Meet Team Apple Seeds!
Team Apple Seeds is comprised of a dedicated staff that manages the Teaching Farm and runs the educational programs on the Teaching Farm and in schools across Northwest Arkansas.
Mary Thompson, Co-Executive DirectorA traveler. An architect. A mover and shaker. Yep, Mary’s interests and studies have taken her across the country and abroad, but she couldn’t resist the temptation to return to her roots here in Arkansas. Once she landed in Fayetteville it didn’t take her long to fall in love with Apple Seeds. She has a vision for this grassroots organization and sees so much potential in the Teaching Farm and its programs being used to improve the health and well-being of our community’s young students. Mary loves making healthy food that tastes good. She loves her kids (pictured here is one of them) and wants the best for them—a love of outdoors, a love of life, a love of good food, and good farm air.
Kyra Ramsey, Co-Executive DirectorKyra’s introduction to Apple Seeds came soon after moving with her family to Fayetteville after spending more than a decade in Chicago. Quickly captivated with Apple Seeds’ mission, she joined the team and helped to give it a bigger voice in the community. Her claim to fame? Dressing up as the Carrot Fairy during Fayetteville’s Lighting of the Square Parade. Yes, that was her! But kidding aside, she loves Apple Seeds and never tires seeing students out in the garden…digging, learning, and connecting!In her spare time you can find Kyra chasing after her two kids, being chased by her dog, running the trails, and trying to beat her Scrabble computer opponent.
Cale Nicholson, Farm ManagerCale grew up on a farm where raising vegetables, feeding calves, and exploring creeks with your dog Pee Wee was just what you did. He has completed organic gardening internships around the country, culminating in a year managing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR. Cale also created the Teaching Garden at the Oxford Boys and Girls Club in conjunction with his graduate work through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford, MS. After working on the Glynwood Institute farm in upstate New York, he returned to his home state with the goal of helping children have healthier lifestyles through gardening with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute’s Childhood Obesity Program’s Delta Garden Study and Arkansas GardenCorps programs. Cale holds a BA in English from the University of Central Arkansas and a MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. That’s right, folks. Liberal Arts educated and farm trained!
Jillian Browder, Program ManagerJillian spent her first year with Apple Seeds as our AmeriCorps VISTA Farm Lab Coordinator and now we're lucky enough to have her as our Program Manager. Before arriving at Apple Seeds, Jillian was pursuing her Masters from the University of Edinburgh. After spending time in academia, she was ready to get her hands dirty helping out her community and tackling all those lessons you can’t quite learn from a book. When she’s not at work on the farm you can bet she’s getting lost on some back-road or finding a nice big secluded rock to put her butt on.
Brett Williams, Farm to Table Program ManagerHailing from the East Coast, Brett started out studying political science and business, then took a wonderful detour as a Special Initiatives Coordinator for AmeriCorps VISTA at Boston Cares. She then made the trek to Arkansas to serve as our AmeriCorps VISTA Farm Lab Coordinator and started the farm field trip for 2nd and 4th graders from the ground up! Following that she jumped into the garden as a GardenCorps Service Member. Now Brett heads up our Farm to Table program. She brings to bear her experience and passion for nutrition, her love of all things healthy, and her natural way with kids as she engages them in our one-of-a-kind farm to table cooking class. When she isn’t on the farm, she’s experimenting with smoothie recipes, studying up on nutrition, puzzling word puzzles all while playing with her best buddy Tucker.
Willa Thomason, Farm Assistant, Arkansas GardenCorpsWilla arrived at Apple Seeds with gardening experience and a desire to share her love of gardening with students. As our Farm Assistant, you can find Willa digging in the soil, planting our program's crops, and harvesting. And when she doesn't have her hands in the soil, she's leading students in Farm Lab.
Alex McLeod, Farm Lab Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTAA recent graduate from the University of Arkansas with a major in Agricultural Education, Communication & Technology, Alex is right at home on the Teaching Farm. Alex began volunteering at Apple Seeds during her last semester and when it came time to graduate, she jumped into Apple Seeds as our Farm Lab Coordinator.
Kirby Bunn, Farm to Table Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTAKirby Bunn, our Farm to Table Coordinator, hails from Little Rock, AR but has lived in Fayetteville for about seven years now. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2016 and started volunteering at Apple Seeds shortly thereafter. A natural on the Teaching Farm, she joined Apple Seeds in 2017.
Claire Campbell, Cooking Class & Markets Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTAClaire hails from MS but has been in Arkansas for the last 3 years. She found Apple Seeds immediately after moving, when she sought to find an organization whose mission was similar to one she'd been working with in Mississippi- the MS Sustainable Agriculture Network. She volunteered with Apple Seeds and was delighted when the role opened up for Cooking Class & Markets Coordinator. Food is a constant mental preoccupation for her and helping empower others to take the role of Mad Scientist in their own kitchens to take on their own food creation is a joy that she never tires of.
**Our thanks go to Travis Kersh at TravisKersh.info for taking these beautiful photos on the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm at Gulley Park.**