Film SEEDs Farmer Panelists

We're delighted to feature the following farmers, either on film and/or as part of the Expert Exchanges. 

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Sandy Arnold and her husband Paul founded Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, NY 33 years ago, and since then have built a thriving fruit and vegetable farm. Over 40 varieties of diverse Certified Naturally Grown fruit and vegetable crops are grown on about 4 acres of land. They own 60 acres and rent 120 from a neighbor; about 4 acres are cover-cropped for rotation, and many acres are for hay, used by a neighboring beefalo farmer. Their two children, Robert (www.smartfarminnovations.com), and Kim and her husband are integral parts of the operation. The Arnolds have specialized in winter growing and season extension since 1992. Winter greens production is done in 3 large high tunnels and numerous other smaller tunnels, and many other crops are stored in an environmentally-controlled root cellar that has a 24 ton capacity. Paul and Sandy often mentor other farmers, and one of their goals is to create new farmers and help farmers become profitable.

Ann Codrington is an environmental scientist and farmer.  She owns Nisani Farm, based in Charlotte County, Virginia, and specializes in growing ginger and turmeric.  She began growing vegetables as a young child, and her interests in agriculture led to her to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Southern Africa. She is passionate about growing the foods of her Caribbean homeland, and loves to experiment with new crops.  She grows seedlings for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s catalogue and sells her produce and value-added products at farmers markets and through her website.

Chad Gard and his wife, Xenia Czifrik, founded Hole in the Woods Farm, an exceptionally diverse, 35 acre, regenerative, Certified Naturally Grown small farm located in Culver, Indiana, in 2010.  There, he grows over 450 varieties of vegetables, as well as rare fruits, native nuts, and microgreens.  He also raises 100% grass-fed lamb, alpacas, geese, and honeybees.  Always working towards providing a full diet of authentic food, Chad bakes rustic artisan breads and hand-makes fine chocolates for market.  Chad actively supports his local food movement, acting as a mentor to beginning farmers, serving as market master of the Culver Farmers’ Market, and instigating what has become the Marshall County Food Council.  The farm's food can be found at several local markets, via home delivery, and on the menus of area restaurants.

Shazana Goff and Steve Merkel grow Certified Naturally Grown produce and flowers on their farm, Vegetable Power Farm, in a beautiful rural pocket of Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. For many years, Shazana helped run a community farm in Philadelphia called La Finquita (The Little Farm) that was eventually pushed out by big development. Steve fell in love with farming by growing gardens in backyards, on rooftops, and on rented land, before volunteering at La Finquita. Shazana and Steve also raise a flock of laying hens, who are faithfully protected by their guardian Gandalf the Great Pyrenees. They run a CSA and farm stand in Philadelphia.

Cedar Johnson has been involved in sustainable farming for over 20 years. After studying ecological agriculture at The Evergreen State College and completing 2 internships, she and her husband Ben started their first farm. They now run Goldfinch Gardens, a small, Certified Naturally Grown farm in western North Carolina where they sell a wide variety of vegetables through an online CSA. Goldfinch Gardens has converted to use no-till soil management practices.  Her favorite part of farming is the constant learning involved.

 

 

Kat Johnson is a farmer living in Floyd, Virginia. She grew up in the SF Bay Area, and discovered an interest in farming in highschool. She has worked for six organic farms over the past 17 years and most recently, she ran Fields Edge Farm, a historic farm growing five acres of specialty produce. Her love of farming is based on a passion for continuous self improvement, a love of food, and a gravitation for clean and lean processes. This year she is launching her own salad-centric farm and food company called Kat The Farmer. In the off season, she works as a farm consultant, writes a blog, contributes to farming publications.

 

 

Christopher Peterson has spent the last 9 years working in sustainable agriculture and food systems development, including small-scale vegetable production, multi-species managed intensive grazing, whole farm management, food policy, and community food systems development. He currently manages AOVS Urban Farm, a regenerative "low-till" vegetable farm in Memphis, TN that works with and for formerly homeless military veterans. He believes on farming at its best requires creating systems where production goals can be met alongside management for pollinators, wildlife, native plants, and aesthetic goals. He previously served as Executive Director for GrowMemphis (now a program of Memphis Tilth) and has consulted on various other Mid-south food initiatives. He holds an MA in Human Value and Global Ethics and teaches locally as an adjunct professor in Philosophy and Anthropology.

 

Rebekah Rice has grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers using organic practices since she was 10 years old. She and her granddaughter continue to raise flowers on their family farm in upstate New York. Their flower CSA, along with supplying local flower shops and weddings, is their primary market. They also raise Ameraucana chickens, Cascade Farmstead sheep, and veggies and herbs (mostly for home use since Rebekah’s dad Michael has retired from the farm at age 90 and Rebekah opted not to continue doing their long time veggie CSA).  Before she retired to farm full time, Rebekah was a woodshop teacher before working with math, science, and tech teachers to figure out what their students were actually learning.

 

Gareth Stacke's role at CNG is to review the hundreds of new applications we receive each year and to help create educational material for farmers. After farming for five seasons in the Pacific Northwest, where he helped run a beginning farmer training program, he now manages a 1.5 acre rooftop farm in New York City at Brooklyn Grange. When not harvesting arugula in front of Manhattan skyline views or reviewing applications for CNG, you can find Gareth reading a book, going on a hike or biking to Rockaway Beach in the summer.

 

 

Melissa Streng is the owner of Sun Love Farm- a 2 acre market farm in Oregon City, Oregon that grows a wide variety of veggies for farmer’s markets and a home delivery CSA program. She has been farming for the past 14 years, and in Oregon for the past 11 years.  In 2014, she ventured out on her own and started Sun Love Farm. She delights in the many tasks of growing a wide diversity of food on a small scale and getting that food into the local community. She is intentional in growing a bounty of beautiful food each year, while remaining small scale, minimizing resource use and impact on the land. Melissa lives on the farm with her husband and two young daughters, and delights in how much her 3 year old loves eating hakurei salad turnips fresh from the field, still covered with dirt.

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Leon Vehaba is a farmer and educator with over 15 years of experience in small-scale diversified vegetable, small fruit, and flower production using organic methods. He assists current and aspiring farmers with all aspects of production, including land assessment, crop planning, business planning, equipment selection and sourcing, material sourcing, infrastructure development (with expertise in greenhouses and high tunnels), and hiring and training staff. He coaches his clients to run successful and sustainable farm businesses, supporting them in real time every step of the way. Reach him at [email protected] to learn more.

 

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Gwendolyn Washington and her husband Brennan own Phoenix Gardens, an intensive urban farm just outside Atlanta that grows a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs. After a long career in customer service, Gwendolyn turned her people skills to agriculture, handling all of the marketing and customer interactions for the farm. Upon her recent retirement, she has taken over most of the farm management while her husband focuses on his sustainable agriculture outreach work with Southern SARE. Gwendolyn and Brennan are proud to be among the very first CNG farmers in Georgia, and that Georgia today is home to more CNG producers than any other state in the nation.

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