Staff

 

Founding Director: Molly Rockamann

Program Director: Rachel Levi

Farm Manager: Matt Lebon

Farm Manager: Eric Stevens

Assistant Farm Manager: Nate Wolff

Property Manger: Cary Aye

Marketing Coordinator: Crystal Stevens

Development and Communications Manager: Heather Duwarski

Development Associate (AmericCorps VISTA): Colleen Daly

Executive Assistant: Katie Canale

Farm Educator: Kaitie Adams

Volunteer Coordinator (AmeriCorps VISTA): Petra Petermann

Programs Assistant (AmeriCorps VISTA):  Chelsea Burdge

 

Founding Director 

Molly Rockamann is a St. Louis native but felt the coastal pull for college and remained in warm tropical climates until she decided her heart was in the heartland and returned to her family’s roots in North St. Louis County. While away, she worked with mushroom producers in Ghana, organic rice farmers in Thailand, veggie farmers in Florida and California, and sugar cane farmers in Fiji. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College, a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC-Santa Cruz and a Postgraduate Diploma in Development Studies from the University of the South Pacific. (But the land and other farmers have been her greatest teachers.) Finding inspiration in Caroline Mueller, a life-long organic farmer, she is dedicated to preserving farmland and to celebrating the culture in agriculture. She is proud to be a Ferguson, Missouri, resident, and loves to dance and hula hoop. Molly Rockamann was listed on Mother Nature Network’s ‘40 Farmers Under 40‘ list in 2009, received a 2009 Kick-Ass Award from 52nd City, was named one of 10 Most Dynamic St. Louisans by Ladue News in 2010, and in 2011 was the first recipient of the Young Food Leader category of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s  Growing Green Awards. Rockamann feels that her greatest reward is witnessing the transformation that takes place when individuals spend an entire growing season farming in community.

                                                                                                           

Program Director 

Rachel Levi first observed the magic of growing food as she watched her mother tend the family vegetable garden at her parents’ home in Ferguson. After residing in Chicago for the past four years, she is excited to be back in her hometown, helping EarthDance grow food, community, and farmers. Learning and teaching in one capacity or another are a constant for Rachel. During her teens and early twenties, she worked as an arts camp counselor, Ethical Society Sunday School teacher, and tutor. After earning a B.A in English and Education from Webster University in 2006, She has taught English to high school students, yoga to adults, and play-based fitness classes for children. In Chicago, she pursued her passion for creative writing at The University of Chicago, where she earned an M.A. in the humanities and wrote a memoir, Killing Fixie Prairie. For the last several years, Rachel has been actively investigating urban farming and permaculture design principles: she helped to install several community gardens, tended her own veggie plot and taught high school students about organic gardening.  Her current position allows her to facilitate transformative hands-on learning for adults and children through EarthDance’s apprenticeship and youth programming. She is enthusiastic to continue growing the good food movement. Rachel’s diverse interests continually lead her toward new insights and situations. Wherever her path may lead, she hopes to leave her campsite in better shape than she found it in.

                                                                                                                                                     

   Farm Manager

Matt Lebon adds to the list of St. Louis natives that are part of the EarthDance team.  He returned to his hometown after a 9 year hiatus and is thrilled to be back. Matt originally left to go study at Indiana University where he majored in Entrepreneurship. It was during his time in Bloomington that Matt cultivated a close relationship with food (mostly pizza, but also with a curious eye on the global food system.) In his junior year, he studied abroad in Barcelona and found the Spanish language and life abroad so exciting he knew another stint abroad was in the post-college cards. Thus, upon finishing at IU, Matt set out as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. He would spend two years living and working amongst rural Paraguayan farmers. Upon completion he would then circle the globe to Israel in order to further study organic agriculture; this time through a five-month permaculture apprenticeship. Both of these experiences were deeply transformative in cultivating Matt’s connection to delicious food and the sacred soil below. Alas, all globe-trotting adventures must come to an end and Matt returned to the states and landed in New York City. While in the Big Apple Matt worked as a teacher and urban farmer.  After almost a decade of being away, he returned to St. Louis to continue pursuing his passion for farming by joining the EarthDance team.

