Speaker Bios

29th Annual Spring Conference // March 18-20, 2022

Speakers A-Z


Alex Gray

Appalachian State University

Born in Atlanta, Alex is currently a graduate student in Appalachian State’s Sustainable Technology program. His thesis research explores biochar and its utility in soil regeneration and carbon sequestration. He is interested in ecosystem restoration, community building, and localization.

HALF-DAY: Biochar for the Small Farm or Garden


Alexia Kulwiec

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Alexia is the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund executive director, where she represents small sustainable farmers, artisanal food producers, and consumers. Alexia obtained an advanced law degree in food and agriculture law after over 20 years of legal practice. She also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

ASSORTED MIX: Know the Laws: Regulation of small to midsize farms

Almeta Tulloss

The Georgia Vinegar Company DBA Cherokee Moon Mixology

Almeta is an Afro-Indigenous herbalist, self-taught brewer, and wild garden farmer-forager living in the Appalachian piedmont. She is also the head brewer at Cherokee Moon Mixology, a vinegar microbrewery and cocktail brand. The women who founded and run the company create artisan, apothecary-style cider and wine vinegars, tonics, bitters, and shrubs using organic, locally-grown fruit, herbs, and spices.

HALF-DAY: Herbal Alchemy: Brewing spring tonics, teas, and meads

Alton Perry

Roanoke Electric Cooperative Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project

Alton became the director of Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project after serving in the NC Forest Service for 30 years. He focuses on helping African American landowners use their woodlands to increase their family wealth and legacy. Alton serves on the Boards of the North Carolina Tree Farm Program and the Conservation Trust of North Carolina.

HOLISTIC FORESTRY: Forestry and Land Retention: Empowering African American Landowners

Alyson Wade

The Farm Connection

Alyson is an engineer turned grower. After working as a continuous improvement process engineer in multiple industries, she opened a local permaculture-inspired nursery, The Farm Connection, in Marshall, NC. Alyson aims to combine her passion for regenerative agriculture with her skills in process improvement to serve farming communities and bring healing to Earth.

PERMACULTURE: Lean Techniques: Reduce waste on your permaculture farm

Amyrose Foll

Virginia Free Farm

Amyrose, the founder of Virginia Free Farm, is a fervent advocate for food sovereignty, earth care, people care, and resource sharing. She works to live out the values of collectivism and community to ensure those around her can eat. She is a US Army veteran and a former nurse who continues to protect and care for others through the farm.

ASSORTED MIX: Berry Paradise: Growing blueberries and blackberries organically

HEALING COMMUNITY: A Guide to Feeding Community: Lessons from Virginia Free Farm

Andrew Wheeler 

Arrowhead Hemp Farms

Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Appalachian State. He lives with his family in Asheville and owns and operates Arrowhead Hemp Farms. Arrowhead Hemp is a USDA Certified Organic farm and vertically integrated hemp brand. The farm specializes in cultivating indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cannabis.

HERBS: Hemp Hemp Hooray: Best Practices for WNC Outdoor Cultivation

Angie Lavezzo

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA)

Angie has almost 30 years of gardening experience. She owns the 13-acre Painted Crow Farm in Candler, where she practices what she preaches. Angie and her partner, Eddie, maintain an orchard, vegetable and pollinator gardens, and acres of native habitat for critter friends. She currently works at CFSA as the communications coordinator.

GARDENING: Holistic Gardening: Beneficial insects and companion plants

Anna Cifaldo 

Gardens of Eatin’ Landscaping, LLC

Anna is a certified permaculture designer, ecological landscaper, and former organic farm manager. She has a passion for local food and loves helping establish sustainable structures for building communities. Anna bridges the gap between sustainability and aesthetics by embodying permaculture principles and implementing an ecological design.

PERMACULTURE: Permaculture Design Basics

April Jones

Pinehurst Community Action 

April is the founder of the Pinehurst Farmers Market located in downtown Columbia, SC. April advocates for her community as part of the food justice and food sovereignty movement. She is a writer, photographer, blogger, YouTuber, recipe developer, and book reviewer who is passionate about community, gardens, and farmers’ markets.

