| Board and Staff
Board of Directors
Roger Noonan, President of NEFU, is an organic farmer in New Boston, NH. Middle Branch Farm is a diversified family farm with operations ranging from maple syrup production, greenhouse production, organic vegetable production, organic hay and forage crop production, livestock production and on-farm composting.
Middle Branch Farm markets its produce through its own CSA, a co-operative CSA, direct store and restaurant deliveries, national food chains and wholesale outlets. Roger is also active in New Hampshire’s agricultural community. He is a founding board member of Local Harvest CSA, a co-operative of eight organic farms.
He is a supervisor for the Hillsborough County Conservation District and President of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts, a member of the Government Affairs Committee for NH Farm Bureau. He serves as the Agricultural Representative on the NH Rivers Management Advisory Council and is his county’s representative to the NH Agricultural Advisory Board.
As a certified organic producer, Roger has experience with the national organic standards program and understands the issues and barriers to certification for transitioning farmers.
Most recently, Roger has been a national leader on food safety and speaks around the country on the Food Safety Modernization Act and other policy issues that affect family farmers.
Erbin Crowell, Vice President of NEFU, serves as executive director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a network of more than 30 food co-ops and start-up initiatives with a combined membership of more than 90,000 people. Together, the co-ops of the NFCA are working toward a vision of a thriving regional economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable food system and collaboration among co-ops.
Prior to joining the association, Erbin worked with the Cooperative Fund of New England as manager of Marketing and Co-op Relations, and as an independent consultant in partnership with organizations such as the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops. For more than a decade, he was a member of Equal Exchange, a worker co-operative and pioneer in the fair trade movement. Erbin holds a master’s degree in Management: Co-operatives & Credit Unions from Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, and serves on the boards of the Domestic Fair Trade Association and the National Cooperative Business Association.
Nathan W. L’Etoile, Treasurer of NEFU, a 13th generation southern New England farmer, grew up on Four Star Farms, first in Rhode Island, and then in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. With his wife Elizabeth and his brother, father and mother, he operates the farm, a diversified operation growing sod, hops and a large variety of grains, as well as a grist mill for adding value to the farm’s products. Nestled along the banks of the Connecticut River in Northfield, MA, Four Star Farms is roughly 300 acres, and services wholesale and retail customers for both its landscape and food products.
While his work on the farm is currently a full time endeavor for Nathan, it has been off and on over the years as he has pursued his passion for agricultural advocacy. He is an Eisenhower Fellow and recently traveled throughout Asia studying rural and farmer advocacy in Mongolia, China, and the Philippines. He has served as president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau, both as an employee (as a lobbyist for five years) and board member of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. Starting in 2009, he served for three years in the administration of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as the youngest ever Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nathan has also been active in town government, having served on Northfield’s Conservation Committee, as a founding member of the town’s Agricultural Commission, and currently in the elected position of Moderator.
Beth Hodge, Secretary of NEFU, is founder and owner of Echo Farm Puddings, a Hinsdale, NH, certified humane dairy farm and pudding manufacturer. The farm also supplies milk to the Agri-Mark dairy co-operative.
Beth holds a BS in animal science from Cornell University and is active in many agriculture organizations, including the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, Humane Farm Animal Care, the Eastern States Exposition, 4-H, the NH Interstate Dairy Compact Commission and the NH Milk Sanitation Board.
She has attended several National Farmers Union Legislative Fly-Ins and is a member of and has served as chair of the New England Farmers Union’s Policy Committee.
Tess Brown-Lavoie is a first generation urban farmer in Providence, RI. She and her two sisters founded Sidewalk Ends Farm in 2011 after Tess graduated from the Gallatin School at NYU. They grow a diverse set of fruits and vegetables in two vacant lots on the West End, and market their produce to restaurants and at the farmers market through the Little City Growers Co-op, an 8-year-old urban and peri-urban co-op in Providence. They also co-manage the only urban CSA in Providence with fellow Little City member, Front Step Farm. Sidewalks Ends participates in a hyper-local food economy in which food is grown, sold, and consumed within a small radius of the farm. The Sidewalk Ends farmers rely on their bikes and bike carts to do most hauling and heavy lifting; they use them to bring produce to market and restaurants, to collect compost-bound food scraps from the Amos House soup kitchen, and even to collect scrap wood to build raised beds.
Tess learned how to grow food in city lots in Providence and on rooftops in Brooklyn, New York, and she is interested in integrating city farming into the landscape of American agriculture. She believes that urban farms will be vital to urban development, and the future of agriculture in this country. They create opportunities for city residents to learn about food and farming, and they enable environmental progress through the remediation of lead soil, for example, and they contribute to economic development by generating local jobs. This year, Tess and her colleagues in Providence started an Urban Market Growers Coalition to investigate the needs of and obstacles facing urban farmers, and she hopes to bring some of the momentum from this work to NEFU. Tess also serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Arthur Carroll was born to a dairy and poultry farming family in Limerick, Maine, and attended Gorham State College in Gorham, Maine, followed by the State University of New York, Cortland, NY. He farmed with his brother, Anthony Carroll, and his father, George Carroll, on the farm in Limerick. In 1978 he became State Executive Director for Maine in the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS of the USDA).
In 1981 he was brought on as District Director by the Federal Crop Insurance Agency to cover the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Duties included the introduction of crop insurance to the area, and the training of agents and of loss adjusters in the selling and servicing of the crop insurance. He left federal employment in 1984 to set up his own crop insurance agency. The Arthur Carroll Crop Insurance Agency grew in 30 years to service policies in seven states covering virtually every crop grown. Arthur still lives in Limerick with his wife, Adele L. Carroll, to whom he has been married for 44 years. There in Limerick he is transitioning his agency to Colleen Kisselburg and his son, Jason.
