STAFF & BOARD
Nikki grew up in coastal New Hampshire and earned a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of New Hampshire. She has always been passionate about animal welfare and worked as a Certified Veterinary Technician for six years. However, after taking on what she thought was to be a part-time job with the Flatbread Company, Nikki switched gears. She fell in love with working with farmers and introducing new ways to support local agriculture through the restaurant industry. Now with over eight years of restaurant management experience under her belt, Nikki cannot wait to use her skills to help connect even more eaters to locally grown food via Market Mobile. When not working, Nikki enjoys spending time with her spunky daughter Luna.
Farmer, Four Town Farm
“For years, Farm Fresh RI has helped my farm make valuable connections — from individuals and small businesses nearby in Rhode Island to large restaurant groups up in Boston. As a result, the farm has a wider reach and a broader palette of customers. When the opportunity came up to join the Board of Directors at Farm Fresh, I was more than happy to contribute my time and guidance to this great organization — bringing my perspective as not only a community member and supporter, but also as a Farm Fresh partner and customer.”
Department Chair, College of Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales University
“From its pioneering beginnings in 2004, Farm Fresh Rhode Island has steadfastly grown into a thriving, living being that continues to progressively shape, foster, and cultivate the Rhode Island and New England food system. Through its many programs that support: farmers; community and foodservice access to fresh, local foods; education; healthy eating; and small business, Farm Fresh RI is a leader and model for food hubs across the country. For me, volunteering my time to support the mission and vision of Farm Fresh RI is so easy and obvious! As a chef, culinary educator and former restaurateur, fresh food and the local food system is, and always has been, my passion. I grew up in RI on lots of fresh Rhode Island seafood. In the restaurant, we shaped our menu daily depending on what was fresh from local farms and RI waters. And as an educator, I work to weave fresh, local, and sustainable practices into our curriculum and university. I am thankful for the small part I am able to contribute to this vibrant, trailblazing organization and excited for the future of the local food system because of Farm Fresh RI.”
Sean is a native of Dover, NH, who has been working in the food service industry for 13 years. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in culinary arts in 2011, he went on to cook around Nantucket and the seacoast of New Hampshire, focusing on local and sustainable cooking particularly tied to whole animal butchery. After backpacking through Europe, he and his now wife, moved to Providence where he worked at Local 121, eventually becoming head chef. Most recently, he helped open Farm & Coast Market in South Dartmouth, MA, as a butcher and chef. Sean started out as a volunteer with our RI Farm to School program until moving on to work with Harvest Kitchen.
Leigh has been working toward food system sustainability in New England for a couple decades. Over the years she’s come at this work from a variety of angles including as an urban gardener, writer, marketing and PR specialist, event planner, and most recently, restaurant owner. After five years in Providence, she feels deeply rooted to the Ocean State’s food community and committed to making fresh food accessible to all.
Leigh is the recipient of the 2018 Eddy Award for Best Social Issues Feature for her story on immigrant farm labor in New England in Edible Rhody. She is also one of the co-owners of Troop, a lively restaurant in Olneyville, and a member of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council.
Leigh holds a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture from Sterling College, and a master’s degree in English from Simmons College. She gardens at a community plot on the West Side of Providence.
Bernard is originally from Queens, NY, but after visiting Rhode Island often to visit family members living here, he ended up moving to New England himself in 2010. In 2012, after living here for a couple of years, Bernard decided to pursue his passion for culinary arts, and attended Johnson & Wales University. After graduating in 2014, he went on to work for Sodexo at Salve Regina University and served as a Supervisor from 2015 to 2019. In May 2019, he joined our Harvest Kitchen team as Chef Educator and is committed to making a positive contribution to the community!
“Farm Fresh Rhode Island is doing an amazing job nurturing innovative, creative ideas to help Rhode Island’s community of farmers and eaters flourish. From education and outreach to youth development and public policy, Farm Fresh’s network of programs and services tie all aspects of our food system together. Their work enriches our local economy and encourages more nutritious food choices by consumers. I’ve long had a passion for healthy eating and supporting youth in our community, and am happy to be part of an organization that is as helping young people try, choose, and enjoy more fresh, local fruits and vegetables — one key avenue in the fight against childhood obesity. I’m proud that Farm Fresh RI serves as an example to the nation that making nutritious foods available to everyone can drive a healthier community and more prosperous future for the state.”
