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Meet our Team

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Justin  |  Director of Community and Environmental Projects

My great-grandmother moved to Nashua in 1916 from Canada and although my family has traveled in and out over the years, Nashua has always been "home" to us.  My family lives here now and we try to live less out of habit and more out of intent.  

We enjoy our own garden for the quiet respite it provides, as well as for its nutritious bounty.  By putting down the roots for others that do not have the means we are able to share this enriching experience with others and simultaneously strengthen the neighborhoods of Nashua.  

Jess  |  Director of Education and Nutrition Projects

After 20 years of public school classroom instruction I longed to apply my background to a new challenge and the elementary Growing Education program was a natural fit. I strive to give students an immersive, hands-on experience in the garden that benefits the mind, body, and soul, while being rooted in academics and social emotional learning.

 

Since childhood I have been passionate about environmental responsibility and the health of our planet.  I am encouraged by the interest in ecological stewardship I see in Nashua, and grateful to be part of a team that strives to promote practices that will lead to a healthy and strong community.

 

When I’m not teaching about the garden, or in my own garden, I am busy with my kids and our dog. As a family we love spending time at Mines Falls, the Nashua Public Library, and our local farms.

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Gibril |  Curbside Compost Courier

I moved to the United States five years ago with my four children and wife as refugees from Burundi, a country in East Africa.

 

My family was very happy to have a community garden to grow our food when we arrived here and for Grow Nashua's help to find seedlings such as African eggplant that reminded us of home. 

 

In 2021 we started our own farm business with some space on a local farm and with the help of NRCS, Legacy Farm, and Grow Nashua.  We will be expanding this year to sell some of our fresh vegetables, as well as share with other community members that are in need.  

I look forward to continuing my job as a compost service driver and in growing my farm business here in Nashua.  

Tonia  |  Community Connector

I've lived in Nashua for most of my life and I am a 15-year resident of Major Drive, where I raised my children. Although my path has led me into a few side journeys, it always leads back here where ultimately my heart is. In this time, I have created a rich network of connections within both Major Drive and the community organizations that serve Nashua.

I can remember being a little girl at my grandparents house in the garden with my gram’s hands in the soil loving the smell and the feel of the soil in my hands running through my fingers. My gram taking the time to patiently instruct me on how to space, poke the seed holes, and gently place the seeds in so we could tuck them in to grow. These experiences led me to connect with the Earth and gave me an appreciation for what the Earth has given back to me. 

As a person who has grown up without steady financial resources, I have strong knowledge of how people find alternative resources to survive and thrive, and some creative ways to help people help themselves. As Grow Nashua's Community Connector, I draw on this knowledge, these relationships, and my life-long commitment to helping people find and use their strengths in a system of mutual support.  I’ve been through many stages within my life, helping others as  much as I could along the way.

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Sonya   |  Marketing Content Manager

I’ve lived in Nashua my whole life and am proud to call it my home. I’m a firm believer in the power of community and sustainability in fulfilling our responsibilities to our neighbors and environment. I started with Grow Nashua as an intern over the summer and am excited to continue managing our social media presence!

Asende   |  Curbside Compost Courier 

I was born in Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, and arrived as a refugee here in Nashua with my family in 2022.  There is much instability in my country because of conflict.  We are fortunate to be in a community where peace is present and all people have independence. 

I am glad to be working with Grow Nashua and to be providing a service that is positive for our environment.  I also speak Swahili and French and assist with translating for other families that have sought refuge here in Nashua and can use help learning how to navigate. 

We are raising our nine children in this city and enjoy growing fresh vegetables in the community gardens, as well as cooking home recipes like fufu, made from lots of corn and cassava flour.  You can contact me if you want to learn to cook African food :)

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Jack   |  Development Manager

My connection with food and the land began as a child in rural Pennsylvania helping my mom in her vegetable garden. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how growing food nourishes not just our bodies but our community. My experiences have demonstrated the potential community-owned agriculture has in bringing neighbors together to build resilient and connected communities while ensuring wholesome food is accessible.

My family recently started a market farm in southern New Hampshire, and we are excited to deepen our roots here in New Hampshire. I look forward to building community and connections with Grow Nashua and its partners, and to witness the opportunities that blossom when we work together.

other contributors to our success

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Dave   |  Garden Technical Specialist & Designer

When I was introduced to the concept of permaculture 12 years ago its values, ethics and principles resonated with me to my core. Since then I have been studying, practicing and teaching permaculture.  Permaculture has given me a new lens with which to view the world along with a set of proven strategies and a design process to develop creative solutions to today’s global challenges.  

 

This new perspective heightened my interest in gardening and food production.  At the time I was living in San Francisco and became immediately involved in a number of permaculture and urban agriculture projects.  Most notably was Hayes Valley Farm, a 2.2 acre urban community farm where I was a core volunteer helping to run and manage the farm along with leading various permaculture related workshops and classes.  Another project of note was a garden education program at the SF VA Hospital teaching veterans to grow food and help them learn about nutrition and aid them with recovery from addiction and PTSD.

