herbalism & Holistic Health
Sobande is an army veteran, certified holistic nutritionist, herbalist, consultant, author, and educator. She is the founder and owner of Natural Choices Botanica, and runs the NCB School of Herbalism and Holistic Health. Sobande delivers high-energy presentations on holistic health, herbalism, women’s wellness and how to live in your passion.
Spencer Bolejack, Land of the Sky Wilderness School
Spencer Bolejack is a full time blacksmith and knifemaker who also teaches martial arts locally. He operates Land of the Sky Wilderness School with his wife in Haywood County, NC. He is a graduate of UNC Asheville.
Sunil Patel, Patchwork Urban Farms
Farmer, permaculturalist, and food thought-leader, Sunil Patel has studied natural farming methods throughout the U.S. including 4-season biodynamic vegetables, managing a grass-fed dairy, making artisanal raw milk cheese, natural building, and helping maintain permaculture sites. He lives in Asheville where he launched Patchwork Urban Farms in 2014.
Tarinii, Lion Paw Botanicals
Tarinii is a gardener, yoga instructor, educator, and mother. While living in rural Burkina Faso, Africa, she focused her graduate research on women-centric, biodiverse sustenance gardening, and has since become an advocate for neo-traditional food and medicine ways.
Wade Burley is a gardener, naturalist, and permaculturalist living in Marshall, NC. He has worked with farms, nonprofits, and projects throughout the region and internationally. He is passionate about connecting humans with the earth in healthy and mutually beneficial relationships.
William Padilla-Brown, MycoSymbiotics
William Padilla-Brown is a social entrepreneur, citizen scientist, mycologist, amateur phycologist, urban shaman, poet, and father. William holds Permaculture Design Certificates, conducts mycology research, directs a non-profit, offers on-line education, has popularized a series of you-tube videos on mushrooms, and writes for Fungi Magazine. William is leading the country in the field of Cordyceps cultivation.
Zev Friedman, Living Systems Design
Zev Friedman is a leading permaculture designer, researcher, teacher, and writer in western North Carolina. He grew up in a patch of kudzu in Sylva, NC and received his B.S. in Human Ecology from University of North Carolina Asheville. Zev specializes in hands-on, in-depth education in permaculture and earthskills.
Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.