Mateo Aguilar: I am the cofounder of Local Food Lab. I’m also the website designer and photographer. A native of Southern California, I’m a visual artist and designer (Columbia University 2013) with a focus on aquaponics and closed-loop biomimetic systems. I have lived and worked in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Costa Rica and South Korea. I gained extensive background in food service, food buying and food distribution working with Trader Joe’s and for restaurants across the U.S. and I have launched three food startups. I’m a veteran of the U.S. military where I specialized in transportation, logistics and extremely long road marches. I am now passionate about supporting local foodsheds and their potential to deliver healthy food to underserved areas. Occasionally I surf, skate and rotate. Click here to read more
Jim Bergantz works as a Sales Engineer for Agra Tech, Inc. a manufacturer of quality greenhouses and accessories as well as a distributor of the best available equipment for commercial horticultural and agricultural growers, retail nurseries, research and education facilities.
Jim literally grew up in a greenhouse and purchased his parents’ retail nursery and wholesale/retail growing operation right after graduating from college. There Jim found his passion in growing bedding plants, native trees, shrubs and poinsettias and learned there is no substitute for getting one’s hands dirty and working hard. Life events prompted the closing of his nursery. To satisfy his love of horticulture and benefit his community, Jim became involved in getting a local high school greenhouse in Angels Camp, CA up and running. Click here to read more
Erika Block is the Founder and CEO of Local Orbit, the supply chain platform for people who are creating a new, connected food economy. Local Orbit enables institutions and restaurants to efficiently purchase from local farmers, food makers & aggregators, while maintaining complete supply chain transparency. Online marketplaces powered by Local Orbit are active in 16 states and Canada.
Local Orbit recently launched LocalEyes™, a vendor management service for institutions that helps university, hospital and corporate foodservice operators streamline and simplify local purchasing from multiple vendors, while providing supply chain insight, producer transparency and product traceability. Click here to read more
Dwight Detter: A former Vietnam War era Veteran, Dwight spent 20 years in the Food Service Industry in San Francisco and Los Angeles before joining the grocery industry. Dwight has been with Whole Foods Market for 14 years. As a local forager for the past 3 years he been helping local start-ups get on to retail shelves. Dwight also teaches a series of 4 classes throughout LA, Orange County and San Diego in conjunction with the Fine Foods Group on developing local artisan businesses. He works with community groups such as the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the San Diego Food System Alliance and county Farm to School groups. He is currently involved with developing a value added program . . . Click here to read more
Robert Egger is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers fresh fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care and older men and women returning from incarceration. L.A. Kitchen is currently holding a pilot program at St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, and will move into its own kitchen facility in 2015.
Robert pioneered this model during his 24 year tenure as the President of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen”, where food donated by hospitality businesses and farms is used to fuel a nationally recognized culinary arts job training program. Since opening in 1989, the Kitchen (which is a $10 million a year, self-sustaining, social enterprise) has produced over 26 million meals and helped 1,000 men and women gain full time employment. The Kitchen operates its own revenue generating business, Fresh Start Catering, as well as the Campus Kitchens Project, which coordinates similar recycling/meal programs in 33 colleges or high school based kitchens. Click here to read more
Viviana Franco is the Executive Director, who founded From Lot to Spot as a direct response to the relationship between lack of green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods in 2007. Viviana was born and raised in a Hawthorne, Ca. neighborhood that was drastically transformed by the creation of the 105 Freeway. In the early 1980’s , the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, constructed Los Angeles’s last freeway: the 105 or Century Freeway. However when the freeway was completed, there were countless excess right-of-way lands that remained fallow and unmaintained; left to demoralize low-income, working class communities. They were left to assume responsibility for the blight that was created. Ms. Franco grew up playing in one of these vacant lots, on 118th & Doty Ave. Playing in this vacant lot would shape her adult life and professional career. Click here to read more
Hop “Poppa Hop” Hopkins, co-founder of PANTHER RIDGE FARM, is a certified Arborist, a Master Gardener, has his Basic Permaculture Design Certificate and is a certified Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) instructor. Hop was born in Dallas, Texas and has been a Grassroots Environmental Justice Community Organizer in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA. He received his BA from New College of California as a graduate in the Culture Ecology & Sustainable Communities program. There Hop focused on natural building, ecological design and analyzing race and class within the Intentional Communities movement. He and his wife, Adalila Zelada-Garcia, homeschool their two daughters and steward a quarter of an acre of land inhabited with chickens, honey bees, and multiple compost piles. Click here to read more
Bob Knight is a fourth generation farmer in the Inland Empire, Bob Knight grows oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, kiwifruit, vegetables, two kids, and two dogs on his 67-acre farm in Redlands. His mission is to make SoCal small farms sustainable by connecting local growers to family, school, and college eaters through CSAs and Farm2School. He is the founder of the Inland Orange Conservancy, and a farmer marketing alliance called Old Grove Orange. Click here to read more
Rishi Kumar is an ecological designer, urban farmer, and educator. Since 2011, he has operated The Growing Home, an urban farm and model of suburban sustainable living based near Los Angeles. Rishi’s work has been featured by the Los Angeles Times, GOOD Magazine, KPCC, KPFK, KCRW, and the urban farming documentary “Urban Fruit”.
