2020 Weekend Speaker Bios
Root Cause Farm
Ali Stone is Program Manager at Root Cause Farm and a student at OHSU pursuing an MS in Food Systems and Society. She brings leadership experience in community garden development, teaching, project management, and food access advocacy. She is interested in food access using an abundance mindset and asset based model.
Andrew Goodheart Brown
Andrew Goodheart Brown, 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.
Angelica Watkins is a wife, mother of four children, homeschooler, and homesteader. She has lived in WNC for eight years. In addition to raising her family, she has been raising ducks, goats, tending a garden, and cooking healthy, wholesome meals while learning old world skills and juggling daily life.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Asher Wright is the Farm Director at Hickory Nut Gap Farm. His love for farming began at Warren Wilson College 15 years ago where he graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and worked as a farm manager. He has an M.S. in Animal Science from Clemson University.
Ashleigh Hillen works in outdoor survival, agriculture, and seed sovereignty. Her goal is to empower others through the practices of self sufficiency and home food preservation that were passed down through generations of her family. She has a BS in Environmental Management and Policy with a Minor in Economics from UNCA.
Cedar Johnson has been involved in sustainable farming for over 20 years. She and her family run Goldfinch Gardens, a small, sustainable farm in Yancey county where they sell a wide variety of vegetables to restaurants and through an online CSA. She studied ecological agriculture at The Evergreen State College.
Charlie Thompson teaches, writes, and makes films about rural justice, is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and Documentary Studies at Duke University, and the author of “Going Over Home: A Search for Rural Justice in an Unsettled Land.” He’s a native of Southwest Virginia and a former organic farmer.
Sugar Hollow Solar, Inc.
Chavo Krenek is the Director of Operations and Managing Partner with Sugar Hollow Solar, a local full-service solar installation company. His degree is in Appropriate Technology from Appalachian State University, and has worked in solar for the past 4 years.
Utopian Seed Project
Chris Smith is executive director of Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit celebrating food. He serves on the boards of The People’s Seed and Sow True Seed. His book, The Whole Okra, was published in June 2019. He’s passionate about sustainable food systems, heritage seed saving, and surviving the apocalypse.
Kanuga Conferences, Inc.
Clint DeWitt serves as the Environmental Projects Manager at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville. His duties include the planning and care of a one-acre educational garden that demonstrates organic and beyond organic practices for students and guests from across the southeast while providing fresh, local food for the conference center dining hall.
Cornelia Cho, MD
Mushroom Club of Georgia
Cornelia Cho is a practicing pediatrician, mushroom club president, educator and life-long 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.
D.J. Baker is an advocate for small and local food businesses, an activist for justice, and a student and teacher of nutrition, health, agriculture, and food. D.J. is inspired to help everyday people striving to cultivate a new culture and health in their homes and communities.
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.
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
Herb Girls Athens
Amy Wright & Eileen Brantley work together in their new business, Herb Girls Athens; their mission is to reconnect their community with healing foods and herbal medicine by providing nutritional therapy consults, education, and high-quality, handcrafted herbal products.
Fair Share Farm, LLC
Elliot Seldner runs Fair Share Farm, LLC in Pfafftown, NC, with wife Emma Hendel. The four-season farm serves customers in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Charlotte with a mission is to make the world a little better by growing great food and feeding a lot of people.
Erica Gunnison is a community organizer working with Whippoorwill Festival, Amazon Mycorenewal Project, Radical Mycology Convergence, Organic Growers School, and Firefly Gathering. She is drawn to the intersection of natural and human communities with a focus on sharing skills designed to empower individuals, build collective culture, and create a harmonious shared Earth.
The Culinary Gardener
Evan Chender, a farmer and former chef, runs The Culinary Gardener, a one-acre intensive vegetable farm in Weaverville, NC. He grows over 200 varieties of crops per year and markets directly to restaurants in Asheville and Atlanta.
