Our Instuctors

Jonathan Asher Allred

jonathan-allredx2400Jonathan A. Allred received his BS in the plant sciences from the California State Polytechnic University of Pomona, with a focus in agronomic principles and practices for field-crop production. During his education, Jonathan spent 4 years employed as a farm laborer in Pomona, California where he worked on the universities 190 acre farm. This experience drove Jonathan to pursue further education with an emphasis on resource and energy use efficiency. In 2015, Jonathan joined Cornell University where he pursued his MS in horticulture biology with a focus in controlled environment agriculture, biological and environmental engineering and economics. After graduating with his MS in 2017, Jonathan accepted the position as a PhD student at Cornell to further his studies. Currently Jonathan is a second year PhD student focusing on the optimization of day-neutral strawberry cultivars in controlled environments. He teaches Hydroponics and Aquaponics.

Rachel Armstrong

Rachel Armstrong is the founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing proactive legal education materials to sustainable farmers. She founded the organization after a career as a farm employee and local food system advocate. Education is the core of Farm Commons’ programming and Rachel is a sought-after instructor who makes the law relevant and interesting to farmers and attorneys alike. Rachel is licensed to practice law in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She earned her law degree from the University of Denver and teaches Introduction to Food and Agricultural Law online.  More information. 

Allen Barker

Allen is a senior member of the faculty in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture who served as Head of the former Department of Plant and Soil Science for more than 8  years.  He is a well-known research scientist, focusing on mineral nutrition of vegetable crop plants and has published extensively in this area.  He was the Outstanding Teacher in the College of Food and Natural Resources, 1992-1993, and teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses related to plant nutrition and soil fertility.  He earned his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University and teaches Organic Gardening and Farming online.  More Information.

Thomas Benjamin

Tom Benjamin RLA, LEED-AP BD+C has been an innovator in the field of landscape and sustainable design for more than 20 years. His unmatched insights into low-input resilient design, natural habitat and ecosystem restoration as well as the planning, implementation, and maintenance of therapeutic wellness gardens sets him apart from other landscape architects. His collaborative and holistic approach to planning, emphasizing realistic operations and management practices, has produced an extensive list of long-term landscape success stories that have met compliance needs.  In fact, Tom’s projects have repeatedly been recognized as leaders in linking exemplary environmental compliance with human use of the quality spaces he’s created.  Thomas teaches Sustainable Site Design and Planning, and the Sustainable Site Design Studio online.  More information.

Sarah Berquist

Sarah teaches courses in the Sustainable Food and Farming undergraduate program at the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  She offers contemplative and participatory courses in farm-based agriculture education, social justice, food systems, and personal sustainability.  She is excited to equip students with practical life skills: the ability to grow their own food, confidence in leading others, community organizing, and critical thinking to solve problems. Experiential learning is at the heart of her teaching philosophy and she loves getting her hands dirty with her students in the field.  She earned her Master of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts and teaches Agricultural Leadership and Community-based Education online.

Nicole Burton

Nikki has over 20 years of farming experience with a focus on organic livestock and vegetable production. Since completing her masters degree in Sustainability Science,  Nicole has focused solely on the development of  innovative, science-based, sustainable animal husbandry curriculum at UMass.  Currently her experiential learning programming includes poultry and sheep rotations, organic vegetable production, carbon farming systems and on farm slaughter.  Nicole serves on several faculty committees and is an active member of the Sustainability Curriculum Initiative at the University.   Along with educating and advising the next generation of small farmers she continues to run a small family farm at her home in Wendell, MA.   She teaches Small Farm Husbandry: Pigs & Poultry and Small Farm Husbandry: Goats, Sheep and Beef online.

Linda Chalker-Scott


Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets.

Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’sGardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019).

In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. “The Informed Gardener” webpage: www.theinformedgardener.com 

“The Garden Professors” blog: www.gardenprofessors.com

“The Garden Professors” Facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors

Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

Linda teaches Sustainable Horticulture online with the Stockbridge School of Ag.

Renee Ciulla

Renee is a faculty member of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the UMass Amherst where she teaches a few campus courses and helps to manage the robust campus internship program. Renee is also the manager and academic advisor of the online Associate of Science and Bachelor of Sciences degree programs in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Her Master of Science degree is in Agroecology from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences with a strong focus on experiential education. Renee managed her own organic vegetable farm in NH for 7 years and teaches the following online classes: Professional Development in Sustainable Food and FarmingBuilding a Sustainable HomesteadGlobal Food SystemsOrganic Vegetable Production, and Farm Management, Planning and Marketing.

Emily Cole

Emily is a faculty member at Westfield State University.  Her research focuses on the complex soil ecosystem and its response to disturbance by anthropogenic means. She is interested in the remediation of contaminated soils, improvement of soil health and overall sustainability in agroecosystems and protecting biodiversity in what is the Earth’s most complicated ecosystem. Emily earned a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts and teaches Agricultural Chemistry online.  More information.  

Daniel Cooley


Dan teaches courses in plant diseases and their management, and in the different ways food and agriculture impact human health. His research and outreach program at UMass have focused on developing more sustainable methods to manage diseases in fruit crops, particularly apples. He has worked with integrated pest management (IPM) for many years, in the Northeast and internationally, most recently helping in the development of Eco Apple, an eco-label program promoting advanced IPM for apples in the Northeast. He is currently involved in the application of cyber technology to agricultural disease problems and sustainability, specifically in the development and use of weather-driven decision support systems, and in computer vision. Dan earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, an M.S. in Plant & Soil Sciences from the University of Vermont, and his Ph. D. in Plant Pathology from UMass Amherst.

