Katie Blanchard was raised in church-basement potlucks in Northern Michigan. She first learned of organizing for food justice through Presbyterian churches’ solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their campaigns for fair pay and conditions in Florida’s tomato fields. In college, Katie became a founding student leader of the Real Food Challenge, a national student network that organizes universities to support a just, sustainable, ‘real’ food system. Katie is passionate about the movement part of the food movement, especially organizing with young people to build the skills, leadership, and power we need to create a just, resilient economy. She lives with her partner, tiny garden, and many houseplants in Chicago.
Michael Clevenger is a Reader in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a former evangelical missionary with the World Race. He has worked with the UNHCR, Compassion International, YWAM, and local farmers and NGOs throughout Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa and Eastern Europe. Through seeing the ravaging of war and meeting creative peacemakers around the world his eyes were opened to how deeply interconnected the world is and the important role food and resource sovereignty plays in sustainable development and conflict resolution. He is currently the blog director for Rally International, covering sustainable development work being done in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in communities affected by ongoing resource wars and ethnic violence as well involved with labor organizing with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in south Florida. This is all fueled by a caffeine addiction cleverly sustained by working in specialty coffee. Inspired by the agrarian-organizing vision of the Catholic Worker Movement and Mother Maria of Paris’ monasticism into the heart of the poor, Michael hopes to begin an Orthodox Worker Movement with an emphasis on small-scale urban agriculture. He writes at the intersection of ecology, theology, and community asking ‘what is the good life’ with a preferential option for the poor which can be found at Practice Resurrection. He resides in Orlando, Florida.
John Creasy grew up in the suburban North Hills of Pittsburgh where he spent many childhood hours intentionally lost in the forest near his home. When these woods were razed for an upscale housing development a deep sense of betrayal and loss developed and shaped John’s call as a conservationist. John is a founding pastor of The Open Door Presbyterian Church in the urban landscape of Pittsburgh. Through this church-plant John also founded Garfield Community Farm on approximately three acres of once abandoned land in one of Pittsburgh’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Today John splits his time between being the manager of this urban farm and associate pastor of The Open Door Church. He lives with his wife, Alyssa, and three children in the city where they together raise rabbits and hundreds of pounds of food on their 1/10th acre permaculture plot.
Angel’s interest in agriculture began as a child, growing up in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of rural North Carolina. Growing up, she was surrounded by tobacco farms, Christmas tree farms, and busy helping the family preserve food for the winter. However, she went off to college hoping to get as far away from agriculture as possible. Now she admits that agriculture is an important part of her own identity. Strangely, Angel’s passion for sustainable agriculture began while planting heirloom corn on the deforested slopes of El Salvador. It was the farmers, community leaders, and their families that inspired Angel to keep agriculture in her blood and make it part of her vocation, working towards ways to enhance food security for smallholder farmers throughout Latin America through sustainable agriculture education. Angel believes that as citizens of the US, we have access to some of the best resources and training in the world. Currently, Angel is pursuing a PhD in Agroecology at North Carolina State University. Now, she spends around half the year in the US, in graduate school, taking classes and working on a local food and farming project in her hometown in rural NC. During the summers, she is in El Salvador working with a grassroots NGO and conducting PhD research on sustainable soil management in Christian Base communities.
Anna Duhon lives alongside the Berkshire Hills where she grew up. In her work as a social scientist with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program, she explores interconnections between people, nature and agriculture through community-based research and outreach. Anna completed an A.B. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and an M.A. in Natural Resources and Peace from the University for Peace in Costa Rica. She is deeply interested in processes of connection and transformation at every level. Along with her husband, she caretakes a lively homestead and tries to be as present as possible to the gifts of the land.
Rachel Field is a current seminarian at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut and will graduate with a Master’s of Divinity in 2016. Finding her spiritual life enlivened by her former work as a Field Ecologist and Bird Bander, Rachel continues her interest in eco-spirituality through retreat ministry and work coordinating the Yale Divinity Farm. Rachel studied environmental studies and intrinsic value ethics at Washington College. She is a candidate for ordination in the Episcopal Church, and hopes to continue building a community of love rooted in care of the earth as she develops an ecological and spiritual ministry after seminary.
Kate Fields is from Nashville, TN and is a biologist turned seminarian; she now studies theology through a biological lens at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Prior to seminary, she conducted biology pedagogy research, while working in both veterinary medicine and in remedial learning/Academic Support. She has done peace-building and climate justice work in Fiji and broader Oceania and is committed to nonviolence, peace-building, climate justice, indigenous rights, and to developing praxis-based creation care theologies within local faith communities. She serves on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA and also works with BPFNA (Bautistas por la Paz). She is currently in the ordination process with her home church in Nashville (Glendale Baptist Church) and loves to hike with her greyhounds, grow vegetables, promote local food, and listen to folk music.