HEALING COMMUNITY: Healing Trauma With Plants

Ariel Zjip

Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District 

Ariel grew up on an organic vegetable farm and studied sustainable agriculture and forestry at Warren Wilson College. Through her work, she has helped permanently protect thousands of acres of farmland for future generations. She has also encouraged the public to connect with farms through agritourism by creating the Farm Heritage Trail and supporting the Visit NC Farms app.

FARMING: Agritourism in WNC: Exploring opportunities (Panel)

Asher Wright 

Hickory Nut Gap

Asher is the director of agricultural operations at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. His experience managing integrated crop and livestock operations and visiting farms in the greater supply chain have afforded him a unique perspective on agriculture. He is studying to become a Savory accredited Hub, which has deepened his understanding of Holistic Management and the principles of ecological monitoring.

LIVESTOCK & POULTRY: Regenerative Farm Health: Monitoring impact and outcome

Brandon Ruiz

Yucayeke Farms

Brandon is an urban farmer and community herbalist. He runs Yucayeke Farms, a farming and herbalism project focused on supplying the surrounding community with culturally-relevant foods. His work focuses on providing accessible medicines and educational information, particularly to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. His roots are in Puerto Rico, and he works with medicines from the Caribbean and Appalachia.

HERBS: Herbs for Resilience: Supporting the nervous system

HEALING COMMUNITY: Building Community Through Plants and Culture

Cedar Johnson

Goldfinch Gardens

Cedar has over 20 years of experience in sustainable farming. She and her family run Goldfinch Gardens, a small, sustainable farm in Yancey County that sells a wide variety of vegetables to restaurants and through an online CSA. She studied ecological agriculture at Evergreen State College.

FARMING: Park Your Tiller: No-till methods for the small-scale grower

Cornelia Cho

Mushroom Club of Georgia

Cornelia is a practicing pediatrician, mushroom club president, educator, and lifelong explorer of the many paths to healing. She loves growing, preserving, fermenting, foraging, and cooking food, as well as finding waste solutions, reclaiming traditional foodways, and advocating food justice.

MUSHROOMS: Fungal Food and Medicine

Dan Hettinger

Living Web Farms

Dan is the biochar manager for Living Web Farms, where he helps develop appropriate technology for closing waste streams and maximizing efficiency on small farms. Dan is a systems thinker, father, educator, artist, amateur scientist, fabricator, and organizer for WNC Repair Cafe.

SOILS: Waste Not: Urine

Elina Snyder

Three Rock Farm

Elina is a horticulture extension agent with NC Cooperative Extension. She has a background in commercial organic vegetable production and has worked with local food systems, agricultural research, and education in various capacities. She holds a master’s degree in agronomy and owns Three Rock Farm, which produces small fruits, medicinal herbs, and vegetables in Ashe County, NC.

SOILS: Practical Nutrient Management for Successful and Sustainable Production

fél marquez

they/them or xe/xem

fél (@littleonewhospringsforth) is a non-binary farmer, birth/nurture touch & abortion doula, and restorative justice advocate. a graduate of the farm beginnings course 2020-2021, seasoned farmer from full sun farm and dig In! yancey county community garden, and helped create the first farm on their college campus in Oakland, California which they helped run for two years. they currently work as a project manager doing wealth and tax literacy for a black women owned tax firm, and spend their free time foraging with friends, sipping tea, and wearing a lot of glitter. 


Frank Hyman

Frank is a writer, carpenter, stonemason, and welder with 40 years of construction experience working on farms, gardens, houses, coops, and treehouses. He’s been an organic farmer, an Integrated Pest Management scout, and a Soil and Water Conservation district supervisor. His articles appear in Paleo, Modern Farmer, and more.

LIVESTOCK & POULTRY: Hentopia for Chicken Keepers: DIY sanity savers

Franny Tacy

Franny’s Farm

Franny is an entrepreneur with a mission to share her stories, experience, and knowledge to transform people’s lives, farms, and agro-economies. In 2012, she turned raw land in Leicester, NC, into an agritourism hub welcoming thousands of people to lodge, get married, play festivals, enjoy farm-to-table meals, forage, and more. She owns Franny’s Farm and other affiliated businesses.

FARMING: Agritourism in WNC: Exploring opportunities (Panel)

George Brabant

Phat Ninja Farms

George immersed himself in permaculture after losing his brother and reading the works he left behind. George is now a certified permaculture design instructor and owner of a permaculture food forest, Phat Ninja Farm, located in West Asheville. George’s philosophy uses nature as a guideline, trusting the symbiotic relationships among plants, animals, and fungi.

