Dina has been a full-time farmer for 15 years, after teaching, first in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer and then in the Bronx as a high school English teacher. She founded The Hickories as a one-acre vegetable garden and has overseen the development of new products and new acreage as the farm business has grown to a 45 acre certified organic fruit, vegetable, cut flower, and livestock business. Committed to connecting people with working land, Dina chose to return to her family’s farm in Ridgefield and start the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, one that still exists as the backbone of the farm’s business plan. Dina believes we have a responsibility to increase the economic vitality of our regional agrarian economy, improve the long-range ecological stewardship of our land and water, and enliven our cultural commitment to farming.
Jeremy is originally from the Big Island of Hawai’i and moved to Connecticut in 2012 to pursue a graduate degree in Global Sustainability from Central Connecticut State University. He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii’s Geography and Environment Department and Central Connecticut State University’s Geography Department where his graduate research was in human mobility and climate change. He has worked in the non-profit sector in both paid and volunteer capacities for over 12 years at environmental and educational organizations in Connecticut and Hawai’i. He became interested in the food and farming world while working in the food-service industry for nearly 10 years.
Monique has designed and built over 40 edible school and community gardens and farms throughout New England, including a 2-acre urban farm in Bridgeport CT.
She has founded and run for and non-profit entities, including Green Village Initiative (GVI) and Wiggle Room LLC. Monique teaches ‘How to Grow Your Own Food’ classes and speaks on healthy soil and community gardening, sharing her knowledge of regenerative agriculture practices, microscopy, and community building. She also writes feature articles on regenerative farming.
Throughout her career, Monique has utilized her skills in videography, photography and video editing to teach and inspire. Earlier in her career, Monique worked as a video editor for several large studios, including CBC Canada, Centro Digital Pictures in Hong Kong, and Gastown Productions in Vancouver.
Sefra Alexandra, the Seed Huntress, is an endurance race ethnobotanist on a hunt to preserve the biodiversity of our wild and cultivated lands through seed conservation. She is a Genebank Impacts Fellow for the Crop Trust which oversees our global seed banking network, has fortified community seed banks on island nations after national disasters , and championed the revival of the almost lost Southport Globe Onion heirloom in her Connecticut hometown.
Sefra holds her M.A.T. in agroecological education from Cornell University, is a certified wilderness skill & permacultural design instructor as well as a WINGS WorldQuest expedition flag carrier & member of the Explorers Club. She believes seed sovereignty is one of our greatest tools of regenerative resilience - save seeds | seeds save.
Robert Chang is a farmer and landowner of color in Woodstock CT, originally from Jamaica. Robert has been growing for market for 8 years and purchased 14 acres at Echo Farm in 2015. Echo Farm produces certified organic vegetables and cut flowers for a farm stand, restaurants, and local farmers markets. Robert is a founding member of the Steering Committee of New Connecticut Farmer Alliance, the CT chapter of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, and also a founding member of the Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative. He has been a member of the CT Northeast Organic Farming Association since 2007. Robert also has a full-time job off-farm in IT and has worked in higher education for most of the last 26 years.
Ashley Kenney comes to CT NOFA with nearly a decade of experience in produce management, food justice education, and sustainability. As the Garden Manager and Sustainability Coordinator at Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut, she led the Living Sustainably and Growing Community programs and helped put together the Regional Convening for Sustainable Development in 2018. Prior to Grace Farms, she managed the Jane Goodall Permaculture Garden at Western Connecticut State University and led the four-part female farmer lecture series “Farm for Yourself.”
Laura Davis operates Long Life Farm in Hopkinton, MA, a certified organic diversified vegetable CSA farm of 2 1/2 acres. Since Long Life Farm was certified organic in 2013, Laura has helped farmers navigate the organic certification process through NOFA. Trained by Baystate Organic Certifiers to educate farmers, Laura has attended additional training through IOIA - The International Organic Inspectors Association and became an Organic Inspector in 2015. Processing training enabled Laura to inspect handlers as well as crops in 2017. Laura has been a NOFA/Mass Board Member since November of 2011 and now holds the roles of Board President, Organic Certification Assistance Coordinator and Soil Technical Advisor. Laura and her husband Donald Sutherland have two high school age daughters that have enjoyed many NOFA Summer Conferences.