Alex Sawatsky, Farm Manager at Rutgers University, created a course on small-scale organic farming for Rutgers with an emphasis on student-focused, experiential learning. His course is founded on the dynamic interaction of the elements of sustainability—economic, political, and social.
Alex Sawatsky was a history major in college but found his passion for growing food while participating in a nine-month internship at a sustainable living and environmental education center in Costa Rica. When he returned to the US,” he began a farming career as an intern at Living Hope Farm in Pennsylvania in 2010. He then went on to start Sandbrook Meadow Farm in Stockton, NJ—a certified organic vegetable farm and CSA. After the 2018 season he passed the torch to his long-time assistant manager, so he could focus on completing his Master’s degree in Sustainable Food Systems and pursue his dream of becoming an educator in sustainable agriculture. Alex began working as the Student Farm Manager at Rutgers in April 2019 and is also a part-time instructor in the Agriculture and Food Systems Program. His ultimate goal is to help change the way that food is produced and consumed in the world. In pursuit of this, he aspires to teach others about the connections between food, agriculture, and community systems, and inspire others to contribute toward positive change.
Episode 2: Food Literacy For Families
Courtney Bonzo researched the pedagogy of food literacy to create a hands-on primer focused on families. Through activities that can be done together, she empowers families with a foundation for understanding food systems sustainability.
Cortney Bonzo is a native of rural, upstate New York, but has called many places home over the years; from Southern California, to Pennsylvania, and most recently North East Ohio. She is a full-time mother of four children: Kadyn 14, Piper 11, William 8 and Crue 5, and is lovingly married to her husband of 15 years, Dayne. Cortney’s experience as a parent and her undergraduate work in Child and Family studies provided a solid background for her capstone project which focuses on family-based learning approaches. Cortney’s personal interest include; learning new cooking techniques, home-gardening, self-reliance, as well as exploring primitive camp sites with her family. Cortney’s life goal has been to embed herself in the bioregional foodshed where she resides, and to contribute to the necessary work of creating a more sustainable and just food system. Cortney’s upcoming relocation to Fairbanks, Alaska, will certainly create a new and exciting challenge.
Episode 3: Truckin’ Toward a Local Food Vision
Interested in mobile food vending, Chad Snader evaluated different value propositions and developed a business plan for a food truck that would be a bridge between eaters and local food producers, addressing the challenges of local sourcing, menu development, pricing and transparency.
Chad Snader was born and raised in Ephrata, Pennsylvania and immediately joined the Air Force after high school. After two years in Montana, Chad moved to Delaware where he lived for over 21 years. He is currently a full-time member of the Delaware Air National Guard and moved back to his beloved Lancaster County in 2016. Chad earned his AA in Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force and his BA in Homeland Security from American Military University. Finally breaking the mold of his military career Chad enrolled at Green Mountain College in 2017 to pursue his Masters in Sustainable Food Systems, a move that much more aligns with his interests and values. He has a daughter, Lila, that will start a nursing program at Wesley College in Delaware in the fall of 2020 and is engaged to Cindy. Chad and Cindy run Making Roots Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown farm, and have put much blood, sweat and time into ensuring the farm remains sustainable, productive and emotionally rewarding. Always learning, often informally, Chad pursues his interests of agriculture, exercise and sustainability, squeezing in leisurely fishing and walking his pup Bailey as much as possible.
Episode 4: Helping Farmers Market Sustainability
Dave Kuder developed a business plan for a direct-to-consumer marketing service. The business and the guide he developed helped farmers become more economically sustainable through accessible marketing materials that educate and influence more sustainable consumer behaviors.
Dave Kuder lives in Sacramento CA with his wife and three children. He has spent the last 12 years as an active duty Air Force member, a contractor and Reservist, but realized his calling in agriculture about 7 years ago. In 2016, he earned a certification in Permaculture Design through the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Occidental CA. Dave also co-founded and runs an online farmer’s market called Placer Farmer’s Marketplace in Placer Co., CA, with his wife and business partner. Additionally, he spent 2019 running a no-till regenerative market garden called Lincoln Hills Farm in Lincoln CA. He is interested in building a stronger presence of local regenerative agriculture in the Sacramento Valley through marketing and hopes his Capstone Project, a marketing guide for small and medium sized farmers, can help him accomplish this.
Episode 5: Gardening for Health
For her Capstone, Claire Tuohey-Mote designed learning modules focused on changing health outcomes for vulnerable adult populations through gardening. Through on-farm experiential learning, the workshop offers opportunities to access emotional, physical, mental and social well-being.
Before beginning the MSFS program, Claire Tuohey-Mote worked as a product developer in the natural ingredients sector of the food science industry. After leaving that work, her passions led her to volunteer for sustainable businesses and nonprofits, and to work on special projects in food access and local food promotion. Upon graduation, Claire will pursue work in food systems connection building in San Luis Obispo County, with the long-term goal of working at the intersection of agricultural education and food as medicine. She is passionate about building community health through outdoor education and human-to-nature connection. In her free time, she can be found creating wedding cakes, backpacking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, tending the garden and chickens, or guiding tours at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.
Episode 6: Burger With a Side of Sustainability
For consumers interested in making ethical choices regarding meat consumption, Karlee Shields wrote a handbook with the goal to re-connect people to the food they eat as a tool to shift animal production toward more environmentally restorative and cruelty-free practices.
Karlee Shields lives in Ghent, NY, a small town located in the upper Hudson Valley region, and has lived there her entire life. As an undergrad, she studied Public Affairs and Public Policy and held an internship with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets working for the nutrition program unit. She began her graduate studies at Green Mountain College and transferred to the Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program at Prescott College. Her experience working as a farm hand and in the commercial kitchen piqued her interest in learning to sustainable livestock farming and inspired her to write her Capstone on the importance of Sustainable Meat Choices. Karlee is now working as a faculty instructor in the Agriculture, Meat Science, and Food Technology program at Central Wyoming College.
Episode 7: Waste Not, Want Not
Motivated by knowing that 40% of all food produced in the US is consequently thrown away, and most of that waste happens at the household level, Mariah Hachmeistercreated a comprehensive and interactive food waste reduction workshop for consumers.
Mariah Hachmeister is committed to community and culture building and is approaching graduation from the Master of Science degree in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College. She has an academic background in Psychology, Sociology, and Women's and Gender Studies. She credits the time spent volunteering, working, and participating in study experiences, both in the United States and abroad, as fostering an interest in the food systems at the intersection of community, health, and the environment. Mariah is passionate about the issues of food access and security, food waste, and human relationships with food.
Whether you want to talk to us about a topic in Sustainable Food Systems, learn more about our Master's program, or, would like to interview us, we're available to discuss topics related to biodiversity, food justice, sustainable farming pracitces, soil science and more.