The Cornucopia Institute will engage in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute will provide needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media.
The Cornucopia Institute is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public interest group. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of law.
Cornucopia's Co-Founders - Mark and Will
Mark Kastel is co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a populist farm policy research group based in Wisconsin and acts as its Senior Farm Policy Analyst. He directs its Organic Integrity Project. Read More
Will Fantle is co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute. He is also the organization's Research Director. Mr. Fantle's previous professional experience is varied Read More
Cornucopia's Board of Directors
The Cornucopia Institute has worked hard to maintain a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds on our board of directors. They represent key stakeholder constituencies within the organic and family farming movements including pioneering organic agricultural producers, consumers, scientists, public policy experts, environmentalists/conservation experts, entrepreneurs and retailers. They hail from almost all regions of the country and they share a common dedication to protecting the economic interests of family farmers, the environment and the quality and integrity of the food we all eat.
Steve Sprinkel, Ojai, California - Organic Vegetable Producer/Certification Inspector - (Board President)
Mr. Sprinkel is a Harvard-educated author and organic farmer. He advises producers in the areas of production, handling, processing, and certification. He has farmed organically for over 30 years and also operates an organic-based grocery and restaurant, The Farmer and Cook, with his wife, Olivia Chase. He was the longtime author of the monthly organic farming column, Transitions, for one of the preeminent sustainable farming journals in the country, Acres USA.
Roger Featherstone, Tucson, Arizona (Treasurer)
Mr. Featherstone grew up on a small family dairy farm in southern Wisconsin that has been operated continuously by the Featherstone family since 1847. His rural Wisconsin farm background has been instrumental in his success in working with rural constituencies to protect wildlife and wildlands for future generations.
Since May of 2004, Mr. Featherstone has been the Southwest Campaigner/Circuit Rider for Earthworks, working to protect communities and the environment of the West from the impact of hard rock mining. Prior to this he spent a year in Alaska as the Campaign Director for ARM. In 2001, Mr. Featherstone was the Stop the Rollbacks Campaign Manager for the Mineral Policy Center campaign. In 1995 he founded and directed the Grassroots Environmental Effectiveness Network (GREEN), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As Director of GREEN, Mr. Featherstone built a nationwide network of farmers and ranchers working to protect wildlife and wildlands.
Mr. Featherstone has been National Grassroots Coordinator of the Endangered Species Coalition; is a founder and Board Chair of the Mount Graham Coalition; was founder and producer for the GreenFire Project, an educational and inspirational organization that promoted wilderness values; and organized for both the Rainforest Action Network and Earth First! He also has worked on and off for 27 years with Northern Thunder, a Wisconsin-based community environmental organization.
William Heart, Ashland, Wisconsin Mr. Hart is a hunter and fishermen and a very active member and officer of a number of conservation, environmental, and watershed protection organizations. He is past president of the Wisconsin chapter of Trout Unlimited. It is our thesis that organic agriculture is the best thing that ever happened to wildlife and he wholeheartedly agrees. A commercial printer by trade, he previously owned a printing company in Ashland and also produces maple syrup on his land in northern Wisconsin.
Goldie Caughlan, recently retired after a long and noteworthy career as a nutrition educator with the nation's largest member-owned food cooperative, PCC Natural Markets in Seattle, is a former member of the national organic standards board.
Helen Kees, Durand, Wisconsin Ms. Kees is an organic beef farmer and fresh-market vegetable producer. She grew up on a dairy farm near Durand, Wisconsin. A tussle with a neighbor's pesticide overspray in the early 1990s opened her eyes to the health and environmental concerns associated with the use of agrichemicals. She later became the first certified organic beef farmer in the state of Wisconsin.
The cattle are raised on the family farm. She is a direct marketer and a member of the Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool.
Amanda Love, also known as "The Barefoot Cook" is a Certified Healing Food Specialist, Natural Foods Chef, Nutrition Educator, Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) Conference Chef and recent recipient of the Weston A. Price Food Activist Award. She emphasizes eating fresh, local, seasonal, organic and nutrient rich food. Ms. Love knows food from the seed to the table intimately. All over the United States, farmers, growers, educators, food vendors and chefs know the committed and passionate Barefoot Cook, and appreciate her as someone who also advocates politically for organic growers and consumer rights. She teaches cooking classes and workshops where she empowers others to take healing food into their own hands. She also has a line of organic, herbal iced teas called "Soothin' Infusion". Amanda currently resides in Austin, Texas.
