2021 Speaker Bios

Keynote Speakers

K. Rashid Nuri

K. Rashid Nuri

K. 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., 35 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He also served as Deputy Administrator for USDA during the Clinton Administration. 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.

As CEO of The Nuri Group, Rashid works to expand food equity, food security, food self-sufficiency, and food sovereignty, particularly for small farms and urban agriculture. His work is accomplished through education, training, consultancy, and public policy initiatives. He chronicled his journeys, the failing state of our food system, and offers guidance for the new food movement in his book, Growing Out Loud: Journey of a Food Revolutionary.

Rashid is a frequent contributor at conferences and seminars, consults with political and community leaders, and is a regular guest on podcasts and other media outlets.

You can learn more about Rashid and his work at www.thenurigroup.com

Samantha Foxx

Samantha Foxx

Samantha “Foxx” Winship is a Farm-Her, Mother, Bee Keeper, Master Gardener, and owner of Mother’s Finest Family Farm in Winston Salem, NC. Samantha lived in the Eastern part of North Carolina up until she became a teenager and relocated to Chicago, IL where she spent most of her adult life. On a search to connect back to more of her indigenous roots, she relocated back to North Carolina.

Today, she represents food sovereignty, women of color in beekeeping, food activism, and farming. She started Mother’s Finest Family Farm in 2016 after attending an Urban Farming program at her local Cooperative Extension. Since, taking the class she has created a successful and fully functioning farming enterprise with herself and her family. She serves at her local farmers markets, partners with retail locations across the US, and advocates for community wellness with her handmade wellness tonics and syrups.

She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, appeared on PBS Black Issues Forum, and many other high profile media outlets for diligent work in creating a more equal and just food system. She is also continuing a path to enlighten other families about the power of planting a seed.

@mothersfinesturbanfarm

 

Eric Holt Giménez

Eric Holt Giménez

Eric Holt-Giménez, PhD is an agroecologist, political economist, researcher, lecturer, and author.  

In his path-breaking participatory research, “Measuring Farmer’s Agroecological Resistance to Hurricane Mitch,” 2,000 farmers documented the superior sustainability of agroecologically-managed farms to conventional farms in Central America, spurring the Movimiento Campesino-a-Campesino (Farmer-to-Farmer Movement), a transnational peasant movement for sustainable agriculture. His first book, Campesino a Campesino, chronicles nearly 30 years’ work with peasant culture and agroecology in Central America and the political, socioeconomic, and ecological factors that galvanized the movement. 

As a lecturer, Eric has taught courses in international development, agroecology, social movements and food systems transformation at the University of California, Boston University, the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo (Slow Food) and the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia.

As the former Executive Director of Food First, Eric’s work strove to inform and amplify the voices of social movements fighting for food justice and food sovereignty across the globe. His publishing approach brought researchers, writers, and social movements together in a collective effort to amplify the voices of frontline communities fighting for food systems transformation. He generated research and education for action, bringing the perspective of community-based struggles to broader development and policy debates.

In Eric’s words, “successful social movements are formed by integrating activism with livelihoods. These integrated movements create the sustained social pressure that produces political will—the key to changing the financial, governmental and market structures that presently work against sustainability.”

Workshop Speakers

Amy Walker

Amy Walker

Amy Walker is a member of the Deer Clan, is a great grandmother, and is 78 years old. Her parents, one Cherokee and one South Dakota Sioux, were both herbalists. She grew up eating out of the Appalachian forests; a wildcrafter and a farmer, she focuses her farming on traditional Cherokee food preferences, mostly growing traditional medicine, corn, beans, and squash. She is a retired social worker, and an indigenous traditionalist. Amy is a pipe carrier and a Sundancer in South Dakota.

CHEROKEE FOOD TRACK - Gathering Wisdom & Sustenance from the Appalachians

Amy Wright & Eileen Brantley

Amy Wright & Eileen Brantley

Herb Girls Athens

@herbgirlsathens

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.