RD & S Farm, LLC
Felicia Bell is an Agriculture Specialist at NCAT, an African American farmer, born into a farming family, and co-owner of Eritaj Cookery, a restorative food cafe and education hub in Jackson, MS. Bell has over 30 years of experience working with heritage breed animals on various grazing methods.
Frank Hyman is a writer, carpenter, stone mason and welder with 40 years construction experience with farms, gardens, houses, coops and treehouses. He’s been an organic farmer, an IPM scout and a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. His articles appear in Chickens, Community Chickens.com, Paleo and Hobby Farms.
Franny Tacy is the owner of Franny’s Farm and Franny’s Farmacy, a vertically-integrated hemp business with growers, manufacturing, distribution, multiple dispensaries across the US. She was the first female farmer in NC to plant hemp. She strongly promotes comprehensive hemp education, collaborative systems, and her “Women in Hemp” non-profit.
Speaker bio coming soon.
Dr. Greg Stewart is the President of the World Shepherd Project and owner and principal at Southern Veterinary Services in GA since 1988. His 33 year career has focused on small ruminants—deer, elk, sheep, and goats—in ten states.
Against the Grain Farm
Holly Whitesides and her family have been farming Biodynamically since 2013 on 35 acres near Boone, NC. They raise certified BIodynamic and Organic vegetables, as well as Animal Welfare Approved and pastured beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and goat. Holly is committed to regenerative agriculture that heals people and the soil.
North Carolina State University
Inga Meadows is the Extension Vegetable Pathologist for WNC where she provides disease management recommendations for growers and conducts research for cultural and chemical management of vegetable diseases. Inga served as the ornamental and tree pathology researcher at Clemson University and has taught plant disease diagnosis for agriculturalists worldwide.
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.
Isa Whitaker is a father, husband, poet, and Community Garden Network Coordinator with Bountiful Cities. He brings awareness of daily food and nature choices enhancing well-being. He has an AA degree, Doctor of Naturopathy diploma, and is a graduate of Green Opportunities.
Root Cause Farm
Janice Brewer is the Farm Manager at Root Cause Farm, formerly The Lord’s Acre, in Fairview, NC, where she organizes volunteers to grow organic food for donation. Working in food systems since 2013, her passions include community food, addressing food insecurity and encouraging all people to explore food, connection, and community.
Sow the Land
Jason Contreras and his wife document their homestead journey on their YouTube channel and ‘General Store’, Sow the Land. They use their online presence to market goods for land-based living, including herbal products, tools, and artistic and functional fine woodwork.
North Carolina 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.
Jeramy Stauffer, owner of Nanostead, established in 2013 and focused on small sustainable homes, has 20 years experience in the green building industry. Jeramy teaches a popular Tiny Home class at AB Tech Community College through the workforce development program. His Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) became popular national TV programs.
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.
Kaleb Wallace is constantly learning from the natural world. He studies and teaches cooking and nutrition, fermentation, farming and composting, primitive skills, woodworking and tool sharpening, star gazing, canoeing, travelling, social transformation, and ecology and birdwatching.
Kelbi McCumber Morris grows herbs to create a plant based medicine line, Lumenous Healing. She is a Reiki master and Shamanic Practitioner through the Seed to Star Collective. Life experience has brought her helping others move through grief and trauma utilizing herbs and energy work. She lives in Atlanta, GA.
Golden Organic Farm
Kendrick Ransome is a farmer at Golden Organic Farm, growing natural and organic produce to increase the overall health of rural communities. He is an instructor at Agriculture-Athlete Camp & Program and hopes to inspire more youth to consider agricultural careers, ultimately increasing the black farmers in America.
New Roots Market Garden
Krista Fayette is co-owner and operator of New Roots Market Garden, a one-acre intensive garden in the beautiful wilderness of Marshall, NC. She is committed to a healthy, well-balanced ecosystem where all creatures can flourish. Krista has a background in gardening, art, nutrition, and yoga with a passion for conservation.
Yummy Yards/Wild Abundance
Laura Ruby studied permaculture in 2001 and has been teaching for ten years, in CO, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and at Wild Abundance in WNC. She has designed curriculum and taught garden and project based learning classes with over 18 elementary schools. She owns and operates an edible landscaping business, YummyYards.
