The Washtenaw Food Hub is a limited liability corporation formed by successful organic growers, local food advocates, and professionals supporting the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable regional food system. Below are bios of the members of our planning team.
RICHARD ANDRES is a farmer, philosopher and former carpenter who has developed the largest and most successful certified organic CSA farm in Michigan. Richard’s background includes employment on a farm as a teenager and 5 years at the Ann Arbor and Toronto Zen Buddhist temples. During Richard’s early career, he worked as a timber-frame carpenter. In 1993 he purchased the original 40 acre Tantré Farm property while continuing to work as a carpenter. He achieved organic certification that year and began growing staple crops like potatoes, peppers and melons for market. Richard turned to work as a full-time farmer when he and his wife, Deb Lentz, transitioned Tantré Farm into a full-fledged Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm with 30 members in 2001. Now with nearly 400 members, Richard and Deb grow over 100 different types of organic fruits and vegetables annually, along with herbs, mushrooms, and flowers. Deb and Richard have expanded Tantré Farm to 150 acres, with a community of 6 employees and 10 interns every season. In addition to their CSA members and several weekly farmers markets, Tantré Farm regularly supplies more than a dozen restaurants and grocery stores, along with numerous farm-to-table events throughout the year. Tantré Farm is known nationally and internationally through coverage in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, GQ, Imagine, and Rich Horan’s book “Harvest.”
DEB LENTZ is an educator, farmer and organizer who grew up on a 160-acre farm in Lake City, Minnesota. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota with a BA in Elementary Education, and taught grades 1-6 throughout her 16 years as a school teacher. Deb is co-owner of Tantré Farm in Chelsea, Michigan, where she manages the communication and outreach for the farm, handles the finances, and develops educational programs. Deb is a board member of The Agrarian Adventure, a non-profit organization which partners with K-12 schools to enrich students’ connection between the foods they eat, their health, the health of their communities and the environment. Deb is also a parent organizer of the Wellness, Farm-to-School, and Edible School Garden committees at the Honey Creek Community School in Ann Arbor where she runs the “farmer in the classroom” program. Deb is also on the governance board of the Chelsea Farmers Market.
DAN VERNIA is a certified ServSafe Chef with 30 years of experience in high-volume food production, value-chain management, and logistics. His responsibilities at the Washtenaw Food Hub include facility design, development of food safety standard operating procedures (SOPs), procurement, and creation of wholesale aggregation and distribution channels that link local farmers with new and larger markets for their products. His unique expertise includes designing the facility layout to maximize productivity and efficiency of labor; ordering and inventory; delivery and distribution systems to meet both supply and demand; food handling safety protocols and HACCP planning; standards for post-harvest and packaging to meet expectations of food service; value-added processing concepts to attract and serve needs of food service venues across a wide demographic.
KIM BAYER is a project manager, communicator, and strategist as well as a veteran community organizer and coalition-builder with deep knowledge of local food systems. Her background includes a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan in Information and Library Science and 15 years of experience at U-M where she and her staff guided strategic direction in technology for teaching and learning. Kim is currently involved in the development of the Washtenaw Food Hub with the goal of establishing health as the standard for economic, environmental and social well-being. Kim has led the creation and implementation of numerous collaborative food system projects, including conferences (Local Food Summit 2009-2014), festivals (HomeGrown Festival 2008-2012), and she teaches workshops and lectures on food system issues. In addition, Kim is a published author and restaurant critic, and she writes on food-related subjects for regional publications and has written several guides to local food in the Ann Arbor area. Kim is the founder and President of the Great Lakes CSA Coalition, a 501c3 created to promote CSA farms and establish wellness rebates from insurance companies. Kim is Chair of the non-profit Slow Food Huron Valley, and a board member on the Executive Committee of the Food System Economic Partnership.