Abigail Harper is a former co-chair of the Capital Area Food Council and a Community Food Systems Educator with MSU Extension. Her areas of focus include farm to institution, urban agriculture initiatives, and racial equity in the food system. Abigail also has an urban garden on Lansing’s east side through the Ingham County Land Bank. Abigail holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food and the Environment from the Friedman School at Tufts University and a B.S. in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 2010-2012, spent several years working in small scale vegetable production in the greater Boston area, and previously held the position of Farm to School Specialist at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems.
peggy vaughn-payne - member
Peggy Vaughn-Payne is the Executive Director of NorthWest Initiative, a nonprofit in Lansing who has been working to improve the overall health of the community and quality of life for our low and moderate income residents living in the northwest quadrant of the City of Lansing and Lansing Township. Peggy’s background includes thirty years working in the field of community and economic development for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Ingham County, the City of Lansing, and NorthWest Initiative, as well as a stint in education and working with other small businesses. She has been a member of Lansing’s Westside Neighborhood for 25 years. Through her work in the Lansing community, she became very alarmed at the high rates of health disparities that existed in northwest Lansing and extremely interested in food access especially as it relates to improving the health outcomes of our “food desert” residents who have very limited access to fresh healthy foods (i.e. no full service grocery store within 2-4 miles from the urban core of downtown Lansing). In her role at NorthWest Initiative, she has been very active in “Food Programs” and oversees the following food-related programs – an intensive in-school garden-based nutrition education program, before/after school programs, and summer garden clubs impacting 1,000 student each month at 4 Lansing Schools including four school gardens and one hoophouse; three community gardens; weekly food distribution program; monthly cooking classes; co-coordination of the Weekend Survival Kits Program which provides supplemental food kits assembled and delivered to 950 students attending ten Lansing Schoolsfifteen times during the academic school year; and the new Mobile Farmers Market that is taking and selling fresh healthy foods directly into our lower income and food desert neighborhoods! She has been a member of the Capital Area Food Council for the past 3 years and serves on the Healthy Food for All Action Team/Committee.
julia kramer - Co chair
Julia Kramer is the Farmers Market and Food Pantry Manager at Allen Neighborhood Center. She lives and works in the Eastside neighborhood of Lansing. Her previous experience includes staff and board positions at the East Lansing Food Co-op and various positions at farmers markets in South Lansing, East Lansing, and Bath Township. Through local, regional, and statewide efforts, she hopes to work towards an equitable food system by combating oppressive structures like racism and economic disparity with creative alternatives rooted in social justice.
Janine sinno - member
Janine started her university education with a bachelor in Agriculture and a master in Agriculture Extension, then a PhD in Human Ecology. She is a long-time advocate of addressing the physical and social environment for more sustainable agriculture and good food access to underserved communities. She founded and sits on the board of the non-profit organization that serves refugees health care, and is currently the Healthy Communities Coordinator at Ingham County Health Department. Janine is one of the organizing founders of the food Systems Workgroup in 2009, currently known as the Capital Area Food Council, and has assisted in the Design Lansing master plan update to highlight the importance of Green Infrastructure planning and food access.
Julie Lehman - member
Julie Lehman, Garden Project Manager, holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Education and Communication from Michigan State University. She has twelve years of experience in the fields of agriculture and education, including as a School Garden and Nutrition Coordinator in the San Rafael School District in CA, a Gardening and Nutrition Education Consultant for the Marin Food Systems Project, and as an AmeriCorps Education and Gardening Specialist. Julie has been with The Garden Project for the past five years and has developed a deep knowledge of the network and its members.
Lynne Martinez - Member
Lynne is a backyard and community garden grower, a Member of the Lansing Planning Board and an active and involved community member. I work with a variety of neighborhood based groups across the City. She is interested in a regional food system as an economic development opportunity and social justice issue. She is particularly interested in addressing the logistics of getting better food, year round into “food desert” areas, many of which are also economically stressed.
Melissa McKimmy - Member
Melissa McKimmy resides in Delta Township where she loves spending time with her family, gardening and playing outside. She earned a B.S. in Anthropology from Central Michigan University, an M.S. in Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies from Michigan State University and is a State of Michigan certified yoga instructor. Her areas of experience include environmental sustainability, urban agriculture, land use and human services. Melissa is the Event Coordinator with VegMichigan, managing small and large events throughout Michigan, focusing on promoting the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Her background has expanded her perspectives in health and wellness.
Nancy McCrohan - Member
Nancy McCrohan is a long-time eastside resident, local food enthusiast, herb devotee, and board member of a local non-profit organization that supports small and urban farmers. She brings to the steering committee additional perspectives and expertise based on her day job at Public Policy Associates, where she conducts policy and program research focused on healthy communities, food systems, workforce, and community development.
Robert Pena - Member
Bob Pena lives on the eastside of Lansing, Michigan. He raises vegetables and berries at his home. He has had a small flock of chickens that he keeps for eggs.The hens laid enough eggs in the winter to share with family and neighbors. He plans on getting chicks in the spring. He also keeps bees for honey and wax to be used in candle making and soap. During the summer of 2014 he also kept Dwarf Dairy Goats which produce one quart of milk a day. Bob is an activist who believes that urban residents have the right to keep a ruminant animal in a household setting. He is a proponent for the keeping of goats and sheep at an urban residenceresidence. With rising food prices and questions about food quality, he advocates that urban residents have opportunity and freedom to be responsible for their own food consumption. Some of the current progressive cities that allow this type of husbandry are Portland, St Louis, Seattle and NYC to name a few..
Tom Cary - co chair
Tom is a recent resident to the Lansing area, living now in Haslett. His past work includes Program Coordinator for MSU Student Organic Farm's Farmer Field School, co-owning Groundswell Farm, a 7 acre organic vegetable farm in Zeeland, MI, and a small business raising meat birds and laying hens. From 2002 to 2010 headed up the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, an initiative focused on local food education, advocacy and programming in Grand Rapids, MI.
Helping build a sustainable, equitable tri-county food system where everyone has access to healthy, green, fair & affordable food