Our Team

Brooke Gentile -- Executive Director

Brooke Gentile joined OAK in the summer of 2017 as our Executive Director. She is a Kentucky native and comes to us after working with sustainable agriculture projects in New York City, Northern California, Bloomington, Indiana, and most recently the College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment at University of Kentucky. Brooke cares deeply about building a regional food system that supports our farmers, is regenerative for our lands and is healthy and accessible for consumers. She enjoys outdoor adventures with family and friends, gardening and photography.

Katie Harvey -- Workplace Wellness CSA Program Coordinator

Katie Harvey, a Louisville native, joined the OAK team in June2018. Katie assists with the Kentucky Farm Share Coalition Program and works to increase outreach for CSA participation. Prior to joining the OAK team, Katie spent several years working on Kentucky vegetable farms, facilitating nonprofit education programs for healthy eating, and working in sales with a cosmetics brand focused on sustainability and the environment. This unique collection of experiences gives Katie the ability to communicate the importance of CSA from a consumer and farmer perspective and we are thrilled to have her working with our stakeholders. Katie is also a graduate of the University of Kentucky’s Natural Resource and Environmental Science program with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. She is incredibly passionate about growing the local food economy and eager to raise awareness and support for organic farming in Kentucky.

Jenny Howard Owen -- Education Program Coordinator

As an environmental educator and market gardener, Jenny Howard Owen is passionate about connecting her fellow Kentuckians to their local environment - and to their farmers!  Within the past 20 years, her work in environmental education has taken her from the savannahs of central Africa (via Peace Corps), along the shores of VA and NC (with US Fish & Wildlife Service), and back home to the Bluegrass State, with Lake Barkley State Park, KY Division of Water, KY Dept of Education, and the KY Association for Environmental Education. Jenny, her husband Jacob, and their son Birch live, plant, and play in the rolling countryside of Anderson County.

Robin Verson -- Membership and Communications Coordinator

Robin Verson joined the OAK team in July 2019 as the Membership and Communications Coordinator. Robin offers OAK her experience of local farming with over two decades of certified organic management on her Metcalfe County farm.  Hill and Hollow Farm's CSA is in it's 20th delivery year, a flock of heritage breed sheep rotationally graze the pastures and the wool is used for a local fiber product line.  Her knowledge of sustainable farming systems and her commitment to working with local farmers and consumers  will be a great asset to the OAK community. As a member of the organic farming community in Kentucky since 1998, Robin is thrilled to share her experience, her passion and her expertise with the OAK team. 

John Bell -- Board Member, Chair

John Bell farms with his extended family at Elmwood Stock Farm in Scott County.  A certified organic farm, Elmwood produces a diversity of produce and livestock. John oversees the vegetable production, looks after cattle, makes compost, and manages farm labor. He is on the board of OAK. 

Larry Brandenburg -- Board Member

Larry owns Harmony Fields, a certified organic farm, in Shelby County, KY where he raises mostly produce and a little livestock for CSA and farmers' market sales. He is a founder of OAK and, in his spare time, works as minister of music at Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church in Louisville. 

Kathleen Butler -- Board Member

Kathleen Butler is a wife, mother, teacher, and first generation farmer in Bourbon County, KY. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture and supporting local economies. She became a farmer in 2013 because she wanted to know where her food came from so she decided to grow it herself. Along with her husband, she is one of the largest pastured poultry producers in Kentucky. She also raises pastured hogs on certified organic grass. She sells her pastured meats to restaurants and schools all over Kentucky, including UK athletes. Kathleen also raises certified organic hemp fiber. She is the only farmer in the United States who grows fiber for the global company, Patagonia. She recently started a CSA with another Parisian woman farmer to reach more local consumers.

 

Carolyn Gahn -- Board Member

Carolyn Gahn is the Sustainability Director for Aramark for the University of Kentucky Dining Services. In this role, she oversees $2+ million dollars annual spend with local farms and businesses. Carolyn worked with local partners to create Aramark’s signature farm-to-table programs, The Local Salad Bar, and the Whole Animal Program, establishing UK’s annual commitment-to-buy with local farms of over 20,000 pounds of sustainably grown produce and 64,000 pounds of humanely raised beef and pork. UK Dining was the 2019 recipient of the Local Food Purchasing Hero Award at the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit and they are recognized as part of the Farm Forward Leadership Circle for their commitment to sourcing Global Animal Partnership certified protein. Carolyn has spoken about this work publicly including at the Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change Conference. She is also the co-founder of Sweetgrass Natural Foods which manufactures regional natural food products for retail shelves. Before that she was a community organizer with Community Farm Alliance and has worked on several diversified farms, including her own.

Katie Shoultz -- Board Member

Katie Shoultz is a farmer, writer and local foods systems advocate. As a champion of the farm to table movement and an accessible, organic food system that promotes healthy living, Katie brings a voice to the conversation that honors Kentucky’s agricultural legacy while providing an innovative approach to the challenges faced by the industry. Currently a Marketing Extension Specialist with UK’s Nutrition Education Program, she has worked in both the non-profit and private sectors managing communications, donor relations, marketing and annual giving initiatives. With a strong desire to engage the community in OAK’s mission - through conversation and fundraising, Katie brings a members-oriented voice. Her interests include baking, plant breeding and spending time with her four-legged crew.

