tim_alderson_12Tim Alderson is the Executive Director of Seeds of Hope, the food justice ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which grows and distributes food in over 100 communities of need across six Southern California counties. His lifetime in agriculture has included nearly 20 years as CEO of AgriGator, Inc., a multi-national soil amendment manufacturer, as well as numerous industry boards including the board of directors of the National Agri-Marketing Association. He was the founding chairman of the California School Garden Network and was appointed by two California governors to the board of the Schools Agriculture and Nutrition Program where he currently serves as President. He was also appointed to the California Department of Education School Garden Advisory Committee. Tim lives in Pasadena, California where he has served as Chairman of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission and the Mayor’s Workforce Housing Task Force.

colin-and-karen-archipleyColin and Karen Archipley are the founders of Escondido, CA-based Archi’s Acres, Inc., a farming enterprise that uses hydroponic technology to grow organic produce. The Archipleys are a unique combination of talent, vision, commitment and success. Colin is a combat-decorated Marine Sergeant and Karen is a previously successful fashion industry entrepreneur. The Archipley’s founded Archi’s Acres, Inc. in 2006. Over the past eight years, Colin and Karen have worked to transform their vision into a successful hydro-organic farming business. Through diligent research of organic farming methods, combined with hard work and unwavering commitment to their vision, they have developed a profitable, sustainable, organic farming business. Archi’s Acres has also partnered with Cal Poly Pomona’s College of the Extended University to create a one-of-a-kind fully accredited agricultural certificate program.  This six-week program is modeled after Archi’s Institute’s entrepreneurial incubator Sustainable Agriculture Training (SAT)

erik-cutter_1Erik Cutter is Managing Director of Alegría Fresh, located in Irvine, CA. Alegría Fresh is a zero-waste, solar-powered one-acre high performance urban microfarm employing hydro-organic and hybrid soil-based growing systems. Mr. Cutter has over 35 years experience growing superior nutrient-rich produce using hydroponic and organic techniques and is a leading pioneer in developing cost effective growing systems that can be deployed over man-made surfaces close to where people live and work. He has a background in Biochemistry and Oncology, and possesses a lifelong passion for creating haute cuisine using the finest ingredients, most of which he grows himself. Mr. Cutter’s mission is to create greater awareness of the numerous health benefits of consuming fresh, locally-grown food. The company’s goals include connecting individuals with where their food comes from and how it should be grown, influencing positive change in resource management, teaching healthy eating habits, promoting entrepreneurship programs and creating jobs in urban agriculture.

updated-dwight-detter-imageDwight Detter is the Executive Director of Slow Money SoCal. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Dwight spent 20 years in the Food Service Industry in San Francisco and Los Angeles before joining the grocery industry where he previously worked with Whole Foods Market for 15 years, and as a local forager for the past four years helping local start-ups get on to retail shelves. Dwight also teaches a series of 4 classes throughout LA, Orange County and San Diego in conjunction with the Fine Foods Group on developing local artisan businesses. He works with community groups such as the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the San Diego Food System Alliance and county Farm to School groups. He is currently involved with developing a value added program with Archi’s Acres AISA Program for returning Marines and Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.

anna-mariaAnna Maria Desipris – Good, clean, and sustainably grown food is the drive behind the work Anna Maria Desipris focuses on.  As an urban farmer and beekeeper, her drive is to educate and empower communities (especially children) on the importance of growing food and sourcing sustainably. Her experience stems from many years of teaching children in gardens to teaching both children and adults the practices of organic growing.  Anna Maria has implemented and managed edible growing spaces, orchards, educational and volunteer programs.  She has also quickly become the “bee lady” in Orange County for her passion and dedication to ensuring Honeybee survival and assisting those who wish to keep bees. She works full time at The Ecology Center (where she received her Permaculture Design Certificate) running public and private events and the Community Table Accord initiative.

