Andrea Platt Dwyer is the executive director of Seattle Tilth. She is motivated to build a healthy local food system in order to increase food security, improve public health and support a healthy environment, while providing employment and income — all essentials to building a vibrant and sustainable community. Andrea has thirty years of experience in nonprofit management. Before moving to Seattle in 2008, she worked for nine years as the CEO of Camp Fire USA Minnesota Council. She currently serves on the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council. Andrea has always enjoyed growing fresh herbs to use while cooking. This year she is more than doubling her veggie garden and considering getting chickens.
Chris Hoffer was excited to join Seattle Tilth in 2014 as an Environmental Programs coordinator, and get paid to do what he loves – build community through environmental stewardship. Chris has worked for a variety of local and regional environmental nonprofits, and most recently put his background in public administration to good use by working for the federal government to promote sustainable and equitable development through urban planning. When not in the office, Chris can be found pulling ivy and planting trees in Seattle’s urban forests, and helping people connect to the world around them as a volunteer naturalist with Seattle Parks. Outside the city, Chris loves to explore all of Washington by hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing and alpine scrambling.
Justin Maltry’s eyes were opened to the incredible worlds of plants and soil when he went through the Washington Native Plant Society’s Stewardship program in 2010. Since then, he has completed the Sustainable Agriculture program at Seattle Central Community College and volunteered with Alleycat Acres. Justin joined Seattle Tilth as a garden educator on The Garden Hotline in the winter of 2014. Before that, he volunteered with our Seattle Youth Garden Works and garden education programs. He is happy to live in a region with so much awareness around food justice and so many people wanting to build a better, healthier food system, and is excited to kick off 2015 as our new Master Composter/Soil Builder program coordinator. When he’s not speaking effusively about the staggeringly fascinating nature of soil, Justin may be found bicycling, running, or hiking through the magical wonderland that is the Pacific Northwest, reading about soil microbes, or trying to get bees to land on him.
Maren Neldam recently joined the Environmental Programs team after 3.5 years maintaining learning gardens and inspiring a love for worms and kale as a Seattle Tilth children’s garden educator in SE Seattle. She is so excited to share her love for the natural world and the science of decomposition with others. Before joining Seattle Tilth, she studied at the University of Washington, spent several years working on organic farms in Vermont and the Snoqualmie Valley, and coordinated experiential education programs for elementary aged children. She believes that growing and cooking food can be a powerful vehicle for social change and everyone should spend a little time in the soil. Outside of work, she spends time making art, cooking from the garden and adventuring around the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Laura Matter has been a practicing horticulturist for the past 30 years and is the Garden Hotline program Coordinator at Seattle Tilth. During 10 years with Seattle City Light, she worked with her crew to replace and reduce pesticide use and under her guidance, a large electrical station was registered as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of WA after being enhanced with native plants, birdhouses, and using natural alternatives instead of pesticides. Laura ran her own landscape maintenance business for 14 years and currently provides landscape consultations and garden tutoring, specializing in native plantings, wildlife habitat and edible gardens. On her own time, Laura has been a block leader, committee head and site coordinator of the Picardo Farm P-Patch for the past 9 years, where she has gardened for 15 years.
Garden Hotline educator Katie Vincent has been obsessed with growing and preparing her own food since discovering the Laura Ingalls Wilder books in third grade. Having majored in creative writing at the University of Washington, she gleaned the majority of her gardening experience working at Sky Nursery for over 7 years and working on organic farms in Italy, the UK and New Zealand through WWOOF. She loves adventuring around the globe, helping people, pushing for sustainable food systems and picking up new languages and recipes. Katie finds immeasurable joy in writing. You can find her words on travel blogs and on the pages of publications like Seattle Met magazine and the Bellevue Club’s Reflections magazine. When not cooking or gardening, Katie enjoys meditation, photography, poetry, hiking and yoga.
Sharon Siehl joined Seattle Tilth in July 2013 after completing her master’s degree in public policy and administration with a focus on food policy from Northwestern University. She is our director of Garden Programs, which include Adult and Children’s Education, Just Garden, the Food and Faith Initiative and Seattle Tilth’s five learning gardens. Sharon has worked with food for over 10 years – she has sold local produce in central Ohio, worked at four Seattle farmers markets, served as the first AmeriCorps VISTA at the Orca Elementary School Garden in Seattle and directed the Recipe for Success garden program, which serves 4,000 students in Houston, TX. She is passionate about creating a just food system through food policy and community work, and is a co-founder of the Houston Food Policy Workgroup. She is grateful to be back near her extended family, the mountains and Sound. She, her husband and son enjoy planting, eating, traveling, reading and local adventures.
