Sierra Harvest Staff – Spring 2022 Staff Retreat
Photograph above by Tiana Rockwell and photos below courtesy of
Kim Sayre and Sandra Boyd
Sierra Harvest Staff
Brianna Abundiz, Farm & Garden Education Manager
Brianna moved from Silicon Valley to Grass Valley in 2012 seeking a healthier lifestyle for her family of seven. From the first day of school, she saw how Sierra Harvest’s programs touched her children’s lives. She has served as Farm Educator since 2016 at Food Love Farm, and is now the Farm & Garden Education Manager, with school gardens at Bell Hill Academy, Lyman Gilmore, Scotten, and Union Hill. Brianna’s goal is to learn, teach and inspire everyone to live a happy healthy lifestyle.
Raven Aletheia, Gleaning Coordinator
Raven has been involved in holistic living movements and careers for over 16 years. She received her Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese medicine at Emperors College in Santa Monica CA in 2007 and is a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist. Raven’s focus on her own wellness has always been on food as medicine first. Upon her move to Nevada County she found Sierra Harvest and became an avid volunteer. She is thrilled to be able to give back to the local community by gleaning and coordinating organic local food!
Eli Bacon, Development & Communications Director
Eli Bacon recently relocated to Nevada County but grew up in Auburn a short distance away. After receiving an undergraduate degree in business from University of Denver, Eli moved back to California to pursue a career in fundraising. For the past 15 years, Eli has worked with non-profits as well as public and private universities to engage donors in worthy causes. In 2012, Eli received an MBA from University of San Francisco in Marketing. Eli’s passion for Sierra Harvest began when Eli attended the special screening of Biggest Little Farm at the Nevada Theater in 2019. Eli joined Sierra Harvest in 2022 and is looking forward to furthering the local food movement.
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 a stewardship associate supporting fundraising and special projects while also running Bluebird Farm, which specializes in high-quality, nutrient-dense, greens, culinary herbs, and fresh seasonal flowers. Malaika began her career by training young change-makers and later co-founded People’s Grocery, a food justice non-profit in Oakland. 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.
Frances di Cristina, Farm to School Coordinator
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 and her family moved to Nevada County in 2012 and continue to enjoy the local food movement. Her three children love attending the farmers market, watching cooking shows, and helping mom in the kitchen.
Kate Gallaugher, Events & Marketing Coordinator
Originally from Louisiana, Kate has been moving west for the last 14 years. She graduated in 2012 with an English Literature Degree from St. Edwards University in Austin, TX. After taking on a marketing role at a food coop, she completed a Digital Marketing Certification Course from Rice University. Living and working on multiple farms in New Mexico, Kate was able to realize and cultivate her interests in sustainable agriculture, the food system, and land-stewardship. She moved to Nevada County in 2023 and is thrilled to be working for this nonprofit that supports farmers and ranchers with the vision of creating a healthier, accessible, and more sustainable food system.
Sierra Giannoni, Office Administrator
Sierra Giannoni moved from the Bay Area to Nevada County in 2004. They graduated from Cal State Northridge with a degree in Deaf Studies & American Sign Language with a strong interest in advancing their career in the area of social justice. They have been a fan of Sierra Harvest programs for years and jumped at the opportunity to support this nonprofit, making her college graduation dream come true! In their off time, Sierra enjoys unwarranted amounts of coffee, road trips, disc golf, wooded walkabouts, stargazing, board games, brunch, river picnics, and spending time in the garden with her cat, Penny Lane.
Paul Harton, Farm to School Director
Paul brings a passion for local food and farming, as well as a wealth of experience managing teams and logistics from his previous roles as General Manager of BriarPatch Coop and manager roles at both Vital Garden Supply and Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. Paul has a big garden at home and loves to backpack and spend time outdoors.
Lorie Hennessey, Program and Impact Director
Lorie is a passionate non-profit leader committed to strong missions and activating key strategic initiatives to achieve organization wide goals and objectives. Her superpower is mentor leadership, where she excels at developing and motivating teams of diverse people. Lorie is a native Californian and landed in Grass Valley in 2002 with her then-young family for life in a smaller town. With over 25 years in the non-profit sector serving missions close to her heart, she is grateful for the many experiences and opportunities that have shaped her into who she is professionally. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with family and friends, head outdoors hiking or paddleboarding, frequent the amazing farmer’s markets, and just enjoy this wonderful county.
