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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and is currently Chair of OAK's Board of Directors.
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.
Workplace Wellness CSA Program Coordinator
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.
Jenny Howard Owen
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.
Education Program Coordinator
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.
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.
Membership and Communications Coordinator
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.
Board Member, Treasurer
Kyle is 36 years old and has 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 our society. Kyle says that OAK has been an important resource for him on this journey. From annual conferences to transition training, he knows that OAK is there to help the farmer and the consumer build healthier food and farming networks across the state.
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.
Board Member, Secretary
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.
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.
Board Member, Vice Chair
Ashton Potter Wright
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.
Board Member, Chair
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.
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
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.
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.