Aris Curtis - Community Farm Manager
Aris has a decade of farm management experience and earned a Sustainable Agriculture in Food Systems, B.S. through UC Davis and also studied landscape design. His work management experience includes multiple and diverse production systems such as USDA/CCOF organic certified polycultures, perennial/annual diverse vegetable crop production, orchard management, vineyard management and animal husbandry. His skills include sustainable, regenerative, organic, biodynamic and carbon sequestration farm practices. Aris also has experience with creating, managing and presenting workshops, lectures and activities for both student, public and faculty events. In his personal time, he enjoys grafting, tool making, companion planting, animal immersion in cropping systems, passive water system design, and agroecology. He always try to implement and practice real world applications with those ideas.
Nancy Johnson - School Garden Educator.
Nancy grew up with a love of nature gardening and the outdoors! She spent 33 years teaching young children as a early childhood educator. The best part of her job and her passion was always getting children outside who had little opportunity for outdoor education. Gardening was always a daily part of her curriculum. As part of her shift to outdoor education, she completed the California Naturalist certification and started working as a Naturalist leading field trips getting students outside! She also worked as a docent leading field trips at the children's museum and that is where she met the wonderful teachers from Mark West Elementary and heard about the Larkfield Community Garden and Learning Center. She came on board in February 2017 and feels so blessed to find a job where she can work with students in the garden and collaborate with their teachers to provide wonderful rich learning experiences in our outdoor classroom. She also feel honored to work with the other members of our team for the larger goals of Community Soil Foundation.
Kerri Rosen - Health and Wellness Educator
At Community Soil Foundation, Kerri teaches about healthy minds and healthy bodies. She shares her love of cooking and eating whole foods by engaging students in growing, harvesting, and cooking with a variety of vegetables. Her degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Education are the foundation of her 20 years of work with children, including practices to help them self-regulate and build resilience. Through her work as a teacher and parent volunteer, she has seen the value of hands-on curriculum to promote exploration and experimentation, develop critical thinking skills, and foster a life-long love of learning.
Paolo Tantarelli - Co-Founder and Advisor
Completed 1-year garden internship at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) -- Achieved Permaculture Design certificate at the OAEC
Completed 1-year internship with the Solar Living Institute -- Helped manage Golden Nectar Farms, overseeing their orchards, livestock, apiaries, and vegetable gardens
Managed the kitchen garden and landscape at Mayacamas Ranch -- Co-founded Community Soil, an edible/restorative garden design and install business
Obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Cultural Anthropology at CSU Chico
Jeff Shields - Co-Founder and Advisor
For over 4 years, Jeff managed the kitchen garden and 80-acre landscape at Mayacamas Ranch in Calistoga
Co-founded Community Soil, an edible/restorative garden design and install business
Coordinated community gardens with the San Francisco Department of Public Works -- Researched urban forestry with the organization SF Environment
Learned and performed natural building at Emerald Earth
Taught environmental education with The Center for Social and Environmental Stewardship
Former Co-Chair for the Sierra Club Redwood Chapter's Climate and Energy Division
Received Master's in Public Administration from San Francisco State University
Participant in the Leadership Course for Community Gardeners through the Sonoma County Community Garden Network
Tracy Kendall - Advisor
Tracy has been the Principal at Mark West Elementary since 2008. She began her career in education in Southern California 33 years ago as a kindergarten teacher. Tracy loves horses and enjoys listening to Irish music. Being outdoors has always been a favorite pastime, from hiking, camping, to just sitting and contemplating nature. This love of the outdoors is something she wants to share with our children. Working with the Larkfield Community Garden and Learning Center allows her students unique opportunities to learn about nature, nutrition, and to get their hands dirty!
Bethany Facendini - Advisor
Bethany’s mission is to strive for social justice and environmental sustainability through education, community building, and leadership development. She has over 20 years of professional experience in equity and inclusion in program management, experiential education, youth development, grassroots organizing, and community engagement serving diverse populations in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Bethany currently serves as the Sonoma County Regional Parks Community Engagement Division Manager. She created and implemented award-winning youth employment and education programs in Santa Cruz, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties that now serve as regional and state models. She has a BA from U.C. Berkeley, an MA in Environmental and Social Justice from Sonoma State University, and an Urban Environmental Education certificate from Cornell University. Bethany is a fellow of the Sonoma County Leadership Institute for Ecology and Economy, Local Leaders Academy, On the Verge Leadership Program, and Government Alliance on Race & Equity. She has been on the Executive Board of Sonoma County’s Latino Service Providers for the last three years.