Rachel Van Scyoc
Rachel moved to Rhode Island in 2017 to serve as Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s inaugural Volunteer Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA member. As an Ohio native, she was excited to move to the east coast after graduating from Capital University with a degree in Public Relations and Communication Studies. In May 2019, she joined Farm Fresh RI and the Food System Enterprise team full-time as the Market Mobile Associate. Since being at Farm Fresh RI, she has learned so much about food systems, the inequities structured within our food system, and how food impacts us in ways from our health to our environmental impact. When she would communicate with volunteers — and now when she communicates with farmers, producers, and customers — she hopes to build and maintain positive relationships with those who contribute to strengthening our local food system.
Founder and CEO, Orange Square
As a board member, I get to live my values that locally grown food is not only nutritious and delicious, but creates important economic opportunities, provides health benefits and community engagement, and reduces environmental impact. I am grateful for the opportunity to support leadership and staff in any way so that together we can achieve the mission and vision of this very important organization.
Alexander keeps the bits flowing under the hood of Farm Fresh RI’s software, and helps navigate the constantly evolving tools of technology that serve our multiple programs. He works on creating solutions from a holistic systems approach, and believes that technology can help strengthen and connect all aspects of local and regional food networks. His passionate love of sustainable and community-centered food practices is driven by both his ideals and taste buds. Before entering the world of software and technology, Alexander had been a public librarian, taco truck driver, park ranger, community organizer, and bartender. When not dreaming in code, he loves spending time with his wildly imaginative children, drinking large quantities of tea, practicing Taijiquan and long-boarding, gardening, and dreaming of utopian futures.
Rebecca C. Seggel
Rebecca grew up in Providence and graduated with a BA in Classical Studies from Brandeis University, outside Boston. From there, a burning drive to see the world led her to travel extensively and reside in various locations out west. After more than a decade working as a communications consultant for large clients like technology companies, Rebecca longed for a greater sense of shared mission and values than she’d found in the corporate world. Rebecca was drawn back to her family in Rhode Island and the state’s vibrant agriculture and food scene. Now she’s planted fresh roots in Pawtucket and found like-minded community at Farm Fresh RI. She leverages her years of experience to share Farm Fresh RI’s message, help our local farmer and producer partners thrive, and grow our local food economy.
Retired, Former Director of Programs, Grow Smart RI
“Farm Fresh Rhode Island does two things that I care deeply about — supporting and strengthening our local farms and working to ensure that all Rhode Islanders, regardless of income, can enjoy the benefits of healthy local food. I have long admired the way Farm Fresh uses resources creatively, effectively, and efficiently to achieve its mission. As Farm Fresh launches new and exciting initiatives, I welcome the opportunity to help advance its work.”
After establishing a farm stand and mail order citrus business with her parents and grandparents after high school, Sheri attended the University of Rhode Island, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and biology. After graduation, she entered the nonprofit world, beginning as Director of Development and Publicity at AS220, a nonprofit arts center in Providence. Since then, Sheri has worked at a range of nonprofits of various sizes and has become active in her neighborhood, working with other volunteers to keep a library branch open and starting a community garden.
Molly started volunteering at Farm Fresh RI’s Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market in December 2008 on a whim and just kept showing up. Working for Farm Fresh RI opened her eyes to the local food movement and the larger environmental movement, causing her to change her concentration at Brown University from English to Environmental Studies. After a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Molly started full-time at Farm Fresh RI in June 2013. She assists the Farmers Market Program Manager and the Finance Director with behind-the-scenes data and numbers work, as well as working on the ground managing the Bonus Bucks Nutrition Incentives program and assisting at farmers markets.
