Board and Staff

Project GROWS was created out of the collaborative work of nine community agencies who currently sit on the Board of Directors; they are: Augusta Health’s Working on Wellness Program, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Boys and Girls Club, Mary Baldwin College, Head Start, Office on Youth, Shenandoah Valley Social Services, Valley Community Services Board and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Project GROWS was launched with funding from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Augusta Health, and is now supported by a variety of private foundations and individuals. Project GROWS was a host organization of the Allegheny Mountain Institute Phase II fellowship in 2013 and 2014.


Sam HeadshotSam Berenstain
Farm Manager

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? Carrot! I love all root vegetables. But pulling carrots is always a surprise. I love all their different colors and shapes.
What do you love about farming? Honestly, I love everything about farming. Hard work, waking with the sun, getting dirty, teaching, learning new techniques, and eating fresh. Farm work soothes my soul and connects me to the land. Farming is a great outlet for teaching youth. Project GROWS combines all my favorite aspects of farming into one.

Sam grew up in Bucks Co. PA, just north of Philadelphia. He spent his adolescence tasting the bounties of a vibrant food culture and exploring the Delaware River systems with a fly rod. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University with a B.A in Environmental Sustainability, he spent a season in NYC working on two different urban farms studying the practices of city produce production. Moving back to the Valley with a passion for building a community around youth-oriented agriculture, Sam found Project GROWS. Sam spends his days out at the farm sheet mulching, harvesting, teaching about sustainable farm work and eating carrots on the porch of the shed.

IMG_0726Jenna Clarke
Executive Director

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? Definitely cabbage – one of my very favorite veggies to eat, cabbage is understated but packs a punch!
What do you love about farming? I love being outside, learning new things every day about plants, nature and where my food comes from. I love being connected to the land and the rich history of farming.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Jenna Clarke comes to Project Grows following an 18-month fellowship position with the Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) in 2012/2013. Prior to AMI, she served as Director of Development at Rx Partnership, a statewide nonprofit helping low-income Virginians access needed prescription medication. Jenna received her bachelor’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech and spends most of her free time reading and hiking.


Lindsey Lennon, Ph.D.
Education Coordinator

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Summer squash. I love the color and eating it always reminds me of my childhood when I would cook dinner with my family during my favorite time of year – summer!
What do you love about farming?
It’s too hard to pick one thing I love about farming. But some of my favorites are the never-ending opportunities to learn, being outside rain or shine, and the incredible satisfaction of picking and eating something you’ve grown with your own two hands. I also love getting dirty, which is something I seem to have an extra special knack for.

Lindsey was born and raised in Augusta County, Virginia. In 2010, after attending Blue Ridge Community College and completing her B.S. in sociology at James Madison University, Lindsey and her husband Phil moved to Florida to attend graduate school at Florida State University. While in Florida, Lindsey began gardening and researching food and farming as part of her graduate studies in Sociology. She is currently completing her PhD in social-psychology on farmers and farmers markets. Lindsey returns to the Shenandoah Valley in hopes of using her academic background to give back to her community and spread her passion for food and health. When not at the farm, you can find Lindsey studying, doing CrossFit, and spending time with her family.




Erin Botkin (Valley Community Services Board)
Laura Bon Cash (Augusta Health)
James Goalder (Bloomerang Nonprofit Technology)
Steve Grande (James Madison University)
Courtney Cranor (Waynesboro Economic Development and Tourism)
Nell Desmond (Mary Baldwin University)
Tony Davenport (VA Dept. of Corrections)
Damon Strickland (Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center)
Wendy Gray (Polyface Farms)
Ryan Blosser (Dancing Star Farm)
Tai Payne (Youth Community Member)


Melissa Orndorff Stephens (Department of Environmental Quality)