Nicole Lim - Advisor
Nicole is Pomo and has worked for the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) and the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) since 1996 and has earned advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and University of San Francisco School of Law. As Executive Director of the CIMCC, she works to develop exhibits, educational programs and curricular resources that represent Native American perspectives. She founded the Tribal Youth Ambassadors program in 2010 - the program received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities in 2016. She regularly conducts cultural competency training for K-12 educators and consults on cultural intelligence training and the elimination of historical bias from CA curricula. She co-edited, On Indian Ground: California, the first in a series of books that focus on best practices for K-12 educators of Native students. She conducts professional development, consulting and training on the decolonization of Native American narratives, research, collections, and partnerships and co facilitates the Native American Museum Studies Institute at Joseph Myers Center for Native American Issues at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2010, Nicole was recognized as the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development's class of Forty Under 40. California Governor Edmund Brown appointed her to the Board of Directors, 4th District Agricultural Association, Sonoma-Marin Fair, where she served from 2013-2017. She also serves as the Secretary for the National Tribal GIS program and is a member of the Native American Advisory Committee to the University of California Office of the President.
Brittany Lobo - Advisor
Brittany is the Healthy Eating Active Living Supervisor in the Public Health Division of the Sonoma County Department of Health Services. She is fluent in Spanish and holds a Master of Public Health in Community Health Sciences and a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. Before joining the County four years ago, Brittany was the Project Coordinator for a Drug Free Communities coalition in Novato and spent several years prior to that living and working in Chile, where she taught university classes in public health and epidemiology, engaged diverse community groups in policy advocacy, and organized community health workshops for older adults. She loves to run, garden, read, and play with her two daughters, Milena and Olivia.
Andrea Garfia - Advisor
Andrea, MPA, is the Community Health Programs Coordinator in the North Bay, for Sutter Health. Andrea comes to the CSF Advisory Council with a passion for bringing awareness to resources for the community, which makes her commitment to serving her local geography strong. As a first generation college graduate, Andrea had doors opened for her because of grant funded education programs and now has the opportunity to give back to her community and to shape some of the same opportunities for others. She is a strong advocate for education and healthcare and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Services Administration.
Jason Riggs - Advisor
Jason has been the Executive Director of Extended Child Care since 2015, and has over 20 years of experience in K-12 and nonprofit administration, child and youth development, service learning and community engagement. Prior to joining ECC, Jason was the Region 1 Lead for after school programs at the Mendocino County Office of Education supporting grantees and programs in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. His prior experience also includes administration of after school programs for the Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts. Jason deeply believes that out-of-school time programs and experiences are a vital part of the education ecosystem, preparing children and youth for college, career, and community success. Jason is passionate about leadership, creativity and innovation, and is an effective collaborator. Jason has served as co-chair to the Child Care Planning Council of Sonoma County and is currently co-chair of the California Afterschool Network. He has a proven track record for developing long lasting partnerships between government, school districts, community partners and families that create high quality cradle to career support systems that address the needs of the whole child and the whole community.
Lee Foster - Advisor
Lee is the visionary behind Taproot Media, an audio visual business working to increase the representation of organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals engaged within the wider scope of biodiversity, land regeneration and community/personal health. Lee is also a part-time gardener & educator for the Ceres Community Project.
Yarrow Sandhal - Advisor
For over two years Yarrow consulted with Sonoma County Conservation Action on their fundraising strategy
Previous to moving back to Sonoma County, Yarrow worked on the east coast fundraising for women’s rights and has over 14 years of experience in the nonprofit sector
Received a Master’s in Public Administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management from San Francisco State University
Former board president of the national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network
Staff & Advisors
Kristin Maharg Suarez - Executive Director
Kristin believes personal connection to nature is an essential ingredient in creating genuine curiosity and deep appreciation for the world. With extensive experience in collaborating with non-profits, government agencies and educational institutions on behalf of environmental leadership, Kristin's ultimate goal is for humans to have a good time on Earth while adopting principles of diversity as the measure of health. Her University of Wisconsin-Madison degrees focused on wildlife & agroecology, Spanish and water resources management. She refined her strengths for many years at Water Education Colorado and now eagerly serves as the Executive Director for Community Soil Foundation, providing support and strategy for staff and volunteers. An advocate of preparing colorful food with children, rainbow salsa with blue corn chips is her favorite garden snack. Kristin's respect for youth development has recently expanded to her own little ones and alongside her partner, her family enjoys playing outside with the pooch, tracking critters, and learning new tricks!