Board of Directors

 

CASSANDRA PENCE, Events Chair


Cassie is passionate about living a sustainable life, especially when it comes to supporting local food. She believes local food connects us to community and the land, inspiring protection of both. She recently relocated to Crested Butte from the Vail Valley, where she founded the EagleVail Community Garden, a 72-plot growing space producing lots of fresh veggies. In Vail, she was president of Slow Food Vail Valley and was a board member on the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability — working hard to improve local food access. She is driven to inspire positive change through community leadership, involvement and her specialty — writing. She’s excited at the opportunity to continue her purpose at Mountain Roots.


Her professional career as a journalist allows her to write a lot about sustainable living and local food, from food policy to GMOs to how to get the most out of your CSA box. With her husband, Tim, she also helps to run a green cleaning company, called Organic Housekeepers. Cassie has one son, Ziggy, and one daughter, Ruby.  She loves yoga, mountain biking, skiing, cooking, gardening and travel and has biked across Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba and Greece.


Cassie says: Local food is something we can all rally behind because it gives us so much pleasure. Local food connects us to the people we are enjoying it with, to the people who grew it and the land that nourished it. This is why local food is such a powerful catalyst for positive change. Who wouldn’t want to curb climate change if it guaranteed fresh, juicy cherries every summer?

SIERRA FAIRFIELD-SMITH, Crested Butte Youth Garden Coordinator

Sierra was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, throughout which she found an innate love for the outdoors. This love expanded as she attended Western State Colorado University receiving a Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Business Administration. She continued to gain experience through travel, finding herself conducting pigmy possum research in Kosciusko National Park, Australia, building a vegetable garden at a free English-speaking school in Cambodia, and most recently working as the Garden Manager for the GROWE Foundation in Boulder, CO.

These experiences shaped her passion for vegetable gardening and sharing it with others. She believes in the power of a school garden, for the joy and curiosity it brings to the next generations, creating a connection to the earth, food and community. Sierra is excited to grow food with Mountain Roots and the Gunnison Valley community.           contact Sierra >

HOLLY CONN, Director    [part time]

Growing, sharing, preparing, and eating good food has been a passion of mine and a common thread throughout my entire life. I grew up in the rural midwest, where our family garden and fruit trees provided almost everything we needed. I didn’t even realize that there was any other kind of food other than homemade. Later, I trained as a chef, and worked in resort restaurants from Breckenridge, CO  to the Outer Banks, NC and finally as a private chef for luxury sailing yachts.

After I was married, we began raising a family on a small homestead in coastal Maine. Through the way we live, I have taught my children about the delicate and important balance of the natural world, to respect and honor nature, to grow the food we eat, and to care for our bodies and for the world we live in.

I believe that people have an amazing capacity to create change. I am inspired by the power that food has to bring people together, by how wonderful and fulfilling it is to simplify our lives, and how possible it is teach people to provide for themselves by going back to traditional ways.  The “food movement” has momentum across the world, and I hope that Mountain Roots can inspire and empower people to get back to the basics.         e-mail Holly >

ZACHARY TREISMAN, Treasurer     

Zack came to Gunnison in 2009 to teach mathematics at Western State, after 15 years away from the southwest, mostly in Washington and Oregon.  He grew up outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and received his PhD in mathematics from the University of Washington.  He taught at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia. In between, Zachary lived in Mumbai, India for a year, drove a taxi in Santa Fe, and fell in love with being in the mountains. When he’s not teaching or doing math, he likes to hike, bike, ski, and take lots of pictures.


Zack says:  To me, part of being at home in a place means knowing that my food comes from that place - growing some if I can, and having connections to the people who grow, raise, or create as much of my diet as possible. I am glad to be part of the North Boulevard Agriculture Collective urban garden. Joining the board of Mountain Roots gives me an opportunity to help more people use this definition of home, by working to creatively solve the problems of encouraging local food in these high desert mountains.                               

          contact Zack >

info@mountainrootsfoodproject.org        PO Box 323 Gunnison, CO 81230

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DAN BYERS, Agricultural Law and Procurement


Dan Byers grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado and has strong ties to ranching and the beef industry. Dan received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Drake University and his Juris Doctorate with a Certificate in Food and Agricultural Law from Drake University Law School.  Dan moved to Gunnison from Iowa and is the Director of Procurement and Contracts at Western State Colorado University. Prior to working at Western, Dan worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in their Wetlands Restoration Program, facilitating wetland conservation easements in the state of Iowa.  Dan also gained legal experience while clerking for the Boulder County Court in Boulder, CO, interning at a natural resources law firm in Denver, CO and clerking for the Iowa House of Representatives in Des Moines, IA.


