Meet the Farm Crew

2017 apprentices

Sean Heenan

I grew up in rural Mason. For the last 19 years, I have worked as a foreign car mechanic. At Urbandale Farm, I hope to learn skills and practices that will lead me to a new career in organic farming where I can spend time outdoors working with nature. In my precious free time, I like to kayak and wander the forests and wetlands with my wife.

Cassandra Cole

Growing up in Lansing as the child of a single-parent household, I experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to find and afford quality meals in what is recognized as a food desert. Fortunately, there have been a growing number of programs and community projects working to combat food scarcity. I came to Urbandale in hopes of getting a closer look at what we as residents can do to increase our quality of life, improve local health, and become more self sufficient in one of America’s hungriest cities.

Ross Fisher

I am a resident of the East side neighborhood of Lansing and really enjoy the sense of community here. I want to use this program to gain skills in urban agriculture to expand its use in the Lansing area. I am interested in making our food system more local and sustainable.

Anna Backman

I’m from Dollar Bay, Michigan, and am currently a senior at Michigan State University, majoring in the arts and humanities with minors in sexuality studies, gender studies, and peace & justice studies. I would like to work on finding solutions to issues faced by disadvantaged communities, using resources already available to community members. Urbandale’s practice of using reclaimed urban land for organic farming is a fantastic example of a community using its resources to create sustainable solutions. My time with Urbandale has been both inspirational and enjoyable, and I’m very excited to be learning about food production!

Farm crew alumni

Katherine, 2015 Urbandale Farm Manager and Apprentice Mentor IMG_4047

Katherine grew up in Rockford, Illinois, finding refuge from the corn and soybean fields in the pockets of forest and prairie she sought. A lifelong learner, she studied varying disciplines until receiving her B.A. degree in Sociology, whereupon she decided to focus on the deficiency she saw in herself as well as much of society – the disconnect with Nature and the inability to produce one’s own food. Switching academic gears, she worked her way towards getting closer to understanding the miracle of plants by working on research and student farms while continuing school until completing her M.S. degree in Crop Science from the University of Illinois. Coming to Michigan five years ago, Katherine completed the Organic Farmer Training Program at MSU in 2011. Staying on for the next three years as the Farm Stand Manager, Program Manager and Instructor of the program, she learned a great deal about diversified fruit and vegetable production, as well as solidifying her passion of teaching others about growing plants and food. She is very excited to become a part of Urbandale as it combines both of these interests while being a friendly, exciting environment to work in. She has a passion for Nature, botany, chocolate and candy making, board games, cooking, and music, and can still be found in the forest most of her spare time.

2015 Apprentices

Ken ken profile pic

Ken D. Orlich has been living in the Lansing area since he graduated from MSU in 1991 with a BA in Telecommunications.  Telecommunications?  TV?  What does that have to do with growing food, building community, and local self sufficiency?  Well, nothing really and that’s why he decided a change was necessary.  The universe was listening.  He was soon enough laid off from his sterile TV job and, with the meeting of an amazing and patient woman, his life would change forever.  He would now have the time to pursue the knowledge necessary toward goals with a purpose higher than making money and chasing, like a dog to his tail, the “American Dream.”  At Urbandale, he now finds peace of mind through real, hard labor and a reconnection with natural systems.  He believes these are the roots of our being that we deny so at our peril.  He plans to use his new skills toward the creation of a “New Economy School.”  A place where greed and competition are shunned, and sharing and cooperation are rewarded with abundance.  He believes that the age of the sociopathic leader must come to an end if we are to ever see universal progress for all.  Urbandale Farm has become the first giant step in his slog toward enlightenment.  He feels lucky and thankful for this tremendous opportunity.

Mathias image1

Mathias Hoppes grew up Portland Michigan, and is the eldest of seven siblings. He has had green thumbs since he was a youngling. A transplant to Lansing, learning a new way to farm and to live is the adventure ahead.

