Jon arrived to 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 including grain and a variety of livestock. For the past 20 years he has worked in 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 and are looking forward to making the island their permanent home. The Previant-Smith’s 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 locally-grown food is a great opportunity, while becoming a part of the Island's growing group of local farmers.
Hi! I'm Julie Olson and I am the Farm Manager here at The FARM Institute. I have been here for awhile now, working with and learning from the animals and people. I have worn many hats here, first joining the farm as the farmhand and moving on to Livestock Coordinator, Farm/Education Liason, program teacher, and have now settled on Farm Manager. I have fallen in love with the island (growing up on Cape Cod, I never thought that would be possible) as well as The FARM Institute and can see myself sticking around for awhile.
My farming career started when I was a wee youngster helping out at a small feed and grain store in Harwich, MA with an attached farm. Although I was 12, I was often left alone to run the store, tend to the animals and give people the wrong change. Living this farm lifestyle thrilled me and I chose to pursue agriculture in college.
So.....I then spent 4 years at Sterling College in Northern Vermont learning and working on the school farm as well as other farms in the area. Nothing says fun like milking cows at 4am before class in minus-20-degree temperatures. I spent my summers on various farms in various states in various time zones hoping to learn lots about farming and sometimes I did. After graduating in May of 2007 with a Bachelors Degree in Sustainable Agriculture, I traveled far and wide from California to Iceland before realizing the Massachusetts coast was where I belonged.
I am excited about building relationships and partnerships with other Island farmers and families and continuing to acquire knowledge and skills from the experts. Some day I will have a small, horse powered dairy farm that makes it's own ice cream and sells it at an on site ice cream parlor. Some day pigs will probably also fly.
My likes include: cheese, eating cheese, making cheese, thinking about cheese, talking about cheese, bowling, swimming, dancing, karaoke, welding, things that are awesome and free, my dogs Usah and Eli, farming with draft horses and oxen, sledding, ice skating, music, and teaching people about agriculture.
My dislikes include: stickers, crabs, ginger, being left out, runny noses, cornish rock chickens and seafood.
Cristina is returning to TFI nearly five years after her first experience on the farm as an FBE. Since 2008 she has served with Americorps, earned a Masters in Education and worked at Mass Audubon as an Education Coordinator and Camp Director. During the school year she teaches science at The Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut. She is very excited to be back on the farm and looks forward to seeing you this summer!
Shaina Dulberg is a recent graduate from Antioch University New England, gaining a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis in sciences and environmental studies. Having worked and volunteered on organic and biodynamic farms, Shaina finds joy in connecting children to the natural world, and aspires to incorporate farm education into her future classroom. She most recently was working at a New Hampshire public school as a paraeducator in both elementary and middle school, while also helping spearhead educational activities around the school’s developing garden program. When not working with children, Shaina enjoys biking, camping, traveling, yoga, live music, and frolicking in the woods with her dog Luna.
Sidney Morris spent the first six years of his life on a farm in Pennsylvania. He is now spending his sixties as a farm educator 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 Education Director of the FARM Institute, he is devoted to helping people figure out how to grow good food - happily, efficiently and sustainably.
Rebecca joins the FARM this winter 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!
I am very excited to join the farm as Marketing and Special Events Director. I am originally from mainland Massachusetts but have been coming to the Vineyard for the summers since my father opened his store, Sports Haven in 1995. I 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 have been living here year round ever since. I have worked in Development for both MV Community Services and UMass Boston.
I spend my free time in the garden and turning that work into a beautiful year round pantry (jams, pickles, and canned everything!). I also love experimenting in the kitchen and hanging out with my hound dog rescue, Stella.