What has been your experience or relationship with FarmFED Co-op to date?
I have been involved with FarmFED Co-op since before its inception, attending preliminary meetings and offering input and help where able. I was hired in March 2020 along with Kyle Reed to write the original business proposal for the project. My wife took over Kyle’s position in August of that year, and we have been the interim co-managers of the project since then. I have among the most intimate knowledge of FarmFED Co-op of anyone involved to date due to my large role in its development.
What kind of relevant expertise and background do you have to offer as a potential board member?
I first worked on a farm when I was 18 and have been working on specialty farms off and on ever since, first in New England and now in Central Illinois. When I have not been working on farms, I have either been studying agriculture, receiving a Master’s Degree in Nutrition with a concentration in Agricultural Practice and Education from the Friedman School at Tufts University, or working for organizations like The Land Connection, a non-profit in Champaign, where I served as the farmer training program manager. My focus has always been on using food and agriculture as a means to grow communities, boost economic growth, and create meaningful work. In 2018, I moved to Illinois for good and began farming along with my wife and her brother. Together, we operate Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains, a highly diversified specialty crop farm in McLean, Illinois, which focuses on value-added products and frequently collaborates with other local farms. I am also the vice-president of our village community group focused on beautification and economic development, the president of our Central Illinois chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, a member of the Illinois Food Farmer Caucus convened by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and I do part-time or consultation work with several regional food and farm organizations.
Have you ever served on a board of directors before, or worked under the supervision of a board of directors? If so, in what capacity?
I have never served on a board of directors before. However, in my role with FarmFED Co-op, I have been reporting to, first, the Economic Development & Planning Board of Mt. Pulaski and later the co-op’s own board, which has provided valuable and intimate insight into the operations and nuances of a board of directors. I also reported to the board of The Land Connection for my 2.5 years working there, and, while not a board, I do currently serve in leadership roles with both our local community group and our local young farmers chapter.
How able are you to attend monthly meetings in person (in Mt. Pulaski), and how much time do you foresee having to commit to serving on the board?
I am fully able to attend all meetings in person barring an emergency. My mindset for time commitment is, whatever it takes for the cooperative to be successful. Of course, my hope is that the workload will be balanced and I will work towards that end. Ideally, I see myself spending 5-10 hours/week in my role as a board member, particularly early on since I am still so involved in the project’s planning and development.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the ownership about yourself that you feel is important or relevant to serving on the board?
I became involved with FarmFED Co-op simply because I am passionate and proactive about the issues facing our local food systems, small farms, and rural communities. I wound up becoming the co-manager of the project over the last year and a half because I was the right person in the right time and place to be able to help bring it this far along with my co-managers and a dedicated board and community in Mt. Pulaski. While I am ready to hand over the leadership and continued dedicated work to someone else, I want to make every contribution necessary to keep this project going in the right direction. We have done so much and have so much to look forward to, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be on the team and to bring something to life that our community needs and deserves.