Staff

Jon Previant (Executive Director)

Jon arrived at The FARM Institute with a long agricultural career that began on a subsistence farm in northern British Columbia. Coming back to the United States in the early 80’s, he owned and operated a 500 acre diversified farming operation, which included grain and a variety of livestock. For the past 20 years he has worked in the animal nutrition businesses in the Midwest, California, and internationally.

Jon’s wife, Barbara "Sundy" Smith is a lifelong summer resident and graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. They recently rebuilt a family camp on Seth’s Pond, making the island their permanent home. The Previant-Smiths have six grown children between them and five grandchildren.

Jon looks forward to building on The FARM Institute's success as a pioneer in farm-based education and to being a part of the Island's growing group of local farmers.

Lindsay Miner (Marketing & Special Events Director)

Lindsay joins the farm as Marketing and Special Events Director. Lindsay is originally from mainland Massachusetts but has been coming to the Vineyard for the summers since her father opened his store in 1995. She graduated from UMass Boston with a double major in marketing and finance in 2010 and decided to return to the Vineyard for another summer (it always starts this way, doesn’t it?) and has been living here year round ever since. 

Lindsay spends her free time in the garden and turning that work into a beautiful year round pantry (jams, pickles, and canned everything!). She also loves experimenting in the kitchen and hanging out with her hound dog rescue, Stella. 

Tim Connelly (Education Director)
Tim, our resident tall guy with a beard and new Education Director, joins us from Schenectady New York. After attending Union College for a degree in English and Math, Tim decided to pursue his passion for manual labor and being covered in dirt. For the past few years Tim has travelled around the Northeast working on various farms and enjoyed a long stint as an Outdoor Education Teacher in Groton, MA. He has spent the last year on Martha's Vineyard working as a Farm Based Educator with TFI (woohoo!) among jobs on some of the island's many other farms. 
 
One day Tim would like to have a small homestead in a warm place while writing things other people may or may not find interesting. For now, he is happy to spend his time showing kids (and adults) that working for your food and getting dirty are two of the most fulfilling things you can do with your time. When he's not at The Farm, Tim enjoys reading, watching movies, swimming, hiking, cooking, and drawing cartoons in the corners of otherwise important pieces of paper. This summer, however, he plans to spend as much free time as possible at the beach.   
Tierney Lain (Asst. Education Director)

Tierney came to the FARM Institute as a Farm-Based Educator in the summer of 2014. She found ways to integrate her background in dairy cattle, microgreens, and vermicomposting into the camp curriculum. Her favorite animal on the farm is Hercules, the educational steer whom she helped raise. Tierney completed her undergraduate degree in Animal Science at Colorado State University and is in the process of completing her Master’s in Agriculture Education through the University of Minnesota. As the Assistant Education Director, she develops curriculum that is designed to create opportunities for visitors to interact with agriculture on a variety of levels. She is always looking to learn something new, so if you have skills to share please let her know! 

Rebecca Sanders (Garden Manager)

Rebecca joins the FARM as the new Garden Manager and is grateful to have the opportunity to be farming and gardening on the Vineyard once again!  

Rebecca grew up on a small farm in rural N.H. and first came to the island in 1990 working at both Hillside Farm and the Solviva organic greenhouse in West Tisbury before heading to western Mass. in 1995.  After earning a degree in plant and soil science at UMass Amherst, she spent 7 years working as a science instructor at Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton where she shared a community garden plot with her students.  

Sharing her love of plants and animals with children is a passion and getting kids out of the classroom and into the garden is the most rewarding part of her work. 

In addition to her experiences in teaching and farming, Rebecca has been self-employed as a landscape gardener for many years and has most recently served as a volunteer with the Leverett Elementary School Greenhouse program. Her areas of interest include growing heirloom, open-pollinated varieties, seed saving, and culinary and medicinal herbs. She also enjoys flipping compost piles, getting to know the FARM's pair of Jersey steers and watching the spectacular sunsets that stretch across the Katama plains at the end of the workday!

Sidney Morris (Ambassador at Large)

Sidney Morris spent the first six years of his life on a farm in Pennsylvania. He is now spending his sixties as our Farm Ambassador on Martha's Vineyard. In between, he ate sheep in Russia, rescued a chimpanzee in the Congo, taught sailing in Zambia, learned Spanish in Mexico, made a movie in Ecuador, meditated in India, and started two schools on the Vineyard. He has lived on Chappaquiddick for 34 years, raising a family and working as carpenter, photographer, coffee house manager, tractor driver, film editor, community center coordinator, sailboat captain and teacher. As Ambassador at Large of the FARM Institute, he is devoted to helping people figure out how to grow good food - happily, efficiently and sustainably.

Alec Forbes (Farm Manager)

Alec joins The Farm Institute as Farm Manager after a varied background in agriculture. He grew up on the Maine Coast and summered on Cape Cod. After a stint in Alaska firefighting, doing construction and homesteading he headed to Nova Scotia and started farming, first with sheep ( Polled Dorsets and Suffolks ), then moved into dairying with Holsteins on a 400 acre farm on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. He built a land-based aquaculture facility on the farm as well and grew Arctic Char, Steelhead trout and Atlantic Salmon smolts. Most recently he worked on a Grassland Reclamation project on Naushon Island, using Galloway cattle and Boer goats, mowing and controlled burning to control invasive plants. Alec married Annette Martel, a native of New Bedford who has long ties to the Vineyard, in May of 2014. Alec has 3 grown children from a previous marriage, all living in Canada and Annette has 2 grown sons working in Mass. Sailing, reading and birding are some of his favorite past-times but he has a passion for preserving working farmland while integrating practical conservation methods and looks forward to sharing his experiences with others here on the Katama plain at TFI.

Sundy Smith (Grant Writer)

Sundy Smith has been working as the Grant Writer at the Farm Institute since 2010, and along with most TFI staff fills in on chores, helps run the farmstand, is a substitute teacher and promotes Farm programs and products.  Sundy grew up in the Midwest, but is a lifelong summer Island resident with deep family ties here and has always considered the Vineyard her real home.  Working at the Farm Institute has brought together her two major professional interests, education and agriculture. In Iowa, she worked for many years in programs for children with disabilities and also had a small sheep farm outside of Iowa City.  She remembers the days when there were many more sheep on the Island and she loves that the Farm Institute is using the beautiful Katama Farm grassland to help bring back the numbers of this historical…and very useful, gentle and admirable animal. 

Help us bring farm to table full circle in a new teaching kitchen.

2015 FARM Camp
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