Amanda Hixson, Farm Institute Director
In 2007 Amanda received a bachelor’s in environmental studies, and for nearly two decades Amanda has played various roles engaging in all levels of the food system. Amanda has experience as a farmer, was a member of the World Food Program country portfolio evaluation team in Cambodia, and was Food Program Director of the Del Norte and Tribal Lands Community Food Council. She has an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Idaho and an MDP with an emphasis in Food Systems from University of Arizona. Amanda found Sierra Harvest in 2021 when attending the Sustainable Food & Farm Conference and is excited to have joined the organization as Farm Institute Director.
Sarah McDavid, Operations Director
Sarah Joins the Sierra Harvest team after eight years working in business administration at her children’s nonprofit grade school. She lives in Grass Valley with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, two cats, and ten chickens. Sarah is an avid gardener who enjoys spending time with her family, whether it’s outside working on their property, swimming, paddle boarding at a nearby lake, or cozied up watching a movie. She’s very excited to be joining the team and looks forward to putting her skills of numeracy and efficiency to work for Sierra Harvest.
Carlyle Miller, Finance Manager
Carlyle Miller, better known 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 gained experience in financial management at Mountain Bounty Farm and The Woolman Semester and combined it with her excessive love of data and databases to become the Operations Director at Sierra Harvest.
Adam Nuber, Food Love Farm Co-Manager
Adam comes to us from the Felix Gillet Institute which he co-founded and where he has worked to discover and preserve heirloom perennial food plants. These days you can find him working with volunteers at Food Love Farm or working in Nevada County schools as a garden educator.
Lindsey Pratt, Farm Institute Associate
After growing up in Massachusetts and several years spent living in Texas, Lindsey arrived in Nevada County in 2017. Lindsey has been involved in the food and farming world since 2009. Spending many years in organic food retail, farm-to-table restaurants, milking cows and goats, chasing chickens, installing edible and native landscaping, working on organic farms, and aiding in developing a farmer’s cooperative in agrarian Central Texas. Lindsey was drawn to Sierra Harvest’s work of food systems equity, to support changes in the intersectional issues of labor politics, economics, equity & justice, as well as stewarding the land and our planet healthfully.
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 sustainable nonprofit.
Jennifer Weir, Executive Administrator
Jennifer has made it her mission to give back to the community, supporting organizations that provide education, protect animals, children, the environment, and social services. She comes with 25 years of administrative support experience at Fortune 500 companies, government, non-profit, private, and startups. She is excited to bring her passion and professional expertise to advance Sierra Harvest and its programs.
Sierra Harvest Farm to School Liaisons & Garden Educators
Brianna Abundiz, Brandy Carter, Dena Corey, Jaimi Guigere, Samantha Limonciello, Michelle McDaniel, Lindsey Pratt, Uta Reimnitz, Katherine Todirita, Lauren Valentino, Coralie Vandermeersch
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. By his fifth birthday, he was tending a productive berry patch in Glasgow, DE. Harvesting the berries at their peak ripeness, he’d load them into his Radio Flyer wagon and sell them door to door. 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 degree in Business Administration. His travels eventually brought him to Nevada County where he became enchanted with the culture, landscape, and climate. He quickly decided to return to plant some roots. He currently enjoys coaching youth athletics and his enthusiasm for Sierra Harvest’s mission is palpable. He is eagerly anticipating the day when all students in Nevada County have access to scratch-cooked meals featuring fresh, local ingredients.
Grace Debbler, Vice President
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.
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.
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)!
Photo & bio coming soon!
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.
Sarra received her JD from UC Davis, and holds a BA in English and Spanish Literature from UC San Diego. Sarra brings over 20 years professional experience in the legal industry and legal education, including corporate law practice, fundraising, and her current role at a large law firm focusing on people development and human resources. She is a Board Certified Coach, and a Co-Active Professional Certified Coach, and enjoys helping people with career transitions and performance. She fell in love with Nevada County after completing a yoga training here many years ago, and moved to town in 2021 to get closer to the mountains and community. She joined Sierra Harvest because of her interest in sustainable and local food sourcing and desire to give back. In her free time, Sarra spends her time skiing, traveling internationally, keeping her houseplants alive, and spending time with her rambunctious pitsky pup Nico.