HERBS TRACK - Herbs for Oral Health: An Exploration Into the Oral Microbiome

Anna Timmerman

Anna Timmerman

Gardens of Eatin' Landscaping

@gardensofeatin

Anna Timmerman is a certified permaculture designer, ecological landscaper, and former organic farm manager. She has a passion for local food and helping to establish sustainable structures for communities to be built upon. Anna's works to bridge the gap between sustainability and ornamental properties by embodying permaculture principles and implementing ecological design.

PERMACULTURE - Basics of Permaculture Design

April Jones

April Jones

Pinehurst Farmers Market

@pinehurstfarmersmarket 

April Jones is the founder of the Pinehurst Farmers Market located in downtown Columbia, S.C. She is passionate about community, gardens, and farmers markets. She is a writer, blogger, YouTuber and more, advocating for her community through the food sovereignty movement. She contributes content to her blog Frolicking Americana, and to national magazines such as Mother Earth. She founded Pinehurst Consulting to help farmers and communities to be more sustainable and to increase their impact.

FOOD SYSTEMS - Local Food Impact: Supporting Markets & Community Food Strategies

Brandy Hall

Brandy Hall

Shades of Green Permaculture

Brandy Hall has been working with Shades of Green Since 2008, working with thousands of clients who are applying permaculture across contexts. At age 20, she became a General Contractor, and began training as a stone mason where she fell in love with the way intelligent design responds to the natural world. She is passionate about leading a purpose-driven business that actively creates a healthier world for our children.

PERMACULTURE - Regenerative Landscapes: 3 Pillars of Sustainability

Cee Stanley

Cee Stanley

Green Heffa Farm

@greenheffafarm

Clarenda “Farmer Cee” Stanley is a fifth-generation farmer, originally from Anne Manie, Alabama. Although she didn't set out in life to follow on her family’s agrarian path, in 2017, she found herself returning to her roots as the CEO of Green Heffa Farms (GHF), a medicinal plant and hemp farm in Liberty, NC. As one of the first black women to be licensed in North Carolina, she was selected as the 2019 Featured Farmer for Hemp History Week. She has been featured in more than 200 national and international publications, including April’s Oprah O Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences.

HERBS - Seed to Sip: Building a Boutique Herb Business

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

The Utopian Seed Project

@blueandyellowmakes

Chris Smith is the executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. He also co-hosts of The Okra Pod Cast.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING - Seed Selection & Crop Diversity for a Changing Climate

Derek Haynes

Derek Haynes

The Crazy Botanist

@thechocolatebotanist

Graduate of North Carolina State University, Derek Haynes’s passion for Botany is readily seen by anyone who meets him. “The Crazy Botanist”, as he is known, found an allure for plants at a young age. Derek gives back to his community by volunteering with local community gardens, and creating and maintaining relationships, especially within the community of Black plant enthusiasts.

GARDENING - Gardening Victoriously: Raised Beds & Greenhouses

Eddy Labus

Eddy Labus

NCSU Watauga Cooperative Extension

Eddy Labus has been an extension agent for Livestock & Field Crops for Watuaga County, NC for 13 years. His love of agriculture started with his upbringing on a small diversified farm in West Virgina. After serving in the Marine Corps, he received a degree and managed the farm at Berea College. Eventually, he became a research assistant at UT, managing the beef program of 450 cows. He has served a multitude of farm and extension roles throughout his career.

LIVESTOCK - Grazing Beef Cattle

LIVESTOCK - Shepherding in the Mountains: Raising Small Ruminants

Georie Bryant

Georie Bryant

Symbodied / Communities In Partnership

@symbodied

Georie Bryant is a cultural historian and chef from Durham, NC. His work focuses on connecting the complicated cultural histories of food and agriculture with the realities of injustice and inequality. Through his cooking and the work of his company SymBodied, Georie seeks to help individuals reconnect to their indigenous roots in a way which fosters a healthy self-awareness, something he believes is key to addressing the problems of today.

FOOD SYSTEMS - Fitting Into The Food System

Ira Wallace

Ira Wallace

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

@southernexposureseed

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.

GARDENING - The Seed Garden: Planning for Seed Saving & Lots of Vegetables

Jason Roland

Jason Roland

Organically Roland

@organicallyroland

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 and passion for growing with others through classes.

FARMING - Finding Farm Flexibility: Adapting Your Business During A Pandemic

Jeanine Davis

Jeanine Davis

NC State University

Jeanine Davis 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.

