About Us

About Us

Temple K-1 grade, 6-9-15 (2)We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting the seeds of a lifetime of healthy eating. We grow organic food in the community, with the community, and for the community. Since 2008, we’ve led community educational programs to cultivate a joyful understanding of the relationship between fresh food and good health in garden scholars ranging in age from pre-school to elders. This is accomplished through three major education program areas: Farm to Fork, School and Community.

 

 

Schools. Our edible education programming in all eight elementary schools in the ConVal School District help children gain a more thorough understanding of where their food comes from.  As they care for seedlings and harvest vegetables in their schoolyard gardens, they inherently begin to establish a connection between healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy bodies.

Farm to Fork is an agricultural and entrepreneurship program for high school students that cultivates the next generation of farmers and entrepreneurs. We hire and train Farm to Fork Fellows to develop a business plan and manage a small year round agricultural operation. This past inaugural year, four fellows constructed a 30’x96′ hoop house, planned and planted a growing zone of 6,000 square feet, and set up a small business to sell local produce within the community. The fellows continue to cultivate organic produce through the winter and spring, and have a growth plan to expand their business into a niche market that promotes healthy eating and engages local producers.

Community Programs include the Cornucopia Community Garden, where families learn about growing food and giving back to our neighbors in need by providing fresh organic produce to the Peterborough Food Pantry.  Built and maintained by volunteers, the garden also serves as an outdoor classroom for community programs, events, and seasonal produce for our Cool Chefs afterschool nutrition/cooking classes. The Food for Thought monthly film series held at the Peterborough Community Theatre engages our local community members about subjects on sustainability, farming, food, education and the environment.

Our work would not be possible without generous help from local businesses, community members, and foundation support.  Visit the “Partners” page to view a list of our friends and partners.

 

 

History

Kin Schilling founded the Cornucopia Project in 2006 after learning of skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity across the country.  Her vision was to provide children access to healthy food through school gardening education.

It all began on a small spot of triangle-shaped land near her home in Hancock.  As Kin tilled, children and adults started showing up, asking if they could lend a hand.  Soon Susie Spikol, Program Coordinator for the Harris Center, joined Kin and they began offering gardening classes for children and CSA shares.  Shortly thereafter, Kin began teaching edible education, first at Hancock Elementary School and then at Dublin Consolidated School. Eight years later, the Cornucopia Project has grown from a tiny seven family CSA to a non-profit that reaches eight local schools and communities.

Kin  retired in 2014 as Executive Director, and is spending much of her “retirement” time painting, gardening, and cooking for others–something also close to her heart!

 

IMG_8848 - Copy
Kin Schilling near her Hancock home walking her small flock of sheep with Cornucopia volunteers.

Our Staff

Karen Hatcher, Executive Director

When it comes to her work, Karen has two passions:  empowering youth and building community.  She’s excited to “put down roots” with the Cornucopia Project after several years on the road as National Director of Students In Action, a youth leadership training program for middle and high school students.

A New Jersey native, Karen previously led Celebrate NJ, an educational nonprofit, where as Executive Director she developed a number of  programs reaching more than 100,000 students during her tenure.   She credits this work with  helping her develop a deep understanding of how to bring out the best in young people and what it takes to get things done with passionate volunteers and limited resources . 

Karen and her husband, Mark, are recent Peterborough residents; she’s a lifelong learner, and avid home gardener with a passion for growing, canning, cooking and eating tomatoes.  She doesn’t hesitate to “dig in” to make her community better and currently volunteers with the Fresh Air Fund, the 100+ Women Who Care, and the Peterborough Welcome Team.   She looks forward to getting her hands dirty!