Jen has a BA in Biology from URI, a Food Managers Certification through the RIDOH, and a NOCTI certification through RIDE. Before joining Farm Fresh RI in 2009, Jen taught at Tides Family Services for 10 years. There she completed years of trauma and de-escalation training. She obtained a SME-ACRE certificate through the RIC Sherlock Center and participates in professional development opportunities on secondary education advocacy through RIPIN. From 2010-15, Jen worked as educator and program designer for Harvest Kitchen. Jen is an empathetic and kind mentor and teacher, and is a steady force in the lives of the youth — who regularly contact Jen to stay in touch after graduation, and often drop by the kitchen to update their resumes and discuss job search strategies. Jen is a truly gifted educator with this population.
Heidi moved to Providence in 2018 to join AmeriCorps at the Providence Children’s Museum. Relocating from Washington state and growing up in Colorado, Heidi has had a broad variety of experiences with food systems (from helping raise cattle to shopping at the farmers market) that made her passionate about making healthy food accessible for all! She firmly believes that connection between kids and their food provides more opportunity for exploration into diverse diets and healthy living. Heidi joins us for the 2019–2020 AmeriCorps year at Harvest Kitchen, and looks forward to making great connections with all the incoming trainees. In her personal time she volunteers with Books through Bars and enjoys relaxing walks at Neutaconkanut.
Assistant Director of Culinary Operations, Roger Williams University
“Farm Fresh RI has helped shape our local food system. It provides our community with resources, support, and structure — and delivers valuable services to farmers, chefs, hospitals, schools, and institutions. I am involved with Farm Fresh RI because of my culinary/chef background and love for anything local and sustainable. The fact that the folks of Farm Fresh believe in bettering our food system and the people that are involved in it makes it very easy for me to want to be part of that inspiring and innovative work. Farm Fresh has become the center of the local food movement, and I truly believe that the landscape has literary changed here as a result. I grew up in this community, and as a chef, I have witnessed first-hand the transition that started when Farm Fresh first came online — from increasing the amount of farmers markets, to introducing the Market Mobile distribution program, to the startup of Harvest Kitchen, Veggie Box, and all of the community engagement.”
Food System Enterprise
Jesse is from Algoma, Wisconsin, a small town near Lake Michigan surrounded by farms and fishing boats. His family tree is populated with cheesemakers, barbers and general store owners—needless to say, entrepreneurship, and supporting local businesses are in his blood. Growing up, many of the core industries in Jesse’s small community locked their doors and family farms were replaced by factory farms. These dramatic changes inspired Jesse to understand how communities could revitalize themselves economically while preserving their unique sense of place, cultural traditions, and environmental integrity. Since earning a Masters Degree from the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, he has worked locally as a nonprofit manager, nationally as a researcher and advocate, and statewide as program director and communications specialist. At Farm Fresh, Jesse oversees all social enterprise programs, strategic financial management, communications, technology development and human resources. In the past 5 years, he has worked with the board and leadership staff to double the organization’s operating budget and staff, while maintaining a balanced budget. Jesse devotes much of his time to the development of the new RI Food Hub and serves on the RI Food Policy Council as a member of the steering committee and the Food Solutions New England Chair. Jesse is an avid pickler and a fledgling potter who dreams of making his own fermenting crocks.
Vice President, Cox Business Northeast
Ross L. Nelson
“The mission at Farm Fresh RI is to bring fresh food to everyone, support our local farmers, and improve the quality of life in Rhode Island. Having experienced fruit and vegetables directly from my grandfather’s dairy farm, I think it’s incredibly important to share that experience with my kids and everyone. I can remember working on his farm, milking cows, haying the fields, and delivering milk to his customers. Those were some of my best memories. There is nothing better than helping to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to every table. And in supporting our local farmers, Farm Fresh RI is helping to drive the economy. I’m thrilled to be a part of such a great organization.”
Stephanie was born and raised in Rhode Island and loves to be surrounded by good food and good people. She is a Registered Dietitian who received her training from URI and Keene State College in New Hampshire, and has always focused her efforts on community nutrition and especially food insecurity. Stephanie’s career and personal paths have led her to work, volunteer, and educate in many community-based settings such as the Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America, Head Start, public schools, senior centers, and WIC. She believes in the power of food to create lasting change and strives to support communities in these endeavors.
