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2014 Speaker Bios

Farming Adaptation Conference Speaker Bios


albertbatesAlbert Bates:

Albert Bates is author of many books including The Biochar Solution, The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, and Climate in Crisis. He is the cofounder of Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology (which he has headed for 35 years) and the Global Ecovillage Network. Current projects include a peace-through-permaculture project in Palestine and the Sail Transport Network, moving fair trade goods along coastal routes. In 1980 Albert shared the Right Livelihood Award (considered an “Alternative Nobel”) for work in preserving indigenous culture. His first book (Honicker v Hendrie, 1977) is considered by many environmentalists to mark the turning point in nuclear power’s ascent. Of his latest book, Huffington Post said, “Bates has woven together a highly engaging interdisciplinary answer to climate change … a lively page-turner that blends clear-headed analysis with nuts-and-bolts advice … enough danger to wake us up, but enough opportunity to emerge feeling hopeful.”

We take as a starting point that a confluence of factors – overpopulation, climate change, peak net energy, limits to growth and economic malaise – is auguring a wide-ranging crisis in human civilization, and concomitantly, a search at the margins for alternatives. Among the fruits of these explorations are flourishing local communities and neighborhoods all over the world, having a high degree of self-determination and diversity in culture, “green enterprise” and built environments. A significant fraction of these are self-described “ecovillages;” numbering at first order of approximation some 20,000 in 2013.


lauralengnickLaura Lengnick, Director of Sustainable Agriculture at Warren Wilson College

Laura Lengnick is on the Environmental Studies faculty and serves as the Director of the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Warren Wilson College, a small undergraduate college near Asheville, NC that offers a community-based liberal arts education through a triad of academics, work and service. She is also actively involved in sustainable agriculture research and education efforts in the Asheville region. Lengnick serves on the Carolina Farm Stewardship board of directors, and is past president and board member of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. She has served as a planning board member, track coordinator and is a regular workshop leader for the Organic Growers School. Laura advises and teaches in a number of community-based sustainable agriculture education programs and works with a number of community groups on issues around sustainable food systems and community-based resource use. Laura brings to this work 25 years of research, teaching and public policy experience in soil quality and sustainability assessment, sustainable agriculture, and sustainable farm management.

Trained as a soil scientist, Lengnick’s work in sustainable production systems research with the USDA-Agriculture Research Service was nationally recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in 2000. She has federal agriculture policy expertise gained through her work as a U.S. Senate staffer, as a research scientist serving in the Executive Branch of the federal government, and as a private consultant and lobbyist advocating for sustainable and organic farmers in the U.S. Congress. While on sabbatical last year, she worked as a visiting scientist on the USDA National Program Staff, where she researched best practices for adapting US agriculture to climate change as a lead author of the soon to be released USDA Report “Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation”. This work focused on identifying effective practices for farmers faced with managing the increased variability in temperature and rainfall, extreme weather events and novel pests associated with the climate change impacts currently underway in the U.S.


keithbaldwinKeith Baldwin, Farm Services Coordinator:
Keith Baldwin Ph.D., CFSA’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement award winner, has been a strong supporter of sustainable agriculture in NC for more than 20 years. From his work as an agricultural extension agent in Chatham County to his leading role developing the programs that would become the Small Farm Unit at NCSU’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) to his work at the Cooperative Extension Program at NC A&T, he has been a force in support of sustainable agriculture in North Carolina for over 20 years.

tonyTony Kleese:
Tony has been working to develop a southeastern organic food system since 1989. He started and managed organic vegetable and cut flower operations in several North Carolina counties, and he continues to actively design and install organic farms today. Tony helped develop the USDA’s National Organic Standards and was the first Coordinator of the Sustainable Farming Program at Central Carolina Community Collegein Pittsboro, N.C. He has served in many roles for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), including Executive Director from 2000 to 2007. During this time at CFSA, Tony helped launch Eastern Carolina Organics. He is now serving on the board of the Organic Seed Alliance. His current work focuses on helping protect high quality farmland through stimulating agricultural entrepreneurship.

