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AFT New England Builds Capacity Through New Team Members.

When I joined AFT in mid-2018 I had a simple plan – maintain AFT as a pre-eminent policy expert relative to all issues that impact farmland conservation in New England, and to build new programming that would allow AFT to work directly with farmers on the ground, believing that would keep us grounded in agriculture, while also creating inspiring and deeply impactful work. We started small, with several discrete projects that integrated our core expertise, allowing us to grow over time and bring on experts with diverse backgrounds. Through the efforts of an amazingly hard working and talented team, we’ve grown this work, from small and localized, to landscape scale. We’ve also brought on new staff, adding a full-time Communications and Outreach Coordinator who will help amplify and share our work, and a Soil Health Specialist, who will expand our soil health programs and capacity. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce these new team members and highlight the skills they bring to our New England team. — Nathan L’Etoile, New England Regional Director. 

 

Brussel sprouts are also my favorite food!

Hi everyone! My name is Emeran Irby, and I’m joining AFT as the New England Communications and Outreach Coordinator.

My background has focused on storytelling, primarily through oral history or first person narrative. Prior to joining AFT, I was working as a Qualitative Data Specialist/Oral History Coordinator at the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation at Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability. In this role, I built the Western Pennsylvania Foodways Collection, an archive of stories about food and agriculture in Western Pennsylvania. My passion is telling stories to build community, equity, and deepen our understanding of how food and agriculture connects us all. I have a Masters in Food Studies from Chatham University, where I focused on rural food systems and narrative storytelling. My research took place in Appalachian Kentucky (where I grew up) and sought to understand the ways that labor and gender were constructed through practices of food preservation. I got to explore a lot of root cellars and interview some truly amazing Appalachian women.  

Growing up in Kentucky, I learned from an early age the importance of the land that we exist upon. My mother is an avid gardener and started taking me to mountaintop removal protests when I was barely 10 years old. Since then I’ve tended to many of my own gardens and worked to uplift the stories of those who have been on the land far before me. Joining AFT feels like connecting all of the dots. I am excited to a part of an organization that actively supports farmers throughout the country, and a part of a team in New England that puts this into practice.  

 

Me, leaning over a soil hole, breathing in all those happy soil compounds

Hello everyone! My name is Caro Roszell and I’m joining the American Farmland Trust as a Soil Health Specialist. 

I fell into deep fascination with soils during a formative internship on an organic farm in the Pacific Northwest during one of my college summers, and I’ve been making career decisions calculated to bring me closer to the soil ever sinceI started out working with urban farmers and gardeners in New York City and Boston, but chased the soils bug to Western Mass to work on a 50-acre organic vegetable and livestock farm. I spent the past decade farming while also working for the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association 

I became interested in no-till from the seat of a tractor. I spent a lot of happy hours moldboard plowing and discing and cultivating, but couldn’t help but notice how light and dry the field soil seemed compared to the fencerows and undisturbed field edges, where the weeds and cover crop plants grew taller and healthier. Around the same time, NOFA/Mass was beginning to understand the idea of the liquid carbon pathway and soil health as a climate change mitigation strategy. So, I began paring back my farming hours and devoting more time to building a robust farmer-to-farmer education program and soil health technical service program. In recent years, as NOFA/Mass’s Education Director, I had the privilege of working with a great team to serve hundreds of farmers each year through on-farm technical visits, farmer-to-farmer soil health projects, Field Days, conference tracks, webinars, podcasts, and roundtables focused on soil health. 

I joined the New England team at American Farmland Trust because, as much as I loved organizing organic farmer education, I had a growing wish to spend more of my time involved in soils researchknowledge production, and with a broader range of approaches to soil health than those utilized in organic production. What I really admire about AFT is the way that the organization brings together the voices of producers and scientist to inform policy, program, and organizational priorities. AFT New England is setting a bold and ambitious agenda to scale up soil conservation and climate resiliency in the region and I’m thrilled to be a part of this vital work.  

About the Author
Nathan W. L'Etoile

New England Regional Director

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