Amie Frisch - Executive Director
A 10 year resident of San Jose, majoring in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, where she was Director of the Environmental Resource Center and Co-founder of the Environmental Club. She was also part of the founding Steering Committee for the Real Food Challenge, a national campaign to unite students for just and sustainable food, where she worked to develop the Real Food Calculator. She is dedicated to working towards a more just and sustainable food system in the Silicon Valley.
Mark Anthony Medeiros - Farm Director
Born and raised in the South Valley, Mark graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelors degree in Sociology, with an emphasis on Community Change. He became politicized around the issues of urban fringe agriculture and open space preservation while in college, and participated in a number of land use debates in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, most notably the proposed Coyote Valley Specific Plan (CVSP), which was halted in March 2008. He decided to devote himself to promoting sustainable agriculture in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, and founded Veggielution along with Amie Frisch. Mark currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Prusch Farm Park Foundation. The son of Portuguese immigrants with a rich farming tradition, he sees farming as the most direct connection that people have with the environment. For Mark, learning and teaching farming is about fostering the values of sustainability and social justice in himself and others in the South Bay community.
Monica Lisa Benavides - Education Director
Being born and raised in San Jose inspired Monica to dedicate herself to working in her community on issues of food access, education, and, social/environmental justice. She graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development, and continued in graduate school through the Critical Research Academy to earn her MA in Education. As the Education Director, Monica is responsible for overseeing Veggielution’s school garden programs, the Youth Garden at the farm, Cooking Matters, and our summer high school program, the Dig Crew. If you have any questions about any of these programs, then please email or call Monica.
Will Chen - Farm Manager
William Chen's grandparents and parents were mushroom growers in Gilroy until he was about 6. When that business dried up they moved to San Jose, where Will grew up. Although his family no longer farms, they still keep a small orchard and garden in their backyard today. Will started at Veggielution as a volunteer 4 years ago and immediately fell in love with the people and the place. Since then he has been an intern, seasonal farmhand, and an employee. In 2013, Will left to expand his farming skills at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, then took over as manager there. He rejoined the Veggielution team at the end of the growing season in 2013, and is focusing on making the farm more efficient, and also fun!
Silicon Valley Health Corps Members:
Keri Waller - Youth Education Coordinator
Born and raised in Woodland, CA, she is a recent graduate of San Jose State with a BS in Nutrition. At San Jose State, she was a part of the women’s volleyball program and has many years of experience teaching and coaching at sports camps. Keri has also worked with incoming freshmen student-athletes as a peer mentor, aiding them in the transition from high school to collegiate academics and athletics. She is passionate about teaching healthy eating, sustainable farming, and food justice to our community! Keri is teaching school garden classes at 2 local elementary schools, as well as leading our Youth Program, The Dig Crew.
Nina Vuoso - Youth Education Coordinator
Born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, she earned a BS in Nutritional Biochemistry in 2011 from UC Davis, where she came to appreciate good produce and bicycle riding. Nina has worked with youth as a science tutor and in the Teaching Kitchen at the Davis Food Co-op, assisting in the kid’s cooking classes. As one of the first Nutrition Educators for the student-run Willow Clinic, which serves the homeless population of Sacramento, Nina learned about non-profit management and writing nutrition curricula. She is inspired by the way students engage with their food (if only all school subjects could be edible and delicious). Nina is energized by the Veggielution community, and she is dedicated to bringing science-based food and garden education to the farm and its neighbors.
Lydia Martinez - Community Organizer
Born in the warm Coastal waters of Sinaloa Mexico, brought into this country as contraband, grew up in the fields of the Central Valley. Daughter of Farm Workers, Mother to a Sun, she currently finds herself back where her Father began many moons ago. Back in the fields, picking and harvesting under the warm sun, yet also merging her Expressive Arts Therapy degree to be able to provide access and resources to the Chicano Native Immigrant community of San Jose and beyond so that they too may be able to participate in local sustainable agriculture. Healthy nutritious food is a right not a privilege to be determined by social economic status or color of one's skin.