Dan spent his college summers working on a natural beef ranch where he helped educate customers about the importance and benefits of raising natural beef. Dan enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, gardening and playing music. Dan moved to Gunnison with his wife, Amanda, who works as a substitute teacher for the Gunnison School District.


Dan says: . I personally believe that the development of local and sustainable food/agricultural systems are vitally important to the health of our land, our bodies and our souls. As a society we have lost touch with where our food comes from and as a result we rarely stop to think about what we put in our bodies let alone the methods by which that food was grown and harvested. Food and agriculture are close to my heart after growing up in a ranching family. As a new member of the Gunnison community I am very interested in sharing my passion and skills for developing local and sustainable food/agriculture in the Gunnison valley.

contact Dan >

WENDY BALES, Vice President


Wendy has spent over 20 years working in the high tech industry, both for Hewlett Packard and Oracle. Most recently, she led Product Management for a social collaboration software product, working to determine how to best utilize Oracle’s limited development resources to best meet customer requirements. Wendy earned her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and her MBA in Marketing from Colorado State University. She recently moved to Crested Butte from Boulder with her husband and two young sons in order to enjoy a smaller community and the beautiful outdoors. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, snowboarding and hiking. She looks forward to introducing her kids to her love of travel (She has travelled to every continent except Antartica!)


Wendy says:  As a mother of two young children, I feel strongly that a child’s understanding of the way in which their food is grown leads to their understanding of the importance of healthy eating habits for their mind and body. We can aid this process through an educational, hands-on learning process at our schools, community gardens, and at home. Additionally, we need to help children learn how the health of their diet is strongly linked to the health of the planet.

JOHN MEYER, President


John grew up in Western New York playing many sports but mostly loving the fall football season.  After having survived working and eating at fast food joints for four years and graduating from college (SUNY/Buffalo) he joined the US Air Force officer corps, specializing in the computer systems analysis, where he enjoyed a successful career.  He retired from the USAF to Boulder, CO where he put his latent engineering capabilities into useful endeavors such as refurbishing a solar hot water and space heating system and building solar greenhouses, and learning to grow vegetables along the way.  He and his wife, Katie moved to Crested Butte in 2009, refurbishing an historic house on Maroon Ave.  Katie is a dedicated volunteer at the Elk Avenue Garden as well as maintaining her own garden.  John is on Crested Butte's Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) and the Nordic Council Board. He and Katie travel regularly to race in nordic ski events in North America and Europe.  


John says:  “My inspiration came from reading Elliott Coleman's "The Four Season Harvest".  I loves to cook (and eat!) and I’m passionate about using local, seasonal ingredients, whether from Katie's garden, the farmer's market, or other local sources. In a world where corporate interests seem to come first, I feel that by establishing our own alternative local food system we can have some control over the health of ourselves, our community, and our environment.  I have felt the positive effects of his organic, mostly plant based diet and wants to inspire others to take more control of what they eat. “

Our Team

 
Advisory Members

 

MEIKE MESSINER, Development


Meike Meissner  has 18 years of development experience, having been the development director at the Adaptive Sports Center, High Country Citizen's Alliance (now known as High Country Conservation Advocates), and most recently at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. She is a graduate of George Washington University and moved to the Gunnison Valley in 1995. Meike took a two year break from the valley to live on a sailboat in Sausalito, CA, which gave her the opportunity to work as the primary grant writer for a much larger organization,The Marine Mammal Center, and build her development experience. Living in Marin County and having access to its abundant farmers' markets and delicious foods was a real eye-opener and prompted Meike and her husband, Mike, to shift their eating habits and focus their energies on supporting sustainable food production and providers. When they moved back to Almont to raise their family they built a small strawbale home and started Golden Goose Farm, where they produce beef, lamb, pork, chicken, milk and eggs for themselves and others. Meike has a permaculture design degree from the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center and is co-founder of the Gunnison chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She has also taught classes on raising backyard livestock for the Western State Colorado University Extended Studies program and is passionate about educating people about traditional ways of raising and preparing nutrient dense food. 