 

Hannah Bissex, Farm to Fork Coordinator

Hannah is passionate about empowering youth with the knowledge and skills of sustainable agriculture. She grew up with homesteading parents and recognized while studying mathematics at Northeastern University that farming is alive with problem solving opportunities. She has pursued a number of educational models which combine math and science with the natural world, from the Island School in the Bahamas, to The Meeting School in Rindge NH.  Hannah is now the coordinator of Cornucopia’s Farm to Fork program, and is thrilled to be digging into this opportunity to build a sustainable program that gives young people the opportunity to make a positive change it their world.  You can reach Hannah at hannah@cornucopiaproject.org.

 

Joyce Carroll, Community Programs Coordinator

Joyce joined the Cornucopia team in 2012, bringing with her a background in community-based nonprofits.  A gardener for more than 35 years, Joyce owned and managed a gardening business and vegetable stand in upstate New York where she grew everything from heirloom flowers to giant pumpkins.  Her love of gardening and the natural world are a reflection of her childhood roots—surrounded by farms, livestock and forests.  She delights in how gardening continues to bring new adventures and lessons to her and her community.  Joyce lives in Peterborough with her husband. She has two grown daughters and one grandchild!  You can reach Joyce at joyce@cornucopiaproject.org, or call (603) 784-5069.

 

Heather McClusky, Administrative Assistant

Heather came to the Cornucopia team with a wealth of office management skills and a passion for community service. Some of you may know her from her role as the Administrative Assistant for the Peterborough Fire and Rescue Department, where she worked for 11 years. Heather lives in Peterborough with her husband and three children. She is an active home gardener, Girl Scout troop leader, and a member of the Peterborough Recreation Committee.  You can reach Heather at heather@cornucopiaproject.org

 

 

 

School Garden Educators

Kathleen Bigford

KathleenBigfordKathleen has been growing and preserving vegetables and fruits for her family all her adult life. She is very excited to share what she knows just as she did during her 20 years at Great Brook School where her goal was to get students outside as much as possible. In addition to many other adventures, she and her students planted gardens, grew hydroponic lettuce in a greenhouse and helped with gardening projects around the school. Since retiring in 2015 she has been closely involved with the Kearsarge Food Hub in her hometown, Bradford, NH, as their board chair, farm stand and garden volunteer, and avid supporter. Kathleen says, “Joining the Cornucopia Project fulfills my long-time goal of helping young students learn how to grow, harvest and prepare healthy food.”

 

Hannah Bissexhannah

Hannah taught previously in our elementary school gardens and has now shifted her energies to the high school level as Farm to Fork Coordinator (see staff bios), bringing her love of children and passion for ‘growing’ to the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Cathy Jolyimage2

Cathy joins us for her second semester at Cornucopia. Cathy has gardened since she was a little girl, her earliest days spent rushing to transplant the thinned-out lettuces and carrots from her mom’s garden into her own part of the garden. She says, “I still avoid thinning plants whenever I can!”  Cathy brings a permaculture and homesteading background to Cornucopia. For the past 15 years, Cathy has been fortunate to homeschool her two children and participate in many amazing learning opportunities.  She loves sharing the joys of nature with children of all ages.

 

 

Heidi MackHeidiMack

Heidi is a former graphic designer and art teacher from Pennsylvania, who relocated to Hancock and began tending a big garden with her daughter and new grandson. “My parents only grew flowers; vegetables came from a can,” she recalls, “So I never ate them.” A huge grape arbor in her grandmother’s backyard provided her first connection to growing food, and eating right off the vine.  Once she tasted vegetables freshly pulled from the ground, there was no turning back. Heid is excited about providing the opportunity and tools for children to experience this, too – to enrich their lives, as well their families, communities, and the earth.

 

 

Lauren Reilert Judd – bio coming soon!

 

Megan Wright

Megan grew up raising animals and participating in 4-H where she became excited about learning about agriculture and the outdoors. Upon graduating college, she worked for the Student Conservation association in several state and national parks, helping to inspire visitors about the natural world around them. Realizing she loved teaching, Megan went back to school for her Master’s in Elementary Education and has worked a classroom teacher and environmental educator in both New Hampshire and Vermont. Megan is excited to join this year’s School Garden teacher team and is looking forward to planting and exploring the gardens with students!

