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.
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!
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.
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!
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 my hound dog rescue, Stella.
Jane has been involved with the farm since 2006, her first year on Martha’s Vineyard. She initially learned about the farm soon after she moved here, through an ad for Community Chores on a Saturday in February. Jane decided to attend and, of course, fell in love with the farm instantly. It was such a great connection that she was hired nearly on the spot as a Farm-Based Educator (FBE) for the summer! Discovering the farm at that time coincided with the start of her own journey in becoming aware of the farm-to-table mindset, so it was a great place to learn more about that. Jane had a wonderful experience teaching kids that summer, which began my ongoing relationship with the farm.
In subsequent seasons, Jane has returned as an FBE and also took on some different challenges as the Farm Stand Manager its first year, and later as the Assistant Education Director. Jane was considering returning to the Education Department this season when Jon brought to her attention the possibility of working in the Development Office, noting that her skills might be better suited for cultivating and maintaining relationships with donors. As she thought more about it, she realized this would be a great fit for both her personality and love for the farm. To talk up the farm to people feels like a no-brainer (I do that anyway!). And building relationships with people who have potential interest in the farm will no doubt be a pleasure for her. Jane looks forward to spreading the word to make people aware of what we do and why it’s so important.
Jane's varied background has equipped her with a diverse collection of tools and skills that will prove useful in this position, including experience with media (DJ on WMVY Radio, free-lance writer for the Vineyard Gazette, and co-host on Plum TV), customer service (Chamber of Commerce, catering and restaurant work), gardening (TFI, Morning Glory and landscaping) and working with kids (MV Charter School and here at the farm, of course!).