Wild Ideas for Farms and Food — October 11, 2016


Foodies, farmers, and conservationists connect when it comes to supporting local farms and food. On October 11th we heard from all of them as we dug into the role of conservation in the food we eat, the land we farm, and our community’s capacity to feed the Triangle from the Triangle. Over 200 people came out  to learn how we improve lives through conservation!

See photos from the event on our Facebook page.


Ryan Butler- (former) CFO, Green Button Farm

Ryan is the CFO (Chief Farming Officer) of Green Button Farm. He has a seemingly innate ability to care for animals and increase soil fertility. He finds it extremely rewarding to grow food for people he loves. You should see the animals follow Ryan around the farm. Their mutual love and respect for one another is evident.

Ryan attended Davidson College and earned a B.S degree in Agricultural Business Management with a concentration in Agricultural Economics from North Carolina State University. Over his fifteen year working career, Ryan has worked for the USDA, big chemical, an international grocer, and worldwide financial institutions. Those experiences have provided first hand knowledge of how our current agricultural system is broken and where we are as a nation of people starved for local, safe food

Kay Coleman- Farm Manager, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

kayAs the Manager of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm in Raleigh, Kay not only gets to spend her time growing food, but the food grown on this farm is shared with people in our community in need. A native North Carolinian and NCSU graduate in horticulture and animal science, she started her career in agriculture as an Agricultural Extension Agent on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Other related work experiences include a large agricultural research farm and citrus research in Florida. She has lived in Wad Medani –  Sudan, Athens – Greece and Geneva – Switzerland.

Her job on the Teaching Farm allows her opportunities to speak to the many volunteers about local food systems and environmentally responsible farming methods.  “Do you know where your food comes from?” is the question that starts the conversations about local food systems, what they are and what they mean to our community, and our world.  As an “older farmer”, she has seen the positive changes in agriculture and conservation in recent years.  Watching the slow transition from spraying every spot on our produce to make it perfect ….  to a better understanding of how these practices have affected our world and how we can do it differently in the future. This gives her hope.


mavisMavis Gragg- Gragg Law Firm 

Originally from Black Mountain NC, Mavis graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and Pepperdine School of Law. In addition to being a lawyer, Mavis has extensive experience in conflict resolution and a Master of Dispute Resolution degree.  Mavis began her career as a mediation professional helping parties resolve conflicts both in person and in the virtual space (eBay). Later she practiced law at a busy, yet small practice representing homeowners in real estate transactions, personal representatives in estate administration, and individuals and couples in estate planning. In her practice, Mavis synthesizes her professional experiences as a lawyer and mediator with her passion for helping individuals and families maintain and grow wealth. She accomplishes this by dedicating her energy to assisting her clients with estate planning, estate administration, and heirs property matters. Mavis particularly appreciates working with clients who have low to moderate wealth because she is able to counsel them in planning and problem solving that meets critical needs.

Leigh Ann Hammerbacher- Assoc. Director of Conservation & Stewardship, Triangle Land Conservancy

leigh-ann-tbjLeigh Ann Hammerbacher first began her career at TLC in 2007 as our Conservation Planner and now serves as our Associate Director of Conservation and Stewardship. She has over 10 years of experience in natural resource protection in the Triangle. Originally from Guilford County, she grew up exploring the creeks and woods of the Piedmont which instilled a great passion for resource conservation. Leigh Ann recently returned to TLC after helping lead the Watershed Protection Program for the City of Raleigh. She also has also worked on numerous conservation plans across TLC’s service area as well land projects, conservation partnerships, land management planning, and easement stewardship.

Leigh Ann focuses her efforts on land protection, planning, and stewardship in the eastern Triangle. She primarily works on land projects in Wake and Johnston County but also helps coordinate partnerships and preserve planning efforts. Leigh Ann has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill in City and Regional Planning with a focus on Land Use and Environmental Planning.

Matt Whitley- Co-Founder, Happy + Hale

Matt Whitley is a native North Carolinian and has been here all his life- except for the two summers in college he spent selling textbooks door-to-door in the heat of the Texas sun. He went to school at NC State and worked with startups in wind energy and corporate wellness before co-founding Happy and Hale, a fast growing restaurant concept that’s mission is to empower communities through creating access to healthy food and a healthy mindset.

M.C.- Shorlette Ammons, Community Food Systems Outreach Coordinator, Center for Environmental Farming Systems Small Farm Unit

shorletteShorlette Ammons is an Eastern NC native (Mount Olive, NC) who comes from a long lineage of farmworkers, cooks and storytellers. She joined North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) in April 2010 as Community Food Systems Outreach Coordinator with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ (CEFS) Small Farm Unit located in Goldsboro. She now leads an initiative to address root causes of food insecurity through the lens of structural racism.  Shorlette is a former children’s librarian with a Master’s Degree in Library Science from North Carolina Central University. She has developed her community engagement experience by engaging and working closely with the Goldsboro community over the past 5 years with the Wayne Food Initiative and various community-based food systems projects, including a number of community gardens in the area and a recently established urban farm. She recently co-founded record label with her twin sister, SugarQube Records that seeks to represent artists whose culture and creativity are often invisibilized by mainstream radio and media, which reflects the spirit of why she is deeply involved in social and racial equity work. She continues to work on issues of racial equity as a member or the Open Source Leadership Strategies consulting team. She and her beautiful teenage daughter currently reside in Durham, NC along with their furry, four-legged companion, Lady.

Expo Organizations

Black Family Land Trust

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Compost Now

Conservation Trust of North Carolina

Durham County Extension Master Gardeners

Durham Farm and Food Network

Farmer Food Share

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

Keep Durham Beautiful

NC Composting Council

NC State Agroecology Education Farm

Piedmont Picnic Project

Second Saturday

Tilthy Rich

Toxic Free NC

Transplanting Traditions

Triangle Land Conservancy

Well Fed Community Garden

Featuring complimentary Plow to Pint beer from Fullsteam, sustainable local appetizers from Vimala’s, and wild foraged dessert from Piedmont Picnic Project.

Brought to you by:



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Morgan Stanley Foundation

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