Meet the Team
Ellie Sloane-Barton - Food Council Coordinator
When Ellie was young she grew a garden with only purple vegetables on her family's land in Farmington, Maine. This was the beginning of a lifetime love and passion for food, farming, creativity, and small-town community. She is thrilled to share this passion in her role as Food Council Coordinator with the Greater Franklin Food Council. After moving back to Maine in 2020 Ellie taught music and woodworking at the Ecology Learning Center in Unity and started the Butternut Learning Collective, a community education project based at her childhood home in Farmington. Ellie currently lives with her partner, baby, and cat, with future dreams of living communally with others.
Laura Hoeft - School Garden Coach
Laura began her work with the Council in September 2020. As the School Garden Coach, she provides support for four area schools in Franklin County. During her first year she collaborated with staff in two of the schools who had established garden programs to increase their volunteer/staffing capacity. In the remaining schools, she established new garden programs, creatively seeking out new ways to build support and enthusiasm with staff and students. Laura recently managed Sugarloaf’s biggest annual fundraiser, the Sugarloaf Charity Summit. Despite needing to completely reinvent the event due to the onset of COVID, she led the team to raise over 240k to fight cancer in Maine. Laura has worked previously as a Group Sales Manager at Sugarloaf. She has served as a Board member for several organizations, including the Maine Mountain Children’s House, the Kingfield POPS Event Committee, and the Town of Belgrade Parks and Recreation Department. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Human Development. She lives in New Vineyard with her husband and three children.
As the executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area since 2008 and a dedicated member of the steering committee, Lisa focuses on community-based, collaborative initiatives to improve community connectedness, engage isolated people in becoming contributing citizens, and improve access to resources. She has served on many community boards throughout her professional life, including GFFC, the University of Maine at Farmington Board of Visitors which she chaired and the RSU 9 school board. Lisa has received a number of awards for her community engagement efforts including the Governor’s service award for Excellence in Volunteer Administration in 2013.
Erica has been active in the agriculture community since her youth when she participated in 4-H in Franklin County. After years working in youth development, Erica found her way to a vegetable farm in the suburbs of Boston. Erica and her partner, Dave Allen, started Rustic Roots Farm in 2013; providing weekly farm shares to the community and selling directly to the public at the Farmington Farmers’ Market. Erica has participated in the MOFGA Journeyperson program, and served on boards for both Franklin County Cooperative Extension, and Maine Food Strategy. Learn more about Rustic Roots Farm on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RusticRootsFarm/
Born and raised in Mobile, AL, Amanda moved to Maine in 2014. She works as an accountant for a small office in Phillips and recently served as a Financial Trustee and Treasurer of Old South Church in Farmington. Amanda is in the process of completing her post-Baccalaureate degree in Accounting through the University of Maine in Augusta. Amanda lives in Farmington with her wife, Mary.
Sarah, her husband Bud, and their son Cole live in Starks on 88 acres they call Martin Woods Farm, with pastures and plenty of woods. It is a diversified farm and equestrian center with 3 miles of wooded trails, an indoor and outdoor arena for events, and a round pen. They raise pigs, cows, and vegetables and herbs, and forest maple syrups and produce apple cider. Sarah keeps busy making jams and other goodies with the produce from their farm when not involved with council related activities. Please check their FB page for updates on the latest happenings - open year round. https://www.facebook.com/martinwoodsfarm/
Rosemary moved the New Sharon in 2019 when she married Philip Ripa. They own Five Corners Farm in New Sharon where they raise Katahdin sheep, chickens, hay, vegetables and honey. In addition to farming, she is the horticulturalist for the farm’s large perennial landscape. Rosemary promoted programs that support health and wellness in underserved populations for 25 years. Joining the GFFC steering committee provides an opportunity for her to continue this work because access to nutritious, locally grown food greatly impacts the health and wellness of our community.
Kaitlyn started farming in Western Massachusetts in 2015. In 2017, she graduated from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture with a degree in Sustainable Food and Farming. Kaitlyn and her husband Matt moved to Franklin County in 2021. Together they started O'Rye Farm with the goals of feeding their neighbors & building community through regenerative farming practices.
Bella was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. She is passionate about ag sciences and studied plant pathology and biology at UMass. She has worked in extension and the ag sciences field and moved to Western Maine in 2022 to dive deeper into her agricultural and professional goals.
Merrie moved to Maine in 1984 from the Boston area where she was born and raised. Maine was where she has extended family and where she spent all her summers growing up. She worked in Strategic and Program Planning at Maine Medical Center for over 10 years. She lived in Yarmouth where she and her husband, Charlie, raised two sons. It was there she first discovered the joys and challenges of growing one’s own food. Merrie and Charlie moved to Kingfield in 2012. Since moving to Western Maine, she has continued to grow vegetables and flowers in her backyard and has been involved with projects focused on improving the health and economic well-being of local communities and residents. Her most recent project, sponsored by United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, explored volunteer driving programs as a way to address transportation needs in rural Franklin County. Merrie joined GFFC’s Steering Committee in 2022 because she’s inspired by the organization’s mission and the energy and commitment of those who support its work.