Sierra Harvest Staff – Spring 2022 Staff Retreat
Photograph above by Tiana Rockwell and photos below courtesy of
Georgette Aronow and Sandra Boyd
Jump to Sierra Harvest Farm to School Liaisons
Sierra Harvest Staff
Brianna Abundiz, Farm & Garden Education Manager
Brianna made the big move from Silicon Valley to Grass Valley in 2012 in hopes for a healthier lifestyle for her family of seven. From the first day of school, she saw how Sierra Harvest’s programs touched the lives of her children. It was a natural fit for her to apply for the Farm Educator internship program in 2015, and in 2016 she became one of our primary farm educators at the Food Love Project. She is now the Farm to School Coordinator and Lead Garden Educator with school gardens at Bell Hill Academy, Lyman Gilmore, Scotten, and Union Hill. She is a celebrity among the school kids! Brianna’s goal is to learn, teach and inspire herself, her family and her community to live a happy healthy lifestyle and have food security.
Raven Aletheia, Gleaning Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Eli Bacon, Development & Communications Director
Photo and bio coming soon!
Janice Bedayn, Development Associate
Janice has been an advocate for fresh, locally grown food since 1979. From co-owner of a collective vegetarian restaurant to managing a food co-op, and finally to her own catering business, preparing and serving food has been both a vocation and an avocation. A connected but circuitous path led from food to non-profit development. Janice moved to Sierra Harvest after managing the development department at Nevada City School of the Arts and is thrilled to be involved with the local food movement once again. Janice raised her two grown children in Nevada County and she serves as president of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.
Rachel Berry, Associate Director
Rachel is passionate about promoting community health. With a master’s degree in Health Psychology, she has worked in public health, agriculture, the sustainability movement, higher education, and herbalism. With over 20 years of experience managing programs in the government and non-profit sectors, she is committed to helping people live healthier lives.
Rachel’s involvement in the Nevada County local food movement started in 2009 when she moved here with her family and started working with Living Lands Agrarian Network, which later became Sierra Harvest. In her off time, Rachel enjoys gardening and wild-harvesting with her husband and daughter and teaches herbalism for self-care.
Malaika Bishop, Stewardship Associate
Malaika Bishop has been working to create sustainable and just food systems for over 20 years and co-directed Sierra Harvest from 2013-2021. She now works part-time as our stewardship associate doing fundraising and special projects while also running Bluebird Farm, specializing in high quality, nutrient dense, greens, culinary herbs and fresh seasonal flowers. Malaika began her career by training young change-makers from around the world, and later co-founded People’s Grocery, a food justice non-profit in Oakland. When she moved back to Nevada County she worked on several farms, managed a school farm, and served on the board of BriarPatch Co-op. Malaika is a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and she was chosen by Utne Reader, San Francisco Magazine, and Organic Style Magazine as a young visionary and environmental leader. She loves to ski, garden, cook and play with her husband and two boys.
Frances di Cristina, Farm to School Director
Frances is passionate about connecting kids to good food and the knowledge of where it comes from. She previously worked in development, communication, and program management for food banks in Yolo County and upstate New York. This experience introduced her to the interconnected issues of food access, health, and local food systems. She found her work to rebuild these connections rewarding both professionally and personally. While she had enjoyed baking and cooking since she was young, joining a CSA in each new community connected her to the seasonality of the local farmers and expanded her familiarity with a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. She and her family moved to Nevada County in 2012 and were delighted to discover the thriving local food movement. Her three children love attending the farmers market, watching cooking shows, and helping mom in the kitchen.
Sierra Giannoni, Office Administrator
Photo and bio coming soon!
Amanda Hixson, Farm Institute Director
Photo and bio coming soon!
Livia Keene, Events Production Coordinator and Farm Educator
Livia has called Nevada City home since the ripe age of three. She grew up running through the woods, eating local food, and swimming in the Yuba River. Since she was eight years old Livia attended the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, where she witnessed the spirit of activism first hand. She was inspired to volunteer for SYRCL and Sierra Harvest for many years, fueling her passion for environmental justice, good food, and the place she called home. While studying English at UC Davis, Livia realized that she wanted to dedicate her efforts to working in the environmental field. As a recent college graduate, Livia is thrilled to begin her journey with such an exemplary organization like Sierra Harvest. In her free time, Livia enjoys hiking, baking cookies, and curling up with a book.
Miriam Limov, Farm Institute Associate
Miriam, a Chicago native, moved west to explore the mountains of Yosemite and continued on to earn her Environmental Engineering degree at Humboldt State University. From teaching backpacking and physical education classes at Sierra College, leading girl’s empowerment camps, and more, Miriam has been educating about healthy living for decades. Miriam also educated, inspired, and connected the people of Nevada County for 24 years at the South Yuba River Citizens League as a volunteer and then the River People Manager, where she helped to protect the Yuba River managing volunteers, directing large-scale events, and leading successful advocacy campaigns.
Carlyle Miller, Operations Director
Carlyle Miller, better known to local school children as Detective Drizzle, worked for years with the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) to develop and run an educational program teaching students about water and salmon conservation.
