Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 448, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Physical Address: 287 East St. Suite 421 Pittsboro, NC 27312
Administration | Membership | Education | Food Systems | Advocacy |
Roland McReynolds, Executive Director
Roland grew up in Columbia, Missouri. His grandma was a longtime subscriber to Organic Gardening, his family raised its own layer and fryer chickens and grew most of its own vegetables, and the family home was surrounded by conventional corn and soybean fields. He is a licensed attorney, and after the births of his children, he decided to devote his legal training and business experience to the service of promoting healthy agriculture for future generations.
Cheryl Ripperton Rettie, Finance & Administration Director
Cheryl holds degrees in Accounting and Ancient & Medieval History and has worked for over a decade in various accounting positions; she joined CFSA in 2006. A native of Chatham County, she lives on the family farm where she meanders in the woods with her dog, gardens, keeps bees organically, and rides horses.
> Contact Cheryl with any financial questions. If you have any general CFSA questions pop her an email; if she doesn’t know the answer, she can tell you who does!
Jacob Leech, Operations Director
Jacob Leech is coming to us from the Piedmont Conservation Council, where he has served for over two years as Project Manager and led the Council in its mission to promote natural resource conservation and sustainable communities. Jacob is also a past leader of the Florida West Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council in Florida’s Tampa Bay area. While at FWCRCD, he led the development of beginning farmer training programs, including two organic farm apprenticeship programs. Growing up on a small family farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley helped shape Jacob’s career interests and he looks forward to bringing that perspective along with his years of nonprofit management experience to CFSA!
Marianna Spence, Membership Coordinator
Marianna grew up in Eastern North Carolina, but has called the Triangle home since graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in 2009. Prior to joining the CFSA team, she worked in fundraising and communications for a local nonprofit. She’s putting down roots in Chatham County by building a home with her family. She is excited to learn more about sustainable organic agriculture and to meet the people who make it all possible!
> Contact Marianna with questions about CFSA membership, Internship and Farm Job Referral Service postings, and for help registering for our events.
Laura Stewart, Education Director
Laura Stewart holds a Masters in Management from Antioch University Seattle and a BA in Sociology from Knox College. Laura’s professional background includes a decade of large and small event planning in several nonprofit and higher education environments. She’s also the mother of twin girls, and grows edible gourmet mushrooms with her husband on their farm, Haw River Mushrooms.
> Contact Laura about the Sustainable Agriculture Conference and the Organic Commodities and Livestock Conference
Leah Joyner, Education Coordinator
Leah holds a BA in Sustainable Development and a BS in Technical Photography from Appalachian State University, as well as a MS in Sustainable Tourism from East Carolina University. Her academic studies focused on food systems research and agritourism marketing, and involved work in West Virginia where she helped to create an agritourism training curriculum and coordinated the first annual Greenbrier Valley Pasture Network Farm Tour. Leah is passionate about using photography to raise awareness about sustainable food and farms. As a North Carolina native, she couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to connect people in the Carolina’s to their local farms through fun, educational farm tours.
> Contact Leah with questions about NC farm tours and exhibit hall opportunities at CFSA conferences.
Thomas Moore, NC Food Systems Coordinator
Thomas grew up in Concord, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a BA in Religious Studies and Peace, War, and Defense. Following graduation, he continued his studies in Vancouver, BC Canada and received a Post Baccalaureate Diploma from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at Simon Fraser University. He has experience in sustainable community development, supply chain management, food security initiatives, and developing sustainable food systems. Thomas moved back to his hometown with his wife, Rindy, and their daughter where they raise backyard chickens, ducks, bees, and grow seasonal vegetables.
> Contact Thomas about Food Systems Consulting Services in NC.
Stephen Nix, SC Food Systems Coordinator
Stephen grew up in rural SC and graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Geology. Stephen and his wife, Heather, currently reside near Travelers Rest, SC where they raise bees and broiler chickens, and grow seasonal vegetables. As a farm owner, Stephen brings the hands-on experience of a small-scale farmer to CFSA in addition to 17 years of experience as an environmental consultant.
> Contact Stephen about Food Systems Consulting Services in SC.
Rochelle Sparko, Policy Director
Rochelle grew up in western Massachusetts, where she first tried her hand at gardening on the family farm. She received undergraduate degrees from Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a law degree from Georgetown University. For nearly 10 years, Rochelle had a career as a lawyer and advocate for low- income people in Hawaii and North Carolina. Nowadays, Rochelle maintains Darko Urban Farm with her partner, Will, in downtown Durham; studies horticulture and soil science at NC State University; and is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine her passions for advocacy and farming through her work at CFSA.
Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer
For over 10 years, Jared has worked in non-profit organizations in North Carolina. He began his career with CFSA as a student intern in 2011-12 while completing his Masters of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since joining our team, his work has focused on connecting, organizing and mobilizing community members around critical public policy issues in communities across the Carolinas. Jared also works to support the growing network of food policy councils that is developing across the region. Jared lives in Durham, NC where he is an active gardener, poultry parent, and fermentation aficionado.
> Contact Jared to learn more about our Food Policy Council Consulting services.
Katie Welborn, SC Policy Coordinator
Katie is a South Carolina native and graduate of Clemson University with a background in political and nonprofit organizing. Working with the Square Foot Gardening Foundation and WWOOfing in North Carolina, California, and China originally exposed her to the many layers of our food system. She has worked in the political, nonprofit, and agricultural realms ever since. Farmers are the nicest, most giving individuals she’s ever met (the original entrepreneurs!), and she’s stoked to advocate for local and organic agriculture in South Carolina.
