Nicole Breazeale is a sociology professor at Western Kentucky University, with expertise in sustainable food systems. A native of Lexington, she is deeply committed to helping Kentucky communities build capacity to address their own problems. Nicole has extensive experience with community-based research (which helped to jump start the Eastern Kentucky Food Systems Collaborative), but is most known for her model of community development service learning and her work on “storytelling for social change.” In 2016, she partnered with the Barren County Detention Center and area farmers to teach food justice and sustainable agriculture to undergraduates and incarcerated women. Nicole advises the WKU-Glasgow Greentoppers and recently collaborated with the Barren River Area Health District on the SOKY Community Gardening Initiative, which created and expanded sustainable community gardens throughout the region.
Nicole lives with her three-year old son and enjoys gardening, cooking, fly-fishing, backpacking, community organizing, and puzzles.
Kaycie Len Carter
David Cooke is a native of southern West Virginia and the youngest child of a coal miner and a school teacher. He holds degrees from Berea College and West Virginia University. Since 2005 he has been the director of the Berea College Appalachian Fund, which issues grants in central Appalachia in the fields of healthcare and education, and since 2008 the director of Grow Appalachia, an outreach program of Berea College’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Cooke served 13 years as an extension agent in southern West Virginia working extensively with small landholders and other entrepreneurs in agroforestry and other natural resource based small business enterprises. In seven years as director of Grow Appalachia Cooke has seen the food security/rural community gardening program expand from 100 families in five eastern Kentucky counties to over 4000 families in 53 Appalachian counties in six states. He lives in Berea, KY.
Sara Day Evans
Based in Kentucky and North Carolina, Founding Director, Sara Day Evans works through Accelerating Appalachia to advance the regenerative economy for North America’s most diverse foodshed: the Appalachian region. She’s a program developer, social entrepreneur, BALLE Fellow and living bridge who for over 20 years has delivered powerful impact through strong leadership, creativity, and collaboration. Launching Accelerating Appalachia was borne out of a variety of circumstances: a natural evolution of her ongoing commitment to people, place and prosperity in Appalachia; conversations with leaders in social enterprise and impact investing, the natural abundance and beauty of Appalachia; her connection to place as a 6th generation Kentuckian; her service to distressed communities in Appalachia to help rebuild the loss of their furniture, textile, and farming economies while with the NC Department of Commerce; her impactful work with Kentucky’s Environmental Protection Cabinet; leveraging $250 million in funding for communities and businesses, and the deep influence of her longtime Kentucky friends, bell hooks and Wendell Berry, and her activist, physicist parents and inspiring children. A hydrogeologist, community planner, entrepreneur, former truck driver, waitress, maid, and woodworker, Sara Day is also an accomplished musician, writer and poet.
Heather Hyden is currently the Director of Community and Cultural Initiatives at North Limestone Community Development Corporation in Lexington, KY. She grew up in Memphis,TN and has over 8 years of Community Organizing, Development and Food Policy experience. She has a B.A. in Geography and a M.S. in Community and Leadership Development. Her thesis focused on how cooperative economic food distribution models such as Fresh Stop Markets support food and farm security efforts in the Louisville and Lexington food shed. She is a former staff member of Community Farm Alliance where she started the Kentucky Food Policy Network. She has also worked in school health reform at Metro Nashville Public Health Department and as the Assistant Director of the Beltline Youth Enrichment Center in Memphis. Most recently, you may have met her through the Castlewood or East End Fresh Stop Markets in Lexington, which she co-founded with neighbors as a food justice and leadership development initiative.
Lee Meyer, Secretary
Lee is a professor in sustainable agriculture and agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky, with a PhD from Purdue. His professional work has been targeted toward farmer-focused marketing, including beginning farmer training, direct marketing of meat products, farm transitions and organic corn. Lee taught Global Food Issues until 2015, guest lecture on world food issues (“how can the world feed itself sustainably”) and the role of livestock systems in sustainability. Lee has worked on long term projects in Thailand and Poland and shorter projects several other countries.
Lee chairs UK’s undergrad Sustainable Ag major. At the University level, he chairs the Faculty Sustainability Committee and is former co-chair of the UK President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. Lee serves as a Southern SARE liaison to the Land Grant Universities, a role he continues to fill.
Lee is married and has three adult children and five grandchildren – all living in Kentucky. From a community perspective, Lee has chaired the Lexington Parks Board, is on the boards of Seedleaf (community gardening) and WildOnes (native plans). Gardening, running, playing with grandkids, biking, cooking and eating good food with friends are some of the ways Lee has fun.
Bree Pearsall and her husband, Ben Abell, are owners of Rootbound Farm in Crestwood, KY. They grow certified organic vegetables and grass-fed lamb for local wholesale markets, farmer’s markets, restaurants, groceries, and their CSA program. Before transitioning to full-time farming and entrepreneurship, Bree worked for a decade as a social worker. Bree and Ben started their farming business eight years ago and have helped support the Beginning Farmer movement in Kentucky.
Bethany Pratt is the Horticulture Extension Agent in Louisville with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. There, she helps the citizens of Louisville access land to grow their own food through the Louisville Community Garden Program and teaches home vegetables gardening classes to new and experienced gardeners looking to provide food for their families. Prior to her work with Extension, Bethany worked for The Food Literacy Project, developing and implementing in-garden curriculum for youth, teaching about food systems and increasing vegetable consumption. In her free time Bethany enjoys cooking, gardening and trail running with her family.
Laura Peot Stevens, President
Laura is the Program Director for Common Earth Gardens and Common Table in Louisville. Common Earth Gardens is an urban agriculture program that focuses on providing land, training and technical assistance to refugees and other residents. She manages nine community gardens and one market garden, as well as coordinates cooking and nutrition classes for youth and adults. She is also the Outreach Coordinator for the Bardstown Road Farmers Market. Previously, Laura was the Procurement Manager and then Head of Operations for Grasshoppers Distribution, managing a 500 member, multi-producer CSA.
Jenny Williams, Vice President
Jenny Williams has been teaching writing and reading at Hazard Community and Technical College since 1992. She is the Chair of Pathfinders of Perry County, a non-profit citizens action group that promotes community well-being, engagement, outdoor recreation and education. The youngest of six siblings, all of whom still live in Hazard, Jenny grew up in Hazard and is deeply rooted in the community. She is a member of InVision Hazard, a downtown revitalization group, and is passionate about food—eating it, cooking it, sharing it, and trying to change policies and behaviors so that everybody, regardless of income, age, or geography, has access to fresh, healthy, local food and knows what to do with it.
John Wyatt, Treasurer
John Wyatt was born and raised in Louisville, KY. He moved to Danville with his wife and two children in 1977. John was employed by local and regional construction-related businesses until retiring in 2007. In 2008, John and his wife formed Briar Knob Bread and became involved with the Boyle County Farmers Market. Since then, John has held positions with the Market as Secretary/Treasurer (2010 thru 2012), and Market Manager/Director (2013 to present).