Katelyn for urbandale

Katelyn is a Michigander from the Lansing area and was first exposed to the world of gardening while wwoofing in College (wwoofing stands for world-wide opportunities for organic farming) at farms in California. In 2012, after longingly watching landscapers work outside while she worked inside a sterile office, she interned with Urbandale, made life-long friends, and is thrilled to be back for the more intensive training as an apprentice. Every day there is more biology magic to learn, more delicious meals to talk about while working, more muscles to build, and Urbandale Farm is a wonderful place to be.

2014 Apprentices

A Michigan native who has lived in a few different countries around the world, Allison recently moved back to the Eastside of Lansing where she first got into organic farming after graduating from MSU about 10 years ago.  With a background in community development, Allison hopes to use what she learns as an apprentice to build community and promote a healthy and ecologically/socially-conscious lifestyle.  She loves to cook (and eat!) and has found a new appreciation for turnips because the Hakurei variety grown at Urbandale Farm is so delicious!  She sees herself possibly starting a small, organic farming business from home in the future while staying involved in her local community.  When not on the farm, Allison can be found doing yoga, dancing, or practicing her Spanish at the taco truck.

Mother, grandmoma, sister, auntie, and niece, Diane, likes to grow beautiful veggies and flowers to cook and enjoy them later with pride.  She is looking forward to harvest-time.  She’s learned a considerable amount about ground-prepping, proper spacing of plants, pest control, and working to create a good bounty.  She was introduced to gardening at a young age.  Her mom was from Arkansas, but didn’t appreciate growing crops until older.  She is worried about pesticides.  To start something as a seed and later bring the fruit or veggie to the table is wonderful.  Her favorites include watermelon, cucumbers, squash, or a plump red tomato.  She’d like to later have a little farm stand, talk to neighbors and passerby’s, teach the children, and really retire.  Perhaps a teaching farm as she’s had the opportunity to be a part of.  It’s always nice to share knowledge and maybe learn a new technique.

Kiel is looking forward to becoming a part of the local food movement in his community.  He feels good about helping to provide fresh produce because it gives him a sense of freedom and ownership in the essential human activity of eating.  He hopes to use this experience to join Americorps in order to experience the West Coast.  When not gardening, he enjoys making art, biking, camping, and playing basketball.

Ryan is from Mason and hopes to own his own farm in the future.  He is passionate about communicating how the food system affects our social, ecological, and economic systems and thus is paramount to a robust society.  He took horticulture classes at MSU and spent most of 2013 on a diverse farm in Northern Michigan.  Small scale intensive growing and engaging communities with farms are areas of particular interest.  So far he’s been learning a great deal about the insects, wild plants, and wildlife that inhabit our urban landscape.  In his free time, Ryan enjoys playing percussion, utilizing edible weeds, and tending his own garden at home.  In his opinion, wintercarrots are the superlative garden vegetable!

2014 Urban Farmer Interns

Emily is studying EnvironmentalScience at Loyola University in Chicago with minors in Journalism and Dance.  As an intern at Urbandale Farm, she is excited to learn about how to farm sustainably and organically.  She wants to use the knowledge she gains at Urbandale Farm in Loyola’s green house next year.  This is Emily’s first experience farming and she loves it, especially the farmer’s food!

Coming from the other side of the Atlantic, Gaelle was looking for a new experience after having worked in a Landscape design company for several years. Willing to get her hands dirty in a concrete project and to know more about the ‘edible landscape’ of Michigan, she is happy to be involved as a intern at Urbandale farm. Besides learning a lot about farming techniques, insects, and plants, she discovers a real sense of community but also new vegetables such as okras, kholrabi,tomatillos…Back home, she hopes using those skills in the future to create a community garden and convince people how growing their own food can be as important as rewarding.  Her favorite vegetable? Since avocados doesn’t like Michigan that much, raw turnips are the perfect snack while rucola is the best in an italian salad!

