Board of DirecTors
John Bell farms with his extended family at Elmwood Stock Farm in Scott County. A certified organic 550 acre farm, Elmwood produces a diversity of produce and livestock – the majority of which is sold directly to the local community. John oversees the crop, cattle and pig production as well as the extensive rotations, cover crops and grazing central to Elmwood’s fertility and soil building program. John has been a member of OAK since its inception.
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.
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. Sarah was an OAK board member from 2010 to 2015 and has been an OAK advisor since 2016, work that included conference program planning from 2013 to 2019, raising funds to hire an executive director, starting the OAK consumer newsletter, setting up two OAK fundraisers featuring organic farmers in Louisville and organizing field days. Sarah is happy to once again devote time and energy to an organization that improves the education, expertise and market possibilities for farmers in Kentucky who are improving our state’s natural resources while they provide delicious and nutritious food to its citizens.
Board Member, Treasurer
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.
Kyle raised corn and beans conventionally for the last 10 years in Paducah, KY. His farming career started on an organic vegetable farm in Georgetown, KY 12 years ago. That experience had significant influence and he decided 2 years ago to take the plunge into transitioning 100 acres. For the last two years Kyle has been practicing raising organic corn and soybeans on 12 acres of certified organic cropland. He is excited about organic farming in Kentucky and sees it as a better alternative for himself, his family, and the community. Kyle says that OAK has been an important resource for him on this journey. From annual conferences to the Transition Trainer Program, he knows that OAK is here to help the farmer and eaters build healthier food and farming networks across the state.
Board Member, Secretary
Steve was born in Germany and lived in several locations growing up as part of a miliarty family. His interest in agriculture began in college (TX A&M) when he became concerned about the issues of hunger in the world. He has worked in agriculture ever since, both through the non-profit world and his own small farms. Steve managed the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s 4150 acre ranch and served as one of two program directors. He also managed Heifer International’s Learning and Livestock Center (the Ranch) and went on to become their Appalachia Representative and then the USA Country Program Director. Most recently he served as the Executive Director of Southern SAWG (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) from 2014-2019. It was Steve's Heifer International work in the Appalachia region that landed him in Kentucky back in 1993. He and his wife bought a small farm in Kentucky and have since learned that this is where their roots belong. They raise sheep and pastured poultry on their farm and also an organic garden. While working for Heifer he became very connected with the sustainable agriculture community in the state and region.
Amber's roots are buried in a small rural community where she spent most of her time on her grandparents’ ranch. She knows what a real tomato and home-raised eggs tasted like. She raised sheep and rabbits for 4-H and her family grew almonds commercially and conventionally. It took moving as far from that farm as possible (she literally moved to the end of the earth, New Zealand, and spent 5 years studying the evolution of carnivorous plants for her PhD) to learn the value of knowing where and how her food was grown. Amber spent the next 7 years as a Postdoc and Research Associate at the University of California Berkeley trying to figure out how to make organic farming more feasible, profitable, and environmentally sustainable. She continues to work towards strengthening the integrity of the organic label and increasing organic acreage as the Associate Director of Science Programs at The Organic Center. Amber works closely with academic researchers, farmers, industry members, and policy makers, (largely through TOC’s partnership with The Organic Trade Association) to facilitate all kinds of research related to organic farming of food and fiber. Relatively speaking, she's a “youngster” in the fight for organic, but with 9 years of experience in the industry, her hope for the future is that we can broaden access to organic products to all, and allow farmers of all backgrounds in all locations to farm organically and successfully. As a community member and consumer in Kentucky, her dream is to see organic products in supermarkets, restaurants and farmer’s markets as the norm instead of the niche. Amber hopes to help achieve that by bringing national and international experience with the organic movement to our local community and lifting the voices and needs of local farmers to the national audience.
Board Member, Vice Chair
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, 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.
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. Learn more and apply here.
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.