| 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 it’s produce through its own CSA, a cooperative 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 Agriculutral 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 St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, and serves on the boards of the Domestic Fair Trade Association and the National Cooperative Business Association.
Tim O’Connell, Treasurer, and his wife, Noreen, started their vegetable and flower operation in 1975 while pursuing other careers. Over the years, they generally had a family milk cow, raised pork and beef, and their two daughters were involved with raising broilers through the 4-H “Chicken for Tomorrow” program, as well as showing their sheep and beef cattle. Through their Butternut Farm, the O’Connells became involved in 1977 with organizing and selling at a farmers’ market in Peterborough, NH, and subsequently in Milford and Nashua, in 1995. They currently continue to market in Milford and Bedford. In 2009 they ventured into raising dairy goats and now market goat milk, both hard and soft cheeses, and soap together with vegetables and flowers.
Tim was a member of the executive board of the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association from 1996 to 2007. He also served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where he was on the Environment and Agriculture Committee from 1999 to 2008. He currently is the legislative lobbyist for the Statewide Program of Action to Conserve our Environment (SPACE), a nonprofit coalition that advocates for New Hampshire’s Current Use law that enables taxation on farm and forest lands based on their production capacity.
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.
Dorn Cox lives and works with his family in Lee, NH, on a 250-acre fourth-generation diversified organic farm. He has designed and constructed systems for small-scale grain processing, oilseed processing and biofuel production. He has also worked to select effective cover crops, grains and oilseed for food and energy production, and developed no-till and low-till equipment to reduce energy use and increase soil health in New Hampshire conditions.
Dorn is the director of GreenStart, a New Hampshire nonprofit, and chairs the town of Lee’s Energy Committee. He is a founding member of the Great Bay Grain Cooperative, the Oyster River Biofuel Initiative and New England Farmers Union. He currently serves as a vice president of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts; has served on the New Hampshire Biodiesel Commission; and was the 2007 winner of New Hampshire Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer Achievement Award. He has a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and is a Ph.D. student at the University of New Hampshire, developing biologically based local-food and local-energy systems designed to return carbon to the soil.
Mark Hews is currently the President of M E Hews and Company, LLC, a consulting practice that helps rural communities create a resilient future. M E Hews offers a wide array of service to support rural development including group facilitation, project design, market research, capacity development, leadership development and strategic planning. Mark previously served as the Director of Programming for the Maine Association of Nonprofits where he was responsible for all education and learning programs for nonprofit member boards and staffs helping them develop the capacity necessary to run their organizations effectively. Prior to that he worked for the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service as the Coordinator for the Threshold To Maine Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area. He held this position for 22 years and worked for USDA 32 years. As Coordinator he managed a federal technical assistance program serving the southern and western Maine Counties of York, Cumberland, Oxford and Franklin, working on issues related to balancing agriculture and forestry economic development and conservation.
Mark is a trained facilitator and has done extensive work in community capacity building. He currently is a Commissioner serving on the Maine Commission for Community Service and is a previous board member for Maine Rural Partners. Mark also has extensive experience in project management, leadership and organizational development working on as many as 20 projects a year during his time as Coordinator for the RC&D Program at Threshold To Maine. These projects included agriculture development, shared use commercial kitchens, helping groups develop strategic plans, forestry workshops and community capacity building. Mark has helped develop feasibility studies for shared use kitchen projects and helped author various economic development plans for agriculture in southern and western Maine.
Mark graduated from the University of Maine in 1981 with a BS in Agricultural Economics and in 1988 with a Masters in Public Administration. Mark lives with his wife Debi in Poland, Maine and has three children.
Beth Hodge, Echo Farm, Hinsdale, NH
Penelope “Penny” Jordan, a fourth generation farmer in Maine, grew up on the William H. Jordan Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, a farm she currently operates alongside her brother, Bill, Jr., and sisters, Pam and Carol Anne. In 1999 Penny had the opportunity to re-join the family business, Jordan’s Farm, a 60+ acre mixed vegetable/market farm outside Portand. Penny worked with her father, Bill Jordan, Sr., and her siblings to transition Bill Jordan’s passion, the farm, to the next generation, and fulfill his dream: that his farm would always be a working farm and remain a significant part of the community.