Jack is studying horticulture at Michigan State University and plans on graduating in December of 2015.  He is very interested in urban agriculture and hopes to spend a lot of time in the future working in an urban environment. He likes the idea of using space that might otherwise have gone to waste to do something productive. Lowering food miles is very important to him. He enjoys the sense of community that urban farming brings and he hopes to teach people about how to grow their own food and support those that grow it locally.  When not busy with school work and his job, he enjoys being outside.  He loves running, biking and playing basketball. He also enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as listening to music.

Matthew is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying environmental sustainability and landscape architecture. He believes that environmental issues will become increasingly important through his generation and would like to be a part of the change that will inevitably come. The Lansing Urban Farm Project is a great way to start helping, as the food is grown locally and sold to the community. The project also teaches the processes of having and maintaining a farm, something that is interesting to him. When he is not in school or working on the farm he can be found attending events on MSU campus and lounging around with friends. He is excited to see the rest of the opportunities the farm is going to give him.

Megan is a recent transplant to Michigan, who has appreciated the chance for some hands-on experience with sustainable urban agriculture as an Urbandale Farm intern.  She has a longstanding interest in increasing access to healthy local food, and has enjoyed seeing the many farming and food access projects happening in the Lansing area and getting to feel like part of the community.  In her free time she’s been trying to learn as much as possible about gardening and urban agriculture, with a bit of cooking, reading, and exploring on foot and by bicycle mixed in.

Sarah is the farm manager at Urbandale Farm and is looking forward to her fifth growing season on the farm.  She always looks forward to working outside through the change in seasons and especially loves the diversity in farm tasks that are part of her job.  She especially enjoys working with all the neighbors, volunteers, intern, and apprentices who keep Urbandale Farm running.  Sarah’s hobbies include watching her toddler explore the farm, backpacking, birdwatching, playing music, running, and cooking.

Tom applied for an internship at Urbandale Farm because he wanted a chance to get experience growing food, and also to learn about operating an urban farm. He is a senior studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at MSU so most of his class time is devoted to discussing food production and environmental stewardship. He looks forward to being able to use some of the practices he’s studied, and contribute to the urban food movement! His introduction to gardening came this summer. He rented a small plot in Northwind Community Garden in Okemos where he grew cucumbers, carrots, beans and herbs. It was more difficult than he expected, but he enjoyed the challenge and being outside. When he is not in school or gardening he can be found practicing guitar, doing yoga, and spending time with his roommates (he has 9!). He hopes to apply the skills he acquires at Urbandale by joining the Peace Corps after graduation. For now, he’s happy sharing his time growing healthy, sustainable produce with other kind, passionate people!

2013 Farmers

I grew up in and live in the Urbandale neighborhood.  I was excited to learn about Urbandale Farm’s apprenticeship program and want to learn how to grow my own vegetables.  I hope to learn more about farming and would like to help others learn farming techniques.  My hobbies are spending time outdoors, swimming, fishing, family, and now gardening too.

My name is John Scott Brown III and I enjoy sports and hanging out with friends in my spare time.  I’m so excited about the apprenticeship program because you can learn a lot about farming.  My father completed the apprenticeship last year and now he has his own lot and is about to start planting his own things.  My Great Grandfather Howard was very into farming.  Although I’ve never met him, my father talks about him a lot and shows me pictures, so its been in the family.  I would love to keep it going and hopefully be able to show others that are interested and get them motivated to start something on their own.  Its always great to learn something new so you can experiment on the experience you have learned.  One day I’m hoping to get a lot of my own and pass it down as I get older to my kids or family members.  I have one daughter and she is 2 year’s old.  Maybe she’ll be able to help out or just have fun at the farm.  It’s always great to get family involved in projects.

I’m an interior design graduate with a passion for locally grown food.  I would like to learn as much as possible about farming and food production in order to run my own homestead and farm with my family.

Andrew has liked plants since he was a very young kid.  Both his parents garden enthusiastically and Andrew has vivid memories of his Dad taking him along to the plots he rented to garden vegetables.  Andrew’s interest in plants first presented itself in attempts to grow orchids and bonsai, with varying degrees of success.  Andrew is thrilled to have the chance to combine his passion for plants with a more practical/productive farming experience as well as to get to know more people in the Lansing community.