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Speakers

SPEAKERS AT THE 41ST CT NOFA WINTER CONFERENCE

Annise Dobson

Dr. Annise Dobson is a postdoctoral associate in the Yale School of the Environment. She studies the impacts of invasive species and climate change on food webs and soil. She is originally from the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada, and received her masters and PhD from Cornell University.

Dr. Ana Legrand

Dr. Ana Legrand is an entomologist with expertise in IPM and biological control. She obtained her PhD in entomology from the University of Maryland and currently works in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at UConn. Research projects in her lab focus on conservation biological control for brassica caterpillar pests, trap crops for brassica insect pests, and the use of remote sensing and drones for monitoring potato leafhoppers.

Steve Munno

Steve Munno is the Farm Manager at Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge, Connecticut, a non-profit, certified organic farm, which operates a CSA, sells to local markets, offers on-farm educational programs and events, and donates at least 10% of its annual harvest to hunger relief organizations. Steve was a co-founding member of the New CT Farmer Alliance and currently serves as Co-President for the CT NOFA Board.

Dr. Kimberly Stoner

Director of Advocacy for CT NOFA since January 2023. Former CT NOFA Board member and co-founder of the Organic Land Care Program. Still learning how to advocate effectively. Long-time activist for climate, environment, and peace. Retired scientist at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station.

Melody Wright

Melody Wright is the founder of Pleasant Valley Botanicals, a “farmlet” in northwest Connecticut committed to growing vibrant medicinal and culinary herbs for the local community. Melody is passionate about growing and teaching about plants because of her belief in medicinal herbs as integral parts of affordable and holistic health care and agricultural systems.

Dani Baker

Dani Baker is a self-taught organic farmer who began planning and planting her “Enchanted Edible Forest” in 2013. With ten year’s experience growing perennial food plants, her book, The Home-Scale Forest Garden: How to Plan, Plant, and Tend a Resilient Edible Landscape, was published by Chelsea Green in May, 2022.

Monique Bosch

Monique has built over 30 edible school and community gardens and farms around the northeast, including a 2-acre urban farm in Bridgeport, CT. These days she works as a Soil Health Program Manager for CT NOFA and runs a worm composting business with her son, Justin. She also teaches Soil Management for Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

This past year Monique worked with staff and students at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in the Berkshires to launch a Food and Resilience center. She studied ‘The Soil Food Web’ under Dr. Elaine Ingham, and teaches microscopy, soil health, and composting to farmers and organizations. Through microscopy and test trials, Monique explores the relationship between living soil and healthy, nutritious food.

Dr. Yonghao Li

Dr. Yonghao Li, a plant pathologist, works in Plant Disease Information Office at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, CT. He has more than 30 years of experience in gardening, disease diagnosis, and pest management.

Sherlene Rodriguez

Sherlene Rodriguez is a Farm to School (FTS) advocate, and aspiring homesteader. She brings 15+ years of program and project management experience in for and non-profit sectors. She is the FTS Specialist at UConn Extension and the Farm Share Program and Events Coordinator at CT NOFA.

Irene Barber

Irene Brady Barber, horticulturist, landscape designer, and Registered Horticultural Therapist, manages the Adult Education Program for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Irene has also been running an ecological design and consulting business, Greenscapes Design LLC, since 2007.  Irene loves learning from people and nature, and immersing herself in endless horticulture and ecological research.

Mike Nadeau

Mike Nadeau is a long-time practitioner of conventional and organic land care (56 years and counting). He transitioned to organic land care in 1982 and is a founding member of the CT NOFA’s Organic Land Care (OLC) program. He has served as an OLC course instructor and is a grateful recipient of NOFA awards. He is a lifetime student of Nature.

Jon Magee & Elizabeth Henderson

Elizabeth Henderson and Jon Magee are the technical assistance team at the Agricultural Justice Project. Elizabeth is a member of the NOFA Interstate Council and farmed at Peacework Farm (NY), one of the first farms in the country to offer a CSA program. Jon is a farmer and community organizer in Massachusetts.

Cara Joseph

Cara Joseph is a Registered Nurse, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner, and is certified in Whole Food Nutrition through the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health. She believes in the wisdom of Mother Nature and the innate power of our bodies to heal themselves.

Scott Thompson

Mr. Thompson is practicing professional civil engineer and a certified sustainability professional. He is a CT NOFA member and resides in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he previously served as the chair of the Town’s Sustainability Task Force.

Judy Apicella

Judy Apicella is a Master Herbalist, a Nutritionist with a Master’s in the Science of Nutrition, a researcher, author, and alpaca farmer. She started her company Home Harvested Herbals in the Wise Woman tradition, originally sharing remedies with friends and family. This led to her helping over 200 people recover from Chronic Lyme with her herbal formula for which she was awarded a grant from the State of Connecticut to research through the University of Bridgeport. As a nutritionist she creates individual plans based on biochemistry and symptoms to help people with Lyme disease, hormonal issues, gut issues, eczema, and more. Her herbal formulas play a key role in this healing. Along with her son and husband she created a sanctuary for alpacas at her home. Bella Alpacas has rescued many alpacas and is now home to 15.

Dave Scandurra

Dave Scandurra formed Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod over 10 years ago with the simple mission of helping people grow food. Dave has developed an obsession with edible perennial plants. He has grown and worked with over 300 hardy edible perennial plant species and loves sharing what he’s learned. 

Nancy Barrett

Nancy owns Scantic Valley Farm with her family out in Somers, Connecticut. Passed down from her family, they continue the using the land to specializes in all-natural grass-fed beef with heritage Belted Galloway cattle, heritage Tamworth hogs, and fresh local eggs.

