Margaret Morgan-Hubbard, Founder and CEO: A seasoned social justice organizer, educator and environmentalist, Margaret Morgan-Hubbard has a fertile mind practiced in translating ideas into action. Margaret is committed to mentoring young people in creating meaningful and purposeful lives, and to finishing the equity work her generation began, but lost track of. She is particularly interested in providing venues and opportunities for diverse groups of people to collaborate together toward a better, more peaceful and just world that respects Mother Nature. She is firm believer in thinking globally and acting locally, and manifesting the change she wants to see in the world: one farm, one farmer, one kholrabi and carrot at a time.
Benny Erez, Senior Technical Advisor and Compost Guru: After years working in an academic setting doing agricultural research, Benny Erez brings knowledge of theoretical and practical farming technology to ECO City Farms. He is passionate about the need to wean ourselves off the gas-guzzling commercial fertilizers and replace them with sustainably produced compost. His experience with composting technology comes from years of managing the University of Maryland Central Maryland Research and Education Center Compost Facility and visits to Austrian compost enterprises. Benny’s first-hand knowledge of the power of community comes from his experiences growing up on a Kibbutz in Israel. He believes that the human race is facing many environmental challenges and that local, sustainable food production is part of the solution.
Viviana Lindo, Director of Community Education: Viviana Lindo is an avid foodie, loves cooking, baking, reading, crafting, watching foreign films, going on adventures and spending time outdoors. Viviana was born and raised in Huancayo–a region in the central highlands and westernmost Amazonia of Peru, and as a teenager she moved to America. She graduated from California State University of Los Angeles in 2005 with a degree in Liberal Studies with minors in Latin America Studies, Sociology, and Social Gerontology. In 2006, she moved to Germany and began a master’s program in social science through the Global Studies Programme. She studied on three continents receiving degrees from the University of Freiburg (Germany), KwaZulu-Natal University (South Africa) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India). Since then, she has worked in different areas from immigration, indigenous rights, social movements, independent media, sustainable development and agriculture. She hopes to apply what she’s learned about sustainable farming practices, the respect and acknowledgement of the environment, and indigenous knowledge found in rural settings to urban settings. Viviana spent the 2012 growing season apprenticing at ECO City Farms, and during the summer of the same year she worked as an educator with ECO’s “Seed to Feed” program.
Viviana is thrilled to be a member of ECO City Farms team and hopes to continue supporting communities in which everyone has access to healthier foods, and to contribute something of value to the movement of the next young generation for a sustainable future, preserving biodiversity, reconnection to nature and to value and respect food.
Deborah Wren, Lead Farmer: Deborah is a lifetime farmer, born and raised on a family-run dairy farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York. She received a BA in Anthropology from Ithaca College, focusing on rural sustainable development and cultural identity in Belize. Upon completion of her BA , she returned to work with her family on their dairy farm before pursuing a Masters in Sustainable Development from World Learning SIT Graduate Institute. During this time, she worked with farm-to-school programs at a local farm while establishing a community garden on campus. Since, Deborah has worked with several non-profits promoting environmental and economic sustainability. It didn’t take her long to realize that her heart is in the land and wished to return to the farming lifestyle. She began with ECO City Farms as an Apprentice for 6 months helping on the farm and in the office writing grants, then served on the Board for two years before landing in the position as Farm Manager at the ECO City Farms Edmonston site.
Christian Melendez, Founding Farmer/Educator: A talented young farmer and thinker, Christian Melendez’s role at ECO City Farms has evolved to train others about food, fertility, and farmers. He began farming while a student at University of Maryland where he sowed seeds at Engaged University’s Master Peace Community Farm for more than two years. While at the University, Christian created and led two Alternative Spring Break experiences focused on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For two summers, he taught gardening and nutrition to middle school youth as part of the Free Minds Collective, and at ECO City Farms has taught Urban Farming and Composting as part of the Commercial Agriculture Certificate program with Prince George’s Community College. He also ran and managed ECO’s 10 month-long new and immigrant farmer training program. Christian is a graduate of Growing Power’s Commercial Urban Agriculture course. He is also a graduate of the Mid-Atlantic Better Composting School and a Certified Maryland Compost Facility Operator. He hopes the people he touches will discard the term “waste,” read the Humanure Handbook, and cultivate SOIL, not OIL!
Amanda B. West, Operations Manager: As a child growing up, Amanda spent summers at a family farm, where she found the world of chickens, milk cows and barn cats magical. She has always loved animals and growing things, and harbors a secret desire to be a farmer. Her dream of working in the local and sustainable foods field has come to fruition at ECO City Farms. She brings years of nonprofit management experience in the historic preservation and community development field, with multi-dimensional skills and a passion for making things run well. She is a novice beekeeper and loves to grow vegetables at her urban community garden plot in DC.
