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Meet the Experts

Be sure to take advantage of highly knowledgeable industry professionals in EcoFarm’s Meet the Experts sessions. Our experts offer free, in-depth consultations focused on your specific business needs during 30 minute, one-on-one sessions. This year we have 13 mentors and consultants offering advice on topics ranging from Vegetable Production, Whole Farm Systems, Seeds, Food Safety, Poultry, Regenerative Grazing and Livestock, to Land Access, Loans, Farm Business, Financial Advice, Mediation and Legal Consulting.

Click on the names listed below to reserve your session with that expert! One sign-up per person only, please.

Jack Algiere: Whole Farm Systems
Friday, 10-1pm

Jack Algiere is farm director at Stone Barns Center. Jack graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in horticulture and has been actively farming since the early 1990s. His lifetime of experience in organic, biodynamic and ecological systems brings a broad diversity of experience in greenhouses, orchards, fields and pastures.

Integrating multispecies pastured livestock, grains, field crops, greenhouse, fruit, flowers and compost in a four-season agroecological system; overseeing the greater public and wild landscape as elements of the whole farm system; and leading innovation and beginning farmer training programs are areas where Jack can offer advice and expertise.


Ann Baier: Poultry
Friday, 1-4pm

Ann Baier is a former poultry producer, and an Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). She has also been an organic inspector since 2000, so is well-acquainted with USDA regulations, as well as organic and animal welfare certification programs.

Ann can address all aspects of poultry production, including pasture based systems, egg handling/meat processing and marketing topics.
Se puede consultar en español.


Olivia Boyce-Abel: Mediating and resolving land issues
Thursday, noon-2pm

Olivia Boyce-Abel is a nationally known mediator/facilitator/consultant with over 20 years of experience working with families & business partners on succession and estate planning issues around jointly held family lands & businesses. She has successfully facilitated/mediated over 160 families, bringing them to collaborative agreements thus circumventing conflict, misunderstandings, painful divisions and even litigation.

Come to Olivia with your questions about how to avoid or resolve conflicts with regards to your succession/estate plan and how to communicate clearly and effectively with your family and your land/ business partners in order to resolve differences.


California FarmLink: Land Access and Loans
Thursday, 10am-3pm and Friday, 10am-noon.

California FarmLink provides access to land and capital to build a diverse and sustainable farming community. At EcoFarm 2018, FarmLink's Land Access and Loan Teams will offer office hours in 30-minute sessions. Farmers seeking support in finding land, lease negotiations, or exploring financing options through FarmLink's agricultural or conservation-incentive loans are encouraged to sign up.

FarmLink staff Catherine Van Dyke, Liya Schwartzman, Kerry McGrath, Mika Maekawa and Brett Melone will be available for consultation.
Se puede consultar en español.


Cathy Carlson: Food Safety
Thursday and Friday, Noon-3pm

Cathy Carlson of Carlson Food Safety Consulting has been working with farms of all sizes for several years as the resident expert in documenting on-farm food safety programs. Being a farmer herself, Cathy has a deep rooted passion for farmers to understand the intricacies of a valuable food safety plan.


Amy Davis: Farm Loans
Thursday, 10:30am - noon and Friday, 12:30 - 2pm. 

Amy Davis is a Senior Farm Loan Officer with Farm Service Agency (FSA) and has been providing loans and assistance to farmers and ranchers for over 15 years. Direct and guaranteed loans to family size farm businesses include operating loans to assist in helping to pay normal operating expenses; open doors to new markets and marketing opportunities; assist with diversifying operations; and so much more. Through FSA Microloan programs, beginning farmers and ranchers have an important source of financial assistance during the start-up years. The Farm Ownership loan helps purchase a family-size farm, provide capital improvements and help with a down payment. FSA works with local lenders to help purchase a farm or ranch with assistance of the down payment or joint financing program.


Jim Leap: Vegetable Production
Thursday, 10:30-noon and 12:30-2pm

Jim Leap has over 40 years of “hands on” experience in diverse vegetable production systems including 21 years as manager of the CASFS farm on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Throughout his career Jim has been directly engaged in both on-farm production and field research, and has been actively involved in teaching, advising and mentoring beginning and experienced farmers in California.

Topics of expertise include farm implement “systems” design for improved crop production efficiencies including weed management and improved soil management on small and medium farms, irrigation, cover cropping, reduced tillage farming, dry farming, nutrient management, reading and interpreting soil tests and small-scale grain and bean production.


David Mancera: Farm Business Consulting
Thursday, noon-2pm

David Mancera grew up in a farmworker family in the Salinas Valley and has a wide breadth of small business and sustainable ag experience, as an entrepreneur, business broker, working in finance at Driscoll's, and teaching sustainable ag at Hartnell College. He now works with Kitchen Table Advisors, providing in-depth 1:1 business advising to sustainable small farms and ranches.

Topics of expertise include marketing, accounting, finance, and lending. David can help farmers put together cash flows and profitability statements, to name a few business tools. Bring your crop plan to this session!
Se puede consultar en español.


Doniga Markegard: Regenerative Grazing
Thursday, 12:30-2pm and 3:15-4:45pm

Regenerative rancher Doniga brings a perspective rooted in nature. Along with her husband and four children, Doniga owns and operates Markegard Family Grass-Fed LLC, raising grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork, chicken and dairy. The family ranch leases coastal ranches throughout the Bay Area spanning over 10,000 acres. Doniga’s topics of expertise include Holistic Management, Grazing planning, business planning and marketing. Bring your grazing plan, farm maps, vision and creativity  to this session!



Jane M. McKenzie: Financial Advice
Thursday, 11am-2pm

Every individual, family or business owner deserves the choice to unbiased financial advice,
offered in a supportive nonjudgmental setting. Come talk with a local Financial Advisor to discuss what you have in place today and where you want to be in three, five, ten years. If you have not started any planning, let’s start from today! Bring your current statements for a deeper review (optional).

Jane will be sharing her expertise on personal finance, including tax, mortgage, investment, retirement, annuity, life insurance and long term care statements to name the basics.


Steve Peters: Seeds
Thursday, 2-3pm and Friday, 3:30-4:30pm

Steve Peters is a seed farmer, researcher, educator and advocate for high quality, organic, open-pollinated, public domain seeds. He is working closely with Organic Seed Alliance and is the founder of Seed rEvolution Now, a bioregional seed company counteracting the monopolization of seed by collaborating with experienced seed stewards, organic produce growers and gardeners. Steve can discuss any topic regarding seed including seed growing, harvesting, cleaning, storing, marketing, economics, genetics and plant breeding.


Spencer Smith: Livestock
Friday, 10am-noon and 1-3pm

Savory Institute Hub Manager and Regenerative Grazing consultant Spencer Smith has worked with farmers and ranchers from all over to help them build soil, increase nutrient density in their products and increase profit off of their land based businesses. Spencer is an expert on land and pasture management, integrating livestock into cropping systems to enhance soil quality, and finishing grass-fed beef for maximum flavor. He will help you formulate clear goals for your land management plan.


Maija West: Legal Consulting
Thursday, noon-2pm

Maija West is a licensed attorney who loves watching her clients grow as innovators and leaders.  Her background as a litigator, land use consultant and community bank officer provides her with a strong legal foundation as she assists her clients from the startup phase to succession and exit planning.  Maija is available to provide legal information to new, curious or established farmers on legal questions related to general business practices, hybrid corporate models (non-profit/for-profit hybrids) and B-Corp certification.




Thank you to our EcoFarm 2019 sponsors!