Her website can be viewed at: www.thebarefootcook.com
Dave and his wife Florence live on the farm that Dave’s Grandfather bought 85 years ago. Dave is a third generation dairy farmer who stopped using agricultural pesticides in 1974, after a reaction to an herbicide that he was using.
The farm was converted to a grass based dairy farm in the early 90’s, and a direct marketing meat business was started with grass fed and finished beef, pork, turkeys and chickens. This evolved into an on-farm creamery and retail store where extra value was added to the milk. Currently, Cedar Summit milk is distributed throughout the upper mid-west.
Dave has served as Board Member of: Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Agriculture—Minnesota Grown program, Scott County Farm Advisory Task Force, University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center.
In 2007 Dave and Florence were chosen the Farmers of the Year by Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).
Kevin Engelbert is the owner/operator of Engelbert Farms, the first certified organic dairy farm in the US, certified since 1984. He farms about 1,800 acres with his wife Lisa and three sons, and produces organic milk, veal, beef, pork, pasture, hay, corn, soybeans, and vegetables. Kevin is a fifth generation dairy farmer in New York State, and recently completed a five-year term on the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board.
Kevin was involved with NOFA NY (Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York) from the early 1980s until the late 1990s, and helped with the development of NOFA NY’s organic standards. He has hosted many on-farm tours and seminars dealing with organic crop and livestock practices and management intensive grazing, and has spoken at numerous organic farming conferences and meetings around the northeast over the last thirty years. Kevin graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a minor in Mathematics. He and his family reside in Nichols, NY.
Cornucopia Staff & Volunteers
The Cornucopia Institute has adopted a progressive approach for staffing our organization-we are "virtually officed." There are six staff members, in six separate offices, in four states. Not only does this model leverage our contributions, so they can be applied to our program work, in support of our mission rather than paying for bricks, mortar, and utilities, but this has also allowed us to cast the widest possible net when searching for prospective staff members. We have some extremely qualified colleagues, located on both coasts, who would not have entertained a position with Cornucopia if they would have had to move to Wisconsin (we might be prejudiced but those of us who are based here love living in America's Dairyland!).
Gayle Nielsen is the membership coordinator. She has a BA in Visual Communications, with a digital design emphasis, from American Intercontinental University as well as an Associate of Science in Electro-Mechanical Technology. With a black belt in several martial arts, she teaches those as well other types of mind/body/spirit movement and exploration through her hypnotherapy practice. She is also currently finishing her work on a PhD in Clinical Hypnotherapy.
After a sixteen year career with a large corporation in the Information Technology field, she now focuses on her true passion of educating people in healthy, sustainable lifestyles through her practice and through her work with The Cornucopia Institute.
She and her husband live on a small farm near Westby, Wisconsin.
Charlotte Vallaeys is Director of Farm and Food Policy.
Prior to joining The Cornucopia Institute, Ms. Vallaeys worked on several research projects, including a USDA-funded study of animal welfare needs for the National Organic Program’s standards, and a study of environmental and social consequences of raising animals in Confined Animal Feeding Operations.
Ms. Vallaeys holds a Master of Science in Agriculture, Food and Environment from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition, and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Her academic work at Harvard and Tufts focused on ethical concerns within agricultural policy.
Ms. Vallaeys lives in Concord, Massachusetts with her husband, Will, and sons, Liam and Kai.
Mr. Munsch raises organic beef on his farm in western Wisconsin. He is a volunteer for The Cornucopia Institute and is leading the organization's challenge to the USDA's approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa. Cornucopia is a party along with several other organizations in a lawsuit contesting the USDA action. Mr. Munsch farms with his family near Coon Valley, WI.
Mr. Cox is a volunteer who has been handling Cornucopia's legal representation before USDA and in federal district courts. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Gary Cox has been a public servant, an organic vegetable farmer, a dad, a civil war enthusiast and very "green" all his life. As an environmental lawyer, Mr. Cox prosecuted polluters for 14 years while with the Ohio Attorney General's office, representing Ohio EPA and prosecuting several of the largest Fortune 500 firms in the country, including lawsuits against Sun Oil Company, General Motors, BP Chemical and Phillips Electronics.