 

Marilyn Wyzga, School Garden Consultant

Marilyn brings with her a noteworthy background in community-based teaching, educational program development and environmental education.  She holds a Master of Science in Teaching from Antioch University New England, has created and facilitated garden programs and schoolyard habitats with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and is Co-Founder of the NH Children in Nature Coalition.

A lifelong teacher, Marilyn has won awards from the New England Environmental Education Association and The Wildlife Society for her regional and national environmental communication efforts.  Her interests include organic gardening, landscape design and planting.  She is also the author of Homes for Wildlife: A Planning Guide to Habitat Enhancement on School Grounds.  Marilyn and her husband live in Hillsborough, NH.  You can reach Marilyn at marilyn@cornucopiaproject.org, or call (603) 784-5069.

Board of Directors

Leslie Lewis, Chair, Peterborough
Leslie is the Director of Paid Search at Website Publicity, with offices in downtown Peterborough and Manchester, NH. She moved to Peterborough in 2005 after 20-odd years working and living in New York City.  Living so long in the concrete canyons of NYC left her hungry for green spaces and rich earth, and she has turned her in-town backyard into an organic edible landscape of fruit trees, berry bushes and raised vegetable beds. If there was an advanced degree in Canning, she would have earned it.

Mike Lombard, Treasurer, Peterborough
Mike is the owner of Ideal Compost Co here in Peterborough, and he has been instrumental in the current focus on building healthy soils, healthy crops, and healthy kids in the school and community gardens at Cornucopia. He taught kindergarten and ran Happy Valley School for 12 years after receiving his teaching degree at Antioch. Mike grew up outside of Boston, and he has been fascinated with gardening ever since he was a child. An avid gardener and a perpetual student, Mike is focused enriching the soils to grow healthier food.

Sue Martin, Secretary, Peterborough
Sue is a retired teacher and social worker who has worked in New York city and New Hampshire.  She directed a summer camp (The Game of Village) for 18 years at her farm in New Boston, NH.  Sue is passionate about gardening, farming and community work.
Eva Ruutopold, Hancock
Eva has been self-employed as a Designer and Marketing Professional since 1990. Her extensive experience and skills have been called into service for businesses in finance, education, publishing, retail, and non-profits, as well as within advertising and design agencies.  In addition, she enjoys organizing fundraisers, seminars, and conventions for various groups and organizations.  An avid hiker and orienteerer, she lives in Hancock, NH, with her family.

Cathie Sage, Peterborough
Cathie came to NH in 1982 and has lived in Peterborough since 1987.  She owned and operated Sage with Thyme Catering for 11 years deciding to close the business in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and family, pursue other interests and relax!  Her passions include, cooking, Yoga, travel and time with friends.  Cathie also enjoys organic gardening, tending to 11 raised beds and an herb garden with the help of her chickens and 3 dogs.

Pete Skelly, Peterborough

Pete has just begun his ninth year of service at Nature’s Green Grocer, with a passion for healthy food and local food systems. He graduated from Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, and moved to New England in 2004.  He enjoys being outdoors as frequently as possible, especially to enjoy birding. Pete lives in Peterborough with his cat, Drew.

Mike Stanley, Dublin

Mike has a passion in helping children of all ages appreciate all that the natural world has to offer.  Most notably, he was involved in Outward Bound for 18 years, working and supporting their mission of changing lives through challenge and discovery, while building more resilient and compassionate citizens. He currently serves on the Board of the Philadelphia Outward Bound School.  His enthusiasm for building, supporting and sustaining impactful youth programs led Mike to join the Cornucopia team.

Erin Taylor, Harrisville

Since growing up in the Monadnock Region, Erin has lived and worked in various parts of the US and the world, always with an eye on community development, particularly as it relates to food. With a lifelong passion for indigenous cuisine, she is excited to be supporting the Cornucopia Project’s development and initiatives.