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.

lyleLyle 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.

carolCarol Hewitt, Slow Money NC:
Carol Peppe Hewitt is an author, business owner, social entrepreneur and a pioneer in the Slow Money movement. Since founding Slow Money N.C. in 2010, she has catalyzed more than 80 low-interest loans to 35 small farmers and local food businesses in North Carolina, totaling more than $1 million, and she is just getting started. A passionate local food and sustainability activist, her straight talk about money, and the imperative to get our money flowing into small local farms, is both disarming and inspiring.

cathyCathy Jones, Owner of Perrywinkle Farm:
Cathy Jones and her husband Mike Perry, of Perry-winkle Farm, have been farming in northern Chatham County since the mid-1980′s. After purchasing their land from a dairy farmer, they began the process of converting over-worked crop land into a sustainable vegetable operation. Theirs was one of the first farms in Chatham County to be “Certified Organic”; and while they continue to farm organically, they no pursue certification. Their vegetables, cut flowers and poultry products are marketed to customers and local chefs at three weekly farmers’ markets (Fearrington Village Farmers’ Market and both Carrboro Farmers’ Markets). Cathy serves on the board of directors of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; SSAWG is a regional organization which works to support family farms and other non-profits to create sustainable agricultural systems throughout the South. (www.ssawg.org) She is also on the board of Toxic Free NC- a policy and advocacy organization which fights pesticide pollution in North Carolina. (www.toxicfreenc.org)

Robin Kohanowich, Sustainable Farming Coordinator at CCCC:
Robin is the Coordinator and lead instructor for the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Central Carolina Community College. In this capacity, she has developed and taught an organic farmer education and training curriculum and worked directly with aspiring and beginning farmers since 1999.
Robin became interested in organic farming at age 13 when Organic Gardening magazine first started being delivered to her family’s homestead in Upstate NY. Still fascinated by growing all kinds of crops, but especially interested in growing new farmers and participating in their learning process.  Robin also serves on the agriculture advisory board for Chatham County and the Chatham County Cooperative Extension sustainable agriculture advisory board and has been active in the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and Farm Transition Networks. Contributor to the “Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America”, edited by Sayre and Clark, 2011.  Robin lives, works and eats local (!) in Chatham County, NC.  Formal education includes a BS in Fruit and Vegetable Horticulture from Clemson University, a teaching certificate for HS Biology from University of NC at Greensboro and a Masters of Extension Education from NC State University.

bobbyBobby Tucker, Okfuskee Farm:
Bobby is a licensed engineer with over six years of experience in watershed consulting,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 five years building a diversified 20-acre farm that is structured in agroforestry and drought-resilient land design. Although by no means an expert in either field, his unguided experimentation on the farm has simultaneously created a unique model for land and water management and a more holistic approach to water resource engineering.

Hope Taylor, Executive Director of Clean Water for North Carolina

ryanRyan 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.

michaelMichiel Doorn:
Michiel Doorn is a multinational sustainability strategist and has an advanced degree in resource sciences from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. His passion is to facilitate profitable change toward more resilient, purposeful and sustainable practices. He has spent the last five years in the Netherlands learning and working on cutting-edge, sustainability-related, multi-disciplinary technical and social innovation initiatives. He has recently focused on researching novel strategies, monitoring and reporting methods for complex sustainable developments. Prior he has worked on greenhouse gas emissions from farms and other sources.
Also, he is adjunct professor at the Netherlands campus of Webster University where he teaches corporate social responsibility in the MBA program. In addition, he has his own consulting firm – Ecoawareness. Michiel’s publications include three particular highlights. He was lead author for the greenhouse gas emissions-from-wastewater chapter in the official 2007 IPCC guidance. And he translated and composed an anthology in Dutch of the works of North Carolina native Thomas Berry, a priest, historian and philosopher of the Earth. He also wrote a novel, The Mantis and the Mirror, where he weaves personal growth, ecology and cosmology together in a remarkable story. As Thomas Berry says “We need a new story (of humanity’s existence); the old stories don’t work anymore.”Michiel makes his home in Raleigh and may be reached at michiel@ecoawareness.org, or (919) 741 4246.