Lauren Bacchus is an experimental fiber artist whose sculptural work mixes invasive plant matter with unrecyclable plastic materials. She is passionate about sharing her research and processes and teaches eco-art workshops for children and adults. She is co-founder of Kudzu Culture, which aims to vitalize a kudzu-based products industry in the South.
Lee Barnes, Ph.D. has over 25 years teaching Applied Intuition through dowsing to 1000+ students and has dowsed 500+ wells. He received the 2012 Dowsing Educator of the Year Award from The American Society of Dowsers. He is a leader with the Appalachian Chapter of the American Society of Dowsers.
Leif Olson is an environmental scientist, educator and consultant who studies the interactions of ecology with food production, waste management and land restoration. His background includes mushroom cultivation, biogeochemistry, field ecology and landscaping and he currently works as a research consultant for land management projects.
Ten Mothers Farm
Lucas Howerter has eight years of diverse farm experience and is currently a farmer with Ten Mothers Farm. He has a passion for building sustainable farm systems and grows food using intensive low-till practices on less than an acre for a 125 member CSA, local chefs, and the local coop.
Lucas Trotman is a natural builder, permaculture designer, and founding member of Asheville based 501c3 non-profit Woven Earth. Lucas works around the world to create sustainable housing and creative solutions to agricultural and humanitarian issues. Using a combination of Silvopasture and natural building Lucas works in marginalized communities to provide basic needs.
Madeline Ashwill has been an organic grower and grafting manager at Banner Greenhouses for three years. A native Ohioan, she graduated with my BA in Sustainability and first delved into farming while working on and managing a raw goat dairy in Washington State.
Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart, PhD is an ecological landscape designer and teacher. She is the program coordinator for Co-operate WNC’s new initiative for community-supported regenerative agriculture, and is core faculty of SIT Graduate Institute’s Master’s Program in Sustainable Development, where she teaches Regenerative Design. Mari runs an urban homestead in Asheville.
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.
Plants & Healers International
Ethnobiologist Marc Williams has taught hundreds of classes to thousands of students about nature, people and their interface. He has an Environmental Studies B.A. and a M.A. concentrated in Sustainable Development. He is the Executive Director of Plants & Healers International and has traveled in all 50 states of the USA and 30 countries pursuing biological knowledge.
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.
Indigenous Environmental Network
Mary Crowe is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee from the Qualla Boundary and the Southeast Regional Rep for the Indigenous Environmental Network. She is a former resident counselor of the Cherokee Children’s Home and Shelter and former case manager and counselor with the Phoenix House Therapy Program.
Mary Vann Johnston
Mary Vann is a Forestry Associate at EcoForesters in Asheville, NC where she uses her sustainable forestry education from Warren Wilson College to work with landowners to write management plans that uphold strong ecological standards. Mary Vann believes that ecological forest management begins with defining values and outcomes to define stewardship actions.
Sundance Power Systems
Hailing from Athens, Ohio, with 22 years of solar experience, Matthew Bennett 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.
North Carolina State University
Meagan Coneybeer has over a decade of breeding, raising, and processing chickens, turkeys, and waterfowl. She has worked with The Livestock Conservancy, Mother Earth News and OGS to provide informative and accessible education about sustainable poultry. She teaches Agroecology at Appalachian State and is pursuing her doctorate at NC State.
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.
Third Wave Farms & University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Michael Lewis began farming hemp in 2014, is a member of the Kentucky Hemp Commission, and has won many awards including the 2013 and 2014 Local Food Hero award, the 2015 Wendell Berry New Agrarian award, the 2017 Kentucky Colonel award, the 2014 Yahoo People Award, and the GRIST 50 award.
Kudzu Kabin Designs
Nancy Basket has been a Kudzu basket maker for 30 years. She learned to make her first pine needle basket in 1980. Nancy is a public school artist in residence and teaches at Earthskill Gatherings throughout the region. Her work, such as huge woven and freeform chandeliers are installed throughout NC.