His current law practice includes clients such as small, family dairy farmers producing raw milk that are battling the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a non-profit organization taking on Horizon Dairy, and several individuals battling the Ohio Department of Transportation. Mr. Cox resigned from the AG's office to become an organic vegetable farmer and sold produce at restaurants, farmers' markets and operated a small CSA as well. He enjoys being a soccer dad (yes, he owned a minivan at one time), gardening, the outdoors and has studied the Civil War nearly his whole life. Mr. Cox hopes to return to sustainable farming someday, hopefully near Gettysburg, PA, and living in peace and quiet where he can nurture rather than litigate.
Celeste Gibson acts as Cornucopia staff accountant and serves as an active member of its management team on fiscal issues.
As an independent Certified Public Accountant, Ms. Gibson has provided tax and accounting services to individuals, farms, and small businesses in southwestern Wisconsin since 1994. She holds degrees as a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration, both earned summa cum laude at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination in 1984, earning an Elijah Watts Sells Award for grades among the top 1% in the nation.
Ms. Gibson has two daughters, one a senior at Minnesota State University-Winona and the other a sophomore at Viroqua High School. As a licensed foster care provider, she is also raising her foster daughter, a high school freshman. Her extensive community service background includes service as an elected public school board member and as a court-appointed special advocate. Her favorite hobbies are gardening and bicycling. As a lifelong learner whose interest is sparked by all pursuits intellectual, Ms. Gibson is a third-year independent study law student at Taft Law School of Santa Ana, California.
Elizabeth Wolf is our development director. A fourth-generation Nebraskan, she is a sometime city girl whose grandparents were corn and dairy farmers. Elizabeth recently returned to the Heartland after 20 years in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she built a successful consultancy in communications and development. Her clients included NGOs, universities, and publishers.
Prior to joining Cornucopia, Elizabeth coordinated a USDA Community Food Project and aided nonprofits in organizational and revenue development. She graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in English, and holds a master’s in adult education. She studied medicinal plants at the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics.
An avid organic gardener, Elizabeth lives in the prairie capital of Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband, farm author Steven McFadden. She serves on the executive committee of Slow Food Nebraska and is active with Open Harvest Co-op, Community CROPS, and other local friends of the good food movement. Elizabeth and her husband are on the prowl for a small farm where they can sink deeper roots and cultivate vegetables, herbs, and native flowers.
Carole Ly is an intern, providing assistance in policy work and administration. She is passionate about nutrition and food issues, particularly in the areas of sustainable agriculture and nutrition education for children. She received her graduate degrees in Education and Nutritional Biology and has designed and taught nutrition and food science classes to elementary school students. She is inspired to play a role in helping to restructure the current food system, to advocate for transparency in food production, and increase access to fresh food in underserved communities. She hopes to connect with the larger community through writing and teaching about the impact of food choices on health and the environment.
Carole considers herself a lifelong learner who seeks continually to challenge her existing perception of the world. She hopes to combine her experience in nutrition with her longstanding practice of yoga to promote greater understanding of the synergistic effect of food, mind, and movement on overall well-being. She also enjoys volunteering, early mornings out in nature, and exploring local farmers’ markets and food culture.
Elizabeth Keller is an intern. She also attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where she is working toward a BS in Environmental Policy and Values. She joined a volunteer program called Earth Care DTS where she spent a year teaching people appropriate technologies and sustainable gardening practices in developing countries like Cambodia. This program helped define how she hopes to leave her mark on the world. She seeks to engage people to reconnect with the land and participate in healthy lifestyles.
After graduation in December of 2012, she plans to travel in Brazil and upon returning will begin searching for a job that will fulfill her desire to contribute to bettering the world. She is considering graduate school options focused on Environmental or Public policy. She hopes to stay close to her hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, because she loves it. John Muir summarizes her outlook on life with this favorite quote, "With every walk in nature, one receives far more than they seek."
Reese Mowbray is an undergraduate student providing support to our administrative, fundraising and food policy staff members. He studies Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He has worked on a CSA farm, where he was exposed to the economics a small-scale vegetable operation, and has completed other administrative internships. He is eager to learn more about how his study of economics fits with non-profit work and sustainable food and farming.
Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer. Her work is regularly featured on OrganicAuthority.com where she writes a daily news column focused on food policy and health issues. She was published in the 2009 anthologies "Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age" and "What Do You Believe?".
Her work has also appeared in Reality Sandwich, The Village Voice, MTV, and Global Rhythm. Jill's focus on food, herbs, wellness and world culture blends the mystical and modern as she explores what our shifting agricultural landscapes and healing systems will look--and taste--like in the future.
After spending more than a decade as a sales & marketing manager in the natural foods industry, Jill regularly consults with and supports emerging brands and organizations in creative communication, social media outreach and event production.
Please stay in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Dr. Pamela Coleman
Dr. Pamela Coleman is a Cornucopia’s Farm Policy Analyst.
Pam holds an M.S. degree in Vegetable Crops from Cornell University, and a Ph. D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California at Davis. Her background is diverse, both professionally and geographically.
While working with conventional onion growers in New York, Pam saw the harmful effects of pesticides on both the people and the soil, and made a commitment to work for sustainable agriculture. She studied biological control of grapevine diseases in California; then she moved to Pennsylvania to work for a grower of specialty mushrooms, primarily shiitake. She was a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, and spearheaded the organic certification of Phillips Mushroom Farms. Pam next moved to Washington State, where she was an inspector for the WSDA Organic Food Program. In that role, she met hundreds of successful organic farmers, toured thousands of acres of Eastern Washington farmland, and saw the many benefits of organic agriculture. She has also worked for Oregon Tilth Certified Organic and Stellar Certification Services.
Most recently she was the Organic Specialist at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), where she was part of the ATTRA project. She answered questions from farmers about organic certification, and worked with the USDA National Organic Program to write guidebooks on organic regulations for farmers and processors. While a member, Pam relied on Cornucopia’s news to stay up-to-date on the organic industry, and she is excited to be joining Cornucopia’s important work.
Pam lives in East Wenatchee, Washington, with her husband Alan Cooke. In her spare time, Pam enjoys hiking, yoga, and vegetable gardening.
Candace D'Amore is an intern providing administrative and policy support. She has a diverse background working and volunteering with non-profit organizations and environmental groups. She is a passionate advocate for sustainable food & agriculture. Her academic studies include Social Policy, Philosophy, Environmental Studies, Sustainable Agriculture and Holistic Health. She is a writer, a professionally trained chef & artisan baker.
Cornucopia Policy Advisory Staff
We are very proud to have some of the most respected thinkers in the organic community and family farm movement among our advisors. In addition to our formal Policy Advisory Panel, dozens of others have generously contributed their time and professional and technical expertise in support of Cornucopia's mission.
Tom Willey, Madera, CA
Organic Vegetable Grower
Tom, with his wife, owns a seventy-five acre farm that is part of the Central San Joaquin Valley in Madera, CA. He has been a farmer since 1980, and T & D Willey Farms has been certified organic since 1987.
Merrill Clark, Cassopolis, Michigan
Organic Livestock Producer
National Organic Standards Board - former member
Ms. Clark owns Roseland Organic Farms, an 1800-acre certified organic beef and grain farm in southwestern Michigan. She managed the farm for many years with her husband, John. The farm is one of the largest and oldest family-owned, self-marketed, certified beef operation in the Great Lakes region.
She was appointed to the National Organic Standards Board in 1992 and served a four-year term, most of it as chair of the Livestock Committee and a member of the Executive Committee. In addition to work on NOSB, Ms. Clark has been a board member of Beyond Pesticides, a Washington D.C.-based national organization working to reduce pesticide use and advocate alternative practices throughout the United States.
Now serving a second term on the Michigan Organic Advisory Committee, within the Michigan Department of Agriculture, she was a founding member of the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA), which is a support/advocacy group for local and organic foods, seeking to link organic farmers with consumers, hosting festivals and forums throughout the year.
She is also a 30-year member of the League of Women Voters and writes an environmental column for the local newspaper.
Francis Thicke, Fairfield, Iowa
Organic Dairy Producer
Francis Thicke and his wife, Susan, own and operate an 80-cow, grass-based, organic dairy near Fairfield, Iowa. They process their milk on the farm and sell bottled milk, cheese and yogurt through local grocery stores and restaurants. Francis grew up on a dairy farm and began farming organically in 1975. He has a Ph.D. in soil fertility and has served as National Program Leader for Soil Science for the USDA-Extension Service in Washington, D.C.