Mika Shibuya - Farm Hand
Mika Shibuya is excited and grateful for the opportunity to work on the Veggielution farm crew. Having graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied environmental studies and creative writing, she is ready to get her hands dirty putting theory into practice. Mika developed her passion for farming on two small, organic farms in New York and New Jersey, where she learned the ins and outs of vegetable cultivation, animal care, and small-scale cheese-making. She is excited to bring this passion and experience into an urban context and to be a part of an organization/community that makes a concerted effort to increase food accessibility and to engage a wide cross-section of San Jose with the land that sustains them, building lasting relationships over fresh food and hard work. As the greenhouse manager, she will spend the majority her year in the company of seedlings and soil mix, and hopes you will come join her – and maybe help give a few plants a fighting start. She has a shameless love for puns, and also enjoys cooking, biking, reading, and writing.
Dave Chang - Farm Hand
Dave is enthused to be working in the fields and getting his hands dirty with Veggielution. Following a degree in Biological Systems Engineering from U.C. Davis, he served as an agricultural volunteer in Mali with Peace Corps. After doing time in the cubicle as a technical writer, he set out to travel around the world but only made it as far as Mexico, due to the prevalence of street tacos. Now he's back to his original passion of making good food available to all. He feels fortunate to be involved in such a community-based enterprise with roots in sustainable farming practices and food justice. He gets excited about other people getting excited about growing food. When not at the farm, he's most likely hiking, climbing, or reading a book.
Colleen Hotchkiss - Farm Hand
After attending college in Philadelphia and receiving a B.A. in Spanish with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies in May of 2011, Colleen is excited to be back home in the Bay Area growing food and building community. Following graduation she worked at two different farms, gaining invaluable knowledge about organic food production and natural process farming. With a background in student organizing and an academic focus on marginalization and identity formation, Colleen is excited to be putting her gardening and farming knowledge to work at Veggielution in a way that directly and intentionally increases food access to low-income communities. She coordinates harvest and distribution, managing Veggielution's Farm Box CSA, facilitating harvest days, and running the farm stand.
Angela Aspiroz - Admin Intern
Angela is a frequent quesadilla eater and a current student at San Jose State University. She is a lefty from the Central Valley and the youngest of five siblings. She will be graduating this year with a degree in Business Management and Spanish. Angela is a part of a community service club at her college and also currently works in the food service industry as a cook's assistant. She is a lousy guitar and soccer player, and sometimes competes in mus tournaments with her dad. Angela is an avid lover of movies and television, and likes watching stand-up comedy videos online. Having started out as a relatively new volunteer at Veggielution, Angela is excited to be one of the new spring interns, and is thrilled to be entering the world of sustainable agriculture.
Marissa Kent - Admin Intern
After graduating in 2009 from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Marissa found herself working temporarily as a Produce Specialist at a well-known natural and organic food market. Aside from gaining specific knowledge about fruits and vegetables, she was getting her first behind the scenes glimpse at a one aspect of our food system: the grocery store. This experience was brief but eye-opening and the more she learned, the more opportunity she saw for improvement within the system. She has since spent the past four years exploring more progressive angles of our food system as a Produce Buyer at a community-minded, small-scale, privately owned natural food market, as a weekly CSA volunteer at a local five acre organic farm, and as an member of community organizations such as Slow Food and CRAFT(Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farming Training). Her passion and interest in food systems has developed intuitively and naturally, instilling in her a commitment to supporting more conscious and sustainable ways of growing and distributing food in our local community.
Michelle Panelo - Admin Intern
Born and raised in San Jose, CA, she is a graduate of California State Monterey Bay with a degree in Social and Behavioral Science and a minor in Global Studies. It was in her course of study where her desire to help others by bringing together communities through culture, respect for the environment and healthy living began. It was also there where she become more familiar with social issues that currently affect communities and other parts of the world. It was this that helped amplified her desire to promote social justice. Surrounded by an abundance of agriculture in Monterey county, it was there she learned to appreciate the importance of local produce and sustainability. In the past, Michelle has been a part of numerous community events including working closely with the National Steinbeck Center in creating an exhibit highlighting Filipino immigrant farm workers in Salinas, CA.
