About Us

Nick Stirrett 
A native of central Illinois, Nick attended Augustana College and Queen's University, Belfast. During his undergraduate years Nick was enlightened by the invaluable perspective of contemporary essayist, poet, and novelist, Wendell Berry. So much so that he continued his study of Berry's cultural politics which became the focus of his graduate work. After concluding his coursework, Nick taught Leadership Studies and Philosophy in Johannesburg, South Africa. He returned to the United States in 2010 and currently resides in the Midwest.

Luke Maurer
Luke Maurer was born and raised in central Illinois. While attending the University of Oregon he became interested in issues of food justice and food sovereignty, civic agriculture, and the power of learning gardens. Time abroad exposed him to a new cultural perspective, opening his eyes to "the work to be done in educating communities about our places, our people, and ourselves". Luke is currently a Master’s candidate in the field of Leadership for Sustainability Education at Portland State University. His education is complemented by two working-learning opportunities. He is an educator at the Learning Gardens Laboratory where he collaborates in Garden-Based Education with 6th graders from Lane Middle School.  Additionally, he works on campus with undergraduates in general education classes as a part of the University Studies Peer Mentor program. He is inspired by and draws upon the works of Masanobu Fukuoka, Donella Meadows, Wendell Berry, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, Ivan Illych, Margaret Wheatley, and others.

Jay Pandya
Born in the Chicago suburbs, Jay received his undergraduate degree from Illinois Wesleyan University. As an undergraduate, Jay focused on Environmental Studies and History, with a special interest in Environmental History. Jay has served on the Normal Sustainability Council and previously completed a study on energy efficient housing in Normal, IL. During a brief stint in Boston, Jay attended Suffolk University Law School and worked with the Joint Commission of Environmental and Natural Resource Use as well as Athletes for A Fit Planet. Jay now resides in Chicago and is pursuing an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and Operations Management at DePaul University.

Stephanie Rexroth
A rural child of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Stephanie's fondest memories are of long summer days spent outdoors swimming and fishing in the Stonycreek as well as hiking, constructing forts and foraging for berries in the Laurel Highlands. Stephanie's journey has brought her full-circle with a desire to share the wonders of nature, its healthy abundance and ability to create community, with urban communities as an aspiring Permaculturalist in Pittsburgh, PA. Local agriculture also holds special meaning for Stephanie: her late father was raised on a dairy farm and instilled his firmly agrarian values, work ethic and sense of community in all of his children. As an avid reader, she is inspired by the work and life of Wendell Berry, Bill Mollison, Masanobu Fukuoka, Atina Diffley and Novella Carpenter. Currently, Stephanie is volunteering on urban farms and urban homesteads to build a foundation for self-sufficiency on a personal- and community-level.

Ashley Stirrett
An Indiana native, Ashley studied Public Health at Kent State University. Her interests lie in community development and health promotion. Ashley has worked in diverse socio-economic settings in the Indianapolis and Chicagoland areas, as well as Northeast Ohio. Ashley has found that many of the health related issues she encounters are the result substandard health education and a lack of local infrastructure to promote healthy growth and decision making.