| Who we are
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. Roger is responsible for business planning, marketing, sales, and distribution for all operations. Membership in the CSA at Middle Branch Farm exceeded 450 members in 2011.
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 a member of the Legislative Affairs Committee for NH Farm Bureau. He was recently nominated by Governor Lynch to serve as the Agricultural Representative on the NH Rivers Management Advisory Council. Roger has used various USDA programs to develop his farm including Environmental Quality Incentive Program, financing through Farm Services Agency, Rural Development grants and Farmer and Rancher Protection Program to protect some of his farmland.
As a certified organic producer, Roger has experience with the national organic standards program, understands the issues and barriers to certification for transitioning farmers, and has worked at the local level to mitigate the impact of genetically modified organisms on organic agriculture.
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 & 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 Universityin Nova Scotia, and serves on the boards of the Domestic Fair Trade Association and the National Cooperative Business Association.
Patricia Richardson, treasurer, joined the Richardson family when she and Gordon Richardson married in 2005. The family operates the 450-acre Richardson Family Farm, a Vermont Century farm in Hartland, with a closed herd of 110 registered Jerseys. Partners include third- and fourth-generation Richardsons, Gordon and sons Scott (with wife, Amy) and Reid.
Their cooperative, Agri-Mark, Inc., ships Richardson milk either to Cabot Creamery’s Middlebury plant or to the Grafton Village Cheese Company to make cheddar cheese. Over the years the farm has earned regional and statewide milk quality awards; in 2009 it was named Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year. An 8100-tap maple sugaring business and a custom-made split rail fence business diversify the farm operations. Family members participate locally and regionally in the Dairy Herd Improvement Association and Agri-Mark and Jersey breed organizations.
Pat is a free-lance financial editor. She is currently Hartland’s Town Moderator, and several years ago retired from 21 years on the Town Selectboard (five years as chair). She is a past president of the Upper Valley Land Trust, past president of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission, past president of the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation, and a past chair of the Windsor County Extension Service Advisory Committee and member of the State Extension Service Advisory Committee.
Ida DeFrancesco, secretary, holds a master’s degree in business administration. She has been a manager for QIAGEN, a global corporation, for the last five years, is a registered farmer in the state of Connecticut, and is raising the fifth generation of farmers on her family’s 150-acre farm.
Ida will bridge the concerns of NEFU to Connecticut greenhouse growers. She hopes to contribute to NEFU’s efforts to advance conservation and support farmers who are making green choices. Her fifth-generation, family-owned farm and greenhouse operation is determined to find the balance for environmental sustainability. Since 2000, the DeFrancesco family has been conserving water with innovative watering systems that dropped water consumption by 50 percent. They have integrated biological management techniques that will reduce the use of synthetic pesticides. Their heating systems now run on renewable and clean heat sources. Specialty crops and food and nutrition programs hold extreme interest for Ida and her family since they actively participate in farmers’ markets and reach out to local schools to educate youth about regional and healthy food.
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, N.H., 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.
Marydale DeBor is a resident of New Haven, Conn., where she maintains a consulting practice, providing her expertise in philanthropy and health care-related program development to hospitals, foundations and national and community-based organizations. Marydale is also the Managing Director of Fresh Advantage™, a program that specializes in improving food service systems in hospitals and other health care facilities. Fresh Advantage™ is run by a team of culinary, nutrition, public health and operations experts who assist clients in creating a culture of health that engages the entire organization and extends to the communities served.
From 2004 to 2011, she served as a member of the senior management team at New Milford Hospital, where she led the community-based disease prevention programs that are central to the hospital’s mission as a community hospital. She also served as the executive chair of the Planetree Steering Council, directing the implementation of innovations in patient-centered care that reflect the hospital organization’s philosophy of healing body, mind and soul.
A major hospital initiative that Marydale founded and led is Plow to Plate. Initiated in October, 2006, Plow to Plate is now a multi-faceted effort comprising many distinctive programs, including the hospital’s dining services; an after-school program; suppers for senior citizens; and a weekly farmers market on the New Milford town green.