Jordan’s Farm grows a wide variety of products with a significant focus on strawberries, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, green beans, lettuces and salad greens. The Jordan’s primary market is retail. They have an on-farm farm stand, mobile farm stand (a renovated school bus) and have entered the electronic age with an online shopping cart system for pre-order and pick-up. Jordan’s Farm’s products are also available wholesale through Farm Fresh Connection, Crown of Maine Cooperative and at local stores and restaurants.
In addition to the farm operation, Jordan’s Farm (along with Mother Nature) makes compost, which is used as a soil amendment on the farm and is sold wholesale and retail. They offer an array of soil products for landscapers and home gardeners.
Penny was instrumental in starting Cape Farm Alliance, a community-based organization that focuses on ensuring the viability of farms in Cape Elizabeth. She is on the board of directors of the Cumberland County Farm Bureau and is Vice President of the board of directors of Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS). Penny is active in hunger prevention programs in Southern Maine, is a panel member for the Farm for the Future program and is on the Maine Food Strategy Steering Committee.
Penny has over 30 years experience in project management and business planning. She holds a Masters degree in social work, focusing on Community Organizing and Program Design. She is passionate about all Maine farms and works to find ways to expand market reach for farms across Maine.
Penny knows Maine’s agriculture industry is poised for growth and success and wants to be part of the ever-growing cadre of passionate people who are seizing this opportunity. Penny believes that taking action to ensure the long-term viability and profitability of our farm businesses is one way to attract the next generation to the farm and grow agriculture in Maine.
Nathan W. L’Etoile, 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 5 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.
Susan Phinney, has served as Whole Foods’ local food forager for the North Atlantic region, which includes all six New England states. Prior to working for Whole Foods, Phinney served on the staff of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, where she oversaw the Farm Viability Program. She understands the demand for regionally produced food and the political and economic barriers for meeting that demand. Phinney raises goats and chickens on her farm in central Massachusetts.
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, ME, 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.
Ben Martens, policy director and executive director at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, recently rejoined NEFU’s board of advisors. He formerly served on NEFU’s Board of Directors while Policy Analyst at the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association.
Jesse Rye is the Executive Director of Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
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, DC, 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.
Ten years ago, Erika and her husband built their home in Gill, Massachusetts, where they continue to live with their daughter.
Emma Sabella, Membership and Administrative Assistant, has been an outdoor and environmental conservation enthusiast for most of her adult life. She found her passion for nature during her training in the Outdoor Leadership Program at Greenfield Community College. She then studied Sustainable Environments abroad, in New Zealand, before receiving her bachelors in Natural Resources and Conservation Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Following her graduation, she worked two summers in Denali National Park, Alaska as a hiking guide and wilderness lodge manager. She is excited to be part of an organization whose mission is closely related to her environmental values.
Kate Snyder, Program and Membership Director, was trained as a journalist and worked as a writer and editor for newspapers in New York, California and Massachusetts before changing careers and earning a master’s degree in sustainable landscape planning and design. After working as an assistant planner at a regional planning office, she led a business association in Greenfield, MA, where she focused on membership recruitment and economic development through support for arts and culture. She lives in Shelburne Falls, MA, where she volunteers for many community organizations, including the vegetable garden at the elementary school that her two boys attend.
Sarah Andrysiak, Communications Consultant, has a long-term interest in sustainable agriculture and food justice — from foodie to backyard gardener to localvore/homesteader to graduate level studies in food policy. With an MBA, a career that has spanned the corporate and nonprofit worlds, and a passion for good food, Sarah provides communications and general business services to organizations working to create a more just and sustainable food system in New England. Her background includes strategy consulting to Fortune 500 clients, nonprofit management and numerous fundraising and communications projects. A fourth generation New Englander, Sarah is deeply connected to the land she calls home. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with her husband, their son, 15 chickens, two dogs, an enormous garden and a kitchen full of local food.
Ned Porter has worked on farm policy for nearly 20 years. Currently he is assisting the New England Farmers Union on issues related to the Farm Bill and cooperatives. For the previous three years, he was the Director of National and Regional Policy for Wholesome Wave, a non-profit that addresses issues of access to and affordability of fresh, local food for underserved communities. From 2001 to 2011, Ned served as Deputy Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture. Before that he worked on Capital Hill engaged in agriculture issues for a Congressman from Maine. He previously worked as a journalist.