Meet the Board

Kirsten Miller, TRFW President

KIRSTEN MILLER

President

Kirsten Miller started off her career in corporate marketing, but quickly made her way to the non-profit realm. In 2003, she co-founded the School Garden Network, connecting and supporting school garden teachers to each other, curriculum, best practices, and funding.  She was most passionate about seeing students that often struggled in the classroom, shine in the garden and eat foods that they grew with their own hands, but wouldn’t touch from a grocery store.
 
Most recently, she did fundraising for the Jewish Community Foundation in the Bay Area before moving to Corvallis in 2017.  When her dream property fell through and home-steading was no longer in the cards, she decided to devote her efforts to bettering the local food system. Volunteering at Sunbow Farms led to a friendship with the farmers, followed by joining the board in June 2018. She feels it’s a deep honor to work with the land, farmers, eaters, and everyone and everything in between, and invites you to come to an event or reach out with ideas or suggestions. 
 

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MARK LUTERRA

Treasurer

Raised on a rural homestead in Minnesota, Mark is passionate about de-commodifying our lifestyles and especially our food systems, restoring an element of human relationship and reciprocity. He has a PhD in Biological and Ecological Engineering from Oregon State. Mark has served as editor for the Corvallis Garden Resource Guide since 2011 and has coordinated the Ten Rivers Food Web Soil Amendment Sale since 2019.  He is part of the team at Wild Garden Seed, where he developed a novel winnowing machine that he now manufactures for small-scale seed producers around the country while also making it available to local seed, grain, and dry bean growers.
 
Mark recently launched Luterra Enterprises to share that invention and other farm innovations in an open-source format. Mark and his partner Elizabeth tend a 3500-square-foot garden that produces more vegetables and small grains than they can eat, along with a young orchard and several colonies of honeybees. His other hobbies include mead- and cidermaking, meteorology, folk singing, astronomy, hiking, and travel by train.

Amy Hoover, secretary

AMY HOOVER

Secretary

Amy is a longstanding local food enthusiast. Throughout her career, she has worked to support local food systems — as a community organizer and grant writer addressing rural and farm issues, as a cook and intern instructor in restaurant kitchens, and more. In college and law school, she studied food at every opportunity. Amy is the first to admit she is not very good at growing food, but she has managed to keep almost all of her fruit trees alive at her Corvallis home. Amy’s favorite days involve shopping at the Corvallis Saturday farmers market, making too-many-course meals, and singing in the kitchen.
 

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AMANDA MCBRIDE

Board Member

Amanda hails from lower latitudes such as California, Texas, and Costa Rica, but has been in Corvallis for the last 9 years. She is the STEM Teacher at Linus Pauling Middle School and has been working in education for the last 15 years. Her interest in learning about and then joining the TRFW Board comes from her passion in non-traditional education and hands-on experiences for all. She is interested in guiding the youth towards more exposure in agricultural sciences and helping them get their hands dirty while expanding their experiences and knowledge for the area in their own backyards. As a member of the board, Amanda hopes to further ingrain herself in the Ten Rivers community and she looks forward to learning more about her local food web and her role in it. Outside of teaching and learning, Amanda loves to get her hands dirty with her small boys in their backyard, enjoys family bike rides, and dreaming about a future urban homestead with her husband. 

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DIEGO NIETO

Board Member

Diego Nieto is the Healthy Communities Coordinator for the Linn County Health Department, where he works to strengthen local food systems and access across the county. He came to food systems work through a deep love for cooking delicious food, having grown up in a Spanish-Italian family that loves to eat, and working in restaurant kitchens for nearly 10 years. He has participated in several urban farming and mutual aid projects in Chicago and Corvallis, including Growing Ancestral Roots and Stop the Sweeps. Diego sees regenerative food production and community-centered distribution as integral to creating an equitable society, stewarding our land and water, and combating the alienation and isolation that capitalism engenders. In his time away from work and organizing, Diego enjoys making pottery, learning buddhist philosophy, and playing basketball.

Faren Leader, board member

FAREN LEADER

Board Member

Faren joined the TRFW board in early 2021. She is a lifelong NW Oregon gardener whose earliest memories are helping plant her family's backyard vegetable garden. She began to develop a deeper awareness of food systems issues in the past decade, and since then has coordinated a community garden in Salem, worked as a mixed vegetable farmer and local farmers' market vendor in Linn County, coordinated a food justice program in partnership with a public health organization, assists in the care of a school garden in Albany, and oversees the largest online gardening group in Linn County, the Albany Garden Share Facebook group. Her most earnest passions are local, high quality food access for low income households and communal food growing projects for all.  Outside of food systems organizing, Faren also enjoys cooking, knitting, learning and writing about permaculture, and adventures in Oregon's beautiful wilderness.

Mary Carman, student board member

MARY CARMAN

Board Member

Mary is a recent graduate of Oregon State University, having received a post-baccalaureate degree in Sustainability and the undergraduate certificate Food in Culture & Social Justice, where she focused on food justice, indigenous food sovereignty, and sustainable food systems. She is a Community Programs Coordinator at the Marion Polk Food Share in Salem, Oregon, where she works indepartmentally and with partner agencies to ensure clients receive fresh, nutritious, culturally relevant food. A long-time Oregonian, she enjoys gardening, hiking, listening to podcasts, cooking, watching movies, and playing board/card games. 

Mericos Rhodes, board member

MERICOS RHODES

Board Member

Mericos read his first Wendell Berry book in college, and set off on a meandering path to write and grow food as ways to connect nature and culture. His first farm experience was work on the pastures of Deck Family Farm, in the Willamette Valley. Later, he co-founded Spoon Full Farm, in Washington state, with several friends. There, he focused on the regenerative cattle program and on the farm’s marketing and sales development. 
 
A desire to learn more about food politics brought Mericos to Corvallis for a master’s program at Oregon State, where he wrote a thesis about centralization of food systems and the political problems with fake meat production. He resides in Corvallis where he works on small livestock operations, marketing copy, blog posts, and book projects. 

Yadira Ruiz, board member

YADIRA RUIZ

Board Member

Yadira Ruiz joined the board in May 2017 and is a full time organic farmer growing seasonal and storage crops at Sunbow Produce in the Willamette Valley. Yadira grew up in agriculture, watching her parents labor in commercial growing operations sometimes owned by local families but mostly owned by state wide corporations. It was the laborious nature of growing food that set her on a non-agricultural professional path where her love of culture, language and community were put to use as a teacher in California, a social worker, and social justice program director in Illinois. Her path included many volunteer roles ranging from mediation to advising young people doing activist work. Yadira was also honored as a Pantagraph 20 Under 40 Leader Award recipient in 2009 and a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill's PREVENT Institute.
 
Enriched by the experiences of her community involvement, the guidance of mentors and support of peers, Yadira's path took a turn when she was invited to an intimate lunch with Dolores Huerta at Illinois State University.  The food on Yadira's plate at that lunch took on a significance it had not had before. This eventually led to Yadira volunteering at a few small organic farms in her area and realizing the connection with food ran deep enough to make a big change. In 2010, Yadira returned to the Pacific Northwest to engage in the food system in the very way she had sworn off as a teenager. Farming with her partner Nate is a reality beyond "dreams come true," as she could not have imagined a life this good.