2019 Symposium

Listen to the 2019 speakers HERE


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Kristyn Leach’s small farm, Choi and Daughters Produce is located in Winters, along Putah Creek. She grows predominantly Korean heritage crops in partnership with Namu Restaurants under the name Namu Farm, and works with Kitazawa Seed Company. Her Second Generation seed line works to build community amongst API farmers and increase access to Asian seed varieties suited for small scale, organic farms.

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Kassandra Hishida grew up in Fresno, CA & is proud of her Central Valley roots. She studied Environmental Science at Fresno State & holds a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a Graduate Specialization in Food Studies from the University of Oregon. Kassandra served as an Environmental Health & Justice Fellow at Toxics Action Center before returning home to coordinate the Community Alliance for Agroecology, a coalition that works alongside the most impacted communities of the San Joaquin Valley to address the environmental injustices perpetuated by the food and farming system.


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Maya Harjo is an organic gardener and educator dedicated to restoring Native food systems through the revitalization of traditional foodways and the practice of sustainable agriculture. Maya grew up in Los Angeles, CA and attended Brown University, where she majored in International Development Studies and wrote a senior thesis on the concept of tribal sovereignty. On the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona, she collaborated with local Elders and community partners to bring a wide range of health and culture programming to tribal schools, community organizations, and the tribeʼs organic farm. Her experience in Native youth education, project planning, curriculum development, and community engagement is bolstered by her love of growing food. After many years of working and volunteering for farms and gardens, she became a Farming Apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable
Food Systems (CASFS) program and recently graduated with a Certificate in Organic Horticulture. Maya applies her experience growing organic food with the direct aim of increasing access to healthy and culturally appropriate food for Native communities. She is Shawnee, Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Jewish and an enrolled member of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.

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Leah Atwood grew up on a ranch in the redwoods of Arcata, CA and moved to the Bay Area to pursue degrees in Environmental Policy and Spanish at UC Berkeley. She has lived in South and Central America as well as in Bangladesh working on behalf of social, environmental and food justice initiatives. Thanks to her work experience abroad she gained further insight into international agriculture systems and the value of socio-
ecologically mindful practices and unconventional multi-stakeholder collaboration. She currently serves on the board of directors for Planting Justice, an Oakland non-profit transforming the Bay Area food system by creating green jobs and democratizing access to affordable, nutritious food.
She deeply enjoys: teaching and practicing yoga; being outside on rocks, waves and trails; growing food and befriending bees.

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Shelley Hawkins is a beginning farmer and budding educator hailing from the East Bay. Recently graduating from the Bay Area Farmer Training Program, she has spent the last 6 months reviewing and providing feedback on MESAʼs online curriculum resources as well as doing outreach and engagement for future BAFTP cohorts. Shelley wishes to create projects geared toward making vital farming information-as it relates to food Justice through a racial justice lens- to community members most impacted by systemic exclusion from these spaces.

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Julia Van Soelen Kim is the North Bay Food Systems Advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Marin, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. Her extension, education and applied research program seeks to strengthen the viability, sustainability, and equity of regional food systems and expand community resilience. She holds a Master of Science in Community Development and a Master of Public Health from the University of California Davis.



Bailey Changʼs photo documentary works took flight after the fires of 2017 volunteering for Sonoma County, inspiring her towards working with small local farmers to broadcast their stories to a greater audience. With transparency will come a collective change towards a more mindful practice of how we see our foods and the people who grow it.

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Catherine Sieck is an artist and gardener, born and raised in Santa Rosa. Her intricate paper cut-outs tell stories that unfold in both the internal and external landscapes, letting the parallel narratives weave together and illuminate each other. She also tends public gardens, farming for Community Soil Foundationʼs Larkfield Garden. Her work in the
studio and on land are in conversation with each other, always.


Hedda Brorstrom lives for flowers. Her interest in agoecology took hold from a young age having grown up in agricultural rich Sonoma County. Hedda completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies specializing in urban food landscapes and garden education. She worked in San Francisco for six years as a garden teacher
and coordinator in the school system and at the Academy of Sciences. She holds a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz where her love for flowers grew out of control. Hedda also earned a certificate in herbalism from the California School of Herbal Studies and makes a line of herbal products. Hedda is a founding member of the North Bay Flower Collective and owns Full Bloom Flower Farm and Floral Design.