ALAN WARTES


Alan Wartes is a writer, musician, filmmaker, theater producer/director, journalist and urban farmer.  He grew up in Texas, but has resided in Colorado for the past 25 years. Alan has written extensively online and in print about resilience — in particular about the need for local, small-scale food production.  Alan ran an urban farming CSA in Denver for several years.


He believes: “Every yard is a farm in waiting.”


Alan Says:  I am very interested in promoting local food awareness and food security in our community — in counterbalance to the unsustainable and unhealthy practices of industrial agriculture.

MJ PICKETT,  Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator

MJ grew up in New York and moved to Nevada shortly after graduating with a BS in Natural Resource Planning from the University of Vermont. She loves the west and now calls it home. She is a graduate student in Western State Colorado University’s Master in Environmental Management program where she hopes to use her experience from living and working in Chile, Belize, and Australia. MJ is a yoga instructor and loves to read and knit. You can often find her hiking around with her husband and their black lab, Bingham, taking photos of flowers, skies, and the environment.

MJ says…   “I am constantly inspired by my interactions with food. Every time I watch a light bulb come on when a child sows their own seeds, cares for the plant, harvests it, and tastes it for the first time; when I get to dig in the dirt, get my hands dirty and feel my connection with the earth and my food; every time I sit around the table with family and friends, I am reminded of the community it takes to make a meal happen. From the composition of the soil to the composition of the community to the education we receive on our food are all integral parts of our food system and inspire me to pursue local food.”

NATALIE BERKMAN, Americorps VISTA [Environment]

Natalie was born in Washington, DC and moved to Colorado in 2011 to study Environmental Science at Colorado College. Growing food has always been a huge part of her life, from cultivating her family’s community garden plot to working at a CSA for three years to studying agroecology in Thailand to running the student farm at Colorado College. Through these experiences, she’s visited many small farms in Colorado, gaining relationships with local farmers and better understanding Colorado’s food system as a whole. She loves everything about food:  studying it, growing it, cooking it and eating it. When not farming, Natalie enjoys crocheting, taking walks and playing softball. Her favorite animal is the river otter.

Natalie says:  “My goal to improve food security and change our current food system is to become a small farmer. Small farms have the power to reinvent our food system by supplying food to their surrounding community and promoting self-sufficiency, community involvement and decentralized food markets. Collaborating with market networks, farm-to-school movements and other farmers is imperative for small farmers to be successful. Organizations like Mountain Roots are an integral part of this system. I believe that my passion for growing food will one day help solve our food crisis. Not to mention I’m already quite inclined to one day own my own farm on the Western slope of Colorado.“

contact Natalie >

SASHA LEGERE, Gunnison Community School Youth Garden Coordinator / Kids Cook / Roots & Shoots

Sasha Legere hails from the east coast. She grew up in a small city west of 190 in Massachusetts snowboarding, biking and exploring the rolling hills of New England. With a constant desire for adventure and to educate about sustainability, she slowly made her way across the country. After spending some time farming off the coast of Washington State, she cultivated kids, food and community in Moab, UT.  With a strong passion for gardening, farmer's markets, discussing agriculture, cooking, community events, community dinners, and most of all learning and exploring with others, she happily found herself residing in Gunnison, CO. Her love for the earth, the sun, the moon and the sky drives her to live each day with a smile and strides to produce positive change.

Sasha says:  “I have great ambitions to create a stronger, healthier and mutualistic relationship between the environment and humans. I believe the best and essential way to do this is by building a strong sense of community and through education of all ages but especially children. To introduce and immerse individuals into gardening at a young age is to help them create a strong and healthy relationship and understanding of life from seed to table, sun to plant,  to human and animal relationships while learning the importance of community.”

contact Sasha >

SARAH STOLL


coming soon!