GARDENING: From Grass to Garden

Gwendolyn Hageman

Darë Vegan Cheese

Through her experience in Asheville’s culinary scene, Gwendolyn drew motivation from the limitations imposed by a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle. As the vegan chef at Warren Wilson College, Gwendolyn found a willing audience where she was inspired to dig into experimentation. She turned to the tradition of cheesemaking and explored fermentation to coax flavor and texture from her creations.

COOKING: Plant-Based Cheesemaking: Traditional techniques

Heather & Rodney Webb

Appalachia Fungorum and Salamander Springs Gardens

Heather and Rodney were both raised in gardening families. They started their small market farm, Salamander Springs Gardens, when they landed in a mountain holler together. Discovering shiitake mushrooms changed their lives as they realized their landscape is best suited for mushrooms and woodland botanicals. They then established a new fungal endeavor, Appalachia Fungorum.

FOREST FARMING: Fungal Forestry: Restoring forest memory

Ian McAfee Snider

Mountain Works Conservation

Ian is a mountain silvologist, regenerative rancher, and educator. He is a lifelong resident of Southern Appalachia but has traveled to mountain regions worldwide to inform his perspective and develop his skills. He operates Mountain Works Conservation, a diversified natural resource firm founded in 2007, and has served OGS as a Forestry track leader since 2018.


Ira Wallace

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Ira is the author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, a master gardener, and worker-owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. She serves on the boards of Organic Seed Alliance and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.

HALF-DAY: Seed Saving: Preserving genetic diversity, community culture, and your bottom line

Dr. Iris Gao, PhD

Middle Tennessee State University

Iris is a professor in the School of Agriculture at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a founding member of the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research and the founding director of the International Ginseng Institute at MTSU. Her research focuses on the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants, including American ginseng.

FOREST FARMING: Organic Ginseng Cultivation: Growing Appalachian Roots

Jason Roland

Organically Roland

Jason Roland is the owner of Organically Roland, a small scale market garden in Lexington, SC. He uses organic and biodynamic methods to provide two CSAs, local restaurants, and a weekly market with fresh produce. He loves sharing his knowledge, love of the land, and passion for growing with others through classes. 


Jaye Edens

French Broad Sheep Company

Jaye served in the US Army from 2002 to 2005. In July 2004, while deployed to Afghanistan, Jaye broke his back while on patrol and was honorably discharged in October 2005. In 2017, he quit his job to focused on farming, and he now owns and operates a targeted grazing operation in WNC.

HEALING COMMUNITY: Farmer Veterans Building Community

Dr. Jeanine Davis, PhD

NC State University

Jeanine is a researcher and extension specialist with NC State University. She and her staff run a program dedicated to organic agriculture and alternative crops (e.g., hops, truffles, stevia, herbs) at research stations in Mills River and Waynesville. She is the lead author of the book Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals, and co-owner of Our Tiny Farm in Etowah.

FOREST FARMING: Growing and Marketing Woodland Botanicals

Jeff Gottlieb
The Primitive Naturalist

Jeffrey has been a naturalist, educator, craftsman, and primitive skills practitioner for over 30 years. He teaches nationally and is the author of three books on primitive skills.

LIVING ON THE LAND: Making Room for Wildlife on the Homestead

John Henry Nelson
Living Web Farms
Stone and Spade, LLC

John has been applying permaculture to farming, education, and building for over 30 years and began homesteading in 1999. He has a passion for sharing his knowledge to expand awareness and inspiration of unique and pragmatic applications for water systems, remediation, and regeneration of native ecosystems. He works at Living Web farms as a lead farmer developing regenerative farming practices.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Water Resilience and Mitigation

PRE-CONFERENCE: Water Resilience and Mitigation: Practical adaptations for farm and home

Justin Holt
Nutty Buddy Collective

Justin has worked in agroecology, ecological design, and education for over a decade. He is a founder and worker-owner of the Nutty Buddy Collective, the Asheville Nuttery, and co-founder of Kudzu Culture. He also guides foraging tours with No Taste Like Home and works as a freelance permaculture designer.

