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.
JANE BUSH grew up in Farmington, Michigan, on the old farmstead that has been in her family since the 1840’s. She attended Marygrove College in Detroit and was employed as a machinist for seven years at a financial printing company. She quit that job the day after her profit-sharing matured and bought AppleSchram Orchard in Charlotte MI from her uncle and aunt, Hugh and Lenore Schram, in 1987. Immediately she began using organic methods and became certified organic in 1992. Her apples were marketed through AppleSchram’s seasonal on-farm market and other farmer’s markets. She also created many value-added products such as apple sauce, apple butter and apple cider which are distributed nationally. In 1997 she helped create, and still generally manages, Grazing Fields, a farmers’ egg cooperative. In 2009 she was hired as a Business Development Specialist for Food System Economic Partnership in southeast Michigan. This work brought her to the food hub project. Jane is also certified as a Business Service Provider with the Small Business Administration.
KATHLEEN TIMBERLAKE was raised in an ethnically diverse family that survived the Depression and WWII rationing. Perennial and seasonal gardens, orchards, rabbits, small scale poultry production and all that entailed, remained part of her Virginia homestead well into her parents’ retirement. Education in the fine arts and social sciences also contributed to a life-long interest and involvement in rural culture, especially handcrafts and food ways. For her doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, fieldwork was conducted with craftspeople in Appalachia, Hopi mesas and, for an extensive period, with wheat farmers in central Kansas. Farmer and crafts markets have continued to be a fascination–from the arid desert Southwest to the frigid Scandinavian arctic tundra. Volunteer and professional activities centered on assisting small rural towns in capitalizing on ethnic traditions for economic benefit, historic preservation and, most recently, organizing and fundraising for the rehabilitation of the Delhi bridge. Being a thorn in the side of local government has been a persistent hobby and one that should contribute to this project’s ambitions for expansion of our regional food economy.
ELI SALEMBIER received his bachelors from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and studied Restaurant Management at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR. He received his MBA from the University of Michigan and has been working in accounting and finance for eight years. He currently works for NSF International as their Finance Manager. He supports the Washtenaw Food Hub as a business advisor. He spent two years working as a restaurant consultant and has been supporting a $100 million food safety business in his role at NSF. Eli proved his love for food when he was young learning to cook his first dish, a cheese soufflé, at the age of nine.
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.