Mark Shepard

mark bioMark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and runs New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.
New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and eastern woodlands as the ecological models.

Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment is powered with locally produced biofuels that are not taken from the human food chain.

Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production. Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement.

Mark is founder and board President for Restoration Agriculture Institute and serves on the board of the Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council. He teaches agroforestry and Permaculture worldwide. Mark is a farmer member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the worlds largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, and is the founder and chief Cydermaker for the Shepard’s Hard Cyder winery in Viola, Wisconsin.

Mark has been invited to speak at some of the world’s most innovative farming organizations, including: Acres USA Conference, Midwest Organic Farmers Conference, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Conference, Association for Temperate Agroforestry, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association National Conference, and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Nicolette Hahn Niman

Nicolette Han Niman is an attorney and rancher at BN Ranch in Bolinas, CA, raising cattle, turkey and goats. She is the author of “Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms”.

Nicolette Hahn Niman is an attorney and livestock rancher. She and her husband, Bill Niman, are regularly featured in media about sustainable food production, including an August 2009 TIME magazine cover story. Much of her time is spent speaking and writing about the problems resulting from industrialized agriculture, including the book Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (HarperCollins, 2009, ), four essays she has written on the subject for the New York Times, and one for the Sunday Los Angeles Times. She is regular blogger for The Atlantic, and has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Cowboys & Indians, and CHOW, among others. Previously, she was the Senior Attorney for the environmental organization Waterkeeper Alliance where she was in charge of the organization’s campaign to reform the concentrated livestock and poultry industry, and, before that, an attorney for National Wildlife Federation. Ms. Hahn Niman served two terms on the city council for the City of Kalamazoo, Michigan (pop. 80,000), during which time she served on sixteen community boards and commissions including the Environmental Concerns Committee. She received her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Michigan in 1993 and her B.A. in Biology and French from Kalamazoo College in 1989. She lives in Bolinas, California with her son, Miles, and her husband, Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch, a natural meat company supplied by a network of over 700 traditional farmers and ranchers. They now market the products of their ranch under the name BN Ranch.

Patrick Holden

Patrick Holden is a dairyman and farmer at Bwlchwernen Fawr (Farm & Dairy) in Wales, UK.

After a London upbringing Patrick Holden trained in Biodynamic farming at Emerson College in Sussex before moving to Wales in 1973 to establish his mixed organic dairy farm near Lampeter. The 250 acre farm with which he is still actively involved, it is now the longest established organic dairy holding in Wales, producing a raw milk cheddar style cheese from the milk of 70 Ayrshire dairy cows.

He was founder and first chairman of British Organic Farmers, a producer group which along with the Organic Grower’s Association developed the production base for the organic food movement before merging with the Soil Association in 1995. After serving as Director of the Soil Association between 1995 and 2010, he stepped down to establish a new organization, The Sustainable Food Trust, which is working to promote increased international cooperation between all those involved in sustainable food production.

Patrick is an advisor to The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, Patron of the Bio-dynamic Agricultural Association, the Living Earth and the Soil Association’s Land Trusts and International Ambassador of the Soil Association.

He received a CBE for services to organic farming in 2005.

Amigo Bob Cantisano

Amigo BobAmigo Bob Cantisano is the President of Organic Ag Advisors and a pioneer of the modern organic farming movement.  He is the founder of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, the EcoFarm Conference, and the Felix Gillet Institute.  His focus is advancing organic agriculture and educating farmers and the public.

Amigo is president of Organic Ag Advisors. He is the owner of Heaven and Earth Farm on the San Juan Ridge. He has over 35 years of experience growing and advising more than 400 commercial scale organic farms in the Western U.S. and the tropics totaling more than 160,000 acres.
Amigo is the cofounder of the EcoFarm Conference, the Ecological Farming Association, founding member of California Certified Organic Farmers and founder of Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, We The People Natural Foods Cooperative, Aeolia Organics, and the Felix Gillet Institute. He is the author of numerous publications and a featured speaker at hundreds of events.

Owen Hablutzel

Owen in pastureOwen Hablutzel is a Holistic Management educator and sits on the Board of Directors for Permaculture Research Institute.  His focus in Holistic Management, Permaculture, and educating farmers on those practices.

Owen is a consultant, educator, and group-facilitator performing international work with a range of clientele to radically amplify practical whole systems design, thinking, and management for increasing land health, at multiple scales.