Mary Castonguay and her brother Pete co-own Castonguay Ayrshires, a 450-acre organic dairy farm in Livermore, Maine. Mary graduated in 2000 from the University of Maine with an undergraduate degree in Agribusiness Management and a Masters in Business Administration. The farm sells milk to the Organic Valley/CROPP co-operative.
Mary is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Maine Organic Milk Producers and is a member of the National Ayrshire Breeders Association and Maine Ayrshire Club.
Before her appointment to the board in 2015, Mary, as an engaged farmer member, traveled to Washington, D.C., twice — for a COOL Fly-In and for an NFU Legislative Fly-In. She also testified before the Maine Legislature in favor of rural broadband access on NEFU’s behalf.
Margaret Hathaway and her family own and operate Ten Apple Farm in Gray, Maine. The farm is a diversified homestead on 17 acres, and includes dairy goats, assorted poultry, gardens, and a small orchard. Margaret and her husband, Karl Schatz, operate a guest house on the farm and run workshops on basic homesteading skills that range from cheesemaking and bread baking to poultry processing.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Margaret is a graduate of Wellesley College and a former Fulbright scholar to Tunisia. She worked in book publishing and as a manager of New York City’s famed Magnolia Bakery before settling in Maine. Margaret is the author of four books, including the memoir The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese, the guides Living With Goats: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Herd and Food Lovers’ Guide to Maine, and the cookbook, the Portland, Maine Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Casco Bay. She was a charter member of SlowFood Portland, and is a member of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Past board service includes seven years as a Trustee of the Gray Public Library, and continued service on the board of the Western Maine Wellesley Club.
Margaret served as a delegate to the National Farmers Union convention in Wichita in March 2015, attended the 2014 NFU Legislative Fly-In, and has been a member of the NEFU Policy Committee since 2014.
Appointed Board of Advisors
Members of the NEFU Board of Advisors have no organizational or fiduciary responsibilities and hold no voting powers on the Board of Directors. They are welcome to sit in on Board of Directors meetings and offer recommendations, help with outreach and serve as ambassadors for NEFU.
Marge Kilkelly, deputy director of the Northeast Region Council for State Governments, became the deputy director of the CSG Eastern Regional Conference in January 2009, after serving as the director of the Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship (NSAAS) since 2002. From 1986 to 2002 Marge served in both the Maine House and Senate representing the county where she grew up. She chaired the standing committees on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; Inland Fish and Wildlife; and numerous study committees. She served as both speaker pro tem and president pro tem. She also served as a selectman in Wiscasset, Maine, for four years. Her commitment to elected office and governance also led her to run for and be elected as a deputy from Maine to the National Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2000 and 2003.
Marge has a master’s degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. She was an Eisenhower Fellow in Central Europe, a Fleming Fellow, a New England Rural Leaders Fellow and a Brooks Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government. She recently completed a two-year leadership academy with the New England Farm Bureau.
Marge and her husband, Joseph Murray, own and operate Dragonfly Cove Farm in Dresden, Maine, where they raise meat goats, poultry, pigs and garlic. The goat meat is marketed through a three-farm collaborative they initiated called Thyme for Goat. The farm features a shared-use commercial kitchen where Marge and her husband create and market pancake mix and hot cereal. The kitchen is also used by two other local food processors. Marge and her husband run the “Locavores Lair,” a small retail space that will feature meats, eggs and products from local farms.
Jesse Rye is the Co-Executive Director of Food System Enterprise at Farm Fresh Rhode Island. He works with leadership staff to oversee the Market Mobile and Veggie Box programs and direct the communications and financial management of the organization. He has experience on the community level as nonprofit manager; statewide as program director and communications specialist; and nationally as a researcher and advocate for cultural and creative enterprises. Jesse is determined, as a part of Farm Fresh, to grow a local food system that values the environment, health and quality of life of Rhode Island farmers and eaters.
Steve Taylor is known throughout New England and the United States as one of the most innovative and progressive agriculture commissioners in our nation. In 2007, he retired from 25 years of public service, during which he worked as the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food and served five governors. His role encompassed promoting and protecting agriculture, commerce, consumers and the environment. He has overseen the state’s farms, farmlands and all that’s produced from them.
He is also well-known throughout the region as a lifelong farmer and journalist. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1962 and serving in the Army, Steve began his career as a newspaper reporter and editor. In 1970, he and his wife, Gretchen, established their maple and dairy farm in the Plainfield area, where Steve had grown up. Run by the Taylors and their three sons, the Taylor Farm continued to operate at full capacity during Steve’s years in office. Today, the enterprise includes a 120-head dairy herd and the Taylor Brothers Sugarhouse and Creamery.
Steve played an instrumental role in establishing the New Hampshire Humanities Council and Leadership New Hampshire. He was founding executive director of the Humanities Council, an organization that promotes scholarship and public engagement in the humanities. He was a founding board member and board chair of Leadership New Hampshire from 1993 to 1998. Leadership New Hampshire educates and encourages citizens for leadership roles in the state. Steve currently serves on several nonprofit boards and is a lecturer on New Hampshire agricultural history for the Humanities Council. He has also served as a town selectman and, since 1980, as town and school district moderator
Erika Olson, Director of Operations, comes from a family that is passionate about cooking and, a member of the Franklin Community Co-op, she chooses to use local and organic ingredients in her food preparation.
Born just outside of Washington, D.C., Erika moved to New England when her parents fell in love with the region’s land and fisheries. After studying economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she remained in the area and began her career as a Financial and Administrative Consultant. For 18 years, Erika worked in the fly fishing industry, where conservation was of great importance. Following this tenure, she was excited to begin working directly within such an environmentally conscious organization.