Mac Stone -- Board Member

Mac farms with his wife, Ann Bell Stone, and extended family at Elmwood Stock Farm, their Scott County farm located in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. The family produces Certified Organic, beef, vegetables and small fruit, eggs, chicken, heritage turkeys and tobacco. On-farm composting and pasture rotation has helped to reduce off-farm inputs for the 550 acre operation. Primary markets include a CSA farm share program, farmers markets, local restaurants, and retail store accounts.

Nathan Williams -- Board Member

Nathan Williams is an organic dairy farmer in Taylor County.  In 2017, Nathan returned home to the Green River with his wife and two children to farm alongside his father, Gregg.  Nathan and his father have transitioned more than 300 acres of their farm operation to organic production, and are in process of transitioning the remainder.  Nathan has a passion for grazing management and managing the soils to benefit the land, cows, and the farmer.  Nathan attended the University of Kentucky where he studied Agricultural Economics and completed his law degree.  When he isn’t farming he spends his time practicing law, as well as lobbying on behalf of organizations in Frankfort.  He lives in the original cabin built on the family farm with his wife, Jessica, and their two children.

Ashton Potter Wright -- Board Member, Vice Chair

Ashton Potter Wright manages Bluegrass Farm to Table, an initiative of the City of Lexington’s Office of Economic Development. As Lexington’s first Local Food Coordinator, Ashton works to promote the development of a more vibrant local food economy by supporting food-related agricultural development. Ashton is a Lexington native and holds a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Cindy Youngblood -- Board Member, Treasurer

Cindy serves on the OAK board as a consumer advocate for growing, buying and eating local, organic foods.  She is married with two teenage boys, employed full time and enjoys gardening, cooking and learning ways to live more meaningfully and healthfully.

Sean Clark -- Advisor

Sean is a professor at Berea College where he teaches in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and directs the College’s educational farm and farm store. His current scholarly interests and research efforts are focused on the energy and carbon budgets of farming systems, appropriate technologies for small-scale organic farms in the region, and innovations in teaching on college and university student farms. He currently teaches farm management, horticulture, beekeeping, aquaculture and a course in value-added food production.

Sarah Fritschner -- Advisor

Sarah Fritschner is a principal of Grow Kentucky, working with farmers and consumers to increase Kentucky farmers’ percentage of Louisville’s $3 billion food market. She works with Jefferson County Public Schools, Norton Healthcare, Churchill Downs and others to bring Kentucky food to a broad base of consumers. Since 2011 she has brokered more than $3 million in sales for foods grown in Kentucky.

David Koester -- Advisor

David is an Extension Agent for Agriculture and Horticulture and has worked in this field for 36 years in 3 counties. He is the former Kentucky Post Garden Columnist, has worked as a Manager of a Nursery/Garden Center, was a consultant to a 55 acre orchard, and served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cinn. DAAP College.  David is a contributor to Kentucky Gardener Magazine, has served as a horticulture judge at the Indiana and Kentucky State Fairs, is a Certified Arborist and TRAQ Certified, is a member Kentucky Turfgrass Council and Kentucky Horticulture Council, helped to establish the Northern Kentucky Vintners and Grape Growers Association, is currently establishing demonstration horticulture plots and high tunnels, leads construction and management workshops as the Boone Co. horticulture agent and hosts a monthly radio program on WVXU Public Radio Station Cinn. Ohio

Shawn Lucas -- Advisor

Dr. Shawn Lucas, Ph.D. is assistant professor of organic agriculture at Kentucky State University in Frankfort where he conducts research on best management practices, soil quality, and crop productivity in organically managed systems.  Shawn centers his research and education efforts on the principles of agroecology and sustainability, focusing on ways to work within the ecology of natural systems to promote healthy soils and productive crops.

Irvin Ramer -- Advisor

Irvin farms in Todd County with his wife Rachel and 10 children, and manages 200 acres of pasture to achieve 12 months of grazing and milking 85 Jerseys for Organic Valley. He's been dairy farming for 16 years, 10 years as a USDA-Certified Organic farmer. He was one of the first certified organic farmers certified by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Organic Valley's first organic dairy farmer in Kentucky. Irvin is also the first grower for Handsome Brook Farm, becoming their first certified organic egg producer starting this year.

Tony Silvernail -- Advisor

Tony moved from Michigan to Kentucky 24 years ago to work for Kentucky State University and attend graduate school at the University of Kentucky. He managed the organic research at KSU until 2017.  In 2007, started his own farm, Beyond the Bridge Organic Farm in Franklin County. He also serves as one of OAK's Transition Trainers.  

Mark Williams -- Advisor

Mark is the Chair of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Kentucky and has been on faculty there since 2001. He founded and managed the 25-acre Organic Farming Unit of the Horticulture Research Farm at UK. 

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BECOME AN OAK BOARD MEMBER

 

Interested to serve as a Board Member for the Organic Association of Kentucky? OAK is currently looking for future board members and is requesting your nominations. As a part of our community, you or someone you know may be the right person to bring their time and talent to serve in this important role.  

 

The Board of Directors actively supports OAK and promotes its mission, vision, programs and fundraising efforts. We are looking for individuals who are interested in helping OAK grow the sustainable and organic farming movement in Kentucky. We especially need Board Members who have experience in the areas of fundraising, finance and organic farming.

Learn more and apply here

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