Farm Staff

Patricia Noto
Farm to School Liaison
When not blending green smoothies and desperately trying to grow tomatoes on her tiny roof, Patricia has been working for Green Guerillas in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan in the past year. She was the Youth Farm's Market Manager for the summer of 2012 as an Americorps Volunteer and is excited to join the team again this fall!  

Molly Culver
Farm Manager, Director of Urban Farm Training Program
Molly Culver is returning this season as our Farm Manager, making this her 5th season on the farm. Molly has farmed vegetables and flowers since 2005, and holds a degree in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, UC-Santa Cruz (2008). She has been working in urban food systems as both a community organizer and farmer since 2005, and has managed the Youth Farm since 2011. She also teaches the Growing Soils and Propagation courses for Farm School NYC, and runs her own sustainable floral design company, molly oliver flowers.

Erin Mercier
Assistant Farm Manager, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator

Erin is honored and excited to be joining The Youth Farm as the Assistant Farm Manager this season! A Southern California transplant (by way of Portland, OR), Erin moved to Brooklyn 5 years ago to pursue urban agriculture and education in the city. Since then, she has worked in many different areas of the local food system, from managing farmer's markets with GrowNYC, to community food education work with Just Food, to food justice and garden education programs with the Queens Botanical Garden, Growing Chefs, and Cypress Hills LDC. She interned with the Youth Farm in 2013 and is a current certificate student in Urban Agriculture and Social Justice with Farm School NYC.

Liz Dowd
Head Crew Leader
Liz Dowd has returned this season as the Head Crew Leader!  She completed the Urban Farm Training Program in 2012 and is thrilled to be back for her fourth season on The Youth Farm. Liz grew-up in Vermont, working on equestrian farms, and moved to NYC over ten years ago to study photography.  She struggled to strike a balance living in the city, having been raised in the woods.  Farming in Brooklyn proved to be the perfect negotiation of nature and culture. When Liz is not dragging hoses around the farm, she enjoys sugaring with her family on their farm and taking her Great Dane for a hike in the woods.

Madeleine Milan
UFTP Crew Leader
I completed the UFTP in 2014 and loved it so much that I'm back as a crew leader for 2015. I grew up helping my mum grow tomatoes, berries, and more in our back garden in England, and fell back in love with getting my hands dirty when I moved to Brooklyn six years ago and started a rooftop veggie garden. In 2013 I left my career in branding and fundraising for nonprofits to pursue a life in urban agriculture, and I haven't looked back since. I'm very excited to be back at the Youth Farm and looking forward to working with all of you this season!

Sheryll Durrant
UFTP Crew Leader
Sheryll is very excited to be a UFTP Crew Leader having started out as an apprentice this year. She has been involved with urban agriculture since 2010 and works with Sustainable Flatbush to develop community based garden and farm projects. She is a 2014 certificate student in Urban Agriculture at Farm School NYC, and a certified master composter through the NYC Compost Project. One of Sheryll’s major passions is data collection and record keeping. As a 2014/15 Outreach Fellow for Five Borough Farms/Farming Concrete she helped to measure the impact of urban agriculture in NYC. 

Josh Kalin
UFTP Crew Leader
After community gardening for a number of years, my first season at the Youth Farm was in 2012 as an apprentice in the UFTP. Loving the farm, I have not been able to leave, so I have continued on as a crew leader as well as occasionally teaching workshops and helping lead visiting field trips. While not at the farm I work as both an ice sculptor and a landscaper. As a member of the NY Mycological Society and the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, I spend the warmer months foraging for mushrooms (and plants) and the colder months swimming in the Atlantic. I am really exited about this year on the farm! Every season I learn more and more. I look forward to sharing a collective passion for plants, dirt, food, food justice and learning from each other.


Meet our 2015 UFTP Apprentices:

Janelle Carter-Small, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi everyone, I'm Janelle.  My grandmother was the midwife for her village in Barbados. As an avid gardener, she often used what she grew to not only make delicious food and beverages for her family but as medicinal and teaching purposes for those in her care. I've always heard about the roots, leaves and flowers that helped heal our bodies. Like my grandmother, I'm an educator who is fascinated by nature, science and history. I have a small business and our mission is to increase the diversity of children interested in STEM careers. Unlike my grandmother, I never had the time or skill to farm and so I simply cannot wait to begin urban farming with my fellow apprentices!

India Harvey, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hey everyone! My name is India and I am genuinely honored to be a part of our motley farming crew at the Youth Farm. Can't wait to meet you all. I have made south Crown Heights my home with my husband for not quite 5 years now, and I am very thankful for the service the farm brings to our community.  I have always been supportive of local, urban agriculture, but I admit never this hands on involved in actual farming, so I have much to learn from you all and eager to do so. I also run a small floral design/events company, and want to experience the "back end of the floral industry", the growing of flowers from seed first hand and begin incorporating local flower options into my business. I totally want to grow vegetables too! See you all soon. 

Elroy Benjamin, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hello everyone, my name is Elroy. I always had a respect for the art of planting and growing due to the many gardeners in my family. In the middle of high school it grew on me and I started to do a little a studying and I reaped some fondness, haha! Anyway after high school I took an agriculture class and I guess that was the beginning of the pursuit. I'm excited for this new experience, meeting new people and growing in many ways!