HOLISTIC FORESTRY: Tree Crops for Regenerative Culture in Appalachia

Keenan Phillips
KSPhillips Contracting
Asheville Tool Library

Keenan is an experienced builder, mechanic, and tinkerer. He has installed multiple solar systems and wired, built, and plumbed several homes from scratch through his construction business in WNC. Keenan is passionate about affordability and building empowerment, liberty, and justice for ALL through skill-building. He also teaches these subjects via Wild Abundance’s Tiny House courses.


PRE-CONFERENCE: Build it, Plumb it, Hack it: The Basics of Fix, Mend, and Make for Farm and Home

Kelly Sunshine


Terrapin Farm Project


Kelly graduated from culinary school in 2010 and followed her passion for food into permaculture and beyond. She is co-founder of Soul and Soil Project and farm manager at Mystic Roots Co-Op. She also owns Kelly Sunshine Designs LLC, a regenerative landscaping nursery. Her passions include community connections, food access, soil health, and culinary food as medicine. 

SOILS: Let’s Get Composting!

Laura Ruby

Laura studied permaculture in 2001 and has taught for 10 years in locations such as Colorado, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Wild Abundance in WNC. She has designed curricula and taught garden and project-based learning classes with over 18 elementary schools. She owns and operates an edible landscaping business, YummyYards.

PERMACULTURE: Permaculture for Urban Dwellers, Community Gardeners, and Small-Scale Growers

Leah Webb


Leah is a family food and garden coach residing in the mountains of North Carolina. Her garden, two children’s medical challenges, and the unexpected gifts that accompany adversity are what inspire her commitment to health. Leah’s cookbook, The Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Family Cookbook, teaches the art of meal planning to busy families addressing health issues through diet.

HEALING COMMUNITY: Belly Biochemistry: Relationships between food, microbiome, and wellbeing

Lee Barnes
Southeastern Seed and Plant Exchange

Lee has been promoting seed saving for the Southeastern Seed and Plant Exchange at numerous conferences with OGS and CFSA for over 25 years. He is an Environmental Horticulture PhD and a passionate advocate of regenerative agriculture and permaculture. He was honored as CFSA’s 2014 Activist of the Year for his long history of teaching and promoting seed saving.

LIVING ON THE LAND: Seed Saving 101: How and why to cultivate food sovereignty

Lisa Gonzalez
NCSU Cooperative Extension

Lisa is the director of Clay County cooperative extension. She has worked for Cooperative Extension for over 10 years, serving rural and urban communities. Lisa is from a farming family and has years of experience working on organic and conventional farms. She holds degrees and certifications in environmental studies, nutrition, teaching, and medical herbalism.

HALF-DAY: Buggin’ Out: Integrated pest management in organic systems

Marc is an ethnobiologist who teaches about humans and their interface with other life forms. He has his BA in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College and MA in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. Marc has over 20 years of experience from working with various restaurants and farms and traveling through 30 countries and 50 states.

LIVING ON THE LAND: Fun with Food Preservation

HERBS: Appalachian Medicinals: Use and conservation

Margaret Bloomquist

NC State University

Margaret has worked in the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program in NC State’s Department of Horticultural Science since 2012. She engages with woodland botanicals, organics, vegetables, and other specialty crop research and extension efforts. Margaret received a BSc in global resource systems from The University of British Columbia and a graduate certificate in rural project management from Makerere University.

HERBS: Hemp Hemp Hooray: Best Practices for WNC Outdoor Cultivation

Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart, PhD
Carbon Harvest, LLC

Mari is a carbon farm planner, regenerative designer, and educator. She co-founded Carbon Harvest, a carbon credit and management platform in Southern Appalachia. Mari teaches regenerative design, gardening, and modern homesteading classes in her community. She writes about local food, foraging, and wildcrafting and is working on a book about re-localizing our material lives.

ASSORTED MIX: Backyard Carbon Farming (Saturday Only)

PRE-CONFERENCE: Carbon Farming and Agroforestry

Mark Dempsey
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA)

Mark is the farm services coordinator at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. There, he helps farmers implement conservation practices and transition to organic production. His background is in soil microbiology, weed science, and cover crop research.

SOILS – Soils 101

Mary Crowe
Indigenous Environmental Network

Mary was born and raised in Cherokee, NC, by social worker parents. She began working with the Indigenous Environmental Network in 1993, founded the Eastern Cherokee Defense League in 1994, and helped author the Indian Child Welfare Act. She’s a breast cancer survivor, widow, and mother of three. Her children follow in her footsteps as climate and community activists.

