Meet Our Team

Board of Directors

James Goalder, President
Senior Account Executive, Bloomerang Nonprofit Software
Grace Schultz, FNP, Treasurer
Carilion Clinic Family Medicine
Deborah Bundy-Carpenter, RN
Nurse Manager, Central Shenandoah Health District,
Virginia Department of Health
David Geiman
Consultant – Agriculture Management
Shana Meganck, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Communication Studies
James Madison University

Sophie Cantell Lambert
Vice President, UrbanPlan
Urban Land Institute
Kendrick Kier
Real Estate Associate, Fisher Auto Parts
Co-Founder and President, BradyStrong Foundation
Susan M. Pereles
Attorney
Ann Lefeve Snyder
Director, Independent and International Schools
Council for Advancement and Support of Education

Emeriti Directors

Courtney Cranor
Jenna Clarke Piersol
Ryan Blosser
Jill Templeton, Founding Director

Staff

Fiona McGhee

Fiona McGhee

Youth Leader in Agriculture, Spring 2021

Fiona is a senior at Staunton High School and Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School who has grown up in Staunton. As a child, they were always digging in the soil or planting, hands dirty. They fell in love with nature at a young age. Growing up hiking in local woods and the Blue Ridge Mountains filled them with a deep appreciation for everything about the outdoors. Fiona plans to study Environmental Science and Film Studies in college, with a focus in sustainability. They have completed multiple experimental studies on garden plants and have always been deeply interested in why plants grow the way they do.

In their free time, Fiona plays the banjo, writes poetry, drinks coffee, and goes on hikes.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable, I’d be cauliflower. Cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable—it tastes good in both vegetarian dishes and on its own. Like cauliflower, I like to be involved in many different things all at once.

What do you love about farming?
I love the tranquility that farming offers. Seeing tangible evidence of the things you’ve accomplished each day is so rewarding; it grounds you and pushes you to achieve even more. Playing in the soil is such a simple pleasure, and it makes farming feel like playtime.

Tom Brenneman

Tom Brenneman

Executive Director

Tom comes to Project GROWS with seven years in market garden farming and leadership. He’s also served as a social worker, youth advocate, educator and entrepreneur with initiatives engaging court-involved youth to human rights work in the Southwest. Since 2004, he’s served in the Shenandoah Valley in roles with community conflict transformation and sustainable food systems. Tom currently lives in Keezletown, Virginia and grew up in Southeastern Iowa’s rolling hills of corn and beans. He holds a Master’s degree in sociology from American University and a degree in social work from Eastern Mennonite University.

Email Tom

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
The unassuming beet. Red, golden and the Chioggia with the swirls. They make me think of resilience and humility.  It’s a good earthy companion on your plate.

What do you love about farming?
It’s honest. Farming connects me back to the earth and the web of life, even on the longest, hottest, coldest, windy, wet and soggy days. No romance, just a reality check that food, community, and the table set with others is where I think we live best.

Laura Faircloth

Laura Faircloth

Director of Farm Operations

Laura began farming in 2011 through a farm internship while she was a student at James Madison University. Excited to deepen her farm knowledge and skills, she moved to the midwest to begin her career in sustainable vegetable production. Laura later returned to the Shenandoah Valley and joined the Project GROWS team in 2017. Her personal journey into sustainable farming drives her passion for mentoring high school and college students on the farm. Laura is especially passionate about using the farm as a means to develop the next generation of not only farmers, but leaders and creative problem solvers.

Most days Laura can be found on the farm leading our crew and volunteers, covered in dirt, and munching on veggies. Laura is a resident of Staunton, Virginia where she lives with her husband and their furry companions. She loves to be outside whether curled up with a book, practicing yoga, or exploring new swimming holes.

Email Laura

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I would be a free-spirited heirloom tomato living large in the heat of the summer

What do you love about farming?
I love that farming is truly dynamic. I enjoy the challenging, physical aspect of farm work as well as the community that we are building around local food. Farming has given me the opportunity to combine many of my interests and skills into one career path – all roads lead to farming!

Nichole Barrows

Nichole Barrows

Director of Education

Nichole is a transplant to the Shenandoah Valley from Virginia Beach and after fourteen years is happy to call it home. After graduating with her BA in English and Master of Arts in Teaching from James Madison University, Nichole taught English to eighth graders in Harrisonburg, backpacked with Camp Woolman teenagers on the Pacific Crest Trail in California, and led forest field trips and directed summer camps in the woods as the children’s education coordinator at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. She originally connected with Project GROWS when she brought summer enrichment students to the farm for field trips, and she joined the Project GROWS team in 2018.

Always delighted to learn a new tree or wildflower name, Nichole’s passion lies in connecting young people to the outdoors and to local food production. In her free time you can find her on the trail in the George Washington National Forest, with a field guide in one hand and binoculars in the other.

Email Nichole

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Like a sweet potato, sometimes I enjoy working on projects for a long time “underground” before the world gets to see them!

What do you love about farming?
Farming gets you “up close and personal” to the seasons of year—the anticipation and green of spring, the heat and hard work of summer, the bounty and color of fall, and the slowness and chill of winter. I’m fascinated by the seasonal parallels we see reflected in the progression of a day from dawn to midnight; the timeline of a human life from birth to death; and the life cycle of a plant from seed to compost. We have so much to learn from the land!