FARMING - Forest Farming: Growing Native Medicinal Herbs

Josh Volk

Josh Volk

Slow Hand Farm

@slowhandfarm

Josh Volk runs Cully Neighborhood Farm, a small urban CSA farm in Portland, Oregon. He also consults, writes, and teaches workshops on vegetable production under the name Slow Hand Farm. He is a regular contributor to Growing For Market and the Author of the book Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less.

FARMING - Farm Tools & Ergonomics: Selecting and Using Tools Efficiently

Keenan Phillips

Keenan Phillips

KSPhillips Contracting

@ksphillips_contracting

Keenan Phillips is an experienced builder, mechanic, tinkerer. He has built three small homes, 150-450 square feet each, and currently resides in his custom, off-grid, double-wide, mobile home clad in poplar bark. He is passionate about affordability and building empowerment, liberty, and justice for ALL through skill building.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING - DIY Solar Power

Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart

Mari Jyväsjärvi Stuart

@makegathergrow

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.

FOOD SYSTEMS - Discover Your Local Foodshed

Marissa Percoco

Marissa Percoco

The Firefly Gathering

@fireflygatheringnc

Marissa Percoco is an avid fermentation enthusiast who has spent the last thirteen 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.

COOKING - Non-Alcoholic Fermented Beverages

Mark Dempsey

Mark Dempsey

CFSA

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.

SOILS - Soils 101

Mary Crowe

Mary Crowe

Mary Crowe was born and raised in Cherokee, NC, and is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Mary was raised in social work with social worker parents, and eventually helped author the Indian Child Welfare Act. In 1993, she began working with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and founded the Eastern Cherokee Defense League, an economic, social and environmental organization for the Qualla boundary in 1994. Through IEN, Mary works on a national level with Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Climate Justice Alliance, and It Takes Roots. In between her activism work, she’s a breast cancer survivor, a widow, and has raised three kids. Her children follow in her footsteps as climate and community activists.

CHEROKEE FOOD - Gathering Wisdom & Sustenance from the Appalachians

Meredith Leigh

Meredith Leigh

Mereleigh Food

@mereleighfood

Meredith Leigh is a writer, activist and teacher focusing on anything that reinvigorates the land to people connection. Over the past 17 years, she has 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 Pure Charcuterie.

COOKING - Meat On The Side: De-centering Meat as an Omnivore

Nikita Mattingly

Nikita Mattingly

Hazy Acres Homestead

Nikita Mattingly and her husband grow on 19 acres in Louisville, KY. An avid gardener and environmentalist, Nikita has furthered knowledge by obtaining her Permaculture Design Certificate. After quitting her corporate career, she now farms and landscapes full time. She is working to establish Hazy Acres Homestead into a diverse crop Permaculture farm and goat dairy, and much enjoys life with her new fuzzy co-workers.

PERMACULTURE - Permaculture Principles: Beginning Cultivation

Noelle Joy

Noelle Joy

UGArdens

@iamnoellejoy

Noelle Joy 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.

HERBS - Botanical Skincare

Oxx Simeina

Oxx Simeina

Oxx Beekeeping


@oxxbeekeeping

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.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING - Super Organism: Observing Inside the Beehive

Pam Dawling

Pam Dawling

Sustainable Market Farming / 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 second book The Year-Round Hoophouse is proving popular.

GARDENING - The Seed Garden: Planning for Seed Saving & Lots of Vegetables

Pork Rhyne Cureton

Pork Rhyne Cureton

RAFI-USA

@pork.rhyne

Rhyne Cureton AKA "Pork" Rhyne is known across the country and even overseas in East Africa as an international agricultural & food systems educator; educating experienced as well as new and beginning farmers primarily on small-scale livestock production, business, and marketing. Rhyne is also an active advocate for local/niche meat; serving an an adviser for NC Choices as well as being featured on The Good Meat Breakdown.