LIVING ON THE LAND: Cherokee Foods, Gathering, and Wildcrafting

HEALING COMMUNITY: Indigenous Principles of Just Transition

Mary Vann Johnston
Wildwood Consulting

Growing up, Mary Vann was often found exploring the woods of Western North Carolina on horseback or “hoofing it” on foot. After receiving her BSc in environmental science from Warren Wilson College in 2014, she has worked in forestry with a brief hiatus to work draft horses. Mary Vann currently serves as the field operations manager at Wildwood Consulting.

HOLISTIC FORESTRY: Healthy Habitats: Managing land for wildlife

Michael Fortune
Green Hill Urban Farm

Michael grew up growing Christmas trees in Brevard, NC. He has been growing food in WNC for pleasure and profit since 2002. He created Green Hill Urban Farm in West Asheville in 2005, where he experiments and cultivates seasonal vegetables and a small diversified orchard.

GARDENING: Fresh Squeezed: Growing Citrus in WNC

Nancy Basket
Kudzu Kanin Designs

Nancy has been a kudzu basket maker for 30 years. She learned to weave her first pine needle basket in 1980. Nancy is a public school artist in residence and teaches at Earthskills Gatherings throughout the region. Her works, such as substantial woven and freeform chandeliers, are installed throughout North Carolina.

HALF-DAY: Invasive Vine Basketry

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Invasives in Native Culture

Nikita Mattingly

Hazy Acres Homestead

Nikita and her husband grow on 19 acres in Louisville, KY. Nikita is an avid gardener and environmentalist with a Permaculture Design Certificate. After quitting her corporate career, she began farming and landscaping full-time. Nikita is working to establish Hazy Acres Homestead into a permaculture farm and goat dairy. She enjoys life with her fuzzy, new co-workers.

PERMACULTURE: Permaculture Principles: Beginning cultivation

Noah Poulos

Noah is an Asheville-based farmer, ecologist, and writer with a background in natural resource management. Noah is deeply passionate about helping to heal rural communities across America through education, design, and farming. He looks forward to a career of working with and learning from fellow agrarians of all walks of life.

ASSORTED MIX: Healthy Crew Dynamics

Oxx Simeina
Oxx Beekeeping

Alwyn “Oxx” is based in Jacksonville, Florida, where he practices treatment-free beekeeping by limiting honey removal. He founded Oxx Beekeeping, which offers pesticide-free hive management, in 2013. He went on to found Honey touched products, a line of honey-based skincare and other products, inspired by skin conditions he encountered growing up. 

HALF DAY: Beekeeping 101: Honeybees and their byproducts

Patricia Kyritsi Howell, RH (AHG)
BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies

Patricia is the author of Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians and the founder-director of the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in Northeast Georgia. After 28 years as a clinical herbalist, she recently closed her practice to devote time to teaching and mentoring student practitioners. She also serves as the admissions coordinator for the American Herbalists Guild.

HERBS: Herbal Remedies for Complex Times

Phoebe Gooding
Toxic Free North Carolina

Phoebe is the program and organizing director for Toxic-Free NC, where she leads the Just and Sustainable Agriculture program. She has an MS in environmental studies, and she works to support communities’ fights against toxic chemicals. As a biracial Black woman and mother of two, she holds racial justice and equity at the forefront of all that she does.

HEALING COMMUNITIES: Farmworker Health and Justice

Pork Rhyne
Pork Rhyne Consulting

Pork Rhyne TV and @Pork.Rhyne

“Pork” Rhyne is the Pork Evangelist, known across the country and East Africa for his work as an agricultural educator and niche meat marketing expert. Rhyne has dedicated his life to training and educating beginner and experienced farmers, primarily on small-scale livestock production, business, and marketing. He currently provides these services through his consulting company, Pork Rhyne Consulting.

LIVESTOCK & POULTRY: Praise the Lard: Profitable pork production

Raileigh Duschen
Conscious Lifestyle Coaching, LLC

Raileigh is the owner of Conscious Lifestyle Coaching, LLC, a platform for awakening the spiritual divinity within the human experience. She guides those transitioning through significant life changes, spiritual awakenings, and death. She is a farmer, yogi, wilderness guide, writer, motivational speaker and all that she is, she is, in her embrace of authentic and true self.

