Project Contacts

Below is the primary team, representing the five core partner organizations: UC Berkeley, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) and the Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD).

Jennifer Sowerwine (Principal Investigator), Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, has over 18 years of experience working with Hmong and Mien farmers in California and Vietnam. Sowerwine is responsible for overall project management, evaluation, and outcomes based reporting on several grants. She provides outreach, training and capacity building to diverse farmers and communities in on-farm food safety, farm to school, food security, and strategic marketing. She also speaks Vietnamese and Spanish.

Melanie Cheng (Project Coordinator), founder of FarmsReach and consultant to UC Berkeley, has almost 15 years’ experience developing and leading multi-stakeholder initiatives to improve the food and farming industry, including learning toolkits, online platforms, supply chain solutions, capacity-building programs, and collective impact strategies.

Christy Getz (Co-Project Director), Associate Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. Getz’s research and outreach related to social certification, farm-worker health and well being, farm to school programs, and labor in California’s immigrant farming population provides critical insight into our collaborative efforts.

Rex Dufour (Co-Project Director), CA Office Director, National Center for Appropriate Technology, has 12 years experience working in Thailand and Laos in agriculture and community development, is fluent in those languages, and has an intimate understanding of their cultures. He directs NCAT’s California office and, using pictures, audio and video, creates information (available through the ATTRA project) that is accessible to beginning and underserved farmers.

Sibella Kraus (Co-Project Director), president of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE), has overseen the development of the AgPark model – focused on serving beginning farmers – in the Bay Area region for over a decade. Through SAGE, she founded the Sunol AgPark in 2006 and has overseen its operation since that time. She has also developed concept plans and advised master plans for other AgParks and agricultural resource areas in the region. One of these, the 290-acre Martial Cottle Park is now being implemented.

Susan Ellsworth (Co-Project Director), Food System Specialist with the Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD), is a beginning farmer as well as program administrator of a BFRDP Standard Grant now in its final year (2015). She conducted a needs assessment to establish a comprehensive beginning farmer training program in the Sacramento Valley and serves as a steering committee member. Susan also acted as the founder and Co-Director of Common Good City Farm in Washington DC, which provides training to aspiring urban farmers and gardeners.