Originally from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, Loren was introduced to agriculture through Putney High School. He went on to get a B.A. from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, where he studied Sustainable Agriculture and worked on the mixed-crop and livestock Farm. There, his work and research focused on small-scale pig production and a 65 head grass-fed beef operation. In 2006 Loren spent a semester at the University of Hawaii in Hilo where he studied Tropical Agriculture. After college Loren helped successfully run an organic brewery in Asheville.
In 2010 Loren and Asher founded AGC, and the organization was granted 501(c)3 status shortly after. The following year, Loren embarked on a journey to frame a new narrative of the role of agrarians around the globe. He searched for the innovations that allowed societies to feed themselves for countless generations—absent of harmful chemicals. Loren visited farmers of the Himalayas, the Mekong delta, Bedouins who farmed the desert oasis, indigenous tribes who herd the great rift of Africa. He helped set up and run organic farms and projects in Kenya, and Vietnam, and consulted with NGOs in Egypt and Uganda.
Loren is a leader in a small but growing movement of farmer-centric organizations. He believes the key to sustainability lies in returning small-scale farmers back to the forefront of agriculture. Along with his colleagues in the movement, he promotes farmer-led research, extension, and outreach, helping to create sustainable, self-driving futures.
Robert is President of the Applied Concepts Group, a consulting firm that supports executives committed to whole systems thinking and positive social change. His expertise resides in designing and facilitating dialogue to build strong teams ready to make complex decisions and capitalize on exciting opportunities. Additionally, Robert provides executive level coaching services to university and foundation executives and their boards. Previously, Robert led the National Partnership for Social Enterprise, a nonprofit focused on market driven approaches to social issues. Earlier, as Executive Director of the Gallup International Institute, he helped launch the Health of the Planet Survey, presented at the Earth Summit in 1992. Starting as a criminal and environmental lawyer, he became president of The Fund for New Jersey. There, he started the Community Foundation of New Jersey with assets now over $320 million, the Center for Non-Profit Corporations and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers. Serving in many leadership positions over the years, Robert has been honored by the legal services and Hispanic communities, environmental groups, and nonprofit coalitions.
Dr. Ernesto Sirolli is one of the world’s leading consultants on the topic of economic development. He started working in the field of International Aid in Africa in 1971 and has since worked in local economic development in throughout the world in projects that promote local entrepreneurship and local self determination. He is the author of two books: “Ripples from the Zambezi – Passion Entrepreneurship and the rebirth of local economics” a best seller that is used by Economic Development Faculties in Universities the world over, and “How to start a business and ignite your life – a simple guise to combining business wisdom with passion” a book for entrepreneurs. In 2012 he was invited to give a TED TALK ; his 17 minutes talk :”Shut up and Listen” has been translated in 31 languages and downloaded more than 2 million times. Dr. Sirolli currently resides in the USA where he was invited to establish the Sirolli Institute, a social enterprise that teaches civic leaders how to capture the passion energy and imagination of its own citizens.
Asher has been involved with Sustainable Agriculture for over ten years. His love for farming first set in at Warren-Wilson where he graduated from the Environmental Studies department with a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture and a minor in Biology. Asher spent seven semesters and two summers working on the college’s mixed crop and livestock farm. It was here that he met best friend and partner Loren. Not only did the college farm show Asher that a life in food systems and agriculture was his calling, but it also gave him a chance to connect and work for other farm operations around the country and throughout Central and South America. After his travels he received a M.S. in Animal Science from Clemson where he researched forage-finished beef, which later led him to manage a diversified livestock farm in North Carolina for two years. In his real life Asher is the Farm Manager at Warren Wilson College and he could not be happier about landing in the very place that gave him his start.
Alex Feit is a retired business owner, executive and consultant. He has forty years’ experience in startups and mature organizations producing measurable bottom line results in several industries. These include forestry products, agricultural, banking, transportation, healthcare, hospitality and consumer products. He currently consults with entrepreneurs from economically challenged backgrounds or whose businesses have social responsible objectives. Mr. Feit has been a participant and leader of community and professional organizations including AARP, Taproot and Pacific Community Ventures. He contributes to strategic planning, governance and the alignment of varied constituencies with the organization’s goals and efforts. He lived almost twenty years in Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. He currently lives in California and Rio de Janeiro.
A farmer from Kasejjere village in Central Uganda, John has devoted his life to working with his community and supporting sustainable development. As Co-Founder and Director of Kikandwa Environmental Association, a network of over 400 peasant farmers, John has facilitated multiple participatory learning projects, such as the Community Innovation Resource Center. As a community leader and lead farmer, he has launched multiple initiatives, including a free school with over 250 current students, and the One Thousand Hectare project, which encourages farmers to each protect at least one hectare of virgin forest for 15 years. John spoke on several panels at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development in 2012, and continues to speak on behalf of the smallholder farmers of Africa. He strongly believes that information is power, and works to harvest existing knowledge from the Grassroots while connecting communities to learn from each other.
Chesha Wettasinha is a Dutch/Sri Lankan tropical agriculturist with long-standing experience in the development sector in Asia and Africa. She is currently a senior member of the international support team of Prolinnova, an international network promoting local innovation in ecologically-oriented agriculture and natural resource management. Over the past 30 years, Chesha has been engaged in a variety of settings and functions, combining social and technical skills related to smallholder rural (agricultural) development and natural resources management. Her work has focused on promoting local/farmer-led innovation and joint research as a means of combining local and scientific knowledge for more relevant and beneficial development outcomes. She has worked in inter-disciplinary teams with multiple stakeholders using participatory and inclusive approaches. Her work has included facilitation of multi-stakeholder partnerships, mainstreaming gender into development initiatives, conducting action research and thematic studies, designing and conducting training workshops and coaching trainees, project/program management, monitoring and evaluation for learning, documentation of processes, editing and publication. Having collaborated closely with many rural communities and organizations in Asia and Africa, Chesha has an intimate understanding of their needs, aspirations and challenges. She couples this with her professional expertise, analytical skills, passion and steadfast personal commitment to contribute to a more sustainable, just and equitable world.