SACRED ECOLOGIES: Land and Legacy: Ancestral Healing through farming and cultivation

Ramona Young
Kente Kitchen, LLC

Ramona is a foodie on a mission to feed all kids, eliminate food insecurity, and provide food access in Buncombe County. After realizing there was nowhere to buy her cherished West African cuisine in Asheville, she started working at festivals with a tent and two-burner grill, sharing her love and history of this exceptional food with people.

COOKING: Global Influences: From West Africa to Western North Carolina

credit Sierra Ford Photography

Rob Greenfield
Regeneration, Equity & Justice


Rob is an activist and humanitarian dedicated to leading the way to a more sustainable and just world. He embarks on extreme projects to bring attention to critical global issues and inspire positive change. After growing and foraging 100% of his food for a year, he has committed to living simply and responsibly for life.

ASSORTED MIX: Growing Food Independence

Sadia Pollard

Prosper Farm, LLC

Sadia is a farmer with a deep connection to and love for the land and the spirits that inhabit it. They are a North Carolina A&T State University graduate, and the South has always been their home. Sadia loves seed saving, thrifting, and playing farm simulator video games.

SACRED ECOLOGIES: The Other Carolina: Stories of Struggle & Resilience in South Carolina

Sandor Katz

Sandor is a self-taught fermentation revivalist and experimentalist who lives in rural Tennessee. His explorations in fermentation developed out of his overlapping interests in cooking, nutrition, and gardening. His books and the hundreds of fermentation workshops he has taught worldwide have helped catalyze a broad revival of the fermentation arts.

HALF-DAY: Fermenting Garden Abundance: Vegetable fermentation techniques from around the world

Selin Nurgün
Burton Street Peace Gardens & Market


Selin is a queer climate resilience practitioner, somatic coach, and urban farmer. They are first-generation Turkish American and were raised beyond borders, between Istanbul and Seattle. Selin manages the micro-farm at Burton Peace Gardens & Market and supports folks through climate grief, burnout, and change. Otherwise, she can be found rollerskating, making art, or practicing their new hobby, kung-fu.

SACRED ECOLOGIES: Growing with Change: Mental health, farming, and self-care

Shakara Tyler 
Black Dirt Farm Collective

Shakara is a returning-generation farmer, educator, and activist-scholar who commits to abolition and decolonization through Black agrarianism, agroecology, food sovereignty, and climate justice. She obtained her PhD at Michigan State University in community sustainability. Shakara works with Black farming communities in Michigan and the Mid-Atlantic through involvement with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, People’s Food Co-op, and more.

FARMING: Growing Together: Farmer cooperatives and collectives (Panel)

Shanti Volpe, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Shanti Elixirs

Shanti is a nurse, perinatal educator, lactation consultant, wife, mother, and owner of Shanti Elixirs. Her interest in holistic health started at an early age and led her to become a beekeeper and Jun brewer. Shanti now loves to share her knowledge with others. Her company dedicates itself to helping people find balance while honoring environmental stewardship.

COOKING: Get Gut Happy!

Shawn Swartz
Forest Stewards Guild

Shawn is a Registered NC Forester, SAF Forester, and ISA Arborist. He holds an associate’s degree in forest management and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in natural resource management. His approach to forest management involves silvicultural methods that mimic historical disturbance regimes and natural variability. His professional interests include restoration of forest species, non-timber forest products, and woody perennials.

LIVESTOCK & POULTRY: Silvopasture Basics: Integrating animals and forest systems

Silver Cousler
Neng Jr.’s

Silver’s dedication to the culinary cosmos is indebted to the experience of their mother, Neneng, a first-generation immigrant who landed in Parris Island in 1986. The lessons taught through this lifelong connection have forged their deep dedication to Filipinx cuisine and heritage diffusion. Silver will also open Asheville’s first Filipinx restaurant in West Asheville in 2022.

COOKING: Fishing 3 Ways: Catching, filleting, cooking

Sneha Ganguly
Kali Mushrooms, LLC

Sneha is a teaching assistant for the Indoor Specialty Mushroom Production course offered by Cornell Small Farms. She is a co-founder of the People of Color Fungi Community. This grassroots organization aims to increase access and representation for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in mycology. She is also the community outreach coordinator for the New York Mycological Society.

