GTC STAFF & BOARD MEMBERS
Ibrahim Ali is the Co-Executive Director of Gardening the Community (GTC). He has played a key role in developing GTC into one of a growing handful of youth food justice organizations in Western Massachusetts. Ibrahim has been involved with youth related programming for over 20 years, the last 10 teaching and learning with youth at GTC. Brother Ali shares that his adopted farming style represents his growth and understanding of Hiphop where sampling and remixing regenerative agriculture, pesticide-free farming, urban specific farming, agro-ecology and more are freely shared, interpreted and experimented with.
He has humbly served on the steering Committee of Pioneer Valley Grows, the first Green Committee appointed by Springfield’s City Council, and as an early member of the Steering Committee and Urban Agriculture committee for the Springfield Food Policy Council.
Ibrahim has witnessed the strength and importance that farming in the city is, and what it will be for the future of feeding people in more ways ways than just their appetites having witnessed the return to regenerative methods in Cuba, and through intensive trainings at the original Growing Power (Milwaukee) and The Seed School (Phoenix) among others. Additionally he has received training from the Master Gardeners Program of Western Mass, and is a Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP).
Ibrahim continually shares his experiences with the work, and has spoken in classrooms and panels at Springfield College, Harvard, Columbia University, Mount Holyoke, Bard College at Simon's Rock, UMass-Amherst and others.
He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Robinson is the Food Access Manager for GTC. His best memory was the first time he entered the farm as part of a summer jobs program right after high school. That is when he became aware of GTC for the first time and the powerful movement he was about to be part of. Working with GTC gives him great joy, and makes him feel both empowered and held accountable. Thanks to GTC, he has discovered his passion, which is food justice, growing food and sustaining the soil. He wants GTC to be here when he has children so that they will know the importance of healthy eating. The best part of his job is knowing that it brings important benefits to the community -- whether its from teaching youth a new skill or selling affordable and great quality produce to a neighborhood family. Brandon has lived in Springfield since moving from Puerto Rico.
Click here to email Brandon!
Click here to email Brandon!
Fatiha Muhammad is the Youth Program and Community Engagement Manager. She is passionate about youth development and improving the relationship between people of color and healthy organic food. She started with GTC as a youth and hopes that the new youth will grow through the program as she has to enrich the community and GTC as an organization. She is also excited to engage with more of the community and teach them that GTC is a place to grow physically and mentally through gardening as well as an organization that can help combat food insecurity in Springfield. Her hobbies include biking, music, baking, and watching movies.
Click here to email Fatiha!
Isshiah Stone is the Walnut Street Community Farm Store Manager. Isshiah's journey with GTC started a few years ago as a youth. Now, she is committed to expanding Springfield's knowledge about healthy eating. She loves to travel and gain knowledge about how other communities are working together to be more agriculturally sustainable in order to apply it to the city of Springfield. In her spare time she loves to take walks, admire nature, and go for long drives. She also loves to draw and sculpt new things from any material.
Click here to email Isshiah!
Jess Flohr is the Farm Store Assistant & Special Projects Manager. Born in Hartford and raised in San Francisco and Niagara Falls, Jess moved back to New England to complete an undergraduate degree at Smith College in Government/Environmental Science & Policy and archival studies. They are passionate about urban agriculture and public policy, especially at the intersection of environmental and racial justice. Jess is committed to building an equitable community in the broader Valley through other work at Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. Hobbies include hiking, visual art, and trying to keep houseplants alive.
Currently, Jess is covering some of GTC's transition process around Development & Communications, and can answer questions about those areas as well.
Click here to email Jess!
Monique Owens is Accounting Clerk with GTC. Monique is a born and raised Springfield Native who is proud to receive all her education from their public schools and local colleges. She has been a part of the GTC family since August 2018 where she found her drive to address social injustice in her community through their work. She works for the City of Northampton as a grants administrator for affordable housing and plans to grow in her career path of addressing and serving her and local community needs.
Click here to email Monique!
Carly Sharp is a TerraCorps member completing her service year with GTC. Her time working on a number of different farms over the past five years has taught her the empowering nature of building community with neighbors, grassroots organizations, and volunteers to address food insecurity perpetuated by structural and historical disparities around power. Having grown up and then studied in Michigan, she is a transplant to the neighborhood and community, but is very honored and excited to be learning from you all this coming year! Outside of work, Carly loves cooking meals with friends, making music, and biking anywhere and everywhere..
Click here to email Carly!
