Our Team

Ken Dickerson
Executive Director
ken at eco-farm.org

Ken Dickerson first became involved with the Ecological Farming Association nearly twenty years ago as a volunteer for the EcoFarm Conference.  This led to participation on the Conference Planning Committee, staff, and the Board of Directors.  Ken worked for ten years as a high school ecological agriculture instructor in Santa Cruz County bringing EcoFarm to school with a garden, greenhouse and culinary program.  Ken now serves as the Executive Director, working with the association to continue to realize a healthy, safe and socially just food and farming system.

Liz Birnbaum
Program Coordinator
liz at eco-farm.org

Elizabeth (Liz) Birnbaum coordinates the content and logistics for the Annual EcoFarm Conference plus many other initiatives throughout the year. Liz first began cultivating land as a guerilla gardener, working to transform her alma mater into an edible landscape. That guerrilla gardening hobby grew into a deeper interest when she became Program Coordinator for Environmental Studies at Lake Forest College. She subsequently worked to establish the Campus Garden as a productive space for the campus community. Liz has co-taught college courses on biodiversity and agriculture, botanical imperialism, and Chicago’s food history, geography, and culture. She has also created a photo ethnography project where she interviewed and photographed farmers around the country. She had a solo show of the project in Chicago in May 2012.

Deborah Yashar
Communications Coordinator
deborah at eco-farm.org

Deborah is passionate about leveraging communications and good design to advance sustainable agriculture. As an avid attendee of the EcoFarm Conference, she is happy to now be working “behind the scenes” to lead EFA’s outreach strategies. Deborah’s experience is rooted in agricultural and produce marketing, farmer education, farmers' markets and program management having worked with Awe Sum Organics Inc, the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and other orgs on California’s Central Coast. Deborah serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets (SCCFM) and the Certified Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee of the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA).

Isabelle Jenniches
Administrative Assistant
isabelle at eco-farm.org

Isabelle joined EFA in 2013 after working as an intern for the 2013 EcoFarm Conference. As a child, Isabelle enjoyed visiting her grandparents' small farm in the Eifel region of Germany, which instilled in her a love of farming as a way of life. In California, she became involved in environmental advocacy, studied organic agriculture at Cabrillo College in Aptos and gathered hands-on experience working at Casalegno Family Farm in Soquel. An accomplished artist, Isabelle now divides her time between creating her composite photographs, gardening, cooking the food that she grows, hiking, and–after it rains–mushroom-hunting. She loves that she can ride her bike to work.

Allie Wilson
Conference Production Assistant/Food Donations Coordinator
alice at eco-farm.org

As an active community participant, Allie volunteers for a myriad of organizations and has extensive experience in nonprofit administration. After an early career as the owner of several restaurants, Allie worked as the Director of Events at The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, where her demonstrated success in securing donations from regional farmers, wineries, and businesses led to the development of a volunteer culinary arts program. As a film, jazz, and nature enthusiast, Allie finds pleasure in the aesthetic pleasures of the Bay Area. An Avid supporter of sustainable food systems and social food justice, she is involved with organizations that support the needs of the homeless in our community.

Jim Leap
Beginning Farmer Mentor
jim at eco-farm.org

Jim has been involved in “hands on” sustainable production systems since 1974. After several years of apprenticing on farms, Jim started his own mixed vegetable farm in the San Joaquin Valley in 1979 and focused primarily on direct marketing. After receiving a BS degree in Agricultural Science from CSUF in 1989, Jim accepted the Farm Manager position at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California Santa Cruz in early 1990. Since coming to the Central Coast Jim has been actively involved in mentoring beginning farmers in the region and has presented countless workshops on a range of topics related to small-scale organic production systems. Since retiring from UCSC in 2010 Jim has been working as an agricultural technician with the USDA ARS in Salinas, California assisting in the management of 25 acres of organically certified research ground. In keeping with his desire to assist in training the next generation of organic farmers, Jim has recently joined the EFA team with the support of funding from the USDA’s Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).

Other Essential Advisors

Zea Sonnabend
Conference Advisor
Zea at eco dash farm dot org

PlanIt Now
Event Manager

Angela Ginsburg
Chef Consultant
A Fork Full of Earth Organic Catering