Mike Gervais came to Seattle Tilth as a result of a lifelong fascination with living things and how they work. His keen interest in both the flora and fauna around him led him to study environmental science and pursue a career in teaching. Some of his adventures include teaching biology in Ecuador, environmental science in California, bird biology with the Seattle Audubon society, and leading an after school program in one of the lowest-income, highest-crime apartment complexes in King county. Helping to teach the importance of healthy, local food as an educator at Seattle Tilth children’s gardens has allowed Mike to share what he’s learned along the way while enjoying some truly delicious veggies.
Sue Hartman first came to Seattle Tilth as a garden volunteer because she wanted to grow vegetables, but the big trees in her yard made it difficult. After spending a few years as an intern, teaching assistant and Master Composter/Natural Soil Builder volunteer, she joined the staff as an on-call educator for the Natural Soil Building Program. She now manages volunteers in the community learning garden at the Good Shepherd Center and teaches classes for our adult education program. She is active in several local community organizations including Solid Ground/Lettuce Link and the Growing Food, Growing Community project in Wallingford. Leaf mold is on her “most favorite things” list.
Carey Thornton teaches classes and workshops in Seattle Tilth’s Adult Education Program on topics including organic gardening, composting, food preservation and permaculture. You can often find her at the learning garden at Bradner Gardens Park and answering questions on the Garden Hotline. Carey grew up in a family where incredible amounts of food were central to every gathering and developed a strong love for growing, cooking and sharing food with others. Before coming to work at Seattle Tilth 5 years ago, she taught gardening and nutrition in elementary schools and cooked in restaurants around Seattle. Currently, the most exciting things to her are wild and perennial food plants, vegetable fermentation and watching actinomycetes grow in compost piles. Better living through microbes!
Passionate about developing small-farm systems and supporting others in their farm-related endeavors, Matthew McDermott is in hog heaven as the Seattle Tilth Farm Works Manager. Prior to joining Seattle Tilth, he had his hands dirty with a variety of growing systems in northern California – organic orchards, vineyards and mixed vegetables – and managing his own small farm in Michigan. His agroecological approach to systems has been guided by a formal apprenticeship at UC Santa Cruz and graduate studies at Michigan State University. When not at the farm, you might find him trail running with his four legged friend or concocting something fermentable.
Micah Anderson joined Seattle Tilth as the education manager for Seattle Tilth Farm Works in the summer of 2011 and has enjoyed supporting new farmers, facilitating farm classes and workshops, working in the fields, selling produce and promoting farm frisbee awareness ever since. Micah holds a master’s degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle and has worked on farms and with farmers from around the world, including Papua New Guinea, where he helped create and support a community-based organization that continues to manage critical conservation areas. Off the farm, Micah enjoys picking a banjo and changing his son’s diapers, occasionally managing to do both at the same time.
Following a brief career in international development and teaching in the Middle East, Alex Kazer discovered a passion for farming while working on a goat dairy in Sweden and then a coffee farm in Hawaii. Tiring of idyllic sunny days on the beach – and frequently hearing of the great small farms in the Pacific Northwest – Alex came to Washington to intern with Seattle Tilth Farm Works. He recently rejoined the STFW team as the Production and Intern Coordinator after completing the WSU Extension FIELD program on the Olympic Peninsula.
Anthony Reyes came to Seattle Tilth from Los Angeles where he worked as an urban farmer, orchard manager, installation foreman for an urban farming company and would occasionally contribute to a food justice journal. He has worked on various farms throughout the Pacific Northwest, most notably providing seed-to-table education to youth at Common Threads Farm in Bellingham. Much of his passion for food justice he attributes to his studies at UC Santa Cruz, where he studied Community Studies with a focus on food, agriculture and social justice. When he’s not managing the SYGW Farm, you can find him biking around Seattle and enjoying the many mountain ranges and parks in the Cascades.
Kristen Roewer spends most of her time thinking about food and believes it to be the connective tissue needed to turn individuals into community. Before taking on the role as program coordinator for Seattle Youth Garden Works, Kristen studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, farmed in various foreign countries and worked in local restaurants — all of which gave her a deep appreciation and lifelong passion for all things relating to food. SYGW has recently grown to Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands and Kristen is now managing our north Seattle program at the Center for Urban Horticulture. She is happiest sharing meals and telling stories while working alongside the amazing SYGW youth and young adults. In her free time, Kristen loves to cook and eat, read and write, take photos, hike and sleep under the stars.
Rae Rome joined Seattle Tilth’s Food Hub as an AmeriCorps Vista in April of 2014, hailing from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He holds a B.A. in Human Services and found his passion for farming and food justice while working as a receiver for the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, a member owned food hub that connected Oklahoma farmers and producers directly to customers. Rae went on to work converting vacant city lots into productive community gardens with two more Oklahoma organizations, Common Wealth Urban Farms and Closer to the Earth Youth Gardens. Rae currently works as Seattle Youth Garden Works Program Coordinator, splitting his time between Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands and Interagency Academy. He’s happiest when tilling soil with young adults, sharing meals and sharing space. When he’s not on the farm, you’d be lucky to find him. He’s usually somewhere remote: whale watching, hiking or all around enjoying the endless potential exploration of our great Pacific Northwest.