Staff Attorney, RI Legal Services
“One of the things I like most about Farm Fresh RI is that it strives to provide everyone, regardless of economic status, with access to good, local food. Too often, fresh and local produce is seen as an elitist privilege rather than a basic need and right. I love that Farm Fresh both provides access to good food and uses food as a means of economic development.”
Taylor grew up surrounded by family gardens — her grandparents even housed some chickens in their backyard. Always hearing her mother pine for the first tomatoes of the season, it wasn’t until a trip to Italy a few years ago that Taylor truly got it. On that trip, she spent five months volunteering on farms in Italy, Greece, and Japan. While trying her hand at making goat cheese, caring for emus, and milking cows, she lived the connection between farmers, animals, the land, and the food that we eat. After returning stateside, she began her Farm Fresh RI journey, first serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and now acting as our Nutrition Education Associate. In her spare time, she loves illustrating, playing with her pet rats, and learning about cheesemaking.
Charlotte grew up outside Ithaca, NY, in a community of local farmers, producers, and food artisans that made it easy to eat well. She started her education in local food systems with her family and friends at home, and has continued it since working in all aspects of the food business — in gardens, bakeries, farmers markets, cafes, restaurants, and the kitchen of an Italian convent. She recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in the Ecology of Food. Charlotte has become extremely fond of Rhode Island over the last five years, and couldn’t be more excited to dig her toes into the extensive food systems of Southeastern New England.
Grace is a Rhode Island native and a graduate of Providence College. She recently graduated with a B.A. in Global Studies, and also studied Public Administration and Italian. She became passionate about sustainable and local food systems through her studies both in the classroom and abroad in Malawi, India, and Italy. Through experiences in markets, on farms, and with various NGOs she got her hands dirty and came to love growing, cooking, and eating good food. She will be working as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Farm Fresh RI for the next year and is very excited for all the things she will learn.
Jaime was born and raised in Massachusetts but ventured off to California to attend California State University, Chico, graduating with a degree in Organizational Communications. She grew up having an interest in nonprofits, but it wasn’t until her internships in college that she knew she wanted to work specifically with volunteers. Through these internships she realized the importance of volunteers and the fun that comes with getting to know, organize, and appreciate them. Also during her time in Chico, she discovered the beauty and importance of farmers markets. Wanting to learn more about this type of work and the different types of nonprofits led Jaime to the Volunteer Coordinator position at Farm Fresh RI. She is looking forward to working with volunteers that share this appreciation for locally grown foods and an organization that runs their own farmers markets. She is excited to not only learn about how their volunteers and organization operates but also about the food system along the way!
Paula is a local urban gardener with a love for growing and eating fresh, organic produce. A trip to Italy sparked a desire to change the way she feeds herself, after being deeply impacted by Italians’ passionate relationship to food and the Slow Food movement there. Since that impactful trip, she has dreamt of farming in Tuscany. By joining the Davis Park Community Gardens, as well as becoming a beekeeper, she has been able to make this dream a reality right here in Providence. Paula brings with her a first-hand knowledge of running a small business, in addition to her knack for numbers. She is excited about all that Farm Fresh RI is accomplishing and being an active member of the sustainable food movement in Rhode Island.
& Operations Associate
Osbert was born in Liberia in 1994. He came to the US with his Mom in 2000 when he was five years old. He grew up in Providence and currently lives in Pawtucket. He graduated from high school in 2012. He is a Harvest Kitchen graduate and advocate. He works to enthusiastically sell Harvest Kitchen youth-made value-added products at both winter and summer farmers markets in Rhode Island. Personally, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, and making others happy.