Frank Fitzpatrick, Owner of 5 Bar Beef

aaron-fox-photoDr. Aaron Fox is Assistant Professor of Urban and Community Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona.  Dr. Fox, along with Dr. Eileen Cullen, is creating an Urban and Community Agriculture minor program at Cal Poly Pomona where students will learn the production and business skills as well as the policy and social issues surrounding urban agriculture. Dr. Fox has developed a number of new courses, including a Farmers’ Market class where students meet with market managers, non-profit leaders, farmers and government agencies at 9 different farmers’ markets across Southern California. Dr. Fox has also worked with students on developing indoor growing spaces in shipping containers and creating a kitchen garden for the campus’s fine dining restaurant. Dr. Fox conducts research on what beneficial insects exist on urban farms and has begun looking at sustainable ways of managing pest insects like the Bagrada bug.

Christina Hall, Executive Director of OC Food Access Coalition

chris-higgins-hort-americas-2014Chris Higgins is General Manager of Hort Americas, LLC (HortAmericas.com) a wholesale supply company focused on all aspects of the horticultural industries. He is also owner of UrbanAgNews.com (eMagazine) and a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture. With over 15 years of experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture. Chris is a leader in providing technical assistance to businesses, including commercial greenhouse operations, state-of-the-art hydroponic vegetable facilities, vertical farms, and tissue culture laboratories. In his role as General Manager at Hort Americas he works with seed companies, manufacturers, growers and universities regarding the development of projects, new products and ultimately the creation of brands. Chris’ role includes everything from sales and marketing to technical support and general management/owner responsibilities

ed-hortonEd Horton is the President and CEO of Urban Produce. Ed brings over 25 years of experience from the technology industry to Urban Produce. His vision of automation is what drives Urban Produce to become more efficient. With God and his family by his side he is excited to move Urban Produce forward to provide urban cities nationwide with fresh locally grown produce 365 days a year. Ed enjoys golfing and walking the harbor with his wife on the weekends.

sarajohnsonDr. Sara E. Johnson is a Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton and the director of the U-ACRE program there. U-ACRE, or the Urban Agriculture Community-based Research Experience (U-ACRE), is a program that seeks to accomplish the following: the development a replicable model of  urban agriculture as a tool to increase food security; strengthen community outreach in areas of urban agriculture and food security; provide hands-on community-based research experience for undergraduates; and arm students with knowledge and skill sets for jobs and careers in STEM and NIFA-related fields. The U-ACRE program has been nationally recognized for its community engagement and preparing students to participate in a global society and the workforce.

rishi-kumarRishi Kumar is a farmer, educator, and urban peasant. He is the co-founder and director of The Growing Club (thegrowingclub.com), a non-profit organization based in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, CA working to create systemic cultural change through the avenues of food, farming, and community empowerment.

studio-photo-mark_lowry-0786_5x7Mark Lowry – Mark is director of the OC Food Bank. During his tenure, the quantity of food distributed by the Food Bank has grown from two million pounds per year to over twenty-one million pounds annually. Over 150,000 vulnerable people now receive food from the OC Food Bank each month. As an advocate, Mark works closely with elected officials on the local, state and federal levels, on issues related to social and economic justice. He works specifically on agriculture and tax policy, and improving access to federal nutrition programs.

kimi-mcadamKimi McAdam, MS, RD Bio – Kimi McAdam earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Concordia University in Irvine.  She proceeded to have a career in advertising for four years before deciding to go back to school and pursue her passion for food and nutrition.  She finished all the coursework and dietetic internship from California State University at Long Beach, in addition to earning her Masters of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from there also.  She has been a Clinical Dietitian at Kaiser Permanente in Anaheim, CA, since 2008, where she specialized in Pediatric and Neonatal nutrition, and was promoted to Assistant Department Administrator overseeing the entire Food and Nutrition Services operations in 2013.  She enjoys spending time with her husband, 2 year old daughter, and dog when not at work.

