2019 Council Members
Katie Boss, Council Chair, is a public health professional at Healthy Androscoggin managing the organization’s nutrition, physical activity, built environment, and lead poisoning prevention programs. Katie is an avid home gardener and a student in the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteer program. Katie has two young children that she and her husband are including in their gardening and teaching them to appreciate the natural world. Katie has experienced the many health benefits of her older daughter participating in growing food for their family. From this experience, she is highly motivated to support work being done at the intersection of public health and sustainable agriculture, particularly supporting a local food economy. Katie is a member of the Maine Network Partners Fellows leadership program and is also a board member for Grow L+A, a non-profit dedicated to growing Lewiston and Auburn by promoting responsible development.
Alyssa Adkins is a Registered Dietitian with a focus in public health and food systems. Currently, she is a regional supervisor for University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). She supports staff in five counties to provide a series of lessons to low-income families and youth, and also works with community groups in each county for policy, systems and environmental efforts. Alyssa moved to Maine after twelve years in New York City where her work encompassed clinical dietetics practice in a non-profit hospital, managing farmers’ markets, expanding the reach and effectiveness of a food pantry in Queens, and developing and scaling up a product line of hot sauces and ketchups for a small urban farm. Alyssa received her M.P.H. in Public Health Nutrition from New York University in 2013 and her B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University in 2009.
David Bell is part owner and managing partner in a family farm that spans 4 generations and 3 townships, Bell Farms. Originally a potato farm in the 1930’s, David and company expanded their 1000 acre farm, 500 tillable acreage to include sweet corn, grain corn, pumpkins, squash and variety of vegetables. Potatoes are the main stay which delivers to a strong local market as well as big box stores like Market Basket and Walmart. The addition of temperature and humidity controlled storage buildings along with automation in machinery, has allowed Bell Farms to continue packaging and delivering potatoes on a year round basis. In 1991 David was the recipient of the “ Outstanding Young Farmer of the year award representing Maine, in recognition of exceptional progress in agriculture and contributions to the community.” Administered by The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, Bismark, North Dakota. In 2018 Bell Farms was recognized by the Maine Agriculture Commissioner for “Entrepreneurial Excellence” dedicated to providing locally-Grown produce year round.
Julia Bergquist is a social work case manager at the Family Medicine Residency of Central Maine Health Care. Julia recently graduated from the University of New England and within her time focused on policy change and community engagement, focusing on the environment and access to basic needs. Within her internship at Maine Medical Partners in Westbrook, Julia implemented the Hunger Vital Signs screening in partnership with Preble Street’s Maine Hunger Initiative and Good Shepherd Food Bank. Upon starting employment with the Family Medicine Residency, Julia continued the Hunger Vital Sign screening work of Healthy Androscoggin, Good Shepherd Food Bank, and Kathy Morin, RN with the distribution of emergency food bags, local resource lists, and SNAP enrollment. Julia additionally implemented a fresh produce delivery so that Family Medicine Residency patients can have increased access to fruits and vegetables from local farms. Julia looks forward to continuing this work and generating new partnerships within Androscoggin County to increase food access and improve holistic health of community members.
Mohamed Dekhow was born in Southern Central Somalia. He fled from Somalia in 1991 during the civil war to a Kenya refugee camp and remained in the camp for 10 years. During his residency in the refugee camp, he completed his primary education. Community leaders worked very hard to enable Mohamed and his children and family a chance to get resettlement to the USA in August 2004. In Suwanee, Georgia, Mohamed worked for Dish Network for all of 2005. In 2006, he moved with his family (two boys and first daughter Nasra) to the State of Maine since most of the community they knew had moved to Maine. In mid-2007, Mohamed and his wife started thinking how to use their experience and knowledge of cooking, and succeed in opening the first Somali-Bantu Grocery Store and Coffee Shop in the Lewiston/Auburn area. They owned this business for 8 years serving food to their loved ones in the area. During the time they owned the store, Mohamed was also joining with the New American Sustainable Agricultural Project (NASAP) providing interpretation and growing food for his family at the farm in Lisbon. Also, in January of 2015, Mohamed joined with members of the community sharing the many challenges the refugee community was facing. Together, they formed the Sustainable Livelihoods Relief Organization (SLRO) hoping to bridge the gaps between different communities, providing mediation, programming, and resources that the community needed. Later, working with the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI), they formed the first Somali Bantu/Ethnic Somali Community Food Truck here at home in Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, called Isuken Co-op. It is also the second worker-owner Co-op of this kind in the USA. Mohamed is proud to be part of serving the Community and willing to continue doing what he’s doing right now.
Francis Eanes is a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program at Bates College. He teaches classes on sustainable cities/urban planning, urban and regional food systems, and community-engaged research. A social scientist by training, both his teaching and research take a holistic, systems-thinking approach to understanding the ways in which people, built environments, and working agricultural landscapes interact and influence each other. He is especially interested in building local and regional partnerships that bridge the gaps between academic research/teaching and the realms of policy, practice, and activism.
Jonah Fertig-Burd is the Director of Cooperative Food Systems programs with the Cooperative Development Institute. He works with farmers, food producers, cooks, distributors, and community members to develop democratic businesses. He is a co-founder and board member of the Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative and has served as a development coordinator for the nation’s first farm & sea-to-institution cooperative. He also works with New American farmers, assisting them in developing cooperatives and helped Somali Bantu Farmers in Lewiston form New Roots Cooperative, the first New American owned cooperative farm in Maine. Previously, he co-founded Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, Maine and helped develop it into a successful worker-owned cafe. He has been involved in community gardening organizing in Portland and New York City and taught gardening and cooking in schools and afterschool programs in the Portland area since 2003. He also co-founded the Greater Portland Community Land Trust in Portland and was a founding member of the Portland Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, as well as the Cooperative Design Lab. He is a facilitator for the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute, as well as a speaker at statewide, regional and national conferences about cooperatives in the food system. He lives with his partner and two kids at Celebration Tree Farm and Yoga in Durham, Maine.
