The seeds that continue to grow MESA.
Agroecology instructors/Fellowship mentors
In Samuel’s words: “As a child of peasant farmers I was directly involved in gardening activities since my early childhood. My parents struggled to feed us and barely met the family basic needs due to meager income they got working as laborers in the neighboring large scale export coffee farms in Thika township Kenya. Things were not different in the other homes and there was rampant poverty in our community despite the hardworking nature of our people. This childhood experience prompted me to pursue a training in sustainable agriculture and after my graduation from Manor House Agriculture college, Kitale Kenya in 2001. I have never looked back and been a crusader of agroecology and sustainable food systems and social injustice in our local communities. I have been involved in grassroots community food sovereignty activities, social and food injustice and I have networks with Agroecology farmers and changemakers across the world, more so in Africa and the United States Of America. In 2016 MESA sponsored me to attend a 8 month stewardship at Ecology Action- Golden Rule Research farm Willits CA. I had an in-depth and hands-on experience on Grow Biointensive agriculture which is an organic agricultural system that focuses on achieving maximum yields from a minimum area of land, while simultaneously increasing biodiversity and sustaining the fertility of the soil. In 2020-2021 I joined the MESA NLP program. I acquired skills on organic produce sales, marketing, distribution, purchasing and advanced training in sustainable supply chain management. I had an opportunity to be enrolled in an introductory course on agroecology, urban gardening and other development skills. MESA’s AFFP course also covers understanding the intersections of environmental justice, food sovereignty. Currently I am the founder and working with CESBA-KENYA a Community Based Organization which we work with local small holder farmers goal is to address Kajiado and Nairobi county community food insecurity issues, rampant malnutrition among young children, brought about by poor farming practices, climate change and create more food sufficient and resilient households through economic strengthening strategies and sustainable ecological food raising systems.”
Susan Coss is a long time marketing and communications strategist in the sustainable food and beverage worlds. She is cofounder of North of the Border Adventures, a media, events and consulting firm. Previously, she was the Director of Marketing and PR for CUESA, the organization that runs the world famous Ferry Plaza Farmers market in San Francisco. She was also a cofounder and former director of the Eat Real Festival, an annual food event in Oakland and Los Angeles CA that drew more than 250,000 people in its first three years. She was also part of the team that brought national attention to the “food movement” through Slow Food Nation. She has spent time in Mexico since 2003 and has established relationships within the food world all over California and Mexico. She has a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Bill’s entire working life has had some connection to the family farm. Childhood chores on the farm progressed to adult responsibilities and eventually Bill managed the dairy and walnut operation for the family. Meanwhile he ran a photography studio in Gustine for 30 years and spent short stints with the US Postal Service and the local newspaper.
As the family phased out of “conventional” farming Bill began growing and selling vegetables from about 2 acres carved out of the original family farm. Using regenerative practices, Bill has cut outside inputs to a bare minimum while reducing pest and disease problems. Contented Acres Produce operates a semi-weekly farmstand, and runs a small CSA.
Bill has hosted five different MESA stewards from four countries with financial support from Gustine Rotary Club. Working with farm stewards has amplified Bill’s passion to support small farms feeding their local communities worldwide. MESA programs facilitate the commingling of the best of ancestral knowledge and modern sustainable technologies.