MOUNTAIN ROOTS

FARM TO SCHOOL         GARDENS        CSA        FOOD SECURITY: ACCESS & OUTREACH 

LAURA MCLOUGHLIN


Laura grew up outside of Cleveland spending much of her childhood in a barn. Drawn to the mountains and wilderness, she went to college in Boulder, Colorado and after graduation moved with friends to Crested Butte. She went back to school to become a Registered Nurse and most recently worked for Gunnison County as a public health nurse, where she helped to start one of the community gardens there. She lives in Crested Butte with her husband, Ben, and their two kids Maisy and Otis. She loves to be outside and to make things with her hands.


Laura Says:  I’m most passionate about building community and sharing knowledge about how best to care for our land and our selves. I believe that food is something to be shared as a community, and growing it together is bonding. A great way to share knowledge and ideas, and have fun, is to work together in a garden. I’m concerned our society may be teaching our children to write computer programs and business proposals but not to feed and care for themselves, or for the land. I think Mountain Roots is an important piece of allowing our children to learn other things than they normally learn in the classroom. Growing food and spending time in nature are important to understanding life. There are so many great lessons to be learned in the garden! Like when to push hard and when to be gentle. Or when to be patient and when you need to act quickly. Or when new technologies are helpful or when they are hurtful. How to work together as a team and when to work and when to play. Not to mention so much about the natural world that kids don’t get to spend enough time in these days, in my opinion. I want to teach by example to the next generation how to be resilient, how to continue to learn and explore, and the value and reward of hard work.

TRACY BORDEN, Farm to School Program Coordinator

Tracy grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has lived in 4 and traveled to 14 countries and counting. She loves to speak Spanish, dance to Latin and African music, and enjoys biking, gardening and fun outdoor activities. She’s a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

 

Tracy  says:  “ I want to empower others to live a healthy and happy life through growing and eating locally sourced food. By growing or consuming garden vegetables she believes a community can come together to ensure neighbors are full of food that will energize their families and encourage a healthy planet for future generations. Mountain Roots brings together our food system, mission and work from staff members and friends in hopes to leave the world a better place.” 

contact Tracy >

RACHEL REESE, Summer Environmental Educator, Kids Cook Instructor, and Farmer’s Markets

Rachel grew up on the front range of Colorado but her adventures have taken her from coast to coast. She has spent time cooking and farming in New York City, Washington State, and southern Oregon. She loves to hike, bike, ski, do yoga, to travel and to meet new people, but no matter where she goes she loves to get involved in the food culture.


Rachel says: "I studied Social Work in college because I knew that I wanted to work to improve quality of life for individuals and communities. It was only after graduating and spending a summer learning to grow food on an organic farm that I came to realize how foundational good food is to happiness and well being. I've dedicated myself to growing, cooking, and teaching others healthy habits around wholesome food because I cannot imagine a more effective or more fulfilling way to make the world a better place.”

contact Rachel >

REBEKAH DAVIS, Summer Teaching Intern

Bekah grew up in the creeks and parks of Missouri. Thanks to her mother’s large family, Bekah was exposed to Colorado at an early age, and at 18, she moved to Breckenridge Colorado, where she was a lift operator for several years before switching paths to the restaurant industry. After several years of cooking in Breckenridge, Bekah went on to experience lower Alabama for a year, learning new flavors to cook with and just exactly how to lie on the beach for hours at a time. Bekah moved to Crested Butte in 2015 and pursued her degree in Elementary Education at Western State Colorado University. She will begin her student teaching year in the fall of 2017 at the Gunnison Elementary School. When she is not studying or working, Bekah can be found camping and hiking, longboarding or kayaking, playing guitar or listening to good tunes, and working on her silversmithing skills.

Bekah says “ I am most excited about being able to influence elementary age kids to live a more sustainable life style. I understand school is a time for learning history and information, but it should also include lessons on what the ramifications of long term industrialized farming looks like on this world as well as lessons on seed starting, transplanting, and building greenhouses! These are things Mountain roots strives to convey, and I hope to bring these practices with me wherever I teach.

