MARY OSTAFI, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C
Mary has been a leader in the urban agriculture movement for the past five years, as well as a model and mentor for young urban farmers locally and globally. She holds a Master’s degree in Sustainability Leadership from an acclaimed university in Sweden, is a licensed architect, a LEED AP, and St Louis Business Journal 40 under 40. Her background in architecture and interest in food equity led her to form Urban Harvest STL and pioneer the building of the first rooftop farm in St Louis, the FOOD ROOF Farm. A strong community activist, Mary founded the organization in 2011 and led a grassroots initiative to grow food in downtown St Louis. This vision took root in the community and over the years and has grown from a community garden to several urban farms which are an educational platform for the community and a source of healthy food for underserved people living in nearby food deserts. A seasoned public speaker, she has addressed audiences such as TEDx and multiple national conventions on the topics of urban agriculture and sustainability.
URBAN AGRICULTURE DIRECTOR
Brett is a long-time proponent and a practitioner of sustainable food production, and has been actively involved in the urban agriculture movement in both St Louis and Philadelphia over the past decade. Food, gardening, and farming have always been at the center of Brett’s career and personal interests. Brett Manages the urban farming projects for Urban Harvest STL, including the FOOD ROOF Farm, Kerr FOOD ROOF, and Flance Garden. He is a seasoned and talented farmer, but his role extends far beyond farming. Brett leads the internship program and manages community volunteers. In addition, he facilitates food donations to our community partners participating in our Farm to Food Desert program, ensuring that the majority of food harvested gets into the hands of community members who need it the most.
DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR VISTA
Israel developed an affinity for the natural world at an early age, having been homeschooled in rural West Virginia by parents who owned and operated a plant nursery. Israel was raised to value the importance of caring for the Earth and the people who inhabit it. A passion for contributing to the positive development of future generations led him to a career in social work. For the past decade, he worked with developmentally disabled youth and operated a program which supported youth in foster care in their transition to living independently in the community as young adults. In this capacity, he organized a gardening program for the youth in his organization. This program not only provided food, but also yielded therapeutic benefits for youth with troubled pasts. When Israel relocated to STL from the east coast in August 2016, he sought to shift his career focus to urban agriculture. His position with Urban Harvest has affords him the opportunity to synthesize his passions of community service and growing food.
COMMUNITY COORDINATOR VISTA
Drawn to the confluence of ecology, sustainable agriculture, health and human rights, Steph first cultivated her passion for food justice through local foods campaigning and farming during her time at Truman State University. She later returned to St. Louis working with underserved youth on vocational and life-skill programming centering largely on community gardening and nutritional education. In effort to build on her elementary understanding of food inequalities, Steph conducted outreach and research related to food access in St. Louis as a communications and health intern working under the Food & Farm Coordinator of MO Coalition for the Environment. Following a communications internship with A Growing Culture, she brings a local and global agroecology framework to Urban Harvest STL.
Steph holds a B.S. in Speech Pathology & Audiology. As she transitions from her position as a Disability Resource Coordinator at Washington University, she is looking forward to connecting and learning from the groundswell of people generating a food sovereign St. Louis!
WORK STUDY: URBAN FARMER
After moving to St. Louis from Chicago to attend Saint Louis University, Irene joined Urban Harvest STL as an urban farmer through the SLU Federal Work Study Program. Her passion for good food and healthy lifestyle was sparked during her career as a ballet dancer, and continues to grow now that she is studying nutrition and dietetics at SLU. Her interests in the field include community nutrition education, sustainability, and making not only healthy food options--but food in general--easily accessible to all. When she's not on the roof, you might find Irene walking dogs in the Central West End or doing yoga!
WORK STUDY: URBAN FARMER
Chantal is a third year student at Saint Louis University from Dallas, Texas. Quite a few factors have influenced Chantal's interest in sustainability and urban farming. Particularly, teaching kids from an early age to care for the earth and appreciate the simplicity of nature while working at outdoor adventure camps has strengthened her love for the environment. One of Chantal's career goals is to join the Peace Corps and go abroad to help shape different issues like economics, health and politics in communities that are in need. She believes what she learns at Urban Harvest STL will be significant in that matter and will empower her to live a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle. A few of Chantal's other interests include reading, running and exploring the great outdoors.
Board of Directors
ROBERT MILLNER: CHAIR
CHRISTY CUNNINGHAM, LEED® AP BD+C: VICE-CHAIR
CLARE HIGGINS: SECRETARY
GREG HERBSTER: TREASURER
CHRIS LEBEAU: DIRECTOR
BEN DAUGHERTY: EVENT ADVISOR
CAROLINE NOLAN, GRP: COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR
DEBBIE-SCHROEDER SAULNIER: STRATEGY ADVISOR
JOSEPH OSTAFI: DESIGN ADVISOR