The Wallace Foundation
Natilee McGruder is an alumna of the University of Alabama School of Law and the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, and enjoys facilitating difficult and important conversations. She is an Alabama native and resident that has worked in sustainable ag in various capacities over the past seven years.
Purple Mountain Organics
Nazirahk Amen, ND, L.Ac. is a homeopath, naturopath, and oriental medicine practitioner in the DC area for more than 20 years. He owns Purple Mountain Organics, supplier of fine tools and growing supplies and grows grains, beans, & vegetables. Dr. Amen is a spiritual adherent practicing and refining harmonious living skills.
Organic Growers School
Nicole DelCogliano runs the year-long Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training program at OGS. She and her husband run Green Toe Ground, a diversified organic farm in Celo, NC where they manage 16 acres of diversified organic and biodynamic produce and livestock, train farm apprentices each year, and raise their two girls.
Noelle Fuller has a Certificate of Herbal Medicine and an M.S. in Horticulture. Her research focused on holy basil. She now serves as the director of the medicinal herb program at UGArden, a demonstration farm at the University of Georgia.
Osker Brown manages Glorious Forest Farm where he develops wild staple foods (acorns and hazelnuts), silvopasture and coppice systems, and diverse ground forages, all which mimic healthy native ecosystems. His family, and their forested livestock live in rural Madison County.
Alwyn “Oxx” Simeina founded Oxx Beekeeping in 2013 in Jacksonville Florida and Honey Touched products in 2016. He practices treatment free beekeeping by limiting honey removal. Oxx collaborated with Dermatologist, Estheticians, Cosmetologist, and Aesthetician to create his own skin care line based on his skin conditions he has encountered growing up.
Twin Oaks Community
Pam Dawling has lived at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia for 27 years, growing vegetables for 100 people on 3.5 acres, training members in sustainable vegetable production. Her first book Sustainable Market Farming is widely used and her new book The Year-Round Hoophouse is now available.
Patricia Kyritsi Howell
BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies
Patricia Kyritsi Howell, author of Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, has been a practicing herbalist for over 25 years. She is founder of the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies in the mountains of northeast Georgia.
“Pork” Rhyne Cureton
Rhyne Cureton AKA “Pork Rhyne,” is a domestic and international small farms swine educator who speaks on topics related to niche pig farming, increasing youth and diversity in agriculture, environmental awareness, and consumer engagement. Currently, he serves on several boards and committees for organizations such as Southern SAWG and National Young Farmers Coalition.
Rachel Klein is the CSA and Harvest Manager at Wild Hope Farm, a mid-size scale farm focused on mechanized no-till annuals. She was the harvest manager and intern at Mountain Bounty Farm, a 15 acre, 700 member CSA farm in the Sierra foothills of northern California since 2013.
Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture
K. Rashid Nuri is the founder of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture in Atlanta, author of Growing Out Loud: Journey of a Food Revolutionary, and the CEO of The Nuri Group, expanding equitable access through urban agriculture. Rashid has managed agriculture operations throughout the US and 35 countries internationally.
North Carolina State University
Rhonda Sherman is an extension specialist at NC State, Director of the Compost Learning Lab, and author of The Worm Farmer’s Handbook. She just held her 20th Vermiculture Conference, the only annual training on larger-scale vermicomposting in the world.
University of South Carolina
Robin “Buz” Kloot is a research associate professor at Environmental Health Sciences Department at the University of South Carolina where he works directly with farmers on soil health projects and teaches growers how to leverage regenerative farming systems. By paying attention to biology, growers can improve per acre income.
Living Web Farm
Rocco Sinicrope has been farming for 15 years and teaching agricultural techniques for eight. He manages multispecies, grass based livestock operations as well as the implementation of livestock and vegetable production in a closed looped fertility system. When Rocco isn’t working he spends time with his family and enjoys woodworking.