MUSHROOMS: Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation

Stesha Warren
Eliana’s Garden, LLC

Stesha is an NC native living in and operating Eliana’s Garden with her husband. They focus on sustainable community development and are proud to mentor farmers for OGS. Stesha received her BS in Agricultural Education and is pursuing her MS in Natural Resources. She shares her knowledge of mushroom identification through both Mushroom Mountain and local colleges.

MUSHROOMS: Ethical Mushroom Foraging

Sunil Patel
Patchwork Alliance
Patchwork Urban Farms

Sunil is a farmer, permaculturalist, and food thought leader. He has studied natural farming methods throughout the US, including year-round 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.

FARMING: Growing Together: Farmer cooperatives and collectives (Panel)

Ta’rin’ii Shanai
LionPaw Botanicals

Ta’rin’ii is a mother, land steward, and educator based in Marshall, NC. Her master’s thesis focused on traditional, women-based sustenance gardening systems of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso. Her commitment to women and sustainability drives her advocacy of community circles in Africa and Southern Appalachia. She runs an herbal business focusing on products that support the nervous system.

GARDENING: Africa to Appalachia

Tamarya Sims
Soulfull Simone Farm

Tamarya is an ecologist, herbalist, farmer, beekeeper, food justice advocate, and environmental educator. They graduated from the 2020-2021 OGS Farm Beginnings (R) program and started an urban micro flower and herb farm in West Asheville called Soulfull Simone Farm. They also work for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy as the community farm associate.

SACRED ECOLOGIES: Equitable Food and Medicine

Tod Kershaw
Baby Eggbert’s Ironworks

Tod is an engineer-turned-dumpster-diving fringe dweller. While he studied transportation as a graduate student, most of his knowledge of vehicles came from almost 20 years of working on cars, making biodiesel, and running cars on vegetable oil. He is also a skilled blacksmith, which currently derives most of his income.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Biofuels 101: Running your engine on waste oil

Tradd Cotter
Mushroom Mountain

Tradd is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener who has cultivated Southeastern fungi commercially and experimentally for more than 22 years. In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his business partner, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries. He is the best-selling author of Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation (Chelsea Green, 2014).

HALF-DAY: Mycelial Magic: Fine tuning your expertise in mushroom cultivation

PRE-CONFERENCE: Mushrooms, Molds, and Mycorrhizae: A Fungal Immersion Experience

Troy Hinke
Living Roots Compost Tea

Troy 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. He worked side-by-side with Dr. Elaine Ingham, founder of Soil Food Web. Troy also hosts What’s Brewing? A Compost Podcast.

HALF DAY: Restoring the Soil Food Web: Compost and compost teas

Tyson Sampson 

Tyson is a two-hearted and -spirited individual descended from the local indigenous matriarchy called the ᎠᏂᎩᎶᎯ (A-ni-gi-lo-hi). In multifaceted contributions over 19+ years, they have documented endangered language, held mindful presence, and shared Cherokee wild food practices and cultural sensibilities. Tyson is cultivating an apothecary for ethnobotanical accessibility and a collective to support traditional ecological knowledge for his fellow tribesfolk, the Oconaluftee Wisdom Initiative.

HALF-DAY: Cherokee Heritage, Food Ways, and Ecological Flavors

Wade is a small-scale farmer and forager, with a preference for making his practices as low-waste and closed-loop as possible. Outside of the garden, he can be found in the kitchen making koji ferments and bad puns.

MUSHROOMS: Mycoremediation with Koji

Zaire Sabb
Mystic Momma LLC

Zaire is a mother, healer, activist, advanced doula, nurse, herbalist, and priestess of Ifa/Orisha. She is dedicated to healing based in both traditional western healing modalities and ancient ancestral systems. She helps women reclaim their voice.

HEALING COMMUNITY: Womb Care: Clinical Use of Plants for the Female Reproductive System

Zev Friedman
Cooperate WNC

Zev grew up in a patch of kudzu in Sylva, NC, learning from various teachers and mentors since then. He served for 12 years as a permaculture educator and recently founded Cooperate WNC, a growing mutual aid collective working toward a cooperative economic system and regenerative way of life. Zev now lives and works at Earthaven Ecovillage.

FOREST FARMING: Cooperative Strategies for Community-Scale Agroforestry

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