2015 Speaker Bios & Presentations

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peter-banePeter Bane:

Peter Bane is the author of The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country. The long-time publisher of Permaculture Activist magazine, he is also a teacher of permaculture design and a consultant to property owners, communities, universities, and municipal governments in the US, Canada, and Latin America. More information, and video of Peter Bane here.

Peter Bane – Carbon Farming



paul head shot(1)
Paul Blundell:

Paul Blundell has been a worker-owner at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange since 2005. SESE is a worker owned coop mail order seed company in Central Virginia which specializes in heirloom, open-pollinated, and organic vegetable seeds especially suited to the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. He has done a little bit of everything and a lot of a few things while there. Most recently he headed up the design and construction of a new eco-groovy headquarters for the business.


A specialist in environmental law as it relates to land use and natural resources, Dr. Knisley has a PhD in Philosophy from University of Colorado and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. Currently a Professor of Environmental Studies at Warren Wilson College, her career in higher education has also included service as a department chair Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, and as senior vice president at Unity College in Maine. Dr. Knisley’s teaching and research blends environmental ethics, political theory and the law. What are the implications of the “risk management” paradigm in environmental protection? When is “compromise” tantamount to irretrievable loss? Then again, when is the perfect can become the enemy of the good? A native of western North Carolina, Amy’s research is complemented by practical experience: over the past decade she has co-managed a small organic farm with her husband, co-founded and managed a multi-farm all-organic CSA, and managed a small farmer’s market.

bobby Bobby Tucker, Okfuskee Farm:

Bobby is a N.C. licensed engineer with over seven years of experience as a consultant in watershed management, stormwater BMP implementation planning and design, distributed wastewater systems, hydraulic and hydrologic modeling, and low-impact development. Aided by his professional background, he has also spent the last six years growing a diversified, 20-acre market farm rooted in integrated perennial cropping and livestock systems. The culmination of these experiences over the last decade has placed him in a unique position to help improve the sustainability of municipal-scale water resource management, advance agriculture-based development at various scales, and provide design and consulting for agro-ecological farming systems in accordance with Keyline strategies.



WeinerSarah Wiener, climate change researcher:

Sarah Wiener is the Project Coordinator for the Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH). Currently, she is spearheading an assessment of current climate change tools and resources for the farming, ranching, and forestry communities of the southeastern United States. Sarah began with the US Forest Service in Raleigh in January 2014, initially as the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) Content Manager, after finishing her M.S. in Forestry at North Carolina State University. Her graduate research addressed rural livelihoods and how generational differences contribute to shifting woodland utilization in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Sarah graduated from the Honors Program at Iona College in New York with a B.A. in International Studies, where she excelled as a Division I volleyball player.

Sarah Wiener – Adaptation Tools for Working Lands

GlenCharlotte Glen, horticulture expert:

Charlotte Glen is a horticulture agent with NC Cooperative Extension. Her responsibilities include planning and implementing educational programs on sustainable gardening and landscape care for home gardeners and professional landscapers, grounds managers, and nursery producers in Chatham County. Charlotte has studied horticulture in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Scotland, and New Zealand and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in agricultural education from NC State University.

How Climate Change Impacts Plants – Plant growth is integrally connected to weather and climate. Temperature and precipitation patterns affect crop yields, plant hardiness and pest susceptibility, as well as soil health. This talk will explore the connections between plants and weather and discuss the potential impacts climate change could have on piedmont gardens and landscapes.

Charlotte Glen – How Climate Change Impacts Plants

Laura Lengnick Head Shot BlueLaura Lengnick, Phd: Laura has explored food system sustainability through more than 30 years of work as a researcher, policy-maker and educator. Laura was nationally-recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor award for her innovative research in sustainable farming systems and she contributed to the 3rd National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the USDA report Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation. After more than a decade leading the academic program in Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, Laura is now a Senior Fellow in Climate Resilience at Second Nature, a national non-profit working towards a more sustainable society through the transformation of higher education. Her new book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate will be released in March 2015 by New Society Publishers.

Laura – Lengnick – Is Local Resilient?