Karen McSwain, Farm Services and Food Systems Director
Karen brings ten years of organic farming and teaching experience to the organization. Her practical hands-on experience, combined with a B.S in Crop and Soil Science from Cornell University and an M.S. in Horticulture & Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University make her keenly aware of issues faced by small farmers. When not hard at work for CFSA, Karen has her hands full raising twin boys with her husband Joel in Raleigh, NC.
Aaron Newton, Lomax Farm Manager
Aaron, the former farm manager at Lomax, is a local food advocate born and raised in Concord, NC. In 2002, he returned to his hometown where he lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their two daughters. His family owns and operates Peachtree Market, a small local foods-focused grocery store in downtown Concord. Aaron is the coauthor of A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil from New Society Publishers, 2009. Aaron earned a bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Aaron raises chickens in his backyard, practices yoga and rides a bike.
> Contact Aaron about the Lomax Incubator Farm.
Mary Beth Wilson, Lomax Farm Coordinator
Mary Beth was locally grown and raised in the Piedmont of North Carolina, where she grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and exploring the woods of Chatham County. She realized her passion for agriculture while interning on a sustainable farm in Hillsborough, NC, and WWOOFing in Argentina upon graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2012, she founded Blue Merle Farm, growing vegetables, mushrooms, cut flowers, and keeping bees in Rougemont, NC. She’s excited to bring her experience in farming, passion for environmental education, and interest in food policy and conservation to the Lomax Incubator Farm and CFSA. When not on the farm, she especially enjoys painting, rock climbing, and hiking with her husband, Brock, and their two border collies.
Mark Dempsey, Farm Services Coordinator
Mark grew up in Georgia and moved to North Carolina for the first time to attend Appalachian State University. There he received his BS in Environmental Biology, and then he moved on to receive his MS in Soil Microbiology from Miami University in Ohio. After graduating, Mark worked as a researcher and equipment operator in Penn State’s sustainable agriculture program, focusing on ways to reduce tillage in organic systems and to incorporate or better manage cover crops in both conventional and organic systems. He moved back to western North Carolina with his wife in 2015 and lives Swannanoa.
Mark provides technical assistance to farmer members who are interested in transitioning to certified organic production through our Organic Production and Certification Consulting Services and can also draft your farm’s Conservation Activity Plan (CAP), which forms the basis of your Organic System plan.
Gena Moore, Organic Research Coordinator
Gena is a North Carolina native, born and raised on a horse farm in Union County. With both parents involved in agriculture, a passion for the environment and food systems was instilled in her at a young age. Gena received a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree in Agriculture Education from North Carolina A&T University. Her thesis work was in sustainable organic high tunnel vegetable production and season extension. Gena, her husband Aaron, and their three boys live on a sustainably managed horse farm while also producing livestock, poultry, and specialty crops.
Gena is launching our Organic Research Initiative; conducting research on organic tomato production in seasonal high tunnels, as well as investigating the utility of the Haney Soil Nutrient Tool to accurately assesses soil nutrient availability. She will also be developing resources, and conducting on-farm workshops and one-on-one training for growers utilizing seasonal high tunnels.
Trish Tripp, Local Produce Safety Manager
Since 1995, Trish has been committed to sustainability, food security and public health. She was a restaurateur for 14 years, advocated for safe, nutritious and sustainable food production by partnering with farmers, schools and local health departments, and conducted research and developed strategies to support small farms on a local level. Most recently, she held a position at a leading produce company as the Director of Food Safety, Sustainability and Local Resources and started her own food safety consulting firm. Trish earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry from Bluefield College and a Masters of Science Degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). She currently holds certifications as a Food Defense Coordinator and HACCP Coordinator and is proficient in multiple third party food safety schemes.
> Contact Trish about our Good Agricultural Practices consulting
Communications and Development
Elizabeth Read, Communications and Development Director
Elizabeth grew up in Charlotte but has lived in the Triad or the Triangle since she attended college in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina. Before becoming the Communications and Development Director at CFSA, she served as the Marketing Manager at Company Shops Market, a co-op grocery store in downtown Burlington where she actively engaged the community around how they purchased their food. She previously worked as executive director of The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, a non-profit that worked to promote the town of Hillsborough through its arts and historic sites. She loves connecting people with the surrounding community through food and local economies. She and her husband live in a house they restored in northern Alamance County with their son, Charlie, and their two chickens.
> Elizabeth would love to connect you with CFSA and all the work the organization is doing to create thriving sustainable food communities.
Stephanie Campbell, Outreach Coordinator
Stephanie spent ten years as the founder and Executive Director of Grace Place, a Naples, Florida non-profit that worked to break the cycle of poverty by teaching literacy, language, and life skills to at-risk children and families. She moved to North Carolina to start her own sustainable farm with her family. The CFSA Outreach Coordinator position is the perfect opportunity to combine her passions for sustainable farming and her skills as a non-profit leader.
Amy Armbruster, Communications Coordinator
Amy studied sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica and has over 15 years of experience implementing grassroots campaigns, coordinating print, web and social media, and encouraging folks to take better care of the environment. She grew up next to an apple orchard and her favorite thing to eat is a just-picked, still-warm-from-the-sun strawberry. She lives with her husband and two sons in Chapel Hill, NC.
> Amy is our go-to person for the website and eNewsletters, as well as marketing and event promotions.