STAFF & BOARD
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.
Claudia got interested in local food, nutrition, and food justice while living in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she’s back in Rhode Island to share that knowledge and passion with youth, peers, and customers in her hometown. Before becoming the Café & Retail Sales Coordinator, Claudia first worked at Harvest Kitchen as a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA in Fall 2013 through Fall 2015. While at Farm Fresh RI, Claudia helps connect with other youth empowerment organizations and assists Harvest Kitchen graduates in finding employment in Rhode Island’s food industry. Her passions are to see Harvest Kitchen youth succeed in reaching their goals and connecting Rhode Island eaters to local food.
Shannon first learned about local food systems at the Maine Coast Semester program in Wiscasset, ME, where she did farm chores, volunteered in the kitchen, and learned in the outdoors along with other students. Since then, she has dedicated her work to improving access to fresh, healthy food. During summers, she worked on an organic farm near her hometown in Connecticut and cooked in a kitchen to feed large groups of folk dancers in Massachusetts. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2018 with a degree in Environmental Studies, after leading a student garden project and running the first Real Food Challenge calculator audit at the institution. She is excited to support connections between food producers and providers with Farm Fresh RI as part of the Food System Enterprise team. In her free time she enjoys traveling to folk festivals and dance weekends and trying out new bread recipes.
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.
Quatia, or affectionately known as “Q”, is a business owner, mother of five, and passionate advocate for healthy families, communities, and the environment. She is the owner of the premier cloth diaper service in Rhode Island and a perinatal community-based wellness organization primarily focused on eliminating disparities of health and identifying social health determinants within infant and maternal health. She facilities a monthly breastfeeding support group in Providence for Black/African American/Afro-Latino families. She is a board member of Urban Greens Cooperative, garden leader for Charles Street Community Garden, and sits on various committees and groups to support community health and wellness, and to champion against social determinants of health. She utilizes her wide range of skills to assist Farm Fresh RI in fundraising and other development functions to broaden financial and community support.
Rose was born and raised in Westerly, RI, where she grew up getting her hands dirty in her family’s garden, community gardens, and even as a farm hand at an organic vegetable farm in her hometown. She is a recent graduate from Eckerd College where she studied Biology and Environmental Studies. While in St. Petersburg, FL, she interned with the Edible Peace Patch Project, gaining experience with garden-based education. Now very passionate about spreading appreciation for healthy foods with others, she joined our team as our Growing & Garden AmeriCorps VISTA. She will be working with a variety of our Nutrition Education programs including our Farm to School program and Healthy Foods, Healthy Families.
Food System Enterprise
Alex grew up and currently resides in North Providence. His primary goal at Farm Fresh RI is to establish and maintain a positive and safe environment for farmers, customers, and workers in the Packhouse. Alex is a dedicated to Farm Fresh RI’s mission and enjoys working hard to achieve his goals. Alex’s experience of working as a driver for Market Mobile and Veggie Box provided him with many opportunities to interact with customers and learn more about each program. He enjoys working in a team focused environment like Farm Fresh RI. Outside of work, Alex spends his time with his fiancé and their baby girl!
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.”
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.
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.
Rhode Island 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.”
Although Tyler grew up right over the border in Massachusetts, he says Rhode Island always felt a little more like home. After taking a class about Environmental Health, Tyler learned how much of an impact our food has on our environment, and thus began his interest in the local food movement. Growing up, his mother and grandmother always had gardens, and although he used to hate helping when he was a kid, he is now more than willing! In fact, Tyler spends happy hours working in the fields of Farmacy Herbs Farm. Tyler graduated from Worcester State University in 2015 with a B.S. in Public Health. He enjoys playing volleyball and going to the beach.
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.
“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.”
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.
Food System Enterprise
Bryan graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Luther College, a liberal arts school situated in the picturesque bluffs of Northeast Iowa. Due to his father’s Navy career, he spent six years in Hawaii growing up, and developed a deep-rooted love for the ocean and its rich biodiversity. He is passionate about protecting the oceans from overfishing and pollution stemming from modern industrial agriculture. Bryan has been in Rhode Island for a few years now, first working as a Farm Fresh RI Fellow and member of the Episcopal Service Corps before joining the Farm Fresh RI team full-time. Ask him about aquaponics!
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.
Boston born and New Orleans fed, Carlie graduated Brown University in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a focus on regional food systems. Carlie first came to Farm Fresh RI as a Veggie Box intern during the summer of 2014. In 2015, she was Operations Coordinator for Brown Market Shares (a student-run CSA), as well as an intern at the Boston Public Market Association and Kendall Foundation, learning about large-scale public market operations and philanthropic initiatives. Today Carlie works with both Market Mobile and Veggie Box programs, which allows her to operate across the supply chain — connecting regional producers with local consumers. She is dedicated to improving our food system and inspired by leveraging that work to address other social problems. Carlie also enjoys trying new recipes and building on her ceramics skills to create the perfect mug in which to sustain her coffee addiction.
