Dina Brewster

Dina Brewster

Executive Director

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 Pelletier

Jeremy Pelletier

Director of Operations and The Organic Land Care Program

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.

Ashley Kenney

Ashley Kenney

Winter Conference Coordinator

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

Laura Davis

Organic Certification Assistance Coordinator

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.

Board of Directors 

Steve Munno, President – (Join Board in 2012) – Steve Munno is the Farm Manager at Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge, a certified organic, non-profit, which operates a CSA, sells to local markets, offers on-farm educational programs and events, and donates a portion of its harvest to local hunger relief organizations. Prior to coming to Massaro, Steve farmed in both Massachusetts and California.  Steve was a co-founding member of the New CT Farmer Alliance and joined the CT NOFA board in 2012.

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John Pittari

John Pittari, Jr., Co-Vice President – John Pittari, Jr. founder and owner of New Morning Store, got bit by the natural foods bug when he was in college. Today, many years later, John is still crazy about natural foods. Only now, he shares his passion with about sixty other people, working together from his store in Woodbury, Connecticut. New Morning Store is home to the largest organic produce selection in the area with an extensive supplement and homeopathic department that people travel to from miles around. New Morning’s unique fresh prepared foods counter, the Provender, is a gourmet source for ready-to-eat natural and organic foods.

Patrick Horan, Co-Vice President– Patrick has been at Waldingfield Farm full time since 2006. Prior to that (he was part-time at Waldingfield from 1996-2006) he worked in finance at R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, a New York City hedge fund, while also pursuing acting. He is a graduate of Union College (B.A. English) and The Stella Adler Conservatory (MFA program). Patrick is responsible for marketing, sales, farmers markets, and operations, as well as day to day farming duties. He and wife and son, Suzie and Griffin, divide their time between Brooklyn, NY, and the farm in Washington, CT.

Howard ShaferHoward ShaferTreasurer (Join Board in 2013) – Howard‘s interest in NOFA’s mission was cultivated while he was the owner and sole proprietor of The Whole Hog, a charcuterie business focused on using locally raised heritage breed pigs. Currently, he is the Chief Financial Officer of a large law firm while also working to resurrect The Whole Hog culinary business in the form of building a commercial kitchen on a farm in Somers CT. Howard has a BS in Statistics from the University of Michigan; an MBA with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Boston University; and a Grand Diplôme from the French Culinary Institute.

dana jacksonDana Jackson, Secretary (Joined Board in January 2017) – Dana Jackson is editor and publisher of Edible Nutmeg, a regional magazine focusing exclusively on western Connecticut’s food community, including farmers, chefs, and locally produced food of all kinds. He is a graduate of UCLA (B.A. English) and San Diego State University (M.A. English). A former Connecticut farmer, himself, Dana believes that community begins at the food level and that local food production is the key to building stronger communities in our state. Although he enthusiastically supports all of our state’s food growers and producers, he admits to having a particular affection for our breweries.

Farah MasaniFarah Masani – Farah is a homesteader, farmer and food forager in Wilton, CT. Originally from India, she moved to Texas and earned degrees in economics, social work, and therapy, and integrated the concept of “farming therapy” into her jobs at schools in Vermont and New Hampshire, rolling out farm-based curriculums and small workable gardens. Eventually, Farah moved to Connecticut with the goal of becoming a full-time farmer. She runs Farah’s Farm, a three-acre homestead in Wilton, teeming with heirloom ducks, chickens, and bees, and also oversees a few local satellite farms. For her day job, Farah holds down an enviable post as the chief food purchaser for Barteca (owner of Bar Taco and Barcelona restaurants).

Matt Oricchio (Joined Board in January 2017): Matt Oricchio currently runs Speckled Rooster Farm in Westport, CT. He raises chickens, ducks, and rabbits, along with a variety of produce, with a focus on leafy greens. Primarily concentrated on a two-acre area, he uses deep organic methods to maintain a sustainable system. Matt graduated from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 2010 with a B.S. in Horticulture, and additional focuses in Animal Science and Ecology. He ran the student garden there for three years, and in his senior year began UConn’s Spring Valley Farm, a sustainable living community for students, which is still growing today. In the Spring of 2011, Matt began Speckled Rooster Farm at his current location in Westport. He currently produces mixed vegetables and eggs.

Shannon Raider-Ginsburg Shannon Raider-Ginsburg (Joined Board in January 2017) – Hailing from Los Angeles, her 16 years working in agriculture began on the West Coast bringing her to Connecticut first in 2004. Shannon has extensive experience aligning urban agriculture, food justice, and environmental education. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in Geography and Natural Resource Management, she found her way from working in outdoor education to farming and agricultural education. As a farmer, she has worked all manner of farms from 20-acre certified organic CSA to 450 acre Christmas tree farms, to community gardens and urban agriculture. Shannon has developed farmers markets in Hartford, mobile markets in New Haven and hustled her own farm products everywhere she could. She is a certified Master Composter and a founding member of the New Connecticut Farmers Alliance. In 2011 she left her own farm business, Four Fields Farm, to be the Farm Director at Common Ground High School. She recently left that position after 6 seasons and is exploring a new relationship to agriculture not as a producer, but as an advocate and strategist.

