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!
Sara, Vegetable Manager
Sara is excited to be working with Rock Steady Farm and Flowers this season. Sara began farming upon moving to the tiny, rugged, and rural Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon 7 years ago to work towards understanding self-sufficiency and community autonomy. She’s passionate about social justice and its intersection with organic farming. She initially moved to that land to learn basic permaculture farming and herbalism, but was quickly inspired by the community to start her own farm. Through self-teaching and elder knowledge, she began to grow a 1.5 organic vegetable and flower garden for homestead consumption and Farmers’ Market sales in order to grow as much food to share with her community. Sara worked on many different farms in the region including a 5-acre farm called DanceFarm, a women-run, organic
Vegetable, herb, and flower farm centered in art, community activism, and relationship to land stewardship. Here she practiced and developed tools and skills in utilizing the land and food as ways to deepen connection in community - the ways that connection to place, plants, and soil can bring people together. Sara believes that this connection is intrinsically important and essential to community building and organizing.
On break from farming for the last 1.5 years, Sara was living in Arizona working with the immigrant solidarity organization No More Deaths. She’s excited to return to farming grounded in the importance of just systems and access to food, resources, safety, and security for all. She believes in the power of community organizing, direct action, and passionate and creative work towards building just systems and healthy communities. When she’s not farming, you can find Sara riding her bicycle in the mountains, following rivers, and getting lost in the woods.
Mika Shibuya, Vegetable Farmer
Mika is a mixed-race, Japanese-American queer farmer. Mika entered the world of farming as live-in intern on two farms in New York and New Jersey, respectively, during and shortly after graduating college. In 2012, she moved from to California for a position with the Farm Crew at Veggielution Community Farm in East San Jose. Here, she quickly stepped into the role of Nursery Manager, and honed her skills in propagation, pest and disease control, farm planning, and peer mentorship. In 2014, she worked for a year as the Nursery Manager at the California Native Garden Foundation, where she expanded her propagation skills to include a number of native california plants, connecting the dots between ecosystem restoration, organic farming, and food security. In 2015 she returned to Veggielution, where applied her experience at CNGF to expanding the nursery operation to include native plants. She lead community workshops on the propagation, care, and importance of native plants to the farm ecosystem.
In the summer of 2017, Mika moved to the fertile, agricultural Capay Valley for a job at Say Hay Farms. Here, she honed her skills in commercial farming, and witnessed firsthand the challenges of surviving as a small, sustainably managed farm in a system that favors, large-scale, subsidized monocrops. During Mika’s almost 2-year tenure at Say Hay Farms, she did some deep soul-searching around farmer debt, burnout, farmer and farm worker health, and the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in the organic food movement, both on-farm and off-farm. Mika believes that in order for the food system to be truly sustainable, we need to learn how to value not only the food we eat, but those who grow it, and, if we are to have a viable future, it must be queer, racially diverse, and feminist.
Camille Camayd, Vegetable Farmer
Camille is a queer agroecological farmer, and organizer born and raised in the archipelago of Borikén (Puerto Rico). There they collaborate in an occupied urban community food garden called Huerto Semilla located in the public state University of Puerto Rico in efforts to collectively learn and share sustainable food growing practices and relationships with the community. In 2017, they were part of an agroecological farming training in Escuela Agroecológica El Josco Bravo in Toa Alta, Borikén. In 2018 they were an apprentice in the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in CA and continued as a second year fellow where farming education and community building where primary roles. She is also part of Farmers of the Global Majority, a group created by and for PoC apprentices. Camille believes in the radical transformational process of growing food as a means to uplift our communities, build solidarity, create safe spaces, create alternative economies, connect, heal and liberate ourselves and the island from dependencies that the colony perpetuates.
Rica Bryan, Vegetable Farmer
Rica is jazzed to join the Rock Steady Farm & Flowers team/community this season. Rica grew up one hour east of Millerton. After years as an outdoor educator in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, Rica moved to NYC to pursue a degree in Public Health Nutrition. Rica soon got involved with Grow NYC Learn It, Grow It, Eat It in the South Bronx, a community garden / youth intern program - her first exposure to racial inequity and structural injustice in the food system. She then worked out of the NYC Department of Health creating and facilitating youth programming at farmers’ markets serving low-income families and contributed to the department’s Race to Justice internal reform process, an effort to better address racial health gaps and improve health outcomes for all New Yorkers.
Most recently, Rica was coordinating health/wellness programs for Community Access, a non-profit partner of Rock Steady that expands opportunities for people living with mental health concerns to recover from trauma and discrimination through affordable housing, advocacy, and healing-focused services including urban farming and culinary skill-training. Since 2016, Rica has been a student with Farm School NYC which trains local residents in urban agriculture in order to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action around food access and social, economic, and racial justice issues. Farm School NYC has informed tremendous undoing and relearning for Rica around privilege, whiteness, and decolonization and inspired her to take the leap, pursue farming full-time, and root with Rock Steady this season. Off farm, Rica is fond of woodsy walks with her wife and dog, karaoke, and 90’s dance parties.
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.
Yeshua W. Ganan, Flower Farmer
Born in South America and raised in northern New Jersey, Yeshua’s interest in agriculture began at an early age, when they understood that farmers feed the people. They began cultivating their skills in urban NJ by volunteering with local parks and community gardens. Since relocating to NY’s Upper Hudson Valley in 2014, they’ve continued to grow their knowledge and experience through working as an itinerant laborer on farms throughout Greene, Ulster, Delaware and Schoharie counties, as well as landscaping and groundskeeping, and training as an apprentice in the construction trades. Yeshua has also volunteered with some local community-based organizations, including the River City teaching garden in Hudson, NY.
Yeshua identifies as a bi-gender individual with mild Asperger’s syndrome, which manifests as being very organized and detail-oriented, and motivated by the satisfaction of seeing nature come to life through their hard work. Yeshua can be quiet and introverted, but thrives on being part of a positive and well-functioning team, and knowing that they’re making a tangible contribution to people’s lives. Some of Yeshua’s other interests include photography and visual art, working with machinery and farm equipment, and outdoor activities – especially hiking with their dog, Bud.
Paul, Flower Farmer
Wandering for the last ten years as a half desert rat, between the woods and farms of the Northeast and the open vistas of the desert and mountain West, Paul came back to the Hudson Valley to find their community, once and for all. Landing at Rock Steady is a culmination of years of haphazard but dedicated farming, from their own garlic farm while hermitting in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont back to their first market farm venture in the hollers of NC. An ongoing atonement for previous work in the mining industry, a place to heal from mistakes, and a longing for a queer space that feels like home, Paul couldn't stay away from Rock Steady's mission and goals.
If you want to learn to ice dance while talking about garlic and quantum consciousness, or addiction and the ever present realities of climate justice, or cats and bagels, Paul will happily oblige.
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.