Erica Frenay is a co-owner at Shelterbelt Farm located in Caroline, New York. She also works at the Cornell Small Farm Program supporting beginning farmers. Committed to the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Farmers Pledge, Shelterbelt Farm is committed to regenerating the health of their community and their land. Shelterbelt practices all-natural growing methods and a regenerative grazing style so that their animals' livelihood and soil health remain a priority. They provide 100% grass-fed lamb, 100% grass-fed beef, honey, lard, ginger, duck and chicken eggs to the Ithaca community through online ordering, a self serve farm store, and visits to local farmers markets.
Amanda David is an expert on herbal medicine and a true entrepreneur. Rootwork Herbals has provided handcrafted remedies and herbal medicine education to the Ithaca community since 2007. Amanda also co-founded the Peoples Garden Project, the Fingerlakes Herbal Network and the Herbal Hoedown. Recently she founded Bramble- a community herb shop- and the People’s Medicine School, an immersive herbalism course - check it out! Bramble is Ithaca’s ‘one-stop-shop’ for all things herbal. This retail space not only provides bulk herbs and medicine-making supplies but is also home to an herbal clinic that runs by a sustainable medicine model in order to support the wellbeing of the community and local farmers.
Steve Gabriel is an agroforestry extension specialist who works with the Cornell Small Farms Program. He and his wife run Wellspring Forest Farm in Mecklenburg, New York. Wellspring Forest Farm products are all a part of a forest-based enterprise that supports healthy land and ecosystem restoration. Wellspring Forest Farm also runs a school to reconnect people of all ages to forest ecosystems and equip them with knowledge and tools to become future stewards. Steve is co-founder of the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute and in 2014 co-authored the book Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicine in Temperate Forests and in 2018 authored Silvopasture: A Guide to Managing Grazing Animals, Trees, and Forages.
Heather Sandford is co-owner and business manager at The Piggery located in Ithaca, New York. The Piggery’s mission is to provide farm to table sustainable meat to the community through their retail butcher shop, CSA-box program in New York City and their federal USDA cut license which now allows them to do wholesale processing. The Piggery is a pastured operation where all their animals eat local grain, natural building materials are used, and sustainable growing techniques are practiced. The Piggery is also food justice certified. Heather is leading the way in their national marketing techniques as they now sell their products around the country and have launched an online store.
Matt Leroux is an agriculture marketing specialist who works on the SCNY (South Central New York) Regional Agricultural Team apart of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. The SCNY team works with farm businesses to support business development and profitability and sustainable farming practices through educational workshops, facilitation of farmer-to-farmer communication, and research publications.
Krystal Zwiesineyi Chindori Chininga
Krystal is the youngest and only student on Groundswell Center’s Equity and Accountability Committee and Advisory Board. She is a senior studying International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University. This Committee’s goal is to take issues like equity and justice that are key to Groundswell’s mission and operationalize them into tangible practices to impact true change. Krystal is doing this by drawing up new diversity policies for Groundswell. Krystal grew up in Zimbabwe where agriculture is a big part of the population’s livelihood. She has a multitude of experiences working in under-resourced communities around the globe from Ghana to Austin, Texas to promote different agricultural related goals.
Laura Arias works at the Youth Farm Project as the Farm and Food Justice Educator. She is also a part of Groundswell Center’s Equity and Accountability Committee and Advisory Board. She studied environmental sciences, philosophy, women and gender studies, sustainability, nature ethics and the importance of emotional health. Her diverse educational background and experiences have led her to become an influential educator. Laura challenges her students to think critically about the origins of social and racial issues so that they may contribute to real, needed change.
Liz Coakley is Groundswell Center’s Incubator Farm Program Manager which includes site management, recruitment, coordinating mentorship and trainings, and meeting with farmers. Liz is interested in the intersection of organic food grown on financially viable farms, and the accessibility of this high quality produce. She also is the Coordinator of the Grow Your Farm Business Course.
Since 2002, Leslie Ackerman has taught and coached hundreds of small business owners at all stages and across every conceivable industry. Formerly director of a small business training and resource center at a community development financial institution, Leslie has been a Freelance Business Goddess since 2016. Her ‘Leslie’s Laws of Business’ have been immortalized on keychains and even laser-engraved onto tortillas. Leslie’s various past lives and alter egos include rock and ice climber, personal chef, agroforestry advisor in West Africa, fruit smoothie entrepreneur, and wolf caretaker.
Elizabeth Couse is a passionate community food advocate and intern at The Youth Farm Project. She is currently an undergraduate at Cornell studying International Agriculture & Rural Development with minors in Education and Community Food Systems. She is certified in permaculture design and her interests lie at the intersection of food, sustainability, and social change.