Francis has served in many leadership positions, including on the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Iowa Food Policy Council, the USDA State Technical Committee and the Organic Farming Research Foundation Board. He has received many awards, including the Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from the Practical Farmers of Iowa, Steward of the Land Award from the Iowa Sierra Club, and Friend of Extension Award from the ISU Extension Service.
Francis has been a Fellow of the Kellogg Food and Society Fellows program (2002 – 2004) and a 2010 candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. His recent book is titled A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture.
Tony Azevedo, San Joaquin Valley, California
Organic Dairy Producer
Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance - President
Tony T. Azevedo is a second generation dairy farmer. He has been farming for 35 years, the last 12 as an Organic producer. Before making the transition to organics, he was a conventional dairy farmer although not satisfied with the practices.
Mr. Azevedo's father was an immigrant from the Azores Island of Portugal. He came to the Central San Joaquin valley in 1948 at the age of 35. Seemingly late to start a new life but determined to create a better life for his daughters and eventually his son. Being a skilled cooper, or barrel maker, he soon discovered there wasn't much work in that trade. He then went to work as a farm hand, gaining the experience necessary to start his own dairy. In 1951, the senior Azevedo went out on his own with about 20 cows.
The San Joaquin Valley was a difficult environment but the Azevedo family, but they successfully dedicated themselves to creating a fertile, sustainable farm.
Tony Azevedo became the first organic dairy producer in central California. He has been instrumental in helping many other families convert to organic practices. He is the current president of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance.
Michael James was born in New York City in 1942. He was raised in Connecticut on an old onion farm, and while growing up he helped old man Burtche around the farm down the road, feeding livestock and helping with harvesting. He was a member of the 4H club and raised rabbits, muscovy ducks, King pigeons, African Tumbler pigeons, and Bantam chickens.
James was active in sports, playing football at Lake Forest College where he took an interest in politics and social justice issues. In the summer of 1962 he drove a Triumph motorcycle to Mexico City, where he studied at Mexico City College and took photos. An exhibit of these photos, Mexico 1962 has been shown in a number of galleries, and will appear in book form in 2012. James graduated in 1964 and received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, going to the University of California, Berkeley where he studied sociology. There James was involved in the Free Speech Movement, and joined Students for a Democratic Society, of which he became a national officer.
James left school in 1966, heading to Chicago's Uptown to organize poor Southern whites in an attempt to build an interracial movement of the poor with an organization known as JOIN Community Union (Jobs or Income Now).
After the Democractic Convention in 1968, James founded Rising Up Angry, a newspaper and organization of poor and working white people, that allied with the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords Organization, the Young Patriots, and the American Indian Movement, collectively known as the Rainbow Coalition.
In 1976 James founded the now legendary Heartland Cafe, a wholesome foods eatery and community center. The Heartland Cafe (www.heartlandcafe.com) is about serving up Wholesome Food for Mind and Body. In addition to the Heartland Cafe, the enterprise now includes the Buffalo Bar, Heartland General Store, the Redline Tap, the No Exit Cafe, and Heartland Cafe on the Lake—altogether adding to the ambience the unique urban enclave of the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Through his work at the cafe, he recently won an Illinois Stewardship Alliance "Golden Beet" award for bringing local food to Illinois communities.
James is a host of Live from the Heartland Radio (Saturday's at 9 am on WLUW 88.7 (www.wluw.org), is the publisher of The Heartland Journal (www.heartlandjournal.org), a member of the board of Athletes United for Peace (athletesunitedforpeace.org), President of Chicago's 49th Ward Democratic Party Organization, and an actor, appearing in a number of films, including The Package, The Fugitive, Stony Island, Above the Law, Code of Silence, Under Siege, Chain Reaction, and The Guardian.
He is married to Paige James, a "hellova cook,” and is the father of seven wonderful kids!
Judith McGeary is an attorney, farmer, and activist. She has a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Following a clerkship with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, she practiced as an attorney in administrative law, litigation, and appeals. After seeing how government regulations benefit industrial agriculture at the expense of family farms, she left her legal practice to form the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance in 2006. Since then, Judith has spearheaded national coalitions fighting to stop the National Animal Identification System and to protect local foods, and was recently appointed to the USDA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health.