The Washtenaw Food Hub is a cooperatively organized 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 had an early interest in farming and worked as a teenager for a local farmer. After high school he worked part-time on several other farms and full-time as a timber-frame carpenter over the next 15 years. He also tended traditional, Asian-raised gardens at the Ann Arbor and Toronto Zen Buddhist Temples. In 1993 he bought 40-acres of land in Chelsea, Michigan, which he named Tantrè Farm, and started farming with just a few crops, besides continuing full-time as a carpenter. For the next several years, he worked at building relationships with the neighborhood, the surrounding community, and the land. Richard began work as a full-time farmer in 2001 when he, some farm workers, and his wife, Deb Lentz, decided to turn Tantrè Farm into a full-fledged CSA produce farm, which now grows 80 to 100 different types of certified organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, mushrooms, and flowers. Over the years Richard has been asked to speak about local food and farming issues as well as the CSA model for various conferences and panel discussions. He also has been a well-known organic produce vendor at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market for the past twelve years. In response to the great support of the local food community, Tantrè Farm’s CSA member participation, and the unprecedented Ann Arbor Greenbelt land preservation movement, Richard and Deb recently purchased 16 acres of land for the “food hub project” just north of Ann Arbor, for conservation, community development, and support of local agriculture. Richard is interested in continuing to enhance the local food culture: where food can be grown, distributed, and used in authentic participation and enjoyment & to encourage an appreciation of agriculture, community, and culture.
DEB LENTZ grew up on a 160-acre beef farm in Lake City, Minnesota. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota with a BA in Elementary Education, and throughout her 16 years of teaching has taught every grade from 1st through 6th. Now Deb is co-owner of Tantré Farm, a CSA farm in Chelsea, Michigan, which produces certified organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, mushrooms, and flowers. As a farmer and former educator she has led many Farm-to-School presentations for elementary students in the Ann Arbor School District for the past several years. Currently Deb also participates with a core group of vendors in running the Chelsea Farmers Market. As a parent she is actively involved at Honey Creek Community School in Ann Arbor with the school’s Wellness, Farm-to-School, and Edible School Garden committees. She is serving her second term on the board of directors for The Agrarian Adventure, a non-profit organization which partners with K-12 schools to enrich students’ connection between the foods they eat, their personal health, and the health of their communities and the environment. With a strong interest in community involvement, education, and healthy food choices, Deb is interested in the multi-layered possibilities of the Washtenaw Food Hub.
KIM BAYER is one of our area’s main advocates for the community and economic benefits of local food. Called “Ann Arbor’s local food guru” by some, she is a former senior manager at U-M, with a background in Information and Library Science. She currently works as a freelance writer and researcher, consultant and project manager. Kim’s knowledge of the local food system is deep, and filled with many connections to important stakeholders across the state. She is a board member on the Executive Committee of the Food System Economic Partnership. As President of the non-profit Slow Food Huron Valley, she is a driving force (since 2007) behind the annual HomeGrown Festival and Local Food Summit conference events. Kim has produced several guides to local food, on topics like Choosing Your CSA Farm Share and Local Meat. Kim writes regularly about food system issues for Annarbor.com, and for publications like EdibleWOW and Michigan Home and Lifestyle Magazine. In addition to setting up a “CSA Matchmaking Service,” she has consulted with a number of local farms and businesses on their marketing strategy. Kim’s main interest is in strengthening our food system and building community food security. She brings skills as a project manager, collaboration builder, and strategist, along with knowledge of big picture food system issues and familiarity with the concerns of individual farmers and food producers.
MARIS LAPORTER has a bachelor of Fine Arts from The Center for Creative Studies and a master of Library and Information Science from U of M. Her work has mainly involved serving the public in various information-related areas. She started as the Assistant Manager of a small independent bookstore, The Book End, for 5 years, then managed the Library Media Center at the University of Detroit Library for 5 more years. After library school, she worked as a Librarian for 11 years at Cranbrook Academy of Art. She has for the last 8 years been a Realtor in Washtenaw County, and was the Realtor who facilitated the purchase by Richard Andres & Deb Lentz of the food hub property on Whitmore Lake Road. She has been a volunteer over the years for several organizations including the Archives of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Ark, Tantre Farm, the Washtenaw County Parks and Saline Farmer’s Market as a Master Gardener, and for the Washtenaw Food Hub planning group since January 2011. As a CSA member of both Tantre Farm and Two Tracks Acres, and as an avid cook & gardener concerned with healthy eating in general, she provides the perspective of the average consumer for the WFH project. She also contributes her advice regarding real estate issues, aesthetics, event planning, and her un-asked-for opinions on anything and everything.