JRH Grain Farms
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 Julia Seldin
Jewish Farmer Network
Sarah Julia Seldin is steward-in-residence of Yesod Farm+Kitchen, a 16 acre community farm in Fairview, NC, dedicated to regenerative agriculture, earth-based Jewish living, and growing relationships across differences. Sarah is a co-founder of the Jewish Farmer Network, a grassroots nonprofit mobilizing Jewish agricultural wisdom towards a regenerative food system.
Heartwood Farms Ltd.
Sarah Beth Hopton, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Technical Communication at Appalachian State University. She is also the owner of Heartwood Farms, a sustainable small farm in the heart of Boone, NC where she has been raising rabbits as an act of social and environmental resistance since 2016.
Wild Hope Farm
Sharon Dubuc is a shepherd and chef on her small family farm in Big Sandy Mush, NC. She and her partner tend a flock of mixed breed wool sheep from which they harvest meat, wool and sheepskins. Most of their harvest is sold directly to their farmstay guests.
Wild Hope Farm
Shawn is the author of The Bio-Integrated Farm: A Revolutionary Permaculture-Based System Using Greenhouses, Ponds, Compost Piles, Aquaponics, Chickens, and More. Shawn manages Wild Hope Farm and has nourished his interest in sustainability as an organic farmer, nursery grower, extension agent, arborist, landscaper, and manager of Clemson University’s Student Organic Farm.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Steffi Rausch has been a volunteer citizen lobbyist for the past six years with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an international grassroots environmental group aiming to influence elected representatives on climate policy. Her focus is on empowering citizens to speak up on climate and support a bipartisan federal climate solution.
Tarinii Shanai 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.
Thomas Leonard is the Farm Operations Manager at Gaia Herbs in Brevard, NC. He is passionate about empowering people to grow medicinal herbs and sustainable food, and to restore land through reforestation. His eclectic agricultural background includes independent farmer, community garden developer, and manager of a 300 acre commercial nursery.
Tim Burke is a long-time farmer and homesteader with a focus on multi-species rotational grazing. His degrees are Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural Education and working towards a Masters in Ag.Ed. Respect for all life and a desire to leave the world better underscore all actions on the family farm.
Tom Elmore co-owns and operates Thatchmore Farm, a ten-acre family farm in Leicester founded in 1987. With the help of a small crew of farm workers they grow certified organic produce as well as ornamentals, mushrooms, and Christmas trees.
Living Roots Compost Tea
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. He worked side-by-side with Dr. Elaine Ingham, founder of Soil Foodweb. Troy is the Mid-South’s only soil food web expert.
Virginia spent nearly six years at Warren Wilson College managing their 300 acre mixed crop and livestock operations. She brings experience in grass fed beef, grass fed lamb, wool sheep, laying hens, broilers, and pastured swine. She is currently working towards a Master’s degree in Environmental Science.
Wheeler & Michael Waldeck
Wheeler & Michael Waldeck farm maple syrup seasonally in Ashe County, NC. They are also craftspeople and woodworkers who produce a handmade line of leather tool belts, tailored for farmers, florists, gardeners, and woodworkers and make furniture in their shop utilizing wood that they fell and mill on their farm.
William Padilla-Brown is a social entrepreneur, citizen scientist, mycologist, amateur ‘phychologist’, urban shaman, writer, you-tube vlogger, non-profit director, researcher, poet, and father. William holds Permaculture Design Certificates. William is leading the country in the field of Cordyceps cultivation.
Mystic Momma LLC
Zaire Sabb is a mother, healer, activist, advanced doula, nurse, priestess of Ifa/Orisha, and herbalist. She is dedicated to healing based in both traditional western healing modalities and ancient ancestral systems. She helps women reclaim their voice.
Zev Friedman is a leading permaculture designer, researcher, teacher, and writer in WNC. 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. His work has evolved into his current role founding and directing Co-operate WNC, a regional Mutual Aid network.
Questions about the program or interested in speaking at a future conference? Email Sera Deva, Conference Curriculum Coordinator at email@example.com.