Rishi has a background in Computer Science, with degree from UC San Diego. He has apprenticed at Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya Farm in Dehradun, India. Rishi is a Master Gardener and Permaculture Design Certificate holder. Click here to read more
David Rosenstein, a third- generation Angelino, began construction of the EVO Farm prototype just days before his first child was born as an act of optimism. Prior to launching into urban farming, David produced a number of socially conscious documentary films mostly for PBS. After years of research and travel he began to understand the critical nature of rethinking what we eat, how we produce it and how we access that food.
The pursuit of the urban farming life is a natural progression for him- from producing ‘food for thought’ to producing thoughtful food. David is Chair of the Aquaponics Association- Western Region. He also Chairs the committee on Urban Agriculture for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Click here to read more
Pierre Sleiman is the founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, an innovative company that grows produce inside high-tech greenhouses using hydroponics. Go Green’s mission is to setup greenhouses across the country to provide local jobs and fresh, delicious, and nutritious produce to the community.
Pierre has become involved in the mission of accelerating the movement towards local and sustainable farming and fostering interest in youth to choose agriculture as an exciting career. Pierre is the founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, a local farming business that grows local, high-quality leafy greens. He has been named as one of the “50 People to Watch in 2013″ by San Diego Magazine and has been featured in over two-dozen other publications and live news broadcasts. He holds a Masters degree in Business from UC San Diego and a double Computer Science/Business bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside. Click here to read more
Rodney K. Taylor is the Director of Nutrition Services, for the Riverside Unified School District, in Riverside, California.
A noted pioneer, and expert in farm-to-school salad bars, he is particularly known for establishing the “Farmers’ Market Salad Bar” (FMSB) program in 1997, while working as Director of Food and Nutrition Services in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, in Santa Monica, California.
Rodney is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2013 he received the Center for Ecoliteracy’s “ Leadership Award”, The California Endowment’s “Health Heroes” Award, Loma Linda University Award for “The Promotion Of Healthy Lifestyles—For Outstanding Commitment To The Public’s Health,” The Riverside Human Relations Commission “Heroes Award” and the N.A.A.C.P. “Education Award,” just to name a few. Click here to read more
He integrates policies, resources and initiatives through federal, state, local government and public-private partnerships. He is the USDA lead for the Strong Cities – Strong Communities, (SC2) White House pilot initiative in Fresno. He is driving strategies for urban-rural broadband infrastructure and development of regional agriculture technology economic clusters in areas such as Fresno and Sacramento. His broad strategic reach also includes goods movement, international trade, health-food-agriculture systems, veterans and farming, water, and energy. He is the State Broadband Coordinator for USDA CA Rural Development. Click here to read more
Krysia Zajonc: I am the CEO and cofounder of Local Food Lab. I am also a food entrepreneur and I have worked internationally with farmers, producers and buyers of organic food. In 2015 I was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Social Entrepreneurship. Previously I worked for Facebook and for Stanford University. I attended Stanford University and Columbia Business School. My experience as a food entrepreneur in Central America gave me a window into how disconnected people are from their food—what they eat, where it comes from and why it matters. I am passionate about reconnecting people to their food and food systems. I have been a speaker at Stanford University’s Food Summit, San Jose State University, the Food Hackathon . . . Click here to read more