About Us

About Us

 

We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing healthy kids, healthy food, and healthy communities.  Since 2008, we’ve led community and school-based edible educational programs to cultivate a joyful understanding of the relationship between fresh food and good health, exciting garden scholars ranging in age from toddlers to elders. Our continuum of programs includes: 

 

Elementary School Gardens. Our edible education gardening programs have been growing healthy kids in all eight elementary schools in the ConVal School District in Southwestern New Hampshire.  Curriculum aligned lessons connect kids to their food and where it comes from; to each other as they work collaboratively in the garden; to the greater community as they share their learning, and to the wonders of nature. Kids eat what they grow, and the act of caring  for seedlings and harvesting vegetables in their schoolyard gardens inherently teaches students the relationship between healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy bodies.

 

Cool Chefs, an after school cooking program offered to students in grades 3 through 6, provides an opportunity for students to understand more fully how fresh ingredients can be turned into nutritious, delicious menus.  We have witnessed how children excel when learning alongside their peers in the kitchen and become ambassadors of healthy food choices in their home.  These five week kitchen experiences are currently offered throughout the school year at the Peterborough Community Center kitchen, and are expected to expand to additional locations in the near future.

 

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′ x 96′ 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 programs.

 

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, NH.  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. More than a decade later, the Cornucopia Project has grown from a tiny seven family CSA to a non-profit that touches thousands of community members every year.

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!  You can reach Karen at karen@cornucopiaproject.org. 

 

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, Director of Community Engagement

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, Pete. She has two grown daughters and one grandchild!  You can reach Joyce at joyce@cornucopiaproject.org.

 

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.

 

 

 

Jennifer Trapani, Interim Farm to Fork Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

Cathy Joly

Cathy joins us for her fourth semester at Cornucopia. She 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.

 

Lauren Reilert Judd 

 
Lauren has been a Garden Teacher since the Spring season of 2017, and has done work with non-profit farms and intentional communities in NH, CO, and HI since 2006. She has worked in the private-school sector with young children, directing after school activities, and also as a volunteer with a Vermont Town Library, a Children’s Museum, and with a Community Food Co-op. She created and sold a popular restaurant in Southern Vermont with a focus on using local and organic ingredients. Besides working as a Garden Teacher, Lauren is a Co-leader of the Peterborough Girls Scouts Troop. She holds a Dual BA in Sociology and Social Psychology, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from Keene State College. She loves to hike and see musical performances and will occasionally bring her guitar into the school garden for some Plant and Vegetable songs. Lauren lives on a Farm with her husband, two children, and four dogs, where they grow berries, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. Lauren loves sharing her joy found in food and the outdoors with her garden students.

 

 

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.

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

Brattleboro Reformer:  The Cornucopia Project: ‘Smart’ Agriculture and the Internet of Tomatoes (2017)

Concord Monitor:  Internet of Things? That’s Old Hat. How About an Internet of Tomatoes? (2017)

ripe.io:  ripe.i.o Introduces the First Real Tomatoes on the Blockchain (2017)

Analog Devices: Analog Devices’ Monitoring Initiative Aims to Improve Crop Quality and Yields and Boost Profitability of Local Farmers (2017)

Embedded Computing Design: Using the IIoT to Yield Better Tomatoes (2017)

Monadnock Ledger Transcript: Technology and the Farm of the Future (2017)

Keene Sentinel: What Can We Learn From a Tomato (2017)

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

Monadnock Ledger Transcript:  Nonprofit Moves to Vose Farm Business Complex (2017)

Monadnock Ledger Transcript:  New Cornucopia Director Ready to Dig In (2017)

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

Monadnock Ledger Transcript:  Cornucopia Offers Farm to Fork Fellowship  (2016)

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)

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 

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

Partners help us grow!  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

Analog Devices

ConVal School District/SAU#1

Dublin Community Foundation

Dublin Riding and Walking Club

Garden Club of Dublin

The Harris Center for Conservation Education

Monadnock Conservancy

Monadnock Farm and Community Connection

NH Farm to School Program

Peterborough Agricultural Commission

Phase65, Inc.

The River Center

ripe.io

Town of Peterborough – Recreation Department

 

 

 

No openings at this time.  Please check back.

 

You can contact us at:

Cornucopia Project
49 Vose Farm Road, Suite 110
Peterborough, NH 03458
(603) 784-5069


Please feel free to email the following staff contacts with your questions.

General information:  admin@cornucopiaproject.org

School Programs:  Karen Hatcher, Executive Director: karen@cornucopiaproject.org

Community Engagement: Joyce Carroll, Community Programs Coordinator: joyce@cornucopiaproject.org

Farm to Fork: Hannah Bissex, Farm to Fork Coordinator: hannah@cornucopiaproject.org