Special Guest Speakers
2020 Spring Conference Special Guest Speakers
Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer training for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Leah has been farming since 1996, holds an MA in Science Education and a BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. The work of Leah and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Racial Justice Fellowship, Fulbright Program, Grist 50, and the James Beard Award, among others. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.
Leah is teaching “Farming While Black: African Diasporic Wisdom for Farming and Food Justice” as a Pre-Conference Lecture.
Leif Olson is an environmental scientist, educator, and consultant, with a diverse background in research, agriculture and landscaping. He is the founder of Integrated Land Enhancement (ILE), a company focused on the emerging understanding of plants, fungi, microorganisms, nutrients, and water to enhance the resiliency, fertility and productivity of our landscapes. Through an interdisciplinary scientific lens, Leif collaborates on restoration and bioremediation projects with organizations like Mushroom Mountain in Easley, SC, Earth Design in Greenville, SC, MycoEvolve in Burlington, VT and the Telluride Institute in Telluride, CO, providing research guidance and scientific expertise. As an educator, Leif offers engaging and scientifically nuanced presentations and workshops around the country on mushroom cultivation, composting and bioremediation. A native of the western North Carolina mountains, Leif received a Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Masters of Environmental Management in Ecotoxicology from Duke University.
Leif is teaching “Mushroom Cultivation at the Farm & Home” as a Pre-Conference Workshop.
Meagan Coneybeer is a sustainable farmer, primitive skills enthusiast, and heritage poultry expert. With over a decade of experience breeding, hatching, selecting and processing heritage poultry, she is renowned for her engaging hands-on teaching that empowers students to be sustainably raised poultry producers. Meagan has taught poultry and farming workshops for Mother Earth News, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, The Livestock Conservancy, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association as well as Organic Growers School. She lives on the Yadkin River in Western NC where she farms with the help of her milk cow, fiber sheep, and Black Australorp chicken flock. Meagan is living her dream of building a sustainable self-sufficient homestead with her two children, Celia and Samuel.
Meagan is teaching “Chickens & You: From Egg to Table” as a Pre-Conference Workshop
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.
Pat is teaching “Chickens & You: From Egg to Table” as a Pre-Conference Workshop
Rashid Nuri had a powerful “burning bush” revelation while a student at Harvard. The experience set him on a global food odyssey, managing agricultural operations throughout the U.S. and 35 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rashid saw, up close, the abuses and inefficiencies of Big Ag. His vision of community food sovereignty and food equity emerged with full clarity. He brought that vision to Atlanta in 2006, founding Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW). TLW became Atlanta’s premier urban agricultural organization, growing tons of chemical-free, nutritious food, providing jobs, and educating communities about food, nutrition, and self-sufficiency. Now as the CEO of The Nuri Group, Rashid is working to expand equitable access to the tools for success in urban centers through education, funding, partnerships and appropriate regulations for urban agriculture.
Rashid is teaching “Growing Out Loud” a 90 Minute Workshop during the Conference Weekend.
Troy Hinke is the owner and operator of Living Roots Compost Tea, a compost product and consulting firm through which he consults, educates, and lectures on soil health and natural fertility using biology. Troy served as Rodale Institute’s Compost Research Specialist where he worked side-by-side with Dr. Elaine Ingham, founder of Soil Foodweb Inc. Rodale is a world-renowned organic research farm in Kutztown, PA. While there, he performed experiments with compost and compost tea on both large and small-scale agricultural production. Troy then moved back to Tennessee where he founded and co-managed an organic farm and CSA for Highland Realm in Hampshire, TN, after which he became the soil and compost tea specialist for Gardens of Babylon organic landscape company. In 2015 Troy moved to Chapmansboro, TN where he worked for a large-scale windrow composting facility. Troy is the Mid-South’s only soil food web expert.
Leif is teaching “Healing Our Soils through Compost, and Compost Tea: Safe & Natural Fertilizers” as a Pre-Conference Workshop.
William Padilla Brown
William Padilla Brown is a social entrepreneur, citizen scientist, mycologist, amateur psychologist, urban shaman, writer, you-tube vlogger, non-profit director, researcher, poet, and father. In 2015, William started Mycosymbiotics, LLC and the Mycosymbiotics Mushroom and Arts Festival (MycoFest). For the past 5 years William has kept his focus on pioneering Cordyceps cultivation in the U.S. and leading workshops on Cordyceps cultivation around the country. His book, The Cordyceps Cultivation Handbook, was released in 2017 and his second book, Practical Phycology, focusing on algae, was released as an e-book in 2018. William is now working on his 3rd book, Volume 2 of the Cordyceps Cultivation Handbook. William’s non-conventional education in Mycology and agriculture involved dropping out of school to seek a more cohesive curriculum. At the age of 18 William started a non profit called Community Compassion focused on teaching people to grow and maintain gardens. William is certified in Permaculture design.
William is teaching “Mushroom Cultivation at the Farm & Home” as a Pre-Conference Workshop.
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.