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Denisa Livingston, Malaika Bishop, John Reganold, Kris Nichols, Nikki Silvestri - Confirmed keynote speakers at EcoFarm 2019

Wednesday, Jan 23 Keynotes

Denisa Livingston

Denisa Livingston (Diné, New Mexico, USA) is an unapologetic food justice organizer, social entrepreneur, an Empowered-to-Serve National Ambassador for the American Heart Association, and voted as the first woman to be the Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North. Her mission is to improve and empower the lives of others.

She is committed to addressing the diabetes epidemic, the dominant culture of unhealthy foods, and the lack of healthy food access on the Navajo Nation. Denisa has been a legislative speaker and community health advocate for the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance (DCAA). DCAA have been globally recognized for the successful passage of several laws, the first of its kind in a food desert: Elimination of Tax on Healthy Foods, the Healthy Diné Nation Act of 2014 or Unhealthy Foods Tax, and a tax revenue allocation for Community Wellness Projects for all 110 Navajo Chapters.

From the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Denisa received a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Public Health degree. She is an alumna of Leadership San Juan and Leadership New Mexico Connect program. She was a W.K. Kellogg Foundation nominee and a Slow Food International delegate of the International Indigenous Terra Madre event in Northeast India, Salone del Gusto Terra Madre in Italy and Slow Food Congress event in China. She is a steering committee member of the Slow Food Turtle Island Association, a member of the National Young Farmers Coalition, a member of a national Sugar Action Group, an advisory member of Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America's Myths and Misconceptions, and an Ashoka Fellow.

Denisa is passionate about servant leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. She was featured in the Washington Post live event - America Answers: Changing the Menu, Gourmet News Magazine, TV Tokyo, Mother Jones, Civil Eats, Al-Jazeera America, NPR, and others. Contact her at, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @PrincesseDenisa.

Learn more about Denisa

Malaika Bishop

Malaika Bishop has been working to create sustainable and just food systems for over 20 years and has been co-directing Sierra Harvest since 2013. She began by training young change makers from around the world, and later co-founded People’s Grocery, a food justice non-profit in Oakland. When she moved back to Nevada County she worked on several farms, managed a school farm and served on the board of BriarPatch Co-op.

Malaika is the mother of 2 boys and maintains a large home garden and orchard. Malaika is a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and she was chosen by Utne Reader, San Francisco Magazine and Organic Style Magazine as a young visionary and environmental leader. Malaika will share her successes and vision for empowering our youth and communities.

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Karen Washington

Karen Washington has spent decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access fresh, locally grown food. She helped launch City Farms Market as a member of the La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition, co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS)—an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings—and founded Rise & Root Farm in April 2014. In her address Karen asks, “What will the next generation of farmers look like?” Right now, we have an aging population of farmers. Over the past several years there has been growing interest in young people wanting to farm. Many come from non-farming backgrounds, some are switching careers, and yet what is most exciting is diversity. If we are to advocate for a fair and just food system, then the people who are growing our food must be allotted those same values. Join us to hear what a just and sustainable food system should look like.


Thursday, Jan 24 Keynotes

Dr. John Reganold

Dr. John Reganold has shaped his career by his interest in soil science and agriculture, receiving his Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of California at Davis. He is currently Regents Professor of Soil Science and Agroecology at Washington State University. He has spent 30-plus years bringing a blend of innovative teaching and research on soil quality and sustainable farming systems into the mainstream of higher education and food production. He has had the privilege of teaching more than 4000 students in the classroom. Dr. Reganold has published extensively in scientific journals, magazines, and books, including Science, Nature, and Scientific American. His former students are on the front lines of sustainability around the world, bringing food security to sub-Saharan Africa for the U.S. Agency for International Development, adapting quinoa to the salty soils of Utah, working on agroecology for Keystone-Pacific in Oregon, and turning wastes into resources in Haiti.

Learn more about John

Dr. Kris Nichols

Dr. Kris Nichols is a leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy soil, crops, food, people and a planet. She is currently the founder and principal scientist of KRIS Systems Education & Consultation and a sub-contractor with Soil Health Consulting, Inc. Kris is a Soil Microbiologist with over 25 years of research experience studying arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. She builds upon a soil health foundation to identify biological methods for agricultural production and tools and practices to reduce pest issues, soil erosion, fossil fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Throughout her career, she has given over 250 invited presentations to a wide variety of audiences, authored or co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, been cited or interviewed for more than 50 magazine or newspaper articles, highlighted in five books, and has numerous videos online. Dr. Nichols was the Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute for over three years. Prior to joining Rodale Institute, Dr. Nichols was a Research (Soil) Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in North Dakota for 11 years and a Biological Laboratory Technician with ARS in Beltsville, MD for 3 years. Kris received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a Master’s degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003. Kris grew up on a 640-acre grain farm in SW Minnesota which is still managed by her father, Jim Nichols who was a former State Senator and Commissioner of Agriculture.

Learn more about Kris


Friday, Jan 25 Keynotes

Successful Organic Farmers

Learn what these leading ecological farmers do, why they do it, and what they’ve learned along the way.

Marney Blair and Lisa Bjorn

Fulcrum Farm, Grass Valley, CA

Marney Blair and Lisa Bjorn run Fulcrum Farm, a 20-acre farm in the Sierra Foothills. A fulcrum is a point of balance, and over the last 20 years this duo has worked toward creating a place that is life-supporting for farm animals, wild animals, human animals, and domestic and wild plants. In the past the land supported a CSA that included dried beans, edible seeds, and fermented products. Nature is never static though, and so the farm and what she produces has continued to evolve. Currently they provide milk, fruit, and compost to their community.

Chanowk and Judith Yisrael

Yisrael Family Farm, Sacramento, CA

Chanowk and Judith Yisrael founded the Yisrael Family Farm in 2011 with the mission of #transformingthehood4good by using urban agriculture to engage, empower, and employ their community in South Oak Park, Sacramento. After seeing the benefits of growing, harvesting, and cooking their own food with their family, they left their corporate jobs and made agriculture the center of their lives. This commitment has blossomed into a farm enterprise with three main goals: growing food, growing people, and growing community centered around food in all its aspects. From edible education, youth mentorship and building gardens in local yards, to farm stands, plant sales and policy, the Yisraels are deeply rooted in Sacramento’s urban agriculture scene.

Thomas Broz

Live Earth Farm, Watsonville, CA

Tom Broz founded Live Earth Farm in 1995 on two acres in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The farm has grown to over 65 acres of organically grown orchard and row crops. Live Earth Farm follows a direct-marketing strategy, selling their produce through their CSA, at farmers markets, direct to retail stores and restaurants, and with a weekend farmstand and U-pick program. Education and community access to the farm has always been at the heart of the their mission. This led to the creation of “Farm Discovery” 10 years ago—a nonprofit that offers more than 2,500 local youth the chance to experience farming, food, and nature in ways that empower and regenerate health for them, their families and the community.


Saturday, Jan 26 Keynote

Nikki Silvestri

Nikki Silvestri is the Founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a project development firm working to create systems change while improving relationships between communities. As the Co-Founder of Live Real and former Executive Director of People's Grocery and Green for All, Nikki has built and strengthened social equity for underrepresented populations in food systems, social services, public health, climate solutions, and economic development. Nikki is a Faculty Member at the Food Business School (she co-designed and taught one of their inaugural courses, "Ethical Leadership in Food Business"). She sits on the Board of Directors of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE), and is an advisory board member of MeWe, the next-gen social network, and TendLab. She currently lives in Oakland, with her husband and son.

Learn more about Nikki