Angela DeFelice grew up outside of Rochester, NY, in a small town surrounded by fields of corn, soybeans and cows. For many years, Angela’s only connection to food and farming was through stories about her grandparents’ dairy that closed in the 50’s. While at Ithaca College, Angela started working at a local non-profit, as an advocate for women and children. She spent the next ten years in Ithaca, including work at a local Community Action agency addressing access to affordable housing and serving on the board of the non-profit Committee on US and Latin American Relations. Angela also spent two years living and working in Ocotal, Nicaragua, managing a small non-profit and building a locally owned, social enterprise dedicated to agricultural education. It was through her work in Ocotal that she started to understand that agriculture sits squarely at the intersection of cultural tradition, rebuilding a shared sense of place and community, environmental justice and growing local economies.
After studying ecological horticulture at the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems she worked two years at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project where she managed the low income CSA program. She went on to co-manage Huguenot Street Farm, a 12 acre Vegetable CSA farm in New Paltz, NY. Angela was first introduced to flower growing while farming in California, and over time fell in love with the challenge and beauty of growing flowers -- which brought her to Sol Flower Farm, where she built the cut flower enterprise from the ground up. Off the farm, Angela has a serious passion for dancing and wading ankle deep in creeks, catching salamanders.
D. Rooney got connected to farming after working as a carpenter, in addition to the music/audio industry and most recently working in the NYC restaurant industry at Blue Smoke, when her passion for food cultivated a desire to understand why there are inequities in our food system. In 2012, D. then became a certificate student of Farm School NYC, which she states was a life transforming experience that helped her identify her path and callings in life. During D.'s tenure with Farm School NYC, she also worked with EcoStationNY, a nonprofit that focuses on social, environmental and food justice. D. used her farming and carpentry skills as vehicles to talk about larger social and societal issues around race, class, gender and sexuality. Working with youth at the Bushwick Campus Farm (a project of EcoStationNY) the Farm School community, other nonprofits focusing on food, social and environmental justice, enabled her to dive into many of these topics. D. also worked as a fellow for Design Trust for Public Space in NYC, in partnership with Farming Concrete, to work with community gardeners about creative ways of collecting data that strengthens resiliency among community gardeners in NYC, nationally and globally.
From 2013 to 2015, D. was working with her friends and peers, Lorrie Clevenger, Jane Hodge, Michaela Hayes, Karen Washington and Maggie Cheney and collectively founded, Rise & Root Farm. After this, to expand upon her knowledge of growing food D. had been learning in NYC, she decided to move out of the city to dive full-time into large scale farming. D. spent the 2015 season working at the five-acre Sister's Hill Farm, in Stanfordville, NY, cultivating her large-scale farming skills and new love for CSA farming. At Sister’s Hill she learned about efficient farm systems, how to drive a tractor and helped to co-manage for their 250 member CSA. In the off season D. enjoys working for The Watershed Center, as an in-house cook, being a nerd and scheming about building and organizational projects for the farm, learning about tractors and motorcycles, connecting with friends, focusing on organizing and advocacy projects, as well as listening, dj-ing and dancing to music, a forever passion of hers.
Maggie Cheney grew up growing food, loving food, and wanting to share her passion and knowledge with others. Daughter of an organic farmer and founder of The Food Project, in Boston, she has been involved with food and farming her whole life. In 2006, she help start an elementary school garden program in Oakland, California, and then went on to University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems for two years, where she first met Angela. After farming in the Hudson Valley, at Four Winds Farm, she moved to NYC in 2011, where she became the Director of Farms & Education for EcoStation:NY. She now serves on their Board of Directors, continuing to promote youth organizing and food access work in the city. In 2014, she spent a season farming in Staten Island, at the Snug Harbor Heritage Farm, which solidified her want to get back to full-time farming.
In the off season she works with a large non-profit, Community Access, as a consultant helping to strengthen their food justice initiatives as well as continues to support the efforts and inspiring work of Rise & Root Farm, which she co-founded in 2014. Maggie is thrilled to continue the work she began last season with Sol Flower Farm, as now a co-owner of Rock Steady! When not on the farm you can find Maggie talking with folks about anti-oppression work as a white ally, swimming in the quarry next to the farm or adventuring to the ocean!