Megan Marshall

Megan Marshall

Director of Food Access

Megan comes from the beautiful state of Oregon, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health at Oregon State University. During her time at OSU she discovered her passion for the environment, nutrition, and the food system. Megan moved to Virginia in 2017 where she worked as a nutritionist assistant for WIC and her passion for food access grew stronger. In January of 2018 she found Project GROWS and started her journey as the team’s Food Access Manager.

Megan is often found managing the Farmer’s Markets, but she can also be found helping out on the farm and in the local schools. When she is not working, Megan enjoys cooking, hiking with her dog Moose, and exploring her new hometown in Harrisonburg, VA.

Email Megan

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I would be a mushroom native to the Pacific Northwest, growing on the mossy floor of a pine tree in the Oregon mountains. Mushrooms indicate healthy soil for trees and other plants to grow in. They also love the rain, the forest, and the mountains just like me.

What do you love about farming?
I love being a part of the process! From seed to vegetable, from farm to table, from season to season, from beginning to end. Growing food for myself and my community gives me purpose and connects me to nature.

Clara Metzler

Clara Metzler

Director of Community Engagement

Clara was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley. Following high school, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she lived for several years honing her barista skills and exploring glacier lakes. Following a backpacking stint in India and Nepal trying every variation of curry and momos she could, Clara returned to the valley and completed her BA in Sociology with a concentration in Nutritional Science from Bridgewater College in December 2017. While at Bridgewater College, Clara’s passion for food justice as well as local and sustainable food systems was nurtured and ultimately led her to Project GROWS.

When she’s not at the farm, Clara spends her time experimenting in the kitchen while listening to podcasts, playing frisbee with her pup Ginger, and spending time with family and friends – preferably outdoors!

Email Clara

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Green beans! They remind me of summertime meals at my Grandma’s house. Freshly harvested and sautéed with garlic (runner up in the favorite veggie race), I can’t think of anything more satisfying to my tastebuds!  

What do you love about farming?
Food! No farming, no food – and what a sad and impossible world that would be. More personally, farming provides me the opportunity to view the food system from beyond a consumer standpoint; by taking an active role in food production, I am constantly reminded of the time, care, and hard work that goes into growing the food that nurtures our bodies and minds.

Robert Clemmer

Robert Clemmer

Farm Manager

Robert grew up in Staunton and after college spent time working outdoors with conservation programs in northern New Mexico, Arizona, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After adventuring in Alaska as a dog musher, Robert discovered a passion for farming as an Environmental Educator at the Rock Eagle 4H Center in Georgia, managing the farm at their History site. In 2018, Robert moved back home and is continuing his farming journey.

Robert has a degree in History and a degree in Classical Studies from Hampden Sydney College. He is also a Master Gardener and has a Blue Ribbon for his tomatoes. When he’s not on the farm, Robert is either playing mandolin, trail running, 3D printing, or spending time with his two dogs.

Email Robert

 

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

I would be some kind of Winter Squash, with vines sprawling all over the place. In the summertime, I’d be blossoming all over the place. When fall comes around, I’d be showstopping, popping out some crazy-looking Pumpkins or Squash! Varieties would include Galeux d’Esyine, North Georgia Candy Roaster, or Tromboniccio Rampicante.

What do you love about farming?
I love the connection with the land and the connection with the seasons. Seeing all the ecological aspects that are involved is fascinating. I’m also moved by the idea of growing food and feeding others.

Patricia-Marie Harley

Patricia-Marie Harley

Education and Marketing Assistant

Patricia-Marie Harley lives in Staunton, Virginia and attends Mary Baldwin University. Currently, she is pursuing a double BBA in project management and art management. Her project interests encompass music, art, discussion, meditation, and health. She believes maintaining and promoting a positive lifestyle is essential to success. In addition to college, she serves in the Virginia Army National Guard. In her free time she enjoys cooking with lots of vegetables from the local farmer’s market, hiking, and painting.

Email Patricia-Marie

 

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I would be a cucumber. In the past I’ve found myself in a bit of a pickle but I never let any adversity keep me from making the best of things. Pickles make great additions to sandwiches.  Fresh cucumbers are also great for eye health and beauty sleep.

What do you love about farming?
love the process.  How much care someone puts into the farming process reflects in how the plants come out. So really fresh and happy fruits and vegetables make me happy.

Lallon Pond

Lallon Pond

Bookkeeper

After teaching and doing administrative work at Mary Baldwin University for 28 years, I retired at the end of 2020. During those years, I taught accounting, finance, and statistics. I graduated from Florida State University (FSU) in 1983 with an MBA/Finance and went into the doctoral program in Finance. I left FSU to teach at James Madison University in 1986. My dissertation was never completed, so left JMU in 1992. I started at MBU in 1993. I spent several years as MBU as the Director of the Adult Degree Program (renamed Baldwin Online). 

After retirement, I wanted to use my academic background to help non-profits in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro area and found that Project Grows was looking for a part-time bookkeeper. I have been a long time supporter of Project Grows and was happy to take on a more active role in the organization.

Email Lallon

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable, I would be okra. It has beautiful flowers that lead to elegant pods, if a bit prickly. It can be cooked and eaten in so many ways. There is nothing like fresh okra picked fresh when still small. Pickle, boil, steam, fry, bake, and use in soups and stews; so versatile and so unique!

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