Erica Geppi is the North Carolina State Director for the Humane Society of the United States where she manages the organization’s NC legislative affairs and grassroots engagement including faith and rural agriculture outreach. Growing up on a farm in east Tennessee, Erica developed a lifelong passion for the environment, animal welfare and her faith. Her experience includes time spent as a community organizer for the Sierra Club where her work focused on coal ash, hog waste, sustainable food systems and social justice issues. She later went on to serve as the Director of Digital Engagement for Halogen TV, a cable television network producing faith, culture and intentional living content for the millennial Christian audience. She continued her work in film and television managing digital marketing campaigns for Participant Media films including Food Inc., An Inconvenient Truth and the launch of the new cable network Pivot TV. Erica resides in Raleigh, NC with her two dogs Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle and her pet rabbit Huckleberry.
Elizabeth Green is the farm manager at Three Sisters in Ipswich, Massachusetts, an organic community farm serving food pantries, restaurants, and CSA members, with a mission of creating more access in the local food economy. Elizabeth has been a production-scale farmer for eight years. She graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a BA in political science. Before farming, she did policy and advocacy at Sojourners in Washington, DC and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and was a community organizer with Boston Faith & Justice Network and Fair Trade Boston.
Ryan Harb is a certified permaculture designer, community organizer, TEDx speaker, and was the first person in the nation to receive a Master of Science degree in Green Building. In 2010, Harb created a job for himself as Sustainability Manager for UMass Amherst Dining Services. He then began developing one of the first university permaculture gardens in the nation that supplies locally grown produce and hands-on sustainability education to the campus and local community. Within 18 months, “The UMass Permaculture Initiative” went viral and was featured in over 100 media publications including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and on MTV. The project has engaged over 3,500 volunteers and won 8 national awards. In 2012, Harb was invited to the White House to meet and speak alongside President Barack Obama. He was named a “White House Campus Champion of Change”, and UMass Permaculture was voted the top university program in the country that’s changing the world for the better. Now, Ryan is leading one of the first church permaculture initiatives, at West Parish UCC in Andover, MA! www.RyanHarb.org
Joe Martinez is the Executive Director of Centro de Investigación Educación Reclutamiento del Trabajador Organizado (CIERTO) a new farmworker membership organization that recruits, trains and dispatches farmworkers to agricultural employers in Mexico and the United States. Joe is dedicated to developing a safe recruitment, verification/assurance system that will prevent recruitment fraud, debt peonage, trafficking and slavery for farmworkers. Joe has trained and worked to provide a safe, confidential space where workers can develop skills, and build the mutual trust that is necessary to overcome fear and to facilitate their full participation in the value creation process at the farm.
Patrick McLaughlin is a Kansas native and aspired as a youth to practice the healing arts of medicine. Through church mission work in rural Appalachia, then internships and coursework while in seminary at Emory’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, he connected in new ways to scripture, the land, and the healing call of pastor. He began to recognize that wholeness of people is inextricably bound to the healing and stewardship of creation. He is resolute that the paradigm shift our culture needs to find wholeness is literally a return to our roots. To do this, he believes that the church must take a more active pastoral and prophetic role in speaking truth to the powers of capitalism and democracy, rural flight and urbanization, and wealth and poverty, while also remaining committed to gathering at Christ’s Table for human and Holy dispensations of grace and mercy. He believes that as we reconnect with people over the food we raise and eat together, whether in fields, pastures, or at Christ’s Table, we will experience the Body of Christ and God’s Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. These commitments enliven Patrick’s passion for the church and God’s plan for it to make the world whole again.
Samantha Miller gains inspiration exploring the intersections of environmental and social justice issues, largely through a faith-based lens. She has studied biology, international development, food systems, and environmental justice—recently she completed an MS in Natural Resources and Environment through the University of Michigan. Currently, Samantha works with a few organizations: she provides resources to houses of worship towards energy efficiency with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, writes grants for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and helps to coordinate the Food Justice and Sovereignty Workgroup through Michigan State University. Samantha makes her home in Cleveland, Ohio.
Kyle Mitchell’s BA degree in Church Ministry led him to teach Religious Education at Kodaikanal International Boarding School in India from 2008 to 2010. While there, one of his students wanted to plant carrots in Kyle’s backyard. Three months later, much to his surprise and delight, the carrot seeds had produced beautiful carrots! This miracle of seed to carrot changed his life so much that he and his wife decided to drop their jobs and go on a farming journey. For 2 years, they interned on organic farms in Vermont, Florida, and Central America. Since 2013, he has been a job coach and assistant farm manager on an urban farm that gives job opportunities and training to adults with developmental disabilities. He and his wife are the founders and coordinators of Project Grow, a youth gardening program dedicated to raising awareness of real food and gardening in their neighborhood. In his spare time Kyle enjoys hanging out in the backyard with his chickens and rabbits, thinking about soil, and trying to figure out how to compost through the long Cleveland winters.