GTC Board of Directors
Glenroy Buchanan is the founder and president of the Pioneer Valley/New England Growers Food Co-op. In addition, he is the founder of the Meditation Group entitled “Meditation Examines Negative Dialogue and Conflicts” (M.E.N.D. Conflicts). He also works with the Attorney General Conflict Intervention Team. He is skilled in understanding school and youth culture, particularly in reference to cultural awareness and dynamics of racial conflicts in schools. Additionally, he has been involved with the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT) as well as the Community Crisis Support Service Team (CCSS). He is also the program director for the Amherst Shelter for youth and adolescents, where he finds his expertise in farming as well as his ability to connect to young people to be particularly handy. He is also connected with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture as well as numerous farmers in the Pioneer Valley. He was drawn to Gardening the Community because he grew up in Springfield and finds that the community has played a large role throughout his life.
Robin Claremont is Treasurer of the Gardening the Community Board. Her day job is Director of Family Giving and Engagement at Amherst College. Robin got involved with GTC because of her life-long passion for the environment, agriculture, and social justice. She is an avid gardener and loves the reward for long hours in the garden that comes from that first bite of a fresh snap pea, tomato, or pepper.
Jeffrey Markham Jr. is Program Manager at the Center for Community Health Equity Research, University of MA, where he is helping lead a research project with MOCHA (Men of Color Health Awareness) to address health disparities with men of color in Springfield. .He has also worked at the Caring Health Center looking at the relationship between food insecurity and chronic disease and working with young people. This is where he first became introduced to GTC and the power of healthy food access and its impact on health. He thinks a lot about land as it relates to restoration and reparations for the black community, and is excited to share his passion, research, evaluation and marketing skills with GTC.
Laura Masulis currently serves as MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Fellow in Springfield, working closely with community partners to build a downtown district that is a vibrant center for entrepreneurship, arts & dining. Laura previously served as Senior Partnerships Manager at Interise, a national non-profit helping established small businesses scale in lower-income communities. Early in her career, Laura worked for Public Consulting Group focused on improving state assistance programs. In her spare time, Laura co-founded Make-It Springfield, a community makerspace & incubator, and she previously co-founded a community bike shop in the Merrimack Valley. Laura is a graduate of Wesleyan University, has a Certificate in Non Profit Management from the Boston University School of Management and is a Leadership Pioneer Valley graduate.
Awilda Sanchez is a retired nurse who now works as the Parent Facilitator at Brookings Elementary School located just around the corner from GTC’s Walnut Street Farm in Springfield. She is a passionate advocate for the power of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and the impact this can have on people’s health. Before Awilda became involved with GTC she had diabetes and osteoarthritis and walked with a cane because she was always in so much pain. She decided to try changing her diet as a way to address the root causes of her health problems, and began receiving a Farm Share from Gardening the Community youth who biked it to her home every week. After several months she lost weight and was able to walk without her cane; she has been diabetes free for 3 years. She advocates for food gardens at schools and in her neighborhood whenever she can.
Jihan Stone has been working with Gardening The Community for 3 years as a youth in our program. She enjoys everything we do including gardening, public speaking, selling fresh and affordable produce, and most of all helping our community be healthier. These days you can mostly find her working in the Farm Store where she handles the register and many other tasks. She was surprised to be chosen to be a board member, but she is taking on the role and is loving it.
Liz Wills-O’Gilvie serves as chair of the GTC board, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Springfield Food Policy Council, PVGrows Steering Committee member and as a Project Advisor with the team that developed and is implementing the 2015 Massachusetts State Food System Plan. Best of all, she is a school garden asst. coordinator and teacher and works with organizations across the country to help build the school and community garden movement. Her work in the food system, public health and community building across racial and socio-economic lines is built on 25 years of experience working on Community Economic Development efforts in marginalized communities. Driven by her belief in the possibility for community revitalization through slow and steady partnership development, Liz uses lessons learned from brick and mortar development in her work with people, schools, gardens and farms. Liz is a critical thinker about issues relating to class, race, gender, culture and privilege. Her work in Springfield is personally driven by her families’ nearly 90 year history of living in the city where she now lives, works and shops with her husband Ed, a public school teacher and their eight year old son Evan, a budding urban farmer/superhero. In her free time Liz borrows one of Evan’s capes while gardening, biking, and dreaming of change!
Sabrina Woodgett is a life long resident of Springfield. She retired from MassMutual after 28 years where she was a Director in the Retirement Services division. Sabrina also graduated from Tufts University with a Biology degree. She has been involved with GTC since 2016 and takes extreme pride in assisting with planting the first cover crop on the Walnut garden site and sharing ideas and strategies on various GTC committees and events. Sabrina is passionate about sustainable and organic farming. She enjoys planning, nurturing, and growing on her 18.5 acres in the Berkshires she named the Sugar Shack Farm after the 1st structure built on the property. The building was constructed by using trees cut and milled on the property and a foundation created from the rocks and boulders collected by her uncle.
Other current Board members include Tory Field and Bettye Anderson Frederic.
Past Board Members
Sister Anna Muhammad
Hermine Levey Weston