After leaving SYRCL in 2006 to start her own family, Carlyle became more passionate about healthy, local food options, especially in our schools. She gained experience in financial management at Mountain Bounty Farm and The Woolman Semester and is combining it with her excessive love of data and databases to become Sierra Harvest’s Operations Director.
Lindsey Pratt, Farm to School & Communications Coordinator
After growing up in Massachusetts and several years spent living & sweating in Texas, Lindsey arrived in Nevada County in 2017 and happily found herself amidst the thriving farming community here. Lindsey has been involved in the food and farming world since 2009. She spent many years in organic food retail, farm-to-table restaurants, milking cows and goats, raising chickens, installing edible and native landscaping, working on organic farms, and aiding in developing a farmer’s cooperative in agrarian Central Texas. Lindsey is drawn to the realm of food and farming as it is such an intersectional space to work on the many ails in our culture and society, from labor politics, economics, equity & justice, as well as stewarding the land and our planet in a healthful way.
Aimee Retzler, Executive Director
Aimee, co-founded Sierra Harvest after she had lunch with her kindergartner at school and noticed how much food was going to waste leaving kids hungry. She was curious as to why a community that is surrounded by an abundance of agriculture, wasn’t feeding kids nutrient-dense, locally grown foods that were delivered in an educational way. Her passion for making sure kids get the best food possible is what fueled her to begin the farm-to-school program in Nevada County. She has guided the activities of Sierra Harvest since October 2008, building the organization from a grassroots community coalition to a viable nonprofit. One of her non-food passions is teaching Nia so consider yourself informed if she pulls out her first-degree black belt and starts dancing anywhere and everywhere.
Olivia Steele, Food Love Farm Manager
Olivia was raised in the red dirt of Nevada County and has nurtured a long-romance with the land, beginning with a homeschooled education focused around student-led curiosity and exploration of our relationship with the natural world. She considers herself lucky to have learned from farmers and salt-of-the-earth homesteaders on the San Juan Ridge, carrying her desire to grow into past employment with Soil Sisters Farm, the California Native Plant Society, and Sierra College. Beginning as a dedicated Sierra Harvest volunteer, Olivia has stepped into the role of Food Love Farm manager with gratitude and dedication to upholding the work of all the women before her. Olivia is also a full-time college student pursuing double degrees in English and Social Justice. Next fall, she plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies with a concentration on Race and Resistance. Her value system is centered around decolonization, community-led mutual aid, healing her ancestral lineage, and maintaining the space where impact matches intention. Olivia lives nomadically with her 3-year old canine shadow, Sati, and dedicates her free time to wood-working, automotive mechanics, on-ground activism, creative writing, and eating good food with her family.
Jennifer Weir, Executive Administrator
Bio coming soon!
Sierra Harvest Farm to School Liaisons & Garden Educators
Brianna Abundiz, Brandy Carter, Dena Corey, Jaimi Guigere, Karen Jarvis, Samantha Limonciello, Michelle McDaniel, Lindsey Pratt, Uta Reimnitz, Katherine Todirita, Lauren Valentino, Coralie Vandermeersch
Sierra Harvest Board of Directors
Tony H. Cervantes (Chichimeca) has been working for over 45 years to protect and restore Indigenous relational constructs supportive of people, families, clans, Tribes, communities and Nations and the sacred relationship with the unseen world and all of Creation. Tony is retired from the State of California. After retirement he worked for Sierra Native Alliance and Shingle Springs Rancheria. He is trained in all White Bison, Positive Indian Parenting, Fatherhood/Motherhood is Sacred, Anger Manager and GONA curricula resulting in Cultural Revitalization, Leadership Development, Indigenous best practices, Wellbriety Community Development, Indigenous Addictions/Mental Health prevention/treatment and the Grieving Cycle. Indigenous Traditional Knowledge Systems, the Medicine Wheel and the behavioral components of addictions inform work focused on emotional, mental, physical, behavioral, social, volitional and economic wellness change. He currently lives with his partner Sara in Northern California’s mountains, has seven (6 bio) adult children and eight grandchildren. Tony enjoys being in nature and living sustainably, locally, organically, seasonally through permaculture farming and wild harvesting medicine, cultural materials and food, road & mountain biking, kayaking, hiking & backpacking, hot springs, rivers and Indigenous ceremony. He and Sara currently provide workshops and farm 2.5 acres using permaculture practices. They also provide consultant services, including with the California Conservation Corps Back County Crew Orientation training week. He deeply believes that living locally is key to bringing us closer to our original ancestors, tonantzin, ehecatl, atl and xieutecuhtli. I remember drinking water directly from streams, rivers, creeks and seeing thousands of monarch butterflies in all stages of development at one place. What have we done?