Nancy works with the Solid Ground program in helping to organize some of the trainings that are run for farmers throughout the region and coordinating informational videos that inspire at home learning for the farming community.

Richard Myers

Richard was born on an island where everyone is dependent on nature, so he was able to understand the importance of having one’s own crops, whether it is to feed the family, to donate, or sell. Seeking an education that would match his love for plants led him towards horticulture.

Walker Cammack

Walker Cammack is a coordinator for the Northeast Forest Farmers Coalition and the Director of the Living Lab at the Smokey House Center in Danby, Vermont. He is a recent graduate of the Yale School of the Environment, where he studied forestry, forest ecology, and agroforestry systems.

Migrant Justice

Migrant Justice is a grassroots community organization founded by and led by the immigrant farmworker community working on dairy farms in Vermont. Our mission is to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights.

Dr. Laney Siegner

Laney recently completed her Ph.D. at the U.C. Berkeley Energy and Resources Group. She researches sustainable, agroecological food systems and climate change education, and completed several summers of sustainable agriculture work while researching for her dissertation. She has published book chapters on teaching climate change in U.S. K-12 classrooms and on conducting participatory agroecology research.

Alex, Maria, and Tim

Alex (she/her) is a Junior Beekeeping Instructor with HBP and a photographer who loves to photograph honeybees.

Maria (she/her) is a Beekeeping Apprentice with HBP who enjoys how calming honeybees are.

Tim (he/him) is the Lead Beekeeping Instructor for HBP and loves when his bees recognize him.

Freedom Gerardo

Freedom Gerardo is co-founder of SEAmarron Farmstead and E&G Community Builders, both of which were founded with one thing in mind: building people power in BIPOC communities. His life is dedicated to organizing youth, teaching them about their individual and collective power – and the power and potential of their communities. Coming from a career focused on ending food insecurity, he is now building a multi-layered, long-term agenda to leverage farming and community organizing to build power and reimagine a new justice and equity centered food system connected to a regional economic ecosystem and revolution in natural building, materials, medicines, and urban revitalization.

Jay Archer

Jay Archer is an advocate for ecological landscaping, native plants, and organic horticulture. He founded Green Jay Landscape Design, a boutique ecological landscape design, build, and restoration firm. Jay’s commitment to biodiversity and natural resource conservation inspires his work as a landscape ecologist and environmental educator.

Sean Breckin

Sean is a NOFA AOLCP currently working on organic turf care with PJC Organic. Sean earned his Plant Science degree from the University of Delaware with a Political Science Minor. A former landscape business owner and ASHS Certified Horticulturist, Sean hopes to educate professionals on the long-standing benefits of operating organically.

Christine Dzujna

Christine is a paralegal and certified compliance professional. She obtained a master’s in Food Studies at NYU and is a legal and policy manager at Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, helping farmer and food producer members across the country navigate the food regulations that govern their ability to get their products to their customers.

Dr. Danielle Larese

Danielle Larese owns and operates BOTL Farm, a pasture-based livestock farm in Connecticut where she rotationally grazes pigs, sheep, goats, and laying hens. Her farm is Animal Welfare Approved for all species. Danielle graduated from Yale University in 2013 with a PhD in molecular physics.

La Dra. Ivette Ruiz

La Dra. Ivette Ruiz quiere usar sus experiencias para ayudar a otros encontrar alimentos y semillas culturales étnicos que nos curan y nos conectan con nuestros ancestros. Ella es la fundadora de Healing By Growing Farms. Una granja experiencial para sobrevivientes de lesiones cerebrales traumáticas y personas con discapacidades.

AliRose Grabarz

AliRose Grabarz began working at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture in October of 2021. Before DoAG, AliRose studied Animal Science and Agricultural Economics at the University of Connecticut. At DoAG, AliRose manages grant programs for the advancement of Connecticut farms and promotion of agricultural viability in Connecticut

Will O’Meara

Will’s farming roots go back to high school on Waldingfield Farm in Washington, CT, where he worked for a total of nine growing seasons, three of which as the assistant farm manager. During a brief hiatus in his stint at Waldingfield, Will received his bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Food and Farming from UMass Amherst, where he worked on the UMass Student Farm crew. In 2020, Will and his partner founded Hungry Reaper Farm where they grow vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers in Morris, CT. Will served on the Steering Committee of The New CT Farmer Alliance, a chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, from 2017 to 2023, finally serving as president from 2020-2023. Will continues his work with Young Farmers as a Land Advocacy Fellow in the lead up to the 2023 Farm Bill. In his home state of CT, Will is the Chair of the Farmland Preservation Advisory Board, sits on the Working Lands Alliance Steering committee, and serves on the Farm Service Agency State Committee. Will is excited to serve his agricultural community and carry out Land For Good’s mission in Connecticut.

Sefra Alexandra & Dina Brewster

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.

Dina Brewster founded The Hickories in Ridgefield as a one acre vegetable garden and has overseen the development of new products and new acreage as the farm business has grown. Committed to connecting people with working land, the Brewster’s have stewarded this farm since 1936. She is the former Executive Director of CT NOFA.

Rachel Berg

Rachel Berg is a Connecticut local, hailing from the Greater New Haven area. After stints WOOFing, managing CitySeed farmers markets, working at Massaro Community farm in Woodbridge, and attending UVM’s Farmer Training Program, Rachel founded Four Root Farm. She is the main vegetable grower (meaning: she runs the show!), instinctively keeping everyone’s schedules in her giant brain, and fastidiously managing every single dollar that comes into or leaves this farm. In addition to growing food, Rachel runs every day, has an encyclopedic memory for presidential history and overly-complicated TV show plot lines, and loves solving puzzles and games of any kind.