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.
President, 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.
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.
Beau was born and raised in Washington, where he grew up in Lake Stevens, and later attended school at the University of Washington. He was thrilled to learn about Farms for Life in 2020, and has been honored to be a part of such an impactful organization, serving previously as the secretary, and now as the treasurer. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, live theater, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
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?
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.
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.
Farm and Agency Selection 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.
Odessa has several years of experience working on organic, regenerative farms, and helping small-scale farmers with long-term strategic planning. Through developing her own agribusiness, Odessa's Edible Flowers, she has sold to local restaurants and farmer's markets on the Eastside, gaining experience with both B2B and D2C marketing and sales. Equally passionate about agriculture, sustainable innovation, and food system equality, Odessa is excited to help further Farms for Life's mission as Community Engagement Chair. She's currently working on growing FFL's network, collaborating with likeminded organizations, and developing new opportunities for community members to get involved.
Mike Schut is the grandson of Iowa and Minnesota farmers, and the son of parents who seem to have forgotten the difference between growing food on a farm and growing food in a garden. Much of Mike’s career has been spent connecting faith and spirituality with caring for the earth. One of his edited anthologies and study guides is titled Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, and Daily Bread. His experience includes six months working on an aquaculture farm in northeastern Thailand and four years working for Farm Table in western Wisconsin. He has a BS in biology and a MS in environmental studies.
Kaila currently studies Sustainable Food Systems with a focus on procurement and supply chain at Arizona State. She grew up on a family hay farm in rural Michigan, and through her homesteading neighbors she learned her passion for the land. A cross-country path of Pastry Cheffing later, she found a love for the art of coffee and there was only one place left to go... In her spare time, she enjoys wire-working and Mycology.
Member at Large
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.
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.
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.