Aggregation & Distribution:
Chris Iberle is our Food Hub manager. He coordinates marketing and distribution for our farm programs and brings experience with logistics, warehousing, sales and local food systems. He started as Seattle Tilth’s events & volunteer manager in early 2011. Beyond Seattle Tilth, Chris co-chairs the Food Justice Project at the Community Alliance for Global Justice, previously worked at Food Lifeline and the NW Environmental Education Council as an Americorps volunteer, and has a passion for just and healthy food systems. He enjoys friends, traveling, bikes, hiking Cascadia, karaoke, playing and listening to music, and playing soccer.
Jess Bitting is our Food Hub coordinator. She has been running our Good Food Bag program and helping with farm operations at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands since February 2013. In addition to her work with the Food Hub, Jess also coordinates Community Kitchens Northwest’s Coalition (see below for more info). She’s really excited to be working at the nexus between our food distribution and cooking and nutrition programs. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Seattle University, Jess worked with the National Science Foundation conducting research in rural regions of Tibet and China. She has also worked at environmental nonprofits in the Midwest doing grassroots advocacy and restoration work on native prairies. Jess’ newfound love of foraging has her nose both in books and on the forest floor, sniffing up wild foods. She loves hiking, biking, fermenting and waxing poetic about her home state of Michigan, but more than anything, she loves sharing a scratch-cooked meal with friends and family.
Nutrition & Cooking Programs:
Leika Suzumura received her undergraduate degree in nutrition at Bastyr University. She has dedicated her career to community nutrition with an emphasis on childhood nutrition and parent education as a way to support the livelihood of the next generation. Her approach focuses on bringing kids and parents into the kitchen so that learning nutrition is fun and delicious! She is invested in social justice and the pursuit of making quality foods accessible to all people. This work is founded on come-unity networks and empowering people with knowledge and the skills necessary to take charge of their health for the greatest quality of life. You may find her in the community playing Capoeria Angola or hosting events at the Union Cultural Center that she and her husband run in Seattle’s International District.
Bethany Fong joined Seattle Tilth in January 2014 as the Senior Meal Program dietitian. Bethany hails from Hawaii, but studied nutrition and dietetics at Seattle Pacific University and the University of Washington. She then completed a culinary degree at Johnson and Wales University in Denver. She has lived, worked and (most importantly) eaten both domestically and internationally and finds that the best way to teach people about healthy eating is to teach them how to cook. Outside of work, you can find her running, paddling an outrigger canoe or searching for a hole-in-the-wall to dine at. It is her firm belief that street food stands up to any Michelin-starred restaurant and that there is always room for another person at the dinner table.
Amanda Boyle joined Seattle Tilth in June 2013 and is our events manager. She manages the Edible Plant Sales, Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour, Harvest Fair and Gala Auction. Amanda has worked in an event planning and fundraising capacity for other nonprofits in Seattle, including Cancer Lifeline and Pacific Science Center. She currently sits on the board of the Fremont Neighborhood Council. In her free time, Amanda loves backcountry camping, strong-winded sailing and pie-baking.
Liza Burke came to Seattle Tilth as a volunteer back in the mid-90’s, inspired by working on an organic farm in Guatemala that hosted a permaculture design course. That experience catapulted her into working as an organic landscaper for seven years. She has worked in non-profit communications, fundraising, event coordination and program management for ten years, six at Seattle Tilth. She has also helped organize a large-scale community parade in Taiwan. Currently Liza is our communications director.
Paul Haas is our major donor consultant and has three decades of experience in fundraising and communications work in the Seattle non-profit community. A particular area of impact has been in helping to create and sustain urban farms and programs to ensure that all people have sufficient access to healthy food, decent housing and other basic services.
Before becoming Seattle Tilth’s grant writer, Jenny Thacker worked and traveled in France and Italy, dabbled in fundraising at the University of Washington, and sharpened her program skills by managing asset development and poverty reduction pilot programs at a local non-profit. She’s had her eye on Seattle Tilth since her graduate school days at the UW’s Evans School of Public Affairs, though, and when an opportunity arose to work here, she jumped on it. When Jenny is not exploring new partnerships and opportunities, or working with staff to keep our programs top-notch, she can usually be found playing with friends and family, reading or running – mostly so she can enjoy more of her Italian husband’s fabulous Italian cooking.
Finance & Administration:
Kim Ishida Pitre has been our manager of operations and executive administration since May 2012 and handles a wide variety of administrative responsibilities. Kim holds degrees in Environmental Science and Marine Affairs and comes to us from a tropical background of coral reef and marine resource conservation. She has found a new passion in strengthening local food systems and is excited to begin her own food growing adventure!