Board members pictured:
Mike Bollinger, Dave Campbell, David Perkins (back row);
Sylvia Burgos Toftness, Molly Rockamann, Dela Ends (middle row);
David Abazs, Carmen Fernholz, Melinda Hemmelgarn, Carla Wright (front rows)
Not pictured: Darin Von Ruden
David and his wife, Lise, own Round River Farm, a solar- and wind-powered farm and CSA in Finland, Minn. They direct Shalom Seed Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization for seed preservation. In addition to his family farm, David manages Wolf Ridge Organic School Farm, which supplies produce for Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, a K-12 school focused on environmental education. David and Lise were named “Lake County’s University of Minnesota Farm Family of 2013.”
Mike and his wife, Katie, own and operate River Root Farm, a certified organic diversified produce and seed farm located near Decorah, Iowa. Their operation includes unheated high tunnels. They partner with Seed Savers Exchange and A.P. Whaley Seed Company to provide quality transplants, seed stock and new trial varieties. Mike has extensive experience in providing training and technical assistance in all aspects of organic farming. Mike is also the Co-Founder and Agriculture Specialist for Four Season Tools.
Sylvia Burgos Toftness, Board President
Sylvia and her husband, David, own and operate a 72-acre farm in western Wisconsin where they raise grass-fed beef. Sylvia has extensive public relations experience across many realms. She currently produces and co-hosts Deep Roots Radio, a show that connects the dots between the food on our tables and how it’s grown. She also writes From the Bronx to the Barn, a blog about her journey from city life to farming.
Dave Campbell, Board Secretary
Dave and his wife, Mary, own and operate Lily Lake Organic Farm in northern Illinois. They grow a variety of small grains, along with corn, soybeans, and hay on their 224-acre certified organic farm. Dave recently completed a term on the SARE administrative council. He has served on a number of boards in the past, and has been very active with organic research and outreach activities throughout the Upper Midwest.
Dela and her husband, Tony, have operated Scotch Hill Farm, a diverse family farm and CSA near Brodhead, Wis., for over 20 years. Dela is a founding board member of the South Central Chapter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, helped launch the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, and served on the FairShare CSA Coalition board. Dela is also a founding member of South Central Wisconsin Women in Sustainable Agriculture, a core partner in the Soil Sisters farm tour and has hosted multiple In Her Boots workshops and other events for the MOSES Rural Women’s Project.
Carmen and his wife, Sally, have a 400-acre certified organic farm, growing corn, soybeans, and various small grains including oats, wheat, barley and flax. His most recent activities, besides farming, center around a half-time appointment to the University of Minnesota as statewide Organic Research Coordinator. Carmen is also Vice Chair of Organic Farming Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM). He has served on a number of boards related to organic and sustainable agriculture.
Melinda is a Registered Dietitian, award-winning writer and host of nationally syndicated Food Sleuth Radio. Melinda connects the dots between food, health and agriculture, and analyzes food and farming media messages to promote “food system literacy.” She is on the board of Beyond Pesticides and a former Food & Society Policy Fellow. Melinda and her photographer husband are nourished by their kitchen, herb and native flower gardens in Columbia, Mo.
David Perkins, Board Treasurer
David, his wife, Barb, and their three children established Vermont Valley Community Farm in 1994, a CSA which now has over 2,000 members. Certified organic since 1999, the farm expanded its mission in 2003 to include organic seed potato production. David has spoken across the country on CSA, vegetable production and financial management, and remains committed to assisting beginning farmers. He has served on several boards. Prior careers include legislative budget analyst, agriculture policy analyst and agronomist.
Molly is the Founding Director of EarthDance Organic Farm School in Ferguson, Mo. With more than 10 years of experience in sustainable agriculture in the U.S. and abroad, Molly is the visionary who saved Missouri’s oldest organic farm, and transformed it into an educational mecca for urban organic agriculture. Molly’s passion for good food includes social justice and equity; to this end, she also serves on the Ferguson Human Rights Commission.
Darin Von Ruden
Darin, a third-generation dairy farmer, is president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and serves on the board of the National Farmers Union. He and his wife, JoAnn, own Von Ruden Family Farm in Westby, Wis., which they transitioned to organic in 2007. They are gradually transferring the farm’s ownership to their son, Brett. Darin is a patron member of the Westby Cooperative Creamery, a founding member of Wisconsin Farmers Union Specialty Cheese, chairman of the Wisconsin Dairy Farmers Guild and a founding member of the Upper Midwest Milk Producers Association.
Carla Wright, Board Vice President
Carla has worked in state government, including with the Wisconsin Agriculture and Natural Resources departments, and was the head of the Organic Processing Institute. She currently serves on the board of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and is past President of MOSA and the Natural Heritage Land Trust. Her home in Dane County, Wis. is on 76 acres, part of which she permanently protected from development with a conservation easement.