Having lived and worked in Africa, Australia, and much of the western United States, Owen brings a wide array of experiences and training to his work with broad-acre and regional systems. This work continues to integrate Keyline, Permaculture, and Holistic Management applications with a wider spectrum of practical, leading-edge solutions capable of slowing and reversing the current global social-ecological crisis. Whether with farms, ranches, classrooms, non-profits, NGOs, government agencies/ministries, or other land managing entities, the core work remains empowering people and communities to create robust land health, adaptive capacity, and resilience through stewardship.

Owen is a Certified Educator with Holistic Management International, holds a Masters in Eastern Philosophy (the original systems thinking & ‘science of the whole’) from St. John’s College in New Mexico, and serves passionately on the Board of Directors of the Permaculture Research Institute, USA.

Mark Baker

Mark Baker is a farmer and rancher at Patriot Baker’s Green Acres in Marion, MI.
Born in the heart of Revolution country, Massachusetts native Mark Baker began his farming career while still employed full time in the U.S. Air Force, raising hogs in a farrow to freezer operation, chickens, turkeys, and beef. He and his family have raised produce and animals to sustain themselves as well as to sell for over 15 years.

When he retired with 20 years military service and moved to Michigan in 2004, Baker’s Green Acres become a full time occupation. With a focus on raising animals on pasture, he has centered production on pastured poultry and on heritage Mangalitsa cross-bred pigs.

He is a vocal proponent of locally produced food and the use of sustainable production methods. He sees education of consumers and growers as the key to food sovereignty. Mark feels strongly about the revolutionary idea that consumers have the right to eat wholesome, farmer direct food. With that passion, Mark recently took on Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources to defend farmers’ rights to raise heritage breed hogs. Mark was the Keynote Speaker at the annual Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund Annual Dinner and Fund Raiser recently held in November.

Michael Ableman

Michael Ableman is a farmer at Foxglove Farm, in Salt Spring Island, BC, where he raises a variety of row crops, berries, and grains.  He is the author of  “From the Good Earth: A Celebration of Growing Food Around the World”, “On Good Land: The Autobiography of an Urban Farm”, and “Fields of Plenty”.

Michael Ableman is the founder and executive director emeritus of the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, a non-profit organization based on one of the oldest and most diverse organic farms in southern California, where he farmed from 1981 to 2001. At its peak the farm served as an important community and education center and a national model for small scale and urban agriculture, hosting as many as 5000 people per year for tours, classes, festivals, and apprenticeships. Under Ableman’s leadership the farm was saved from development and preserved under one of the earliest and most unique active agricultural conservation easements of its type in the country.
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Temra Costa

Temra Costa is an author and activist in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

Temra Costa is a nationally recognized sustainable food and farming advocate. Her book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, is the product of the 10+ years she has spent engaging eaters, farmers, and food businesses in the local food movement.

In 1998, while studying Horticulture at UW Madison, Temra joined the Center for Food Safety’s efforts to protect the integrity of organic standards when USDA was forming the National Organic Program. Upon graduation she moved to Davis, California to work with CAFF as Sacramento Valley Food Systems Coordinator. During this time, she worked to augment their Farm-to-School program and helped launch Capay Valley Grown, a place-based marketing initiative created to support and market food products from the Capay Valley. Shea also started a radio program called Local Dirt on U.C. Davis’s KDVS radio station. In 2010 she hosted another radio show with filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia on San Francisco’s Green 960 called “The Queens of Green,” that also highlighted food and farming topics and guests.

In 2004 Temra implemented the Sacramento Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL) campaign, and in 2006 moved to Oakland to open CAFF’s first urban office. It was here that she would help launch the Bay Area BFBL campaign before becoming the program’s statewide director. During the six and a half years that Temra spent working with CAFF she was “literally surrounded by women” working to change the food system for the better, but found that their inspiring stories of success were oftentimes not told. Hence, “Farmer Jane” was written to bring the stories of exceptional changemakers to light.

Temra travels frequently to speak about sustainable food and farming at numerous conferences, events and universities throughout the year. During these travels she collects new stories and continues to highlight women in the food movement on her website, She presently lives in Oakland with her husband where she writes and serves on the Advisory Council of City Slicker Farms. In her spare time she helps out on her family’s 40-acre subsistence farm in Sonoma County.