Sarah Nagle, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi all! My name is Sarah and I'm going into my 5th year living in New York and working as a modern dancer. I've supplemented my income by working in restaurants for the majority of my time here, and that's what guided my initial interest in the farm to table movement and sustainable agriculture. I'm starting to transition out of the dance world, and I'm working on cultivating interests that I've yet to explore. I'm excited to learn something new and see where it takes me! 

Bridget McDevitt, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi everyone! My name is Bridget and I am extremely excited to meet everyone and begin what will be a completely new chapter for me. After 3 years of law school, and 2.5 years working as a public defender in the Bronx, I realized that I really don't want to be a lawyer (please don't ask me about all those loans!). A bit of soul searching led me to the conclusion that what really makes me happy is working with my hands and building (or growing) something tangible - not that I have any experience with farming! My goal is to use the skills and knowledge I gain through this apprenticeship to make healthy food accessible to all communities, not just those who can afford to pay a premium for the good stuff. I can't wait to get started!

Mohammed Abujayyab, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hey folks! My name is Mohammed and I am software engineer running away from my desk working on the news archives for NBC. I grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza Strip where the last generation of farmers in my family were no longer in their land to farm, but we were still called "Fallaheen", or farmers for generations. Now it's a shame for me not to live up to that legacy, in whatever small way I could. What would be a better way than doing so with a group of people that I'm really looking forward to meet and embark on a journey of learning with!

Quin Johnson,  UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi All, My name is Quin Johnson. I'm very excited to begin apprenticing with The Youth Farm and to meet and work with everyone. My background is in event planning. I really love the creative side of event and floral design. Which is why I look forward to learning more about farming and especially flowers for the next 9 months.  I occasionally freelance with florists and am giving a go at doing some of my own events.  I look forward to meeting all of you soon! 

Arielle Pasquier, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi all! My name is Arielle, and I guess you could say I was born with my hands in the dirt. I helped my parents build a compost pile, tend the garden and eventually working at barn, mucking stalls, training horses and tending the various animals on the property. I worked in the service industry for about 18 years and I finally jumped ship after working in floral design during my free time for about 3 years. It has always been my dream to own my own land and build a small farm on it. I'm so excited to take the first steps towards that dream with this program. Can't wait to meet everyone! 

Joey Azoulai,  UFTP 2015 Apprentice
My name is Joey and I’m excited for my first farming experience. I went to art school in Brooklyn and spent the last nine years working in media as a video-maker, writer, and web developer. I love food, building things, and the outdoors—and I’m here to find out if I can make a business from those passions. I've just started growing micro greens in my apartment because I guess I couldn’t wait to get to the farm. Looking forward to meeting everyone!

Bersabel Mesgna, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hello! My name is Bersi and I’m a recent transplant from Washington D.C. I love food and nature and sharing that joy with others, especially children. Last year, I taught environmental and nutrition education with City Growers atop the beautiful Brooklyn Grange. I am passionate about environmental education and food justice and I believe in empowering underserved communities to fight hunger and diet-related diseases through sustainable food and agricultural projects that educate and inspire. I’m coming to Youth Farm to really expand my knowledge of urban farming so that I could continue to work on creating access to healthy and nutritious food for everyone. I’m truly excited for this upcoming year and I can’t wait to work with an amazing group of dedicated individuals. 

Liz Mazzei, UFTP 2015 Apprentice
Hi! My name is Liz and I'm over the moon and feel super blessed to be part of the 2015 UFTP apprentice group. About three years ago I started to get into urban farming and learning more about the opportunities and challenges of the current food system. In 2013 I was a Fall Farm Trainee at Brooklyn Grange's Navy Yard rooftop and just last year I participated in GrowNYC's FARMbeginnings program. My dream is to develop a series of cultural food centers that highlight plants and food traditions specific to each region in an effort to help people establish a deeper connection with food and their family heritages. I'm also a huge marketing nerd and work as a part-time independent consultant for small businesses in NYC. So excited to meet everyone and can't wait to get farming.


Elizabeth Bee Ayer
Farm Co-Founder, Program Director & Co-Farm Manager
Farmer Bee loves raw okra and  has a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food System at UC Santa Cruz and B.A. from the University of Michigan. Elizabeth has run several urban youth programs on gardening, entrepreneurship and healthy eating. She has spent the last 5 years working to increase food access in urban areas and helping to start/manage urban growing sites in NYC. She also teaches for Farm School NYC and runs bk farmyards chicken operation.
Find out more about Farmer Bee HERE. 

Anita Singh
Summer Youth Coordinator & Assistant 2012-2013
Anita comes to the collective with a diverse background, NYC public school teacher, marketing and bike repair! Anita moved to NYC from Milwaukee Wisconsin  and shares her love of the city through free Brooklyn bike tour adventures.