Kwong is semi-retired. He is a business owner, entrepreneur, and advisor. He went to school and operated, in San Francisco, various full-service restaurants, food production, distribution, and larger event catering companies. In 1997, he moved to Grass Valley. His local involvement includes board positions and active support at BriarPatch Co-op, Yuba River Charter School, Boys To Men, Xiao Mao Culture Club (CATS), ManKind Project (MKP), Divine Spark, and Sierra Roots, among others. Kwong lives simply, is passionate about healthy living, social justice, finance, and community.
It was evident early on that Richard had a green thumb and a passion for agriculture and commerce. By his fifth birthday, he was helping to tend a productive berry patch in his family’s backyard. He’d harvest the berries at their peak ripeness and load up his Radio Flyer wagon. Pulling the wagon around his community, he sold the berries door to door. Later, during his time in school, Richard operated two other businesses specializing in jewelry and food sales. A lover of travel, Richard embarked on a summer’s long cross country road trip after he graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Business Administration. His travels eventually brought him to Nevada County where he became enchanted with its landscape, climate and cannabis culture. He quickly decided to return to plant some roots. He began studying the soil food web, compost tea production and organic farming. With this knowledge, Richard helped cultivate organic medical-grade cannabis that was then donated to patients that were in need but did not have sufficient means of access. This rewarding endeavor inspired him to focus more of his resources and energy toward community service. He currently enjoys volunteering at The Food Bank of Nevada County, Sierra Harvest and Yuba River Charter School. There he has held the roles of class parent, field trip coordinator, treasurer, vehicle inspector, chaperone and is currently coaching youth athletics. He lives, works and plays with his family and their animals on an ever-evolving ten acre homestead bordering Grass Valley. His enthusiasm for Sierra Harvest’s mission is palpable and he is eagerly anticipating the day when all students in Nevada County have access to scratch cooked meals featuring fresh, local ingredients while learning at school.
Born and raised in Ohio, Grace received a degree in Environmental Engineering from The Ohio State University. She discovered her love for the outdoors through research at an experimental wetland and working on Natural Resource Damage Assessment cases for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. After her first experience with a home garden, she fell in love with the idea of growing food for a living. She moved to Taos, New Mexico to work on her first farm and was enchanted by the magic of growing food for your community and working outside everyday. She found her way to Nevada City and started work at Mountain Bounty Farm in 2018. She now manages the 800 member CSA and Produce Sales through wholesale outlets and the Nevada City Farmers Market. Outside of farming, she can be found playing with her pups, kayaking or lounging in a hammock reading.
Trisha Dellis – Bio coming soon!
Andrea Echegary, Treasurer
Andrea is the Chief Financial Officer and Finance Manager at BriarPatch Food Co-op. She loves her work, supporting the sustainable food movement, the cooperative business model, and the local community, and she is grateful to be working with others who are passionate about changing the world. Andrea brings 30+ years of executive financial management experience in varying industries and in organizations ranging from small non-profits to large publicly traded corporations. During each phase of her career, she has worked with and on boards of directors. She earned her Accounting degree from San Diego State University, spent six years at the international accounting firm Deloitte, and is a certified public accountant. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys cooking and adventuring with her husband.
Roger Ingram received BS and MS degrees from Texas A&M University. He served as UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Livestock and Natural Resources/County Director for Placer and Nevada Counties from 1986-2017. Roger developed many programs addressing local agricultural issues. These included implementing a grass-fed beef program for producers, low-stress stockmanship, grazing management, farm business planning, beginning farming, and local USDA inspected meat processing.
He secured grant funding from Placer County First 5 grants that developed a community-supported agriculture program that provided boxes of local produce to low-income families in afterschool programs from 2010-2016. Roger is currently retired and raises commercial sheep with the help of three border collies.
Nita has a BS in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley. She worked in a number of engineering positions and finished her civil engineering career as the Chief Harbor Engineer of the Port of San Francisco. She and her husband and two children escaped the Bay Area rat race to make Nevada County their new home. They found a place where they could be part of the community and make a difference to others. Nita was on the Nevada City School District board for ten years while raising her kids, during which she became interested in finding more nutritious food options for all children. After her kids were out of the house and she was off of the school board, she worked as a software quality assurance consultant and volunteered at the Interfaith Food Ministry where she became more aware of local food insecurity concerns. Nita enjoys spending her free time traveling (trailer and international), as well as playing pickleball, cycling and running (to balance out her obsession with good food)!
Tiana Rockwell, President
Tiana is a functional nutritional therapy practitioner with a private practice in Nevada County. She believes that a nutrient-rich, whole food diet can help people find optimal health and thrive! She moved to Nevada County in 2007 and started a private dental practice with her husband, Sean Rockwell. Through her many years in the dental field, she was able to see firsthand how poor nutrition can affect the body. The mouth is the gateway to the whole system and it is not uncommon to see disease start in the mouth before other areas of the body. She loves the work that Sierra Harvest is doing to help make local, organic, nutrient-rich foods accessible to everyone.
When Tiana is not working with her clients, she is avidly training for long course triathlon. She loves that the climate in Nevada county lets her train, and grow her own food year-round! She lives in Grass Valley with her husband and two dogs and has a goal of one day living completely off her own land for an entire year.