Logan ParkerLogan Parker, green builder/contractor/off-grid homesteader:

I am originally from Lynchburg, VA, moved to NC in 1998, and studied biology at UNC-CH. I moved to California to guide climbing expeditions in the High Sierra and then started building custom homes shortly thereafter. I’ve been mostly self-taught, but have studied under several master cabinetmakers, a master plumber, and a commercial electrician. I’ve been an explorer for as long as I can remember.

Motivated by a strong urge to live off the land and find simple and low-impact ways to live, I bought a small piece of land outside of Siler City, NC three years ago so that I could set roots. With my skills as a builder, and my drive to explore the unknown, I have designed and built a completely off-the-grid homestead that features a strawbale home, native plant food forest, rainwater collection system, animal and vegetable production, and absolutely no debt.

I am a general contractor and also build custom cabinetry and furniture. We saw most of our own lumber from local trees, dry lumber in a solar kiln, hand-build fine woodwork, and repurpose most of our scrap. I run my business on a regenerative design model, which flows nicely into my personal life as a homesteader.

AmesGuy Ames:

Guy K. Ames. BA from Texas A&M, Commerce; MS in horticulture (fruit crops and pest control in fruit crops) from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Guy has operated Ames Orchard & Nursery, producing both fruit and fruit plants adapted to Ozark conditions, for 25 years. Currently, Guy is a Horticulture Specialist with ATTRA, the national sustainable agriculture information service managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

He is the author of a series of publications on organic fruit production published by ATTRA, including Community Orchards, Climate Change and Perennial Fruit and Nuts, Pawpaws: Tropical Fruit for Temperate Zones, Apples: Organic Production, and many more (For a full list, go here!).

Guy is an accomplished speaker and workshop presenter, most recently leading workshops on “Urban Fruit Production” at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

Guy Ames – Climate Change and Perennial Fruit and Nut Production

alex knightAlex Knight, Center for Environmental Farming Systems:

Alexandra (Alex) Knight is currently a Ph.D. student who began her work in the summer of 2013 jointly working with Drs. Chris Reberg-Horton and Wesley Everman. This work is looking at the impact of various conventional and organic systems on greenhouse gas emissions (primarily N2O) and how weeds as well as herbicides play a role in these emissions. Her M.S. project was under the direction of Dr. Wesley Everman and looked at the movement of N in corn systems based on different N sources, rates and weed removal timings (June 2013). Alexandra grew up on a beef cattle farm in east central Ohio where her family also raised sheep, grew corn, soybeans, and hay. In 2011, she graduated from Walsh University (N. Canton, OH) with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Environmental Studies.

Hillary Heckler, Central Carolina Community College Farm & Country Home and Farm Supply

Some people eat to live and others live to eat; with her first words being some rendition of “i would like cake & cookies”, Hillary Heckler’s passion for and relationship to good food started early. Her depression-era Grandmothers instilled in her the importance and pleasures of growing fruits and vegetables for the family and for sharing with friends of all kinds. As a young person, her time was spent in various family-owned restaurants and commercial kitchens which sparked a question; “where does all this food come from?”. A fortuitous move to North Carolina provided some clarity once she found the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Central Carolina Community College. Hillary graduated from CCCC with an Associate’s in Sustainable Agriculture in 2007 and became Farm Manager of the SAP Student Farm in 2008. After 6 and a half years as Farm Manager, she is now transitioning to Country Farm & Home Supply in downtown Pittsboro to continue working with this beloved agrarian community in hopes of continuing to be a good steward to all creatures great and small.

Hillary Heckler – Season Extension 2015

willWill Hooker, permaculture design expert:
Will is a registered landscape architect and currently an Emeritus Professor in the NCState Horticulture Department where he taught landscape garden design for 34 years. In 1988 while on a sabbatical study leave riding his bicycle across the continent, Will became concerned with the lack of people actually out on the land. It seemed that no one was paying attention to the human impact on Nature. In searching for a stronger message about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems, he discovered permaculture, and has been practicing and teaching the tenets of this sustainable living methodology ever since.

