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
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.
Marie grew up on Whidbey Island, and now lives in Mukilteo, WA. She received her BA from the University of Washington ('14) and her JD from the University of San Diego School of Law ('18). She currently serves on the Alumni Boards for both universities. Marie has spent several years doing nonprofit fundraising. Marie's growing passion for regional sustainability projects brought her to Farms for Life, joining the board in 2019.
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?
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.
Maia is originally from South Africa and her educational background includes a masters degree in environment and community. She is passionate about using her diverse experience and skills to help build resilient communities. Maia was drawn to Farms for Life because of the vital dual role the nonprofit plays in the community - supporting local farmers and providing fresh, healthy food to people in need.
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.
Jan Hurley is a Seattle native who joined the Farms for Life board in 2019 and serves on the Resources Committee to support fundraising. She is a passionate supporter of urban sustainability, social equity, preserving local farms and improved health and nutrition for all.
Marni joined the Farms for Life board in 2017. Her work is focused on community supported sustainable agriculture and building an equitable local food system. Marni holds a certificate in urban agriculture and a degree in Urban Ecology.
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.
Member At Large: Advocacy
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.
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.
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.