 

Farm Manager

Eric Stevens spent seven years managing La Vista CSA Farm in Godfrey, IL with his wife, Crystal. Eric Received his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Fontbonne University in 2001. During his studies, Eric fell in love with community gardening and became active in growing food in his community.  He apprenticed at River Bottom Farm for 3 years (2002-2004) while working at The Natural Way and Monarch International Cuisine. Since then, Eric has worked as a Freelance Artist, a Landscape Designer, a Vegetable Garden Specialist at Garden Heights Nursery, a Food Development Associate for Americorps Vista, a Garden Instructor and Public Speaker, as well as managing a 7 acre vegetable farm with over 200 CSA members. Eric is passionate about regenerative agriculture, permaculture, land stewardship, water preservation, native landscaping, perennial gardening, and edible landscaping. In 2016, he and his wife were selected as US Delegates by Slow Food St. Louis at Terra Madre, an international food conference in Turin, Italy. He and his wife have 2 children and reside along the bluffs of the Mississippi River.  Eric loves hiking and camping the beautiful terrain of Missouri landscapes. He loves teaching others about the importance of earth stewardship. His favorite thing to do is planting trees and native plants.

     

Assistant Farm Manager

A former EarthDance apprentice, Nathan is excited to be back on the farm as a staff member. Farming is in his blood – he comes from a German farming family with roots outside of Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from the University of Dayton, he embarked on a career in chemical engineering in Texas, completed yoga teacher training at Kripalu, headed to the Colorado mountains to teach yoga and snowboard, and finally returned to the midwest when he moved to St. Louis in 2011. In the past year, he grew vegetables for three Lafayette Square neighborhood restaurants while tending his own backyard garden. Nathan finds inspiration in using farming as a way to promote health and wellness, build intentional communities, and – still an engineer at heart – study how permaculture systems work. Nathan loves to travel, read, and kick back with a cold IPA.        

Property Manager

Cary Aye is a Ferguson resident. He is a master of all trades including carpentry, mechanics and resource management on the farm. Cary is a problem solver and spends a lot of energy making the behind the scenes infrastructure run smoothly.

                                                        

                                      

Executive Assistant

Katie Canale’s favorite childhood memories are playing with rolly polys and climbing a holly tree on the land that her grandfather lived and developed his business, Bonhard Florist, in her hometown, Belleville, IL.  Watching her grandfather’s passion and kindness towards nature sparked Katie’s drive to learn more about protecting the environment.  After graduating with her B.A. in Sociology in 2013, Katie set out to travel and work with non-profits.  She spent a year in Chuuk, Micronesia teaching 11th grade English-Reading as a second language. Shortly after, she worked for Reach Out Volunteers as an international traveling recruiter speaking to lecture halls across the globe about volunteer opportunities in community and environmental sustainability.  In November of 2014 she found her way to New Zealand where she lived and worked for Greenpeace until May of 2015.  Katie loved traveling, however, she felt the pull to bring her passion and drive back to her home area.  After teaching elementary reading in Belleville for the ’15-’16 school year Katie stumbled upon EarthDance.  She was over the moon to find a nonprofit organization that encompassed her greatest passions: education, sustainability, and healthy food!  Katie is excited to learn and grow with EarthDance and the ever-expanding environmental movement!

Marketing Coordinator

Crystal Stevens and her husband, Eric, co-managed  La Vista CSA Farm from 2010-2016.  They host a Resilient Living Workshop Series with topics ranging from Permaculture, Vermiculture, Medicinal Herbs, Home Apothecary,  Composting,  Food as Medicine, Ethical Foraging, Gardening 101, Gardening with Children, Mushroom Inoculation, Maple Sugaring, Natural Household Cleaners, Fermentation 101, Botanical Illustration,  and more.  Crystal is an herbalist and gives seasonal plant medicine workshops, plant walks and foraging workshops through Dabble. She speaks at  Mother Earth News Fairs and conferences around the country.   She is also an Art Teacher for elementary and middle school children. She teaches Art and Garden Summer Camps for kids. Crystal’s book, Grow Create Inspire was released in the Fall of 2016 under New Society Publishers. Her second book, Worms at Work will be released spring of 2017. She is also working on a Seasonal Eating Cookbook which covers homegrown produce and ethically foraged ingredients. She contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Permaculture Magazine, Grit magazine, The Healthy Planet Magazine and FEAST magazine and Overgrow the System. She co-illustrated Semore the Bird Tells All that He Heard by Kelley Johnson Powers                                                                                                           Follow their journey at Grow Create Inspire.com

Development Associate 

Colleen Daly just finished up a year of service teaching health at a high school out in Denver, Colorado through the Alum Service Corps. After a year of hiking and eating her way through mountain towns, she decided to return back to STL, as she graduated in 2016 from St. Louis University, with a Bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics, with emphasis on food innovation and entrepreneurship. Before beginning her year of service in Denver, she took the summer to engage in sustainability and Mediterranean diet courses in Florence Italy, and she then continued to eat her way from Italy all the way to Iceland.

