About Us

WORKING_FOOD_MERGER_ILLUS

Our mission at Working Food is to cultivate and sustain a resilient local food community in North Central Florida through collaboration, economic opportunity, education, and seed stewardship. We are the result of a recent non-profit merger between Forage and Blue Oven Kitchens. 

Here’s what we do!

Southern Heritage Seed Collective

The only organization in Florida dedicated to preserving southern food culture and agricultural biodiversity through seed saving and education.

Youth Gardening

Providing food and science education through hands-on gardening activities for youth.

Local Food Networking

Connecting farmers, chefs, businesses, government and citizens to build the resources for a thriving local food community. This is now physically manifested with our new Working Food Community Center!

Our Team

Melissa DeSa, Community Programs Director & SeedEO

Anna Prizzia, Board President

Maya Velesko, Business Development Director

Board Members

Jean Theurer

Jean is a Certified Financial Planner who is about to also be a Marriage and Family Therapist and practice Financial Therapy.  She is enthusiastically learning about Local everything– food, finance, etc, and also learning about how to do due diligence on local food related businesses

Meg TheLosen

Meg is the President and co-founder of First Magnitude Brewing Company, a successful local beer operation that opened in 2014. She has over 18 years of experience in strategic planning, marketing and communications, business development, and most recently entrepreneurship.

Stefanie Hamblen

Stefanie is the owner and author of Hogtown Homegrown, a newsletter focused on local food and cooking.  She is also the creator of the Eat Local Challenge, an annual event designed to promote and celebrate seasonal eating.

Nkwanda Jah is the leader of the Cultural Arts Coalition, and a key leader for our African-American community. Her work with youth empowerment and education is a critical resource in Gainesville.

Gary Heil

Gary is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida. He is also the founder and brewer for Cypress and Grove Brewery.

Rosella Smith

Rosella is a retired reproductive gynecologist, alma mater UF, hailing from Baltimore but calling Micanopy, FL home. Rosella is the busiest retiree we know, and always amazes us at her devotion to her community and our farm. She’s been with us since the very beginning as a dedicated volunteer, and now board member.  When she’s not tending to her own chickens and garden, this Master Gardeners also volunteers with the UF mobile outreach clinic that typically visits “food desert” areas. R

Current Volunteers and Staff

Sarah Sterling, Community Programs Coordinator

Sarah is a mom of 3 and started as a dedicated volunteer helping with seed saving and gardening. Sarah now works with us part time, primarily coordinating events and the after school youth garden program, but really she does everything! Gardening, membership management, center-related activities and more.

Taylor Chaisson, Seed Savvy Intern

Taylor is our newest seed intern, and a student at the University of Florida. She comes with experience working for the big guys, and is getting a taste for small scale regional seed work, helping us with all aspects of our seed work.

Sabrina Favilla, Seed Savvy Intern

Sabrina is a busy mom and a Master Gardener, helping us with all matters of seed stuff from writing crop profiles and doing research on the various things in our collection, to helping in the gardens.

Kelly Korman

Kelly has a ton of experience with gardens, grant writing and administration. She volunteers with us at many of our events and is helping us with some of our grant writing endeavors.

Gracy Castine

Gracy is helps with many aspects of our new food center, but is primarily involved with coordination of volunteers. She’s our volunteer volunteer coordinator!

Partners

We could not do the work we do without all of the amazing individuals and organizations that support us.  We are thankful to everyone who has contributed to making Forage a success.  Here are just a few that we couldn’t live without!

Alachua Conservation Trust

Alachua County Downtown Farmers Garden

Alachua County Extended Day Enrichment Program

Blue Oven Kitchens

Bryson Family Foundation

CLIF Bar Family Foundation

Edible Plant Project

Farm to School to Work Hub

First Magnitude Brewing

Florida Organic Growers

Grow Gainesville

Kristen Grace Photography

Lucky’s Supermarket

Lydia B. Stokes Foundation

Matheson History Museum

Morningside Nature Center

Seed Savers Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

University of Florida Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership and Sustainability