Amie Frisch - Executive Director
Amie has grown Veggielution from a grassroots student side project to a full fledged nonprofit organization over the past 6 years. She continually hones and executes a vision and plan of action for increased impact, long-term growth, and organizational sustainability. Amie is a Bay Area native who majored in Environmental Studies at San Jose State University. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Prusch Farm Park Foundation, and as a founding member of the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance. Amie is passionate about rebuilding our urban food landscape to nourish our bodies and spirits, and renewing our relationship with the food we eat every day.
Mark Anthony Medeiros - Associate 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 program, 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.