D. Rooney, Co-Owner & Vegetable Farmer
D. is a mixed Latinx, gender non-binary farmer. D. 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 D''s 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 D. 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, Co-Owner & Vegetable Farmer
Maggie grew up growing & loving food. 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 co-founder Angela. After farming a bit in the Hudson Valley, she moved to NYC in 2011, where she became the Director of Farms & Education for EcoStation:NY. 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, teached, now for the sixth year, at Farm School NYC, an urban agriculture training program. as well as continues to support the efforts and inspiring work of Rise & Root Farm, which she co-founded in 2014. 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!
Blake Hill, Flower Manager
Blake grew up in the city of Milwaukee, WI. After graduating from college in 2007, he began working with plants in a beautiful, terraced multi-acre native and wildflower garden in the hills above Lake Austin. Blake then moved to California to work at a diversified CSA farm, Deep Seeded Community Farm, in Arcata, for two years. It was in Arcata that he also worked as an advocate for the Henderson Center Community Garden, a Hmong garden at the center of the small city. Blake was a part of a team tasked to communicate with the city on behalf of the predominantly Hmong speaking gardeners, about the many tangible benefits of food security and sovereignty derived from their garden plots.
Blake decided to moved back to Austin as Head Grower at Urban Roots. Urban Roots is a “youth development organization that uses food and farming to transform the lives of young people.” In combination with farm work, Blake loved working closely with 30 youth interns to establish a unique and warm environment that was safe for all folks and the basis for a lot of quality produce. The years at Urban Roots allowed Blake to further his understanding and appreciation of land based connections as a place to inspire, engage and nourish a community.
In 2015 he moved to the east coast to work at Chicory Florals, a professional cut flower farm in Philadelphia, where his love of growing flowers really took hold. At Chicory he advanced his learning of high-density flower farming, hoop house production and design. His time with Chicory Florals is what brings Blake to Rock Steady today- to a continued pursuit of land based connections and days filled with beautiful flowers.
Angela DeFelice, Farm Consultant
Angela 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. Angela is one of the founding owners of Rock Steady, and now acts as our farm consultant. Off the farm, Angela has a serious passion for dancing and wading ankle deep in creeks, catching salamanders.
Kat Siladi, Flower Sales Consultant
Kat is the former sales and marketing manager of Rock Steady Flowers. Currently based in New York City, she makes pottery, herbal medicine, and flower designs. She loves cynoglossum and chocolate cosmos the most and is passionate about connecting humans to plants for food, medicine, and beauty which she has been doing for 12 years. She imagines new and equitable ways of agriculture, economics, and livelihood are possible and that the people on this land are working so hard to create it. She reveres this land's capacity for crisis and healing. She is currently consulting with the Rock Steady Team for sales and production. She identifies as a diva farmer.