2017 INTERNS

Amanda Botsford, CSA Manager & Farm Intern

Amanda grew up in the Bay Area in Northern California. Her love for the outdoors began at a young age where camping, hiking, fishing, and kayaking were activities that her family did regularly. She grew up in a close-knit family where the environment encouraged exploration and imagination. This foundation allowed her after college to work and travel all over the country and other parts of the world. With adventure in her veins—she maneuvers the world through the eyes of her heart and finds living simply brings her peace. (along with morning coffee) In her free time she can be found camping with her kitty Ziggy, playing board games like Boggle or chess, discovering new trails that lead to mountain vistas, enjoying early morning sunrises, cooking good food, and visiting home to spend time with her family and her first, adorable nephew Leo.

Amanda says, "It was those initial experiences with my brother at an early age that sparked my lifelong appreciation and care for the outdoors and natural landscapes. Making mud pies in the backyard, building forts, trudging through creeks, and harvesting carrots that my mom helped us  plant. Those experiences set the foundation for my passion surrounding conservation of our public lands and sustainable farming. We are all connected, the land and people that care for it are critical factors in the preservation of our world for future generations."


Sam Lesniskowski, Urban Ag Intern

Sam grew up on the only commercial cranberry farm in the state of Vermont. Growing up in northern Vermont immersed him in agriculture at a young age. Through this early experience Sam began to develop a love for sustainable and organic agriculture and is excited to bring this love with him to Mountain Roots and gain more experience farming on the Western Slope of Colorado. Sam is a senior in the Environment and Sustainability program at Western State Colorado University and loves backcountry skiing, mountain biking, music, and reading in addition to farming.


Sam says “ I am greatly inspired by the potential for connection that sustainable agriculture has. I feel that through farming and an intimacy with the land one can gain a stronger connection not only to place but to its inhabitants as well, both human and non-human. These connections have the potential to heal the rift between people, place, and planet and create a more just world.”


Nanni Richardson, Farm Intern

I grew up in rainy Portland, Oregon. Most weekends I was either adventuring in Mt. Hood National Forest or at the Oregon Coast, playing roller derby, making art or riding my beautiful bike “Tabitha” around the city. In recent years I’ve migrated between Molalla, OR where I get to work on a beautiful 100-acre organic farm; and Crested Butte where I spend winters “ski bummin’ it”.

I am most passionate about food accessibility, and hope to help rebuilding the connection between people and their food. I believe that clean, sustainably-grown and delicious produce is a basic human right and my goal is to be able to meet that need here in our community through work with Mountain Roots. Learning to grow my own food has been one of the most empowering experiences of my life and I want to be able to share that with others.



Laura Perry, Community Food Systems Intern

APRIL MCCUE,  Backyard Harvest, Dig Plant Grow Camp, Summer Field Studies

Born in Pennsylvania, April moved to the arid desert of Arizona at the young age of five. Although she’s in her late 20’s, she typically finds that she has more in common with kids and town pups than adults.  Sports and an active lifestyle were always important to her family, but April gained an increased interest in nutrition during high school. In 2013, with a new found love of health equity, she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor degree in Public Health. In addition to discovering this passion of eliminating health disparity, Flagstaff, Arizona is where her love of all-things-mountains began. She loves the alpine experience that Crested Butte has to offer, but has a new appreciation for the desert she left behind 3 years ago. She admires authenticity, a quiet mountain top, and learning new skills. In her free time, April will be found hiking, climbing on rocks, questioning social norms, or cooking (dancing) in her kitchen.

April says ...  “Self-sufficiency and access to healthy foods are huge values of mine, and I love that I get to contribute to these qualities through Mountain Roots. My connection to the natural world around me brings endless recreation and spiritual wellbeing.  I think that most people cannot feel passionate about advocating and protecting our natural spaces if they are never connected to their natural world, which is why I’m excited to spread this notion among future generations.  I have experienced the healing qualities of nature in many different forms, gardening included. It brings us back to our roots, so to speak, and fills the heart with ownership and resiliency.”