Lexi has always been a foodie, but before moving back to Rhode Island in 2010 she had no idea how much her life would come to revolve around food. After her first trip to the Hope Street farmers market as a wee 20-something-year-old, she was hooked on the idea that it should not be an out of the ordinary experience for anyone to get food from their home state. Eventually it clicked that she could spend her time solving this problem, and Lexi went back to school to study how to do that. Lexi graduated from University of Rhode Island in 2018 with a BS in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. While earning her degree, she worked with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council as Research and Evaluation Fellow and at the URI Hunger Center as part of the SNAP Outreach team. She has also worked as a regional food systems capacity-building consultant, barista, farmers market welcome table manager, work study CSA member, and restaurant server. Her multifaceted involvement with Rhode Island’s food system has given her a wide understanding of the specific needs of farmers and food buyers, and the varied needs of eaters from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Lexi is focusing her career around decentralizing food systems and strengthening local foodways. The definitions of food sovereignty and food security fuel her work, and these values are at the core of her projects as Wholesale Access AmeriCorps VISTA at Farm Fresh Rhode Island. When not advocating for food justice, Lexi can be found adventuring around Rhode Island’s coast, or more often, standing at her kitchen island in the west side of Providence, photographing her mise en place.
Development Director, St. Andrew's School
“I volunteer my time on the Board at Farm Fresh RI because I believe in its mission and vision to grow and strengthen the local food system. Its focus on ensuring access to healthy food through distribution, local markets, and nutrition programs contribute significantly to the state’s economic development and to a healthy community. In particular, the focus on each program being rooted in social justice is essential to the state and makes Rhode Island a model for food equity.”
Retired Certified Public Accountant
The mission of Farm Fresh RI is powerful to me — bringing local food to all communities and making fresh, local, healthy food affordable. I’m also impressed with its emphasis on nutrition education for all age groups from children to seniors; I believe this outreach is vital if we are to address the growing obesity and related health issues in our society. I hope to be able to help in advancing these objectives.
Thea moved to Providence in 2004 to attend Johnson & Wales University and graduated with a degree in Food Service Entrepreneurship. She has spent the past 10 years working with food in different capacities — as a chef, farmers market vendor, and farm hand — and has always been mindful of linking her work to the larger local food system. She firmly believes that the decisions we make about what we eat and where it comes from can have great impacts on the health and welfare of our local community. Thea ties these ideals into her work at Farm Fresh RI every day.
As an Environmental Studies major focused on Religion/Philosophy, Onne learned early on the significance of cultivating good habits within communities in order to make sustainable change. Onne has experience working with Farm Fresh RI on both Community Access and Food System Enterprise efforts. She first came on board as a summer AmeriCorps VISTA member for the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families nutrition education program, and has since been at Farm Fresh RI in different capacities. The overall Farm Fresh motto of connecting local food to local people aligns with Onne’s personal outlook on encouraging positive change.
Lucie G. Searle
Lucie grew up on a small farm in Exeter, where her family raised beef cattle and pigs. Growing up, she and her brothers were very active in 4-H, and showed their cattle at many local and regional fairs. The farm also grew crops for a roadside stand that offered a large variety of fruits and vegetables, with strawberries and sweet corn being the specialties. Lucie has worked in real estate development — both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors — since 1982. She is especially known for her achievements in revitalizing downtown Providence, evidenced through the three award-winning real estate projects she has developed for AS220 and her ongoing efforts through the Providence Preservation Society. Lucie is one of the original Farm Fresh RI board members, serving for nine years. She stepped off the Board to focus on RI Food Hub development in a professional capacity.
Chef Instructor, Johnson & Wales University; Former Chef/Owner of New Rivers American Bistro
“As a former restaurateur, I welcomed the vision of Farm Fresh RI and their mission to connect the farmer to local food consumers — be they individuals, businesses, or chefs. In 2009, Farm Fresh began its Market Mobile wholesale distribution service, allowing me and other chefs to buy directly from a variety of local farmers AND have Farm Fresh deliver those goods in a single order to the restaurant. Over the years, I have watched the growth and expanding vision of Farm Fresh RI and seen their success in connecting the farming and food-consuming communities in Rhode Island — from operating lively farmers markets to offering nutrition incentives for SNAP shoppers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, to food service training for young adults from the RI Training School who turn overstock produce from local farms into value-added products. When I retired and left my business after 22 years, I was ready to be a volunteer in a community project. My admiration of their work made it easy for me to commit my time to Farm Fresh RI.”