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Daniela Gerson is a private chef & food photographer. She loves highlighting the beautiful bounty of fresh and local produce. When sheʼs not busy in the kitchen or behind the camera, youʼll find her in the water, drawing lines on waves.


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Hannah Mayree is a creative facilitator and musician who’s work and art lends itself as a tool for redesigning and reconnecting to our roots as humans on this planet. A banjoist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Hannah founded the Black Banjo Reclamation Project: Cultural Reclamation through Reparations ~ Cultural Revival Through Community. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a cultural and land- based revival project that
centers the Black community by reclaiming ancestral wisdom and moving forward with innovations through prospectives of Afro-futurism. Through our extensive network across the country, our work promotes conversation and action in healing the ancestral, historical, cultural and racially dividing wounds in this country and the world.


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Winnie Chafa-Govha was Born in Zambia, raised and educated on the continent of Africa. She studied fashion design and fine art at the Fashion Institute in New York, and at the International Fine Arts University in Miami. Driven by a love for the continent, the environment and its people, sheʼs travelled extensively around Africa, which is continuously spurning her interest in ancient African practices regarding agriculture and
food culture.On January 12th, 2010 at 4:50pm a 7.0 magnitude earthquake tore a catastrophic path of destruction through the island of Haiti where Winnie happened to be at the time. Buried in the rubble for over an hour until being rescued, she suffered fractured ribs as well as a fractured pelvis. This traumatic experience reminded Winnie about the power of Mother Nature and itʼs the ability to cycle through mild and extreme changes only to emerge even stronger. She decided to rely on ancient African wisdom
and remedies, opting out of conventional medication. At that moment she knew that mother nature had the answers to every ailment using remedies that were taught to her from generations before. She decided that she had to move back home to Zambia to cultivate all that she knew and all that was already known from Africa. Winnie has moved to Itezhi Tezhi Zambia to work with the people of the community to breathe new life into
their permaculture and agro-ecology systems and practices. Using Native Natural and Beyond as the vehicle to re-active the people, Winnie aims to re-educatee and awakens the locals on ideals theyʼve long forgotten at the hands of modernization.Trained in Kemetic Yoga and Meditation, Winnie offers ancient healing methods passed on from generations before her. Implementing techniques she’s acquired through apprenticeships with traditional healers and midwives on the continent. For over 10 years she has been providing timeless traditional wisdom tailored to help each individual with modern-day ailments. Her view on re-introducing ancient health and well-being encourages genuine transformation in people and in the communities she touches. Driven by the passion to educate due to the lack of general knowledge of the menstrual cycle, sexual energy, hygiene among women. Winnie was inspired to share her knowledge, discussing topics viewed as taboo to ensure her clients feel comfortable with their bodies. After each session, clients leave more educated and empowered,
ensuring her each lives a more fulfilled life.


SeʼLah Wehner is a wife and mother of seven children. She is an advocate of growing your own foods. She has a strong dedication to birth work, focusing on the support of the family and their food intake during and after pregnancy. She holds a seat on the Community Advisory Board for the California Preterm Birth Initiative and is committed to serving and researching ways of eliminating racial disparities in preterm birth and
improve health outcomes for babies born too soon, through continued research, partnerships and education grounded in community wisdom. With over 15 years of experience, SeʼLah also has a freelance graphic design & print company focusing on promoting many individuals and business types with end-to-end solutions in graphic design marketing. Acknowledging her callings, She has successfully completed training
in women’s emotional support and is a certified birth worker (Doula), certified Egyptian Basu (Instructor), and certified MA’AT Womb Yoga Instructor, as well as training in food, nutrition, and health. Se’Lah is on a journey is to continue to increase her studies to be aware of the impact of traditional and ancestral remedies to balance and heal herself, family and the community. Using Native Natural and Beyond as a machine, Se’Lah’s is
on a mission to re-introduce communities to their authentic selves, through food education, nutritional products and other healing modalities. As she is inspired to raise herself and her family, she will continue to sow seeds of conscious action through her works, actions, and influences. SeʼLahʼs future goal is to evolve in all her endeavours and make a positive contribution to the Diaspora community domestically and globally.