Her love of food began long ago whipping up recipes in the kitchen with her mom, but her desire to teach people how to make food from scratch and show them that foods they don’t like can taste good if they try, is something that she continues to gain a stronger passion for everyday. She believes everyone deserves to have access to healthy, affordable food in their lives, along with a stronger knowledge of what they are putting in their bodies.
She loves photography, and when she isn’t working, she can be found dragging her friends to markets, free yoga, and concerts in St. Louis or making them hold their iced coffee in the air for her to take a picture of for her blog, Thyme of My Life. She is a lover of all things covered in buffalo sauce, she is a brunch enthusiast, and could not live without iced coffee.  Colleen has worked as a dietetic intern at Wonderland Camp for people living with special needs, she has worked with H.E.L.P. (Healthy Eating with Local Produce), the National School Lunch Program in St. Louis, was a baker at Whisk Bake Shop, started Spoon University, a college food resource at SLU, along with volunteering at places such as Crisis Nursery, Campus Kitchen, and more.

Farm Educator 

Kaitie Adams is a Southern Illinois native whose love of local food and farming started slowly with weekly trips to the farmer’s market and learning the importance of buying real food from real people. These passions culminated in a large-scale research project and she received a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a specialization in Food Anthropology in 2015. Kaitie’s work explored the social life of seeds and mushroom cultures on small scale farms in Southern Illinois and the powerful relationships agriculture creates. In addition to academic research, Kaitie has also worked on a family owned vineyard,sold produce to international families, and interned on an organic farm. As Farm Educator, she’s excited to work with folks of all ages on and off the farm!

 

Volunteer Coordinator

 

MO Healthy Food Access & Education AmeriCorps Program

Service Term: August 2016-2017

Nick Speed is a St. Louis native and is passionate about food access, youth empowerment, and sex education. With a background in Communications, he graduated from the University Missouri-St. Louis in 2011. Over the past two years, Nick worked at the United Way of Greater St. Louis as an Americorps VISTA program manager for a national youth empowerment workshop series. He facilitated professional development workshops, created community service opportunities for young adults, in addition to managing volunteers. In addition to his role as Volunteer Coordinator, he also serves on EarthDance’s Community Food Assessment Advisory Committee.

Nick volunteers with several local organizations, including Sex Positive STL, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and New Leaders Council. He is inspired daily by the greater St. Louis area, his family, close friends, and colleagues.

 

Programs Assistant

AmeriCorps VISTA

Service Term: August 2016-2017

Chelsea Burdge

Chelsea Burdge began working at EarthDance in August 2016 and is serving with Americorps VISTA as the Programs Assistant. She is involved with many EarthDance programs and assists other EarthDance staff with field trips, volunteer groups, grant writing, tours, outreach events, and more. Chelsea mostly works with the Farm & Garden Apprentices; recruiting and coordinating various aspects of the program.
Chelsea is an Illinois Prairie State native and fell in love with sinking her toes into the dirt in her mother’s gardens. Chelsea has a B.S. in cultural anthropology and environmental science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and focused on the benefits of community gardening for inner city youth for her thesis. Her most valued experience was teaching school children in Ghana for anthropological fieldwork. Chelsea has worked with youth as a preschool teacher and nanny, integrating plant biology and growing into curriculum and play as much as possible. She has volunteered with school gardens and with other environmentally conscious not-for-profits in St. Louis and Illinois such as Gateway Greening, the Watershed Nature Center, and Missouri Coalition for the Environment. Some of her favorite childhood stories were of her great grandmother’s farm where there was no indoor plumbing, kids would splash in the bubbling creek, and she would call in her cow, Birdie, and the cow would come bouncing from the hills with her bells jingling. Chelsea, a suburban backyard gardener herself, envisions a more rural, self-sufficient homestead someday. Chelsea is passionate about the importance of growing one’s own food, cooking, and caring for the environment, and thinks everyone should have the opportunity and knowledge of doing so.