Shauna Alexander - Education Intern
Shauna came to California from Michigan where she studied Music Education at Central Michigan University. She has a passion for both education and sustainability and has spent the past 5 years teaching full-time as a credentialed teacher in California public schools. Most recently she was teaching at KIPP Heartwood Academy just down the road from Veggielution and she’s excited to continue being a part of the community in East San Jose. This past year she decided to further pursue her interests in sustainable living with special attention to local, organic food systems and food justice. She first set out to educate herself by traveling and working on organic farms as a WWOOF volunteer. Along the way she visited several inspiring schools that had been recognized for their efforts in environmental education and sustainability. Now back from her trip, she is looking forward to helping bring this knowledge back to students, schools and the community and helping to guide and inspire the next generation to be stewards of the earth. She can also be seen teaching as an intern at Garden for the Environment in San Francisco. She is very excited to be interning at Veggielution and have the opportunity to interact with the community, share her passion, and learn.
Cindy Gonzalez - Education Intern
I am a senior at San Jose State University. I am majoring in Nutritional Science: Nutrition Education with a minor in Complementary and Alternative Health Practices. I was born and raised in the Central Coast, specifically Soledad, CA. I love to partake in outdoor activities so doing my internship at Veggielution is allowing me to gain skills that I will need in my future career in a fun and welcoming environment.
Ana Marquez - Education Intern
Hello everyone! Hola a todos! My name is Ana Marquez I was born and raised in a small town, Guadalupe, CA. After finishing High School moved to San Jose to attend San Jose State. I am a Nutritional Science with an emphasis in Education major. I plan to graduate in May. I believe education is the key to many opportunities. I am really excited to work for Veggielution this spring!
In my free time I enjoy being outdoors, dancing and I love horses. I enjoy working in the community.
Nina Bacho - Farm Intern
Nina only ever stuck to one New Year's Resolution: to become a vegetarian, in January of 2010. This resolution opened up a whole new world for her and since then, she has become interested in farming, cooking and food justice. She currently studies at De Anza, and is still figuring out life. She enjoys caring for the chickens (particularly the small Rhode Island Red, Joan Didion), Veggielution carrots, daydreaming and caffeinated drinks.
Vanessa Bonilla - Farm Intern
I'm a senior at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Anthropology with a concentration on sustainability and human wellness. After I graduate I hope to visit my grandma in Honduras and WWOOF around Central and South America. Currently, I'm volunteering for VeggieRx, a nutrition program in San Francisco, and thought that pairing it up with the farm internship would make a great combination.
Carolin Dreßler - Farm Intern
Born and raised in Germany I got my Bachelor degree in Marketing and Human Resources Management. After studying in the States for a semester I figured out to concentrate on advertising and moved to Hamburg to work in different advertising agencies. After staying in that field a new opportunity came up and I moved to San Jose over 1 year ago. Since then I am exploring California from its natural Beauty through travelling a lot. Due to my interest in food and nutrition I always wanted to get deeper into farming to get a better understanding where our food comes from and what I can do to contribute in a sustainable way of our food system. Also working for and in a community as an intern at Veggielution I am sure I will get the chance to discover all of this and beyond.
Matt Hinshaw - Farm Intern
My name is Matt Hinshaw and I grew up near the boarder of Oregon and California in Del Norte county right above Humboldt county. I just moved to the area to finish my schooling at SJSU. I worked in an organic garden in Arcata for a year and a half before moving here and fell in love with the dirt again. I'm still getting use to the more condensed city compared to being surrounded by trees, but It has its pluses too and the plants make me feel more at home.
Daniel Mai - Farm Intern
Daniel has lived in San Jose his whole life. Right now, he attends Mission College but is soon to transfer as a Nutritional Science major. His goal is to become a Physician Assistant with a strong background in nutrition. In his free time, he likes to go hiking, listen to music, and browse Netflix for anything good to watch. As a farm intern, he is now ready to get his hands dirty as well as learn more about farming and local foods.
Shrestha Singh - Farm Intern
Shrestha Singh is a Farm Intern this season. She comes from a long line of farmers and gardeners and is excited to have the chance to continue that legacy at Veggielution. She is passionate about too many things, and among them are health and wellness, healing, feminism, and the earth. She is also a photographer.
Andrea Linhares - Outreach Intern
Freshman in College.
Studying PR; much wow.
Fun in the office.
Cain Ramirez - Outreach Intern
Born of Santa Cruz, CA and raised on his Grandparent's walnut orchard in San Martin, CA, Cain is no stranger to organic farming. A man of many hats in the local community, from grassroots organizer to bicycle ambassador, Cain continues to hone his various skill sets as a part of the Veggielution Outreach Team.