FMC Welcomes New Board Members!
By: Elizabeth Comiskey Posted On: June 11, 2015
The Farmers Market Coalition members recently elected four new board members, and also re-elected Monika Roth to the Farmers Market Coalition Board of Directors.
Executive Director, Crossroads Community Food Network
Takoma Park, MD
Number of Years in the Farmers Market Field: 8
Christie Balch is the Executive Director of the Crossroads Community Food Network in Takoma Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve access to fresh, local, healthy food through innovative programs and models mutually supportive of those who grow our food and those who eat it. Crossroads is nationally known as the first farmers market in the country to double the value of federal nutrition benefits spent at market.
Before joining Crossroads in 2013, Christie worked as a Program Coordinator for the University of Maryland Extension, developing new community food projects in Maryland and Afghanistan. She has a Masters of Public Health degree through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a focus on food systems and is a member of their Delta Omega Honor Society. Christie also serves on the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Technical Committee and is a volunteer EMT with the Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department.
Special Event Coordinator/Farmers Market Manager & Special Project Coordinator
City of Aurora, Illinois & Chicago & Beyond Tourism Development Office
Aurora & Belvidere, IL
Number of Years in the Farmers Market Field: 4
Dale is a Special Event Coordinator for the City of Aurora, organizing city events such as holiday parades, festivals and celebrations, as well as manager of Aurora’s Farmers Market, Illinois’ oldest continuously operating market. He also works as a Special Projects Coordinator for Chicago & Beyond regional Tourism Office and is a board member of the Illinois Farmers Market Association. Known for his endless stream of ideas, targeted initiatives and non-traditional resources, Dale has a proven record of increasing revenues and patron satisfaction. His creative marketing efforts frequently bring thousands of new faces, as well as significantly defining and expanding an events brand. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from Northern Illinois University. A life-long micro-farmer, Dale raises a wide variety of free-range poultry, is a self-sufficiency advocate and an award winning vegetable gardener.
VP, Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach,
The Farm Credit Council
Number of years in the farmers market field: 30
Gary Matteson knows agriculture first hand. Until recently he was a small farmer operating a greenhouse business in Epsom, New Hampshire, and also raising beef for sale locally. In addition to having been an agricultural entrepreneur, he has served on the board of directors of his local Farm Credit Association, as well as several non-profit boards. Before leaving New Hampshire for Washington, DC, he was active in local government. Matteson holds Bachelor’s Degrees in agronomy and biology from the University of Connecticut.
Matteson now works at the Farm Credit Council, the trade association for the nationwide Farm
Credit System. He is an advocate for young, beginning, small, and minority farmer outreach programs. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, such as providing training sessions in business leadership, governance, financial skills, and generating new program ideas to benefit beginning farmers. This includes work on emerging opportunities in local foods, sustainable agriculture, direct-to-consumer agriculture, and generational transition of farm businesses. In addition to working directly with farm groups, Matteson is active in policy related to new entrants to farming. He now serves on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.
Director, Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA)
East Lansing, MI
Number of Years in the Farmers Market Field: 13
Dru (Bernthal) Montri grew up on her family homestead in Frankenmuth, Michigan. She was introduced to the agricultural industry through her family’s third generation meat processing business, Bernthal Packing. Dru received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Michigan State University (MSU), a Master of Science (M.S.) in Horticulture from The Pennsylvania State University, and a dual degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Horticulture and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies with a Graduate Specialization in Gender, Justice and Environmental Change from MSU. Her M.S. research focused on the production and consumer demand for specialty crops. Her Ph.D. research focused on sustaining farmers markets in low-income, urban areas.
Dru and her husband, Adam, own and operate Ten Hens Farm, a year-round farm in Bath, Michigan, where they sell twelve months of the year through farmers market and restaurant outlets. Their small-scale, diversified vegetable farm has a strong focus on season extension utilizing field production and six production hoophouses totaling approximately 17,000 square feet.
In addition to managing their own farm, Dru has been committed to regional food system work since the early 2000s. Dru has been the Director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) since its inception in 2006. In the past nine years, together with a diverse group of stakeholders, she has led MIFMA’s organizational and membership development as well as its strategic planning in support of the organization’s mission to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products. During this time, Michigan has seen the number of farmers markets grow from 150 to more than 300 today. Simultaneously, MIFMA has grown from an idea to an association of 400 members with programming for farmers market mangers, farmers, and small businesses focused on professional development, marketing, state and national policy, and food access. Dru and the association are committed to sustaining, supporting and promoting farmers and farmers markets throughout Michigan. At the same time, she has remained involved with the Michigan meat industry through her role as Executive Secretary of the Michigan Meat Association (MMA).
In January 2014, Dru was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the bipartisan Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Commission has the responsibility to recommend, and in some cases determine, policy on food, agricultural, and rural development issues.
Dru believes that the overlapping nature of her work with MIFMA, the MMA, owning and operating her own farm, and serving on the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development strengthen and support each other. She is also the proud mother of two daughters, Lydia (6) and Alison (3), and enjoys spending free time with family and friends, cooking, reading, traveling, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
Agricultural Educator- Ag business development & Marketing, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY
Number of Years in the Farmers Market Field: 35
“I have a long term perspective on farmers markets, their resurgence, evolution, and challenges. Markets offer many opportunities to serve farmers, consumers and communities. Yet as society evolves, so must markets in order to remain viable and relevant. In some communities markets are mature and in others markets have not yet reached their potential. A key need is to build capacity among markets to help them grow and expand. A national organization like FMC can draw upon a wealth of experience and expertise from around the country and focus that collective knowledge on the betterment of markets through outreach, research, consulting, and resource development.” During my long career, I have been directly involved in the startup of NAFDMA and the Federation of NY Farmers Markets have counseled and advise numerous markets across the US, Canada and the UK and am serving my 35th year as an Advisor to the Ithaca Farmers Market.
The top three challenges to the future growth of farmers markets nationwide, as I see them, are:
a) Farmers need to make money at markets
b) Unclear and lose definitions about what a market is
c) Attracting more consumers to markets given constraints on their time and money
I value the national perspective of the FMC board of directors. It provides a source of stimulation and inspiration, an opportunity for sharing experiences and successes, and a forum for addressing problems and seeking solutions. I look forward to working with others from across the country to make a meaningful contribution to furthering the goals of FMC.”