future organic farmers

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Meet Leah Desposato: A CCOF Foundation Future Organic Farmer

Leah Desposato is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University (MSU) studying environmental sustainability and horticulture. She loves all aspects of organic farming, from eating delicious, freshly-harvested ginger, to feeling strong after a long day in the fields. Desposato is a student manager at the Bailey GREENhouse & Urban Farm as well as a crew member of the MSU Student Organic Farm. She thrives off the creativity that farming entails: from the literal creation to problem solving. In her free time, Desposato loves to read fiction novels, bicycle, backpack, and travel.

Meet Lehia Apana & Get Involved with the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund

Lehia Apana
Lehia Apana and her husband own a three-acre property in Waiehu on the island of Maui. This small town is part of a larger area that was historically considered Maui's "breadbasket" because of its food abundance. When Apana and her husband purchased their property about one year ago, it was covered in eight-foot-tall guinea grass. As they cleared the land to prepare for farming, they were surprised and delighted to find that the traditional-style terraces used for growing kalo (taro) were still intact! As a Native Hawaiian, Apana understands that kalo is more than food—it’s identity.

Meet Lehia Apana & Get Involved with the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund

Lehia Apana
For Lehia Apana, farming is an act of cultural reverence. Generations of Native Hawaiians before her proved to be master agriculturalists who were able to feed themselves using their island resources, including the nutrient-dense staple crop known as kalo (taro). She and her husband are growing kalo and other traditional crops on their three-acre farm in Waiehu, on the island of Maui. By approaching farming from a native perspective, they strive to not only feed the community, but also foster a cultural connection that feeds peopleʻs naʻau (heart).

Meet Lyle McDonald: A CCOF Foundation Future Organic Farmer

Lyle McDonald
Veteran’s Sustainable Agriculture Training program – California

After graduating high school, Lyle McDonald joined the United States Marine Corps, during which time he was deployed to Iraq for seven months and to Afghanistan for seven months. After leaving the Marine Corps he, like other veterans, wasn't prepared for what the civilian world had planned for him. The worst feeling in the world is being told that the skills he had acquired in the Marine Corps did not transfer into a job in the civilian world.

Meet Makshya Tolbert & Get Involved with the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund

Makshya Tolbert
Organic farming is a trade and lifestyle that naturally lends itself to storytelling. Makshya Tolbert first found that to be true as an undergrad, studying the intersection of nature poetry and black history and wanting to write poems that expressed the intimacy between the two. Tolbert began learning to grow food on campus farms and gardens and felt empowered to write about her experiences. She was eager to fill the gap of women of color farmers, striving to reassert our multidimensional roles across the environment.

Meet Malcolm St Cyr & Get Involved with the Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund

Malcolm St Cyr
I am of African American, Native American (Cherokee) and West Indian heritage. I was born and lived in the urban United States until just before my 9th birthday. I attended school in Senegal, West Africa in a small town, at a small school with modest facilities. It is here that I completed my childhood and my education. 
I spent about 3 years learning the language/culture of the new place I was living. I then decided to attend Arabic School as was expected of others in my age group.

Meet Margaret Goolsby: A CCOF Foundation Future Organic Farmer

The CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among organic industry leaders.


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