Chef Adam Navidi, Future Foods Farms and Oceans & Earth Restaurant

megan-pennMegan Penn – Born and raised in the City of Orange, CA, Megan truly knows the meaning of “homegrown”. She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and holds a BS in City and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Urban Design. Megan spent 12 years as an accomplished Urban Planner and Senior Project Manager before venturing into the position of Executive Director for the grassroots driven Orange Home Grown (OHG) organization. As a co-founder of Orange Home Grown Inc., which started in 2009, she is passionate about providing access to locally grown food, works to improve the local food system through education, and develops opportunities that create “community” here in Orange County. Megan holds a position on the City of Orange Community Development Block Grant Committee and is a board member for the Pitcher Park Foundation. Megan is a wife and mother and enjoys growing food at home and raising backyard chickens.

robert-puroRobert Puro is the CEO and Co-founder of Seedstock, LLC. In 2011, he and business partner, Jason Reed, launched seedstock. com, creating a news and informational resource to promote and connect startup companies, farmers, entrepreneurs, non-pro t organizations and researchers involved in developing sustainable and economically viable solutions with which to continually improve local food systems. To further educate and engage future entrepreneurs and encourage the growth of a sustainable agriculture marketplace, Puro and Reed established the Sustainable Ag Innovation Conference, which is now in its fifth year. Puro and Seedstock also provide senior consultancy services surrounding local food systems to industry and government bodies including the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the City of Riverside, CA. Prior to working at Seedstock, Puro ran an independent consulting firm that assisted startup companies across various industry verticals develop business plans and go to market strategies. He also has held positions in business development and marketing at such companies as Yahoo!, Warner Music Group, and Motricity, Inc. Puro is a graduate of Columbia University and the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Jason Reed is the Founder
of Seedstock, LLC, a Los Angeles-based social venture that fosters the development of robust and sustainable local food systems through consulting services and the use of a variety of tools, including the sustainable agriculture blog Seedstock (www.seedstock.com) and live events. He is focused on finding solutions to the challenges facing agriculture and food security and ways to meet global food demand that is forecasted to increase over 70% in the next 40 years, as world population is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050. Prior to founding Seedstock, Reed worked at Disney for
over fifteen years where he rose from a creative associate
at Hollywood Pictures to Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Production. In that position, Mr. Reed was essentially given greenlight authority on a slate of pictures he was to develop with local teams in foreign territories. Mr. Reed was responsible for working closely with each country’s management to develop a comprehensive market strategy for the individual territories. He led a group working with the local teams on all creative and business- related aspects of creating new films including film and talent selection, deal-making and budget considerations.

Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011, by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996-2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Before moving to California, Secretary Ross served as Director of Government Relations for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association and as Field Representative for U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky.

Secretary Ross is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, and to improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious California-grown agricultural products, celebrated for their diversity and abundance in serving local, national and global markets.

Jeremy Samson is an Urban Farmer who works with several different organizations to improve the food system in Orange County with gardens. He is Co-director of Cultivate Together, a non-profit focused on facilitating the creation and sustainability of neighborhood farms and community garden spaces. As an Orange County Master Gardener he is a member of the Speakers Bureau that teaches gardening classes around the county. After attending the Edible School Yard Academy in Berkeley last year, he now serves on the School Garden Team for the Master Gardeners and as the Slow Food Orange County Garden chair. Jeremy also owns a small landscape design and consultation business specializing in edible and drought tolerant landscaping with an emphasis on resource conservation and wildlife habitat.

Nate Storey is the CEO at Bright Agrotech, a company that seeks to create access to real food for all people through small farmer empowerment. By focusing on equipping and educating local growers with vertical farming technology and high quality online education, Nate and the Bright Agrotech team are helping to build a distributed, transparent food economy. He completed his PhD at the University of Wyoming in Agronomy, and lives in Laramie with his wife and children.

Dr. Rachel Surls is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR).  From backyard gardens, to urban agriculture, Rachel is involved in a variety of projects related to urban food systems. Since 2013, she has worked with UCLA students to conduct the “Cultivate LA” survey of urban agriculture in Los Angeles. She recently led a UCANR team that carried out a state-wide needs assessment of urban farming. Rachel is a member of the leadership board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and has been active in their urban agriculture working group which has successfully advocated for policies that support growing food in the city.  Rachel and a co-author recently published a book on the local history of urban agriculture, titled “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles.”