Averill Wickland
Summer Youth Coordinator 2013
Averill has been interested in plants and the environment as long as he can remember, he developed hands-on experience at Garden Art Greenhouse in Addison, Vermont. Over four seasons, he learned the basics of plant care and his enthusiasm for horticulture bloomed. After earning a B.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University, he joined the Peace Corps Environmental Program in Malawi, Africa and led projects such as establishing orchards, promoting income generating activities and teaching in a local high school. Back in the U.S., continued gardening and educating people regarding environmental issues ranging from sustainable energy to composting and hydroponic gardening.

Dhira Rauch
Summer Nutritionist 2013
Dhira is a performer, teacher, writer and food geek.  With deep roots in New York City's long history of community gardens and urban green spaces, she's a true believer in the power of soil amid metal & brick and the transformation of people's lives through growing good fresh food.  She has been cooking, writing and working with food for most of her life and sometimes moonlights as a sushi chef with an extremely large knife.  She holds a Masters in Creative Inquiry from EPI at New College and a BFA from Tisch Experimental Theater Wing.

Martha Jackson
Market + Outreach Assistant, Assistant Farm Manager 2010-2013
Now at Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz NY
Martha has been at the Youth Farm since its groundbreaking in 2010, as a volunteer, apprentice and now as the Market & Outreach Assistant. She is also participating in chicken-keeping and backyard farming apprenticeships this season. Martha began her farm training as a novice apprentice at Garden of Eve in Riverhead, NY. 

Stacey Murphy 
Youth Coordinator & Co-Founder 2009-2013
The founder of bk farmyards, Stacey is now Co-Director at Ashevillage Institute. AI provides immersive educational leadership programs that accelerate community-based, whole systems, on-the-ground projects with the aim of fostering a vibrant, just, and resilient world. Our programs, including Urban Farm School, Natural Building School, Water School, and a Permaculture Design Course, are based on a collaborative platform that engage leading innovators through online global seminars, coupled with immersive in-person leadership labs. We curate teams of instructors and co-design curriculum together that will engage participant’s visions for their own communities.

Tanzania Roach
Youth Coordinator & School Liaison 2012-2013
Returned to her hometown of Brooklyn, NY after many years loving the mountains, water & trees of Seattle. She works with youth on local food advocacy, farm projects and, in general, helps city kids go from "Eeew! A bug! It's dirty!!" to "We should come out here all the time!" She also collaborates with teachers of all disciplines to develop engaging, dynamic, standards-based curriculum that integrates farming, food justice, public service, values-based entrepreneurship, and healthful nutrition. 

Where Are They Now? We love staying in touch with past apprentices, and finding out all the amazing things they go on to do after learning with us at the Youth Farm.
UFTP Crew 2014!

Tari Ayala (2013): Tari is the owner and founder of Tierra Sana Holistics, a health and wellness practice providing holistic guidance for both individuals and groups in the following areas: nutrition, detoxing your home & body, and urban farming & gardening. She hopes to get involved in an educational farming project in the near future. 

Melissa LaFontaine (2013): Melissa is currently studying environmental and food systems at the University of Montana, and performing research around farm to school partnerships. She is also writing food systems curriculum for students in the area

Aimee Bowe (2012): Aimee is lucky enough to be able to put some of what she learned as a Farm Apprentice to use in her Brooklyn backyard.  She hopes to one day move upstate and start a small farmstead of her own, complete with chickens and goats.  Through her farm apprenticeship Aimee has gotten work landscaping and floral arranging!

Mia Riddle (2012):  Mia Riddle left New York the day after finishing the Youth Farm Apprenticeship. She was a resident staff position as CSA/Market Manager at Blue House Farm in Pescadero, CA. The farm is an hour south of San Francisco on the rural Central Coast, and grows 30 acres of organic produce and flowers. Mia now manages a small farm in Pescadero called Miramar Farm.

Sarah Pekovitch (2012): Sarah is currently living in Chicago working with the Chicago Botanic Garden as a Grower.  She is working with the Green Youth Farm which is within CBG's 'Community Gardening' program. 

Bret Ward (2012): Bret ward is still living in Brooklyn. He currently working as a landscaper for the Prospect Park Alliance on the lakeside construction project. He also works on his web comic Lonely Mountain GarbageMany people would say Bret is aloof, he is hilarious. 

Whitney Richardson (2011) : Whitney is now in Chicago,working as a representative, marketing & gardening coordinator for Tru Blooms Chicago, a fragrance made using flowers grown in community gardens and farms across Chicagoland. They hired 100 farmers last year to grow and harvest the flowers through Growing PowerGrowing Home & Neighborspace. She also supports the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council Supply Chain Working Group.

Martha Jackson (2010): Martha is continuing or pursuit of organic farming and education at Phillies Bridge Farm Project in New Paltz NY

  •         Lauren Rahejah: 2012 Farm Apprentice
  •          Aki Hirata-Baker: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          Elizabeth Corcoran: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          James Filsaime: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          Julie Smyth: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          Shazia Muhammad: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          Jessica O'Callahan: 2011 Farm Apprentice
  •          Colleen Grant: 2011 Compost Intern
  •          Ethan Gallagher: 2011 Flower Apprentice
  •          Chelsea Newson: 2011 Flower Apprentice
  •          Carrie Machet: 2011 Flower Apprentice