LIVESTOCK - Makin’ The Bacon: Profitable Pig Enterprise

Quinn Metoyer

Quinn Metoyer

Miami Compost Project

@miamicompost

Quinn Metoyer found his way to Miami after his 4-year stint at Tufts University in Boston, when he quickly realized the importance of year-round sun, beaches, and tropical fruits. While growing cannabis for Florida's medical industry, he noticed the ethical and practical limitations of conventionally grown plants grown for pure profit. Since then he has dedicated his life to creating compost and other natural amendments with the intention of restoring the health of the soil to cultivate healthy plants and healthy people. He founded the Miami Compost Project, an educational outlet highlighting the ecological benefits of sustainable growing techniques.

SOILS - Restoring the Life in Our Soils

Rachel Zoller

Rachel Zoller

Yellow Elanor

@yellowelanor

Rachel Zoller is a "myco-educator" and loves introducing people to the beautiful world of mushrooms through storytelling, photography and video. Her self-taught journey has taught her tricks for cultivating the same curiosity in others through teaching about mushroom identification, sustainable foraging practices and the function of fungi.

MUSHROOMS - Mushroom ID & Foraging Practices

Richard Boylan

Richard Boylan

Appalachian State University

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.

SOILS - A Grower’s Guide to Soil Test Interpretation

Seher Seven

Seher Seven

Align with Plants Community

@alignwithplants

Seher Seven is a plant loving, unschooling mama, herbalist and home chef currently living in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. She is the author of two full length books as well as multiple poetry anthologies and is the creator of Align with Plants Community, a non-profit organization on a mission to spread the power of plants around the world.

COOKING - Rainbow Salad: Medicine for the Mind & Body

Sharon Dubuc

Sharon Dubuc

Black Thorn Farm & Kitchen

@blackthornfarmandkitchen

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.

LIVESTOCK - Shepherding in the Mountains: Raising Small Ruminants

Ta'rin'ii Shanai

Ta'rin'ii Shanai

Lionpaw Botanicals

@lionpawlivity

Ta'rin'ii Shanai is a land steward & educator. She grounded in her work on traditional, women-based, sustenance garden techniques & its fertile promise for future generations. Her commitment to women, restoration and sustainability drives her passion as an advocate in community circles in Africa to the mountains of southern Appalachia. Based in North Carolina, she stewards the land by gardening, farming, and maintaining a social enterprise producing specialty greens, seeds & medicinal herbs that are used for value-added products sold through her business, Lionpaw Botanicals.

GARDENING - Gardening for Resilience

Tradd Cotter

Tradd Cotter

Mushroom Mountain LLC

@sporeprints

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

MUSHROOMS - Mushroom Cultivation for Everyone: Techniques Anyone Can Use to Grow Mushrooms

Tyson Sampson

Tyson Sampson

Tyson Sampson is a two-hearted and two-spirited individual whom has descended from the local indigenous matriarchy called the ᎠᏂᎩᎶᎯ (A-ni-gi-lo-hi). Their home is referred to as The Beautiful Painted Earth. This family is based here in their aboriginal territory most commonly known as the Great Smoky Mountainsides. Tyson has a background in the healing arts and communications. They (he/she) have been of service to connective circles/family for 19+ years. In multi-faceted contributions, they have worked on everything from documenting endangered language, holding mindful awareness/presence, to sharing wild food practices and cultural sensibilities about Cherokee cuisine. He has contributed to efforts for residents of the Qualla Indian Boundary to have more intimate and legally protective relationships to plants/wild foods in this indigenous bio-region. Currently, Tyson is cultivating an apothecary for ethnobotanical accessibility, called Bigwitch Botanicals. He is also developing a broader collective to support traditional ecological knowledge for his fellow tribesfolk, called the Oconaluftee Wisdom Initiative.

CHEROKEE FOOD - Gathering Wisdom & Sustenance from the Appalachians

William Padilla-Brown

William Padilla-Brown

MycoSymbiotics

@mycosymbiote

William Padilla-Brown is a social entrepreneur, citizen scientist, mycologist, amateur 'phychologist', urban shaman, writer, youtube vlogger, non-profit director, researcher, poet, and father. William holds Permaculture Design Certificates. William is leading the country in the field of Cordyceps cultivation.

MUSHROOMS - Innovations in Mushroom Farming

For more information on this program, please contact Carrie Moran, Conference & Communications Coordinator at carrie@organicgrowersschool.org.