john_carlsonJohn Carlson A resident of Ridgefield, Connecticut who is a committed environmentalist and entrepreneur, John Carlson is the owner and manager of Homefront Farmers. After a successful 25-year career in marketing and consulting, he unleashed his passion for organic farming in the world of local organic gardening. John is an Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP), certified by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) and holds a BA in English and History from Williams College as well as an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. For John, his new mission is part artist, part farmer. Homefront Farmers’ “Design – Build – Maintain” commitment has produced a crop of satisfied customers who are benefiting from John’s yard-to-table concept.

diane litwin photoDiane Litwin (Joined Board in November 2018) – Diane Litwin grew up in New Haven county and has enjoyed spending her adult life back on the land that raised her. After several years living in the bucolic Hudson Valley while gaining a degree in elementary education from SUNY New Paltz, she has spent the past seven years working at the intersection of agriculture and education with her at work at Land’s Sake Farm, Teva Learning Center, Jewish Farm School, Massaro Community Farm and the New Haven Ecology Project. She most recently completed a certificate program in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Vermont and is looking forward to applying what she’s learned as the farm manager at Common Ground as well as reconnecting with the Connecticut agricultural community.

rachel gilroy photoRachel Gilroy (Joined Board in November 2018) – Rachel Gilroy’s range of work includes construction management, sustainable and urban design, land planning, park and recreation planning, art and design, landscape architecture and teaching positions from Pre-K through University level. The complexity of the work environment that she has experienced strengthens her capacity to work within a team as well as cross-team. The common theme throughout her experiences has been engaging systemic transformation through the approach of creating opportunities to engage individuals/communities through creative and vibrant sustainable community development, site design and programming.  As a lifelong learner, Gilroy’s passion lies in exploring through experiential learning, research and design the concept of sustainability through a social lens, using mixed-methods and transdisciplinarity research models. She values supporting all people in their own learning and skill development in sustainable practices just as she values bio-diversity, she recognizes and respect the diverse backgrounds, interests, aesthetic tastes, and situations that people represent, and will work diligently to shape services to their needs, rather than adopting a “one size fits all” approach.

DomingoDomingo Medina (Joined Board in November 2018) – From Caracas, Venezuela, Domingo A. Medina is an educator and a human geographer with an MSc and Ph.D. in natural resource management and community development from Michigan State University. As a Research Associate for the Venezuelan Association for the Conservation of Natural Areas – (2002-2014), Domingo worked for 12 years in rainforest environments on issues of resource conservation planning, land rights, land use change and eco-health needs of indigenous peoples and peasant in protected areas. In New Haven, Domingo has been involved in farming since 2005 working in a CSA and a community garden, producing organic food and learning about the links between healthy soils and plants, nutritious food and human health. He has been involved in many projects with the New Haven Bioregional Group that promotes a sense of place, environmental awareness, and community resiliency.   Domingo is a certified UCONN Master Composter and a Certified Compost Operation Manager from the USCC, and a  local entrepreneur, founder and Director of Operations of Peels and Wheels Composting LLC, a neighborhood pedal-powered food scrap pickup and composting service that promotes “community composting” in New Haven to amend urban soils for growing food and mitigate environmental pollution from waste incineration while generating local green jobs. Domingo currently helps people in his community to find waste management and soil amending solutions through training, education, waste audits, program design, grant writing, minimum waste event planning, soil sample analysis and composting.

Yasemin UYasemin Ugurlu (Joined Board in November 2018) – Yasemin has been a fan of real food and agriculture since her childhood in Austria where she grew up across the street from a farm.  She has traveled and lived in many different countries, always paying attention to the eating and growing habits of the various cultures.
Since her return to the US in 2012, Yasemin has put her background in hospitality and event planning to good use by creating opportunities to support local small businesses and farmers through farmers markets, collaborations, and fundraisers. Yasemin is always seeking out new opportunities to share her administrative talents and organizational skills to support local, organic farms, which are a crucial part of healthy, natural lifestyles and protecting and preserving the earth.

Jiff Martin (Joined Board in January 2019) – In her role as Associate Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems for the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Jiff Martin is an active program manager of several outreach initiatives. Jiff currently leads a team of professionals that assist new farmers in sustainable production and farmland management through the Solid Ground Program. She collaborates with CT Dept. of Education on expanding farm to school activities through the Put Local On Your Tray Program. She is credited with launching two AmeriCorps service learning programs (FoodCorps CT & Connecticut Food Justice VISTA Project). She is proud to represent CT on the Network Team of Food Solutions New England (FSNE). In 2015, Jiff received the White House Champions for Change Award in Sustainable Agriculture. Jiff is eager to connect emerging leaders in food and farming systems, and looks for efficient solutions to challenges faced by food growers and food entrepreneurs. Guided by FSNE’s values of equity, empowerment, and sustainability, Jiff is also driven to find new ways to ensure local food is a convenient and affordable option for all consumers. Prior to joining UConn Extension, she was the State Director for American Farmland Trust and the Food Policy Director at Hartford Food System.