Kim Finnerty – is the Director of Whiting Farm in Auburn. She holds a B.A. in Chemistry from West Virginia University, 1996. Agriculture became an important topic for her while she was a teacher at Edward Little High School. She created the Chemistry through Agriculture program at Edward Little High School as a way of engaging her students in their learning. She became the director of Whiting Farm in January 2015. The farm is open 9 months a year selling Poinsettia’s, annuals and fresh produce. The goal for the farm is to be a working-educational farm that is open to professionals and community members for locally grown produce, education and enjoyment.
Doug Greene is an A.I.C.P. planner and registered landscape architect and the Deputy Director of Planning & Code Enforcement and City Planner for the City of Lewiston. After a short stint in college, Doug spent 12 years working on a large 1,000 acre diversified farm in Versailles, Kentucky; the last 3 years raising market spinach, broccoli, green peppers, and yellow squash. He enrolled in University of Kentucky after leaving the farm, and got a degree in Landscape Architecture. An interest in land use planning inspired him to become a planner with the City of Lexington and through the course of his 13 years there, worked on subdivision planning, infill and redevelopment, helped develop a citywide greenway plan, a rural land management plan, and was the first staff for its purchase of development rights plan.
Rachel Jalbert is the Catering Delivery Supervisor for Bates Dining Services. She grew up in Lewiston and moved back to the area after college. She is passionate about food and how it brings people together. She is also committed to supporting the communities of Lewiston and Auburn and looks forward to being a part of helping to connect some of the exciting things happening at Bates College with the exciting things happening in L/A and vice versa.
Mark Hews is President of M E Hews and Company, LLC, specializing in project coaching and facilitation, rural community and economic development, and strategic planning. He is also co-founder of Total Crowd Solutions, an open innovation approach to project planning and resourcing. Mark has 37 years’ experience in project development and management working with small towns, businesses, and nonprofits. The Company has helped clients with project development and management ranging from small-scale institutional market development to a $2 Million Sustainable Year-Round Agriculture project integrating greenhouse, solar, and advanced composite sectors. The Company contracts with organizations to provide leadership and organizational development services. Before founding M E Hews and Company, LLC, Mark worked for the US Department of Agriculture for 32 years primarily in natural resource community and economic development as an RC&D Coordinator. Mark served as President of the New England Association of RC&D Areas and 1st Vice President for the National Association of RC&D Councils. He is a member of the Leadership Council for the National Small Business Association. Currently, Mark has a contract with the National Institute for Civil Discourse to serve as State Coordinator for Maine Revives Civility. Mark lives in Poland with his wife Debi.
Shelley Kruszewski is the Executive Director at the Androscoggin Land Trust which works to conserve land, including agricultural land. She has a master’s degree in Community Planning and Development with a focus on land use and the environment from the Muskie School of Public Service, where her capstone project studied food hubs. Shelley grew up in an old farm house with gardens and sheep in Durham, Maine, where her farmer brother still lives. She has done outreach work for ReTreeUS, a non-profit organization founded by her brother that plants school orchards. Shelley lives in Auburn with her husband and their energetic dog.
Jeff Newell grew up in Auburn and attended Edward Little High School. He worked at Hannaford for 43 years working his way up from a stock clerk to Store Manager. Jeff managed stores in Lewiston, Topsham, Yarmouth and Brunswick. The last five years of his career Jeff worked in the corporate office in the Retail Communications department. Jeff retired in 2015 and in 2016 became a Master Gardener through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and has been an active volunteer with the program. Jeff volunteers with Durham Community School garden working with the 7th and 8th grade classes in the Jobs for Maine Graduates program. He is am also involved with the Androscoggin Gleaners. The Gleaners work with local farms in establishing a Gleaning program. In 2018 the group gleaned over 7800 pounds of fresh produce and delivered to St Mary’s Nutrition Center and 3 low-income housing units in Lewiston. Jeff believes in giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate become contributing members of the community. Providing education and healthy meal options will assist members in this goal.
Alisa Roman is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America Alisa has been working in kitchens since a young age. Her experience ranges from Baking and Pastry, Kitchen preparation, and Campus Dining Management. Currently Alisa is the Director of Nutrition for Lewiston Public Schools in Lewiston Maine. In her current role Alisa oversees the day to day operations of the Lewiston School Nutrition Program. Alisa is also very active in the community participating in groups that focus on feeding the community and in particular groups that support ending student hunger.
Kirsten Walter began her food systems work in Lewiston, Maine, by founding Lots to Gardens in 1999 and now serves as director of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center. The Nutrition Center serves as a hub for healthy food initiatives in Lewiston-Auburn and beyond. Kirsten is involved in several regional and state-wide efforts connected to food systems in Maine. She is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in Community Studies, and lives in North Yarmouth.
Julia Harper views repairing LA’s food system as a foundational and essential step to achieve a healthy and thriving community for all. Julia began serving as the Coordinator for GFCLA in September 2014. She has also has experience working with various local food production operations such as Food Joy & South Auburn Organic Farm, Valley View Farm, 4 Seasons Farm Market, and Baxter Brewing Co. As of February 2018, also joined the staff at Androscoggin Land Trust, assisting with all land conservation duties such as stewardship, development, administration, and member outreach. Julia also serves as a volunteer in several community-based efforts, including the board of Grow L+A. She holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Maine. Julia is a resident and member-owner of the RAISE-Op Housing Cooperative in downtown Lewiston, and lives there with her partner, Craig.