Rachel Van Scyoc
An Ohio native, Rachel Van Scyoc is learning all about Rhode Island and living on the east coast. Rachel is a graduate of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, with a degree in Communication Studies and Public Relations. As the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator for Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Rachel is eager about the opportunity to recruit volunteers to help Rhode Island’s residents shop and eat locally.
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 for the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families nutrition education program, then returning as a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA. After completing that year, she moved over to the Packhouse where she gained experience in operations for Food System Enterprise. Today, she is back in nutrition education, bringing with her a renewed perspective on the full circle of our local food system. The overall Farm Fresh motto of connecting local food to local people aligns with Onne’s personal outlook on encouraging positive change.
Carroll’s career path was impacted early on by a mentor who encouraged him to attend college. Today as a chef-educator, he is himself a mentor — sharing all he’s learned throughout his career to educate and empower youth about nutritious, fresh food. After working as a line cook in Baltimore, Carroll attended Johnson & Wales University, earning an associates degree in Culinary Arts, Bachelor’s degree in Food Marketing, and Masters degree in Teaching. Knowing the importance of food to the mind, body, and soul has allowed him to become a runner and triathlete. Carroll is passionate about using education to address social justice as it relates to food in our communities. He is inspired by the words of Bell Hooks: “My hope emerges from those places of struggle where I witness individuals positively transforming their lives and the world around them. Educating is a vocation rooted in hopefulness.”
Food System Enterprise
Sarah comes to Farm Fresh RI with a lifelong commitment to social justice and a professional background in youth work and organizational development. She is thrilled to work with farmers, producers, and customers as the Program Director for Food System Enterprise. Previously, Sarah served as the Director of Operations at The Learning Community, a high performing urban public school in Central Falls. At The Learning Community, she managed the logistics of the school’s operations, including expanding the food program to include more fresh fruit and vegetables. She was also a founding board member of Girls Rock! Rhode Island, an organization that uses music creation and critical thinking to foster empowerment, collaborative relationships, and healthy identities in girls and women. She loves to cook with fresh food from local farmers and her own garden.
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.
Grow Smart Rhode Island
“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.”
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.”
Liesl is a New Hampshire native and went to Keene State College to get her B.A. in English. She grew up in a small town passionate about community service, and that passion has become a natural part of her ambitions through her life. She spent several years working on a local, family owned berry farm in southern New Hampshire and that experience, among others, greatly interested her in supporting and advocating for locally grown food. She found her way to Rhode Island soon after graduating college and started her AmeriCorps VISTA service with Farm Fresh RI in 2018. She’s excited about learning from, helping, and experiencing the local community!
Ashley grew up in a small agricultural town in Northeast Pennsylvania, where she was instilled with a strong sense of community and connection to the land. Her interests in culture, food–body relationships, and sustainable communities developed after several years traveling overseas, and led her to graduate with a BA in Geography/Urban Studies from Temple University. After relocating to Providence, she joined the Food System Enterprise Team in August 2015. Ashley is passionate about active living and can often be found exploring the beautiful coastline and hidden gems of Rhode Island.
Mikayla grew up in a household where food played a central role in family life, the dinner table a place for everyone to gather and celebrate. This devotion to food led her to study nutrition in college and develop an even stronger passion for the connection between the food we eat, the health of our bodies, and the health of the land. Mikayla has years of experience teaching nutrition and garden education in traditional classroom settings, as well as outdoor and experiential-based learning environments. Upon graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 2010 with a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics, she went on to live and work on three organic farms as an apprentice, gaining invaluable firsthand experience. Now Mikayla coordinates the nutrition education programs at Farm Fresh RI, connecting local families to fresh food and sound nutrition, and empowering them to live healthy lives.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
“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.”
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.
Sabine has worked with Farm Fresh RI in many capacities over the past seven years and now helps keep our offices running smoothly as our Administrative Assistant. She is currently working on her accounting degree at Johnson & Wales University while gaining hands-on experience assisting our Finance Director. Sabine appreciates that the supportive environment at Farm Fresh RI has allowed her to grow and acquire more responsibilities over the years. She uses her dynamic and cheerful personality to contribute to the fulfillment of our organization’s mission and to better serve our community.
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.”
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.
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.
Melanie began working with Harvest Kitchen as a volunteer in late 2015, when she moved to Rhode Island from Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to that, Mel studied Studio Art and Art History at Penn State, and studied Education at Johns Hopkins University. While pursuing her education, she collected extensive experience in the restaurant industry, from bartending to management and training. She began working with Harvest Kitchen as an intern through Brown University’s Urban Education Policy master’s program, and after graduating in May 2017, came onboard full-time. Her experience in the field of education and hospitality plays an essential part in both Harvest Kitchen’s training program and Café + Corner Store.
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.
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.”