Meet our Staff and Board!
Ryan Koch - Executive Director
I completed my graduate degree (MA Counseling) at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2005. I have a background in experiential education with training in challenge course facilitation and wilderness trips. My conversion to gardening was inspired in part by David Wagoner, who mentored me on his farm (Three Springs Farm). I see now how gardening can cultivate physical and mental health in individuals and communities. As founder and director of Seedleaf since our incorporation in 2007, I have seen repeatedly how gardening helps a community grow together by sharing work and food.
Jeremy Porter – Programs Director
Growing up as a suburban kid in a rural Kentucky county, I only knew agriculture through driving along the corn and soybean fields, setting tobacco once as a teen, and semi-annual trips to my grandparents’ hobby farm (cattle, small flock of laying hens, big garden) in southern TN. I barely ate tomatoes and the smell of squash made me sick. With a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from UK and experience as a youth minister for 10 years, doing anything farm related seemed unlikely. Yet in 2009 I apprenticed at Three Springs Farm in Carlisle, KY and subsequently began running my own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Eden’s Gate, in the Fall of that same year. That year confirmed my love for nature, the pursuit of good work, and the relationships that tie them together. Though no longer running the CSA, this allows me to work with Seedleaf. Some of this includes coordinating Seedleaf Farms, a small plot intensive urban farm, where we market vegetables (and other things) directly to folks through our online store. I also serve as a consultant for CLUCK! (Cooperative of Lexington Urban Chicken Keepers), helping folks in all stages of their back-yard chicken keeping needs.
Karen Lanier–AmeriCorps VISTA Member
Meet our Board!
Tiffany Thompson, Board President
Originally from Versailles, I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in Geography, with Spanish and Environmental Studies minors. I spent two years serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia as an Environmental Educator after college and then moved to Louisville for the growing season of 2009 where I completed an apprenticeship at Field Day Family Farm, a CSA organic vegetable production farm. Coming back to Lexington, I joined Seedleaf as an Americorps VISTA member with a passion for local, sustainable food economies and the desire to share this passion with the people Seedleaf works with. Currently, I am CSA Manager at the UK Horticulture Research Farm and am continuing to serve Seedleaf as a board member and volunteer.
Shawn Burns, Board Vice President
I’m a native Cincinnati resident who came to Lexington during a career in special event operations. During that time I was the Director of Food & Beverage Purchasing for the Cincinnati Bengals and Keeneland Race Track. I now run a document management business that allows me the flexibility to pursue my interest in helping to build a better local community with Seedleaf.
My wife Trish and I are passionate about the Seedleaf mission to nourish the local community through children’s education programs, teaching others to grow food and recycling waste. We have seen in our own families the impact of spending time working together in the kitchen and garden; sharing the successes and failures. As a child I didn’t eat my veggies and I certainly didn’t know how to grow them… If I can be taught anyone can!
My focus as a board member will be to increase Seedleaf’s communication with local businesses and offer opportunities for them to partner with us on programs, events and providing expertise to facilitate continued growth as an organization.
I am an extension specialist/professor in sustainable agriculture and agricultural economics at UK. My professional work is targeted toward farmer-focused marketing, focusing on beginning farmer training (“KyFarmStart”), direct marketing of meat products, farm transitions and organic corn. I chair UK’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems working group and the UK President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. I teach “International Trade and Global Food Issues” and have worked on long term projects in Thailand and Poland and shorter projects in another 10 countries.
I’m married and we have three adult children – a teacher/mom of three in Louisville; a UK instructor/mom of one; and a program assistant for the Rivers Network in Portland, OR. From a community perspective, I’ve chaired the Lexington Parks Advisory Board, been treasurer for Partners for Family Farms and served on other organizations.
Dr. Krista Jacobsen is a Lecturer in the Sustainable Agriculture Program, and teaches a number of classes in the program, including Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture (SAG 101), Cultural Perspectives on Sustainability (SAG 201), and co-teaches Agroecology and Plant Production Systems (SAG/PLS 386) with Drs. Rebecca McCulley and Mark Williams, respectively. Krista is a systems-oriented agroecologist by training, and received her PhD in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2008. Her research interests include no-till organic farming systems, high tunnel and year-round growing techniques, and soil quality management in organic farming systems.