The seeds that continue to grow MESA.
Agroecology instructors/Fellowship mentors
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.
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.”
Waheed’s personal statement: I have 3+ years’ experience of working with non-profits. I have worked with two non-profit organizations: ANHDO (Afghanistan National Horticulture Development Organization) and CoAR
(Coordination of Afghans Relief) in Afghanistan. In my work with ANHDO I assisted in program
coordination and carried out community development-related project activities which involved agriculture extension and working closely with cooperatives. I have worked with CoAR as member of an educational training team which involved supporting agriculture schools in rural areas. I joined MESA in 2018 as an agriculture Steward and hosted by The Natural Grocery Company (NGC) in El Cerrito. The experience at NGC not only helped me to learn more about sustainable agriculture practices that farmers are using to provide healthy food to the communities while preserving the natural environment but, also helped expand my network with organic agriculture farms which were the primary and preferred purchasing source for the NGC. MESA’s stewardship and NGC experience provided me a better understanding of supply chain in organic agriculture sector.
My knowledge, experience and involvement with non-profits particularly MESA throughout the years
will be beneficial to support MESA’s mission.
Rosi’s personal statement: In 2009 My University in Lima-Peru was MESA’s in country partner and my professors introduced me to MESA’s staff in Berkeley, while traveling in the US, I decided to volunteer at MESA and that was the beginning of a great relationship, in 2014 I became a MESA Steward, interning at the Natural Grocery Store as well as the MESA office, later I helped MESA create the Outbound program, where we hosted US stewards at MESA’s Alumni farms in Peru. Most recently I helped MESA’s urban agroecology students by presenting about organic certification. I currently live in Oakland with my husband and kids but have stayed connected to MESA’s work throughout the years and have had the privilege of meeting MESA’s network farmers in both the US and Peru.