Erin is currently Senior Manager of the Partner Solutions team for ES3, LLC, a leader of innovation and collaborative Supply Chain methodologies in the retail grocery industry, getting food to tables in the most efficient and environmentally conscious ways possible. 

Cornucopia in the News

Parent Express: Students Grow with Farm to Fork Program (2017)

ELF (Enjoy Living to the Fullest) Magazine: Upcoming Conference Tackles the Future of Farming (2017)

Union Leader: Farm to Fork Program for Teens starting New Business in Peterborough (2016)

Monadnock Ledger Transcript:  Cheesemaking; A Simple Tasty Science (2015)

Monadnock Table:  Learning to Eat Healthy Through Cooking, Gardening and Film (2015) (2015)

New Hampshire Public Radio:  Cornucopia Project Filling Kids Cups (2014)

Monadnock Table: Planting the Seeds: The Cornucopia Project Experience (2013)

NH Magazine: Remarkable Women of Cuisine (2013)

Parent Express Magazine: The Cornucopia Project: Growing with Kids (2011)

Yankee Magazine:  Best Cook for Zucchini Muffins and Soup (2011)

Partners – 2015/16

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.  – Margaret Meade

Our growth from a small grassroots organization gardening on a tiny plot of land, to a program of teaching edible education in 8 local elementary schools, growing organic food for families in need, and teaching high school students the business of farming, was made possible by the help of our local and regional friends and partners.

Visit their websites and support the organizations and businesses who are making a difference by helping us build community around growing healthy food.

 

ORGANIZATIONAL SPONSORS

American Steel & Precast Erectors

First Track Marketing

Froling Electric

Grodman Financial Group

Harrisville Designs

SDE – School Development for Educators

United Natural Foods

Wharf Printing

 

 

FOUNDATIONS

New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

Partridge Foundation

Keith M. Sullivan Foundation

 

IN-KIND SUPPORT

Attar Herbs and Spices

Ideal Compost

Monadnock Oil and Vinegar

Nature’s Green Grocer

New England Forest Products

Summerhill Assistsed Living

 

PROGRAM SPONSORS & PARTNERS

ConVal School District/SAU#1

Dublin Community Foundation

Dublin Riding and Walking Club

Garden Club of Dublin

The River Center

The Harris Center for Conservation Education

Monadnock Farm and Community Connection

NH Farm to School Program

Peterborough Agricultural Commission

Phase65, Inc.

Town of Peterborough – Recreation Department

 

 

 

New Summer Program employment opportunties:

We are seeking two educators (as well as volunteers) for a 10-class farm-based summer program.  Kids Connect! Farm, Field & Forest is made possible through a partnership between the Monadnock Conservancy, Cornucopia Project, and Four Winds Farm in Peterborough.

This 5-week (twice weekly) program works to promote self-esteem, teamwork, play, and healthy eating by connecting children to land and the outdoors through safe and enjoyable farming, gardening and nature activities.  The program will take place on Mondays and Thursdays 4-6:30 pm from July 17 to August 17, 2017.

Ideal candidates for the Lead Program Coordinator and the Assistant Program Coordinator will be experienced in farm or nature-based youth education with a demonstrated passion for ‘edible education’. 

Please email joyce@cornucopiaproject.org for further information and/or the job descriptions.

Farm to Fork employment opportunity:

We are looking for a Program Assistant to support the summer intensive aspect of the program and then take over the farm and educational operations while the program coordinator takes a maternity leave. The duties of this position will be split into two seasons of work:

The Summer Program: (August 7 through August 25th) Assist in operations with, Hannah Bissex, the Program coordinator for the youth summer program. This position will run approximately 10 hours a week, primarily in the morning hours with flexibility in the days covered.

The Fall into Winter Program: (September- December) Assume primary responsibility of farming and educational operations of the program while the coordinator leaves for a 3 month maternity leave. This position will run approximately 15 hours a week, primarily in the afternoons.

Please email hannah@cornucopiaproject.org for further information and/or the full job description.