Meet the Team
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 Farmington with her husband and three children.
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/
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/
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.
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.
Nick works as the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional in Franklin County. Through this work Nick focuses on agricultural outreach and education to support the people of Franklin County and beyond. He specializes in crop production, pest management, soil health and composting. Prior to working in this role Nick worked as a Food and Agriculture Field Specialist for UNH Cooperative Extension in Coös County NH and as a Research Associate at the Maine Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station, Highmoor Farm in Monmouth Maine.
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.