ABOUT US

The

Mission

Farms for Life ensures the viability of local sustainable farms and provides fresh produce to members of our community who are underserved.

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Yesterday, Our History

In 2009 Claire Thomas, a longtime farmer in Washington's productive Sammamish River Valley, looked in frustration at the surplus crops she was not able to sell. She was also well aware that many people do not have funds to purchase the nutritious food that farmers like her grow. Farmers love to donate food, and do so as much as time and money allow. However, if they have surplus crops in their fields, they often cannot afford to pay labor to pick, clean, package and deliver this produce where it is needed. Usually they have no choice but to just till it back into the ground, or leave it there until it is inedible. "How", she asked a group of friends, "can we make a direct connection between farmers like me and people in dire need of fresh produce?" Farms for Life was born out of that conversation. This group created the Farms for Life nonprofit organization to make a direct link between small sustainable farms and those who need fresh food.

Today, Our Board Of Directors

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Claire Thomas

Emeritus

Claire is the founder of Farms for Life and the owner of the Root Connection Farm in Woodinville, the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm in WA state.

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Ashley Propes

President

Ashley's experience includes two years of AmeriCorps VISTA, 10 years in the restaurant industry, and a MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College. Her work and passions are led by the question, how can we build and sustain communities that keep us mentally and physically healthy?

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Chloe Knox

Vice President

Chloe Knox works with farmers and artists at Pike Place Market as a way to support community and local economy. She formerly ran the food recovery program as an AmeriCorps VISTA at FareStart, during which she worked closely with Farms for Life as one of the receiving agencies. Chloe believes that food justice in our community is possible, and is passionate about improving food access for all.

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Morgan Winkler

Secretary, Operations Chair

Morgan grew up in Rupert, Idaho, a tiny city on the plateau of Idaho known for growing the famous Idaho potatoes! She has served two terms of service with AmeriCorps; one, at a tuition free charter school in Moscow, Idaho and the second, at the United Way of King County where she learned about the issue of homelessness and hunger and the impact it has on community members. When not learning more about the issues of poverty and homelessness, she spends her free time tending the 8 raised beds she has in her backyard and going on hikes with her husband and two dogs.

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Julie Peddy

Farm Selection Committee Chair

Julie Peddy moved to the Pacific Northwest 30 plus years ago. She spent 18 plus years working for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Julie is active in the involved disability community as an advocate. She's been a part of Farms for Life for the past 5 years, first working as the operations coordinator and now as a member of the board. Her hobbies include volunteer work (including animal rescue), cooking, and canning.

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Alyssa Brantley

Communications Chair

Alyssa Brantley is the creator of the popular recipe website, EverydayMaven.com. Alyssa cares deeply about ingredient quality, food sourcing, and teaching as many people as possible that great food doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Her cooking philosophy is “Whole Food, Half the Time”. Alyssa’s work has been featured in Real Simple Magazine, Today.com, Self Magazine, Huffington Post, Gourmet Magazine, Prevention, and many more. Alyssa lives with her husband and two sons in the greater Seattle, WA area.

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Lily Piecora

Volunteer Chair

Lily first ignited her passion for food sovereignty through farming with the WOOF program in South America. She went on to study sustainable agriculture and became a farmer in Montana and California. From there she worked on urban and school gardens focusing on community engagement and education. She has spent years studying and working internationally on various farms and regenerative agriculture projects. Lily most recently ran a Food Bank in Seattle, where she worked to create a safe and vibrant space where local and culturally relevant foods were readily available. She is an avid traveler, who loves to hike with her dog, and forage for food or natural dyes.

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Jeremy Dunsworth

Social Media Chair

Jeremy discovered Farms for Life by way of a local produce delivery service and could not wait to get involved. He’s spent the past 15 years working as a user experience designer and product developer with education technology companies. Most recently, he cofounded a company that provides an online platform for skills training to help people advance or launch new careers. Jeremy brings a variety of technical and process skills to the team. Outside of work, he practices yoga, occasionally hikes, and is learning to create neon art.

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Benjie Zuercher

Member At Large

Benjie is passionate about ideas that drive our civilization forward. Drawing inspiration from new concepts and people who move the needle through art, music, food, technology, and community organizing, he brings his own twist of creativity and collaboration to the areas of product management, marketing, and data. Benjie is delighted and honored to support organizations like Farms for Life where the outcome is delicious, nutritious, cheerful, and impactful.

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Susan Banks

Advocacy Chair

Having grown up with limited access to fresh produce, Susan’s interest in cooking, gardening and nutrition blossomed when she moved to Seattle from Anchorage. The unique mission of Farms for Life inspired her to become a volunteer in 2014. A librarian by day, she loves connecting people with information.

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Dani Knapstad

Fundraising Chair

Dani discovered her passion for food early in life, deciding by the age of 5 she wanted to become a chef. After high school she pursued her dream by moving across the country to Providence, Rhode Island, earning her Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. It was then back to her beloved home in the PNW where she has since dedicated more than 15 years working in nonprofit organization leadership with food security advocacy at its heart. Dani first began collaborating with Farms for Life as a receiving agent while working at FareStart and developing a food recovery program. She loves the FFL mission as she believes everyone should have access to healthy and culturally appropriate foods. Whether at work with the Culinary Services team at Seattle Public Schools or baking up sweet treats, Dani always seeks to connect community through food.

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PennyMarie Curry

Member At Large: Client Representative

PennyMarie has 15 years of experience as an early learning and school age educator and a certified Positive Discipline Trainer leading classes for parents involved in the court system. Through both professional experience with families and her personal life as a parent to three children, she's seen first-hand the ways that healthy, fresh food nourishes the heart, soul and body and brings people together. She has worked hard to navigate barriers to accessing fresh, healthy produce while living in a food desert on a fixed income and relying on public transit, and has come to rely on programs like Fresh Bucks to double EBT dollars at Farmers' Markets and to participate in programs like Farms for Life. PennyMarie has made it a priority in her life to volunteer and advocate for these programs, while also educating low income, families of color about these programs so they can enjoy the bounty of farm fresh, local produce with their families.

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Libby Reed

Member at Large: Farm Partner

Libby owns and farms Orange Star Farm on the ancestral lands of the Snohomish and Snoqualmie people in Monroe. Agriculture is a career she has come to later in life and brings non-profit administration and program development experience in the arts, agriculture and the environment to her work with Farms for Life. She believes in the power of food to heal and re-connect people to the land we live from and depend on. When she is not farming she supports other agricultural initiatives in King and Snohomish County through board and advisory board work.

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Ed O’Keefe

Resources Chair

Ed has been a successful new business and product growth executive across five industries, most recently retiring from the Marketing and Advertising sector. He’s passionate about giving back to organizations and movements that reflect his values. Ed currently levers his business growth and management experience to power non-profits in the plant nutrition, agriculture, Veterans support and community food services sectors. He’s an avid mountaineer, open-ocean kayaker and yoga instructor and lives on a sustainable oriented ranch on Whidbey Island.