Prior to joining New Milford Hospital, Marydale had her own philanthropic advisory firm for many years, providing strategic and programmatic guidance to foundations such as the Avon Foundation, Entertainment Industry Foundation and other corporate foundations and individual donors dedicated to innovative health care philanthropy. Her commitment to quality health care, especially for the underserved, was inspired by the pro bono legal work she did at the beginning of her career as a lawyer with the international law firm Akin Gump in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s.
Mark Hews is currently the Director of Programming for the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP). MANP is a member Association with over 780 members currently. He is responsible for all education and learning programs for nonprofit member boards and staffs helping them develop the capacity necessary to run their organizations effectively. Mark previously 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 graduated from the University of Maine in 1981 with a BS in Agricultural Economics and in 1988 with a Masters in Public Administration. 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 lives with his wife Debi in Poland, Maine and has three children.
Tim O’Connell, vice 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, N.H., 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.
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.
Noah Fulmer grew up in central New Jersey, where suburban development pressures are a persistent challenge to farm viability. The deep taste of a freshly picked blueberry won Noah over at an early age. He was raised on corn from the farmstand down the road and spoiled by the flavors of his grandmother’s traditional soups — made fresh from vegetables growing in the small backyard-turned-garden that lay just beyond her kitchen window. But despite the “Garden State” nostalgia, new houses and strip malls were devouring nearby farmland. Noah saw the same patterns after moving to Rhode Island for college.
Noah’s passion led him to co-found Farm Fresh Rhode Island. How could you ensure that local farms and just-picked foods have a place in our communities? People want to buy locally grown foods, but don’t necessarily have the resources. The Internet is an ideal starting point for providing information about Rhode Island’s farmers’ markets, farms and foods. So despite having sworn off computer coding after two perilous years in high school, the need for a web-based information tool for farms and consumers was too pressing. Noah led both the design and production of the Farm Fresh RI website, with the hopes of expanding access to locally grown foods and sustaining farmstands and fresh flavors for generations to come. Today, in addition to the website, Noah oversees organizational programming, partnerships and strategy.
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.
Don Badeau, Jr. is a Board Member of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association.
Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, is a producer with more than 45 years experience operating conventional and organic dairy, beef, sheep and vegetable enterprises on a variety of different farms in Europe and the United States. For the past 20 years, Ed has worked with regional farms to cooperatively market their products into mainstream markets, ranging from the production and direct marketing of USDA Natural lambs and organic produce, to establishing a cooperative of dairy farmers who direct market their own brand of milk in western Massachusetts.
Ben Martens, policy director and executive director at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association in Maine, recently rejoined NEFU’s board of advisors. He formerly served on the board while Policy Analyst at the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association.
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
Annette Higby, Policy Director, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the job. Her career as an attorney, educator, policy analyst and advocate for family farm agriculture spans 30 years. Most recently she was the Grassroots Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She also coordinated the 2008 farm bill campaign for the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. Her Vermont law practice focused on generational farm transfer, farm business formation and farmland leasing and land tenure issues. Annette lives in Randolph, Vermont with her husband, Marty Strange and their son Benjamin.
Erika Olson, Executive Assistant, 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. They continue to live there with their daughter.
Kate Snyder, Administrative 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 interning at a regional planning office, she led a business association in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where she focused on economic development through boosting arts and culture offerings. She lives in Shelburne Falls, 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 recent graduate level coursework 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.
Bob Wagner, Policy Consultant, has worked in the field of farmland protection since 1981. Since 1985, he has worked in various senior-level positions at American Farmland Trust. Through his work with AFT, and earlier as a legislative assistant to then-Congressman James Jeffords of Vermont and a consultant to the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Bob has played an active role in the promotion and development of state and local farmland protection strategies and programs throughout the country. Bob lives with his family in Hatfield, Mass. He has served as the chair of the Hatfield Agricultural Advisory Commission since its creation in 2003 and as the chair of Hatfield’s Community Preservation Committee since 2008.