Colin Mahoney, Bladensburg Farm Manager: Colin is a recent graduate of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, with a degree in International Relations. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Colin had a love for the outdoors. He is an avid hiker and enjoys working and gardening outside. While at Saint Joseph’s, Colin had the opportunity to study in Namibia and South Africa during a semester abroad, and in Honduras on two alternative breaks. Colin has a passion for education, interning with the World Affairs Council in their Jr. Model UN, and last year engaged with community members in Philadelphia on the issues surrounding school closings. Summer 2013, he had the opportunity to work in Minneapolis to combine his interests in education and community outreach with urban agriculture. He worked with local youths and community members to help establish community gardens throughout north Minneapolis. Colin is enthusiastic about joining ECO City Farms, where he hopes to hone his skills and knowledge of community outreach and urban agriculture by learning from co-workers and community members.
Antonio Hernandez, Volunteer Coordinator, Blogger and Photographer: Antonio Hernandez is a recent graduate of Towson University, with a degree in International Studies. Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in nearby Prince George’s County, MD. Until recently, Antonio’s memories of gardening were limited to his grandmother’s small vegetable and spice backyard garden. For most of his upbringing, farms were only seen on television and packages of food at the grocery store. That experience remained until he went off to college.
While at Towson, Antonio’s most fulfilling experiences were related to his social justice work, as a mentor to high school students and an activist promoting the DREAM Act and opposing moutain-top coal removal (MTR). Additionally, Antonio worked extensively to advance the Hispanic College Fund (HCF) and United States Hispanic Youth Entrepreneurship and Education (USHYEE). He has also freelanced for Latina Style magazine. During his final year at Towson (2012), Antonio’s curiosity about sustainable agriculture, urban farming and local food grew, inspired by movements in the Baltimore area, and the positive impacts good food has on health and communities. After graduation, he decided to combine his passions for photography and community-building with his new-found interest in agriculture and urban farming.
Antonio continues to make updates on his website (www.electric-llama.com) where he shares his own photojournalism projects.
Yasmeen Abdul Latif was born and raised in Baltimore City. She has been a resident of Riverdale in Prince George’s County for over 30 years. As a wife and mother of six, a junior girl scouts leader and a certified archer, Yasmeen pursues her desire to improve her skills and enhance her humanity. She has worked with her grandchildren to grow vegetables at ECO’s previous community garden.
Yasmeen completed the “Train the Trainer” Nutrition Education Program at ECO City Farms. Now part of the ECO City Farms team, she looks forward to helping neighborhoods get access to healthy food and wellness education.
Wekem holds an MA in Development Studies with specialization in Population, Poverty and Social Development from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University in The Hague in, Netherlands in 2009 and a BA in Population and Family Life Education from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana in 2001.
He has over eight years work experience in managing and coordinating the implementation of livelihood security initiatives in rural communities Northern Ghana. As the Director of Livelihoods and Food Security Development at SEND-Ghana, his work involves the design, development, and implementation of livelihood security initiatives aimed at strengthening and empowering local communities to drive their own development processes and build resiliency to climate change. His work focuses on building the organizational capacities of community institutions (family-based farmer co-operatives and credit unions) to ensure sustainability in areas that include agriculture production and market access, food security, community nutrition security, gender-based programming and women initiatives (gender model families and micro finance), climate change adaptation, partnership building and networking, peace animation, reproductive health and participatory approaches to rural development. Wekem has significant experience in working with and managing teams in the implementation, monitoring and evaluating impacts of SEND-Ghana projects. He also has experience in advocacy work with district authorities to ensure food security related interventions address the needs of deprived and vulnerabile communities.
Wekem aims to learn from ECO City farms practical climate change adaptation strategies for rural communities and innovative ways in undertaking community-based outreach and education on nutrition for implementation in rural communities to address the impacts of climate change and high levels of nutrition insecurity among under 5 children and pregnancy women.
Kayla Agonoy, Communications & Outreach Specialist: Kayla is a recent graduate of Salisbury University, with a degree in Biological Sciences. During her time at Salisbury University, she became interested in nutrition and the food justice movement. When she decided to become a pescatarian, she became aware of the consequences of what we choose to eat on an individual and global scale.
Kayla is closely connected to the two towns where our farms are located and calls this area home. She was introduced to urban farming during her apprenticeship at the Edmonston farm. Since then she has joined our staff and is excited about her future with this organization.
In 2012, when Aida first came to the United States, she volunteered at the National Arboretum in Washington DC where she acquired skills such as transplanting, potting, weeding, pruning and collecting pollen. In March 2014, she completed her Certificate on Urban Commercial Agriculture at ECO City Farms. She also became one of the ECO trained Community Nutrition Educators in June 2014. Since then, she has trained as a Apprentice Community Farmer at ECO City Farms and has helped to organize and teach Nutrition workshops, assisted the SEED2FEED Summer Youth Program, and worked on composting and farming .
Aida is the author of articles and two books, “Do You Know This Ancestor?” and “Afla’s Story”, a book for children which she translated into Luganda, her mother tongue. She is writing her third book about improving soil and growing food the sustainable way in East Africa, in order to help farmers and in rural communities. Aida is a mother with several grandchildren, loves reading and writing, grows her own food, is an excellent cook, and she is very interested in Black History Studies.