Katera Moore is an urban geographer. She is the Director of Community Food Education Programs at the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. Katera’s previous experience was teaching undergraduate courses in addition to developing and delivering place-based informal science education programming for urban middle and high school students. She loves to cook (and eat) and is passionate about addressing inequities in the food production and distribution system. Katera received both her BA in Urban Studies and her Masters of Environmental Studies from Penn. Her passion for environmental justice issues led her to pursue a PhD in Earth & Environmental Science and certificate in Africana Studies at The Graduate Center in New York. Her dissertation focused on environmental justice in post-industrial Philadelphia.
Eva Moss grew up in the US Foreign Service and received her BA in anthropology from Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Her research and involvement there focused on religious and intentional communities, as well as local food systems. Since then, Eva has worked with various small-scale farms, businesses, and regionally focused non-profit organizations in North Carolina, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Vermont, whereby she has learned from a diversity of sustainable development and regenerative agriculture models. Her vocation in food and agriculture was first inspired by her volunteer work with the Sisters of the Community of St. Mary – Southern Province, an Episcopal Benedictine order to which she will become an associate. Currently, Eva is pursuing a Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy (MFALP) degree at Vermont Law School. She plans to continue her journey through community-based efforts in support of our farmers, local agricultural wisdom, and the connection that comes from communities formed around food, stewardship, and faith in Creation and each other.
Monique Stone is a Priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, serving as the Incumbent of a three-point parish in the rural-fringe area of the Nation’s Capital. In partnership with her community she has led the church to adopt a variety of food justice initiatives including the Neighbourhood Tomato, a small community garden on the property that provides fresh food to the local Food Access Centre. Monique is relatively new to ordained ministry, having enjoyed a lengthy career as a public engagement specialist in the areas of environmental and social sustainability at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government. Her consulting work included projects in the area of climate change, transit infrastructure, urban tree protection, brownfield redevelopment, rural and urban community relations, and urban planning. Over the past two years Monique has been a key leader in the development of a long-term strategic plan for the Anglican Diocese entitled Embracing God’s Future. In her spare time she hangs out with her husband, two kids, and two English-Bulldogs.
Nathan Stucky serves as Director of the Farminary Project at Princeton Theological Seminary. Nathan grew up on a farm in Kansas where his love for Christian faith and agriculture first took root. After earning a B.A. in Music from Bethel College (KS), Nathan spent six years doing ecumenical youth ministry on the eastern shore of Maryland and two years farming back in Kansas. After farming, Nathan earned an M.Div. and a Ph.D. (Practical Theology, Christian Education and Formation) from Princeton Theological Seminary. His most recent scholarship considers the integration of theological education and agrarianism, and he sees the Farminary as a locus for enacting that integration. Ordained in the Mennonite Church (USA), Nathan engages Farminary work as integral to his calling to teaching ministry. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife and three children.
Sara Wolcott is an artist, writer, speaker and minister concerned with climate change. Her concern has taken her to live, research, and work in Africa, Indonesia, India, the UK and now NYC. While working in the intersections of health and agriculture in Tamil Nadu, India, she discovered the critical importance of music, art, dance and other cultural and religious forms. She now attends Union Theological Seminary where she focuses on eco-theology, inter-spiritual engagement and the arts. She has been developing thinking around the potential use of Sabbath for enabling the sustainable development goals and the power of re-telling the story of climate change from the Doctrine of Discovery. She is an active board member of the Quaker Institute for the Future, the first Quaker think tank dedicated to integrating intellectual and spiritual resources to understand complex economic and ecological concerns. She also loves cloud-watching and listening to live music, preferably at the same time.
Joy Williams, Returning 2015 Fellow
In her capacity as the Regional Consultant for the Central South-East Region of NC with Partners in Health and Wholeness, an initiative of the NC Council of Churches, Joy has partnered with ten congregations to increase healthy local foods for the region through church gardens, cooking demonstrations, and food preservation classes. These churches and several others find ways to network together to gain and share resources to create change within the food system using sustainable practices. Any activity, whether it is holding a youth conference where the youth are running the workshops or building your own low cost fresh vegetable/fruit juice meal plan or starting a church garden, is done with a mindfulness to protect people and the planet in a just way. She believes strongly in an ecumenical and multi-cultural approach to working with faith communities. She has a blast organizing culturally sensitive meetings where you might find the group of Lumbee, Latino, Black and White adults singing worship songs, praying in once accord, playing games for team building, and collaborating together on improving access to healthy local foods.