After returning to Nashua, I continued my pursuit of permaculture knowledge and began networking to find meaningful projects. I met Justin in the fall of 2016 and I started working with Grow Nashua the following season. I  have been applying my skills to design and help install a number of our community and school gardens.  I have also been eager to share my knowledge by teaching numerous organic gardening classes for the families enrolled in Grow Nashua's gardening and farming program. 

 

I look forward to continuing this work of connecting with people, building relationships and helping to create a more resilient community while helping families in need provide healthy, organic food for their families and hope for a brighter future. 

David  |  Garden Tender

I first met Justin during a “What can senior citizens do for Nashua” seminar where he was sharing about the goals and objectives of the Grow Nashua and I felt there was something that I could contribute to the program. Then Justin found out that I knew my way around hammers and nails, and I have been with the program ever since. That was about three seasons ago and since then we have built a lot of raised beds and moved several tons of mulch and potting soil!

 

Having grown up on a medium sized dairy farm with a large garden, I thought I knew something about raising veggies. But every time I listen to Justin explain the finer points of fall plot coverage or organic fertilizer, it becomes painfully obvious that either I did not know as much as I thought I did or have forgotten what little I did know. So, working for Grow Nashua has been a learning experience for me. 

 

This last summer I was the Ash Street Garden tender, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was so rewarding to watch the plants grow to harvest and see the joy that was evident on the faces of the planters as they worked their plots. My wife and I have relocated from New York, where we had small gardens off and on over the years. Demands of work drew me away from gardening and working at Ash St. brought the memories of those gardens back.

So come next spring, I will be back at Ash Street, maintaining the area so the planters will have a pleasant spot to work in. See you there!!

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Pheni | Community Development

I grew up in Malawi, a small and beautiful landlocked nation in southeast Africa. When I was little, I struggled to understand why a country blessed with natural beauty and rich soil constantly experienced hunger and chronic lack of nutrition, I wanted to find answers and solutions 

 

Having experienced poverty and hunger, I developed a passion for community development and in 2010 I started a nonprofit called Love in Action Malawi to help provide holistic education to the children experiencing poverty and hopelessness. Today, organizations support over 1000 children with daily tutoring/after school lessons and daily meals. My organization is also actively involved in teaching the communities sustainable agriculture cultivating different crops on 20 acres of land. We are also involved in social justice education and advocacy. 

Grow Nashua gave me an opportunity in 2020 to learn more about community gardening and best practices in agriculture.  I've taken this knowledge back to assist people in Malawi to learn sustainable methods of farming as well as the masters work I completed on Organizational leadership at the UMass Lowell. 

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Christina | Communitor Connector & Lil' Farmstand Greeter

Every summer my grandfather had tomato and cucumber plants at his cottage on the lake and would let me pick a few to include in our meals while we were visiting. That was one of my favorite childhood memories and as a mother I want to pass that onto my child.

 

Gardening is relaxing and provides well being in several ways for physical and emotional health.  Being  a veteran who has struggles with physical and mental health I've found gardening to be some of the best therapy offered in my community. After growing in two garden beds to the veterans transitional housing I was living in as a way to reintegrate veterans back into the community while also meeting their nutritional needs. I joined Grow Nashua to serve fellow community members and help diminish suffering by providing useful information on valuable resources. It’s a great experience for me to get to know our neighbors and be able to help get their immediate needs met.

Paul | Director of Ecological Stewardship

I have spent the last 25 years living in the Nashua area and raising my family. My focus with Grow Nashua is on the diversion of food waste by residents, businesses, and schools (click to join us)!

We are fortunate to live in a state that is the second most forested after Maine at 81%. Yet, New Hampshire does not have any laws on organic waste diversion as it permits food waste to be disposed of in landfills.  We are starting to hit the limits with our present landfill space, so we are setting the example that just a small change in food diversion habits helps to reduce an individual's ecological footprint, lessen the impact on natural resources and turn food scraps into good compost and renewable energy! 

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Beatriz | Social Emotional Learning Specialist Intern

Growing up in Lawrence, Massachusetts I was exposed to many difficulties experienced by the people in my community which energized me to pursue an education in a field geared towards improving the lives of individuals.

I am passionate about food and nutrition access and its impact on health, social determinants of health, and social justice initiatives and was please to contribute to research on Social-Emotional Learning and how this can be incorporated in the School Growing Education series.

Stephanie | Director of Volunteer Engagement

I am passionate about sustainable food systems and ecosystem stewardship, and am committed to strengthening the urban ecological health in the Greater Nashua region where I grew up.

 

My background is environmental science and policy with a focus in sustainable and resilient communities, and I earned my  Masters in Environmental Management from Western Colorado University.

 

I bring a diverse set of experiences to the Grow Nashua team, from managing a farm to food pantry program in Snohomish County, Washington to spending time working on food policy in New Orleans. I am a co-founder of the Southwest Seed Library, have coordinated community-scale design projects, and have educated students ages 2 to 72. I love "the great outdoors", traveling, and organic gardening.

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