LyleBook4Lyle Estill, President of Piedmont Biofuels:
Lyle Estill was trained as a writer. He published his first short story in 1981, and has been publishing ever since. Many think of him as a traveling salesman who accidentally became an environmentalist, stumbled into being an activist, and went on to become what some refer to as a “social entrepreneur.” He has founded companies, grown enterprises as an intrapreneur, and has traveled successfully through the business world for several decades. Although he has written epistles, treatises, poetry, fiction, and essays he is best known as the publisher of Energy Blog, and for his newspaper columns, and books. He is the author of Small is Possible; Life in a Local Economy, and Biodiesel Power; the passion, people, and politics of the next renewable fuel. His third book, Industrial Evolution; Local Solutions for a Low Carbon Future was published in the spring of 2011. In 2013 he assembled Small Stories, Big Changes; Agents of Change on the Frontlines of Sustainability.

-1Carol Hewitt, Slow Money NC:

Fed up with sending her money off to make a fast buck in faraway markets, and to help feed her addiction to local food and local economy, Carol started making low-interest loans to sustainable farmers and food entrepreneurs in NC to help them start or expand their businesses.

Out of that passion she grew Slow Money NC, a state-wide network that now includes over 100 other lenders who’ve made 130 loans to 63 sustainable farmers and other ‘agri-preneurs’ throughout North Carolina. These loans total about 1.3 million dollars and that number keeps growing each month.

In her book, Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money, Carol shares the inspiring stories of ordinary people doing something extraordinary, and speaks to those who understand the critical importance of a resilient local foodshed and want a blueprint to get them there.

Always looking for new ways we can finance our local businesses, Carol is also bringing Community Sourced Capital to NC, a lending platform that got its start in Seattle and Portland, that can makes local financing even easier.

Carol is a small business owner, author, activist, and a pioneer in the community finance space. She is a sought after speaker, as her straight talk about money and the imperative to get our money flowing into our local communities is both disarming, pragmatic, and inspiring.


ryan boyles 1Ryan Boyles, State Climatologist at NCSU:
Ryan Boyles is a North Carolina native from Durham with undergraduate and graduate degrees from NC State University. As State Climatologist, Ryan is the chief scientist with responsibilities to develop and promote the Office’s climate services for extension, research, and education of applied meteorology and climatology. Ryan supervises staff and students, assists NC state and county agencies, and interacts with a wide range of public and private sector clients to ensure development and delivery of advanced climate science and services. As a core objective for the State Climate Office, Ryan works to increase the exposure of the SCO and NC State University as a resource for weather and climate expertise and information, including expansion of the NC Environment and Climate Observing Network (NC ECONet) and development of weather- and climate-based decision support tools.
Ryan has research and development interests in spatial analysis, Geographic Information Systems, global and regional climate change, drought monitoring, water resource management, sensors and instrumentation, agricultural and forest meteorology, and complex data visualization. Ryan leads the Climate Office to continuously develop science applications to aid other agencies and institutions, and extend such tools and technology to support decision-making.

Ryan Boyles – Climate and Agriculture in the Carolinas

DiamantLeif Diamant:

Leif Diamant is an organic farmer in Silk Hope (Box Turtle Community Supported Agriculture), earned a MEd (Master’s in Education) from UNC-CH, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a naturalist and botanist, and an ordained interspiritual minister. He has taught classes at UNC, Duke, Warren Wilson College, NC Botanical Gardens, Piedmont Earthskills Gathering, many conferences, and is a popular teacher at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.



RuckMike Ruck:

Mike Ruck is passionate about rainwater harvesting and all things environmentally friendly. He provides oversight for all operations as well as the design, installation, and engineering of rainwater harvesting systems at Rain Water Solutions in Raleigh, NC. Mike is focused on new product development, current trends, codes and laws regulating rainwater use and stormwater runoff. Mike is an accredited professional as well as past Vice President of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, a 501C3 non profit with over 850 members. He is certified through the NC State University for Storm Water BMP Inspection and Maintenance.

Last Year’s Speakers:
2014 Climate Conference Speakers

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