Mike Davis

davisMike Davis earned his Ph.D. degree in Plant Pathology from University of California, Riverside. After a faculty position with Texas A&I University, he became a member of the Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, in 1986 as a Cooperative Extension Specialist, a position he held with a joint Professor title. He retired from UC Davis in 2015. Mike’s career focused on the study of diseases of citrus, vegetables, and field crops and practical applications of disease management measures. He always had an interest in mushrooms and taught courses in mushroom identification, cultivation, and phylogeny. In addition, he published a number of papers on mushrooms, including identifying and describing new species. He is lead author of Field Guide to Mushrooms of Western North America published in 2012.

Scott Debnam

DSC_0294Scott is a graduate of the University of Montana Wildlife Biology program and has 20 years of experience managing the University of Montana’s research colonies. He completed his Master’s degree in Pollination ecology in 2016 through The University of Montanas Organismal Biology, Ecology, & Evolution program and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the Division of Biological Sciences. His research focuses on nest thermoregulation and the economics associated with thermoregulation. He, of course, uses the honeybee as the model species for this research. Scott is a Yale Scientific Teaching fellow that possesses extensive expertise with honey bee ailments and pests.  He possesses an intimate knowledge of the insects that he is eager to pass on to others.  To that end, he has been an instructor for the University of Montana Online Master beekeeping program for six years, instructing over a thousand students from 11 different countries. He is a recipient of the 2019 UPCEA award for outstanding online education.  He began teaching the Practical Beekeeping online course for Umass Amherst in 2019 and is delighted to bring his expertise to the University of Massachusetts Sustainable Food and Farming program.

Abrah Jordan Dresdale

Abrah is certified in Permaculture Design and holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Landscape Design and Food Systems Planning from the Conway School. She lives in rural and culturally vibrant Western Massachusetts where she spent four years developing and coordinating the nationally recognized, interdisciplinary Farm and Food Systems degree program at Greenfield Community College. She teaches college courses on permaculture design, food systems, and Jewish agricultural traditions at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Greenfield Community College, and Brandeis University Summer High School Programs. Her edible landscape design business, Feeding Landscapes, has developed projects ranging from a Public Food Forest for the Town of Wendell, MA, to the design and implementation of “Edible Pathways” for Sadhana Forest in Auroville, India to providing technical support for the creation of a campus permaculture garden at Wesleyan University.  She teaches Introduction to Permaculture, and Social Permaculture for Food Justice online. More at: www.abrahdresdale.com

Roland Ebel

Roland is a faculty member of the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico.  His area of expertise is agroecology and Roland has worked closely with small farmers of indigenous communities in different parts pf Mexico.  Currently, his research centers on the impact of climate change on traditional Mesoamerican farming systems. Among his many publications are handbooks for the sustainable production of pitahaya, habanero pepper, and chaya.  He earned his Ph.D. in Austria and teaches Agroecology online.

John M. Gerber

John teaches courses relating to sustainable food systems at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he provides leadership for the undergraduate program in Sustainable Food and Farming. He continues to investigate ways in which students are encouraged to explore personal growth and community responsibility through service, reflection and dialogue. His greatest professional joy is to watch young people find their calling (especially when it relates to local food and farming). He was instrumental in helping to initiate student projects at UMass such as the Permaculture Initiative, the UMass Student Farm, GardenShare, and the Real Food Challenge. He received the highest honor awarded a teacher at UMass in 2008 with the University Distinguished Teacher Award.  John earned his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University. He teaches Botany for Gardeners and Agricultural Systems Thinking online.  More Information.

Susan Han

Susan is a master teacher in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, well-recognized for her commitment to student learning.  She received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the College of Natural Resources in 2017.  Susan earned her Ph.D. from the University of California Davis and teaches Post-harvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables, and Introduction to Botany online.  More information. 

Masoud Hashemi

Masoud’s activities at the University of Massachusetts include  serving as the Crops, Dairy, Livestock, Equine team leader for UMass Extension, state contact person for nutrient and manure management, pasture management, and agronomic crop production.  Other major outreach activities include statewide presentations and workshops on various topics, State Coordinator and State Host of New England Green Pastures. His research program is focused on sustainable food and farming systems with special emphasis in using various cover crops to maintain soil health and to enhance environmental quality. He is the author or co-author of four books including, Seed Dormancy and Germination (2000), Postharvest Physiology (1997), Sustainable Agriculture (1996), and Maximizing Crop Yield (1995).  Masoud earned his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts and teaches Pasture Management online.  More information.

Deborah Henson

Deb in Pit cropped and shrunkDeb is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with a PhD in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a faculty member at UMASS Amherst in the Department of Environmental Conservation. Her research interest is in wetland soils and particularly hydropedology. She has been teaching soil science for more than 15 years to on-campus audiences of all levels. She also teaches soil science in UMASS’s International Winter School for Turfgrass Managers (offered through Continuing & Professional Education), as well as teaching in UMASS Extension’s Green School for Landscaping, Turf, Urban Forestry, and Vegetable Production professionals. For many years, she taught the on-campus Introductory Soil Science class to students in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture’s Associate Degree Program.  She now teaches Soil Science and Management online.  More information. 

Kristin Henningsen

Kristin  is a clinical herbalist, yoga therapist, writer, & educator, who first fell in love with plants in the desert southwest. In addition to studying Indigenous herbal medicine in the Southwest, she has worked in academia and for non-profit organizations in the field of botanical research all over the country.  Currently she serves as faculty and clinician for the Vermont Center of Integrative Herbalism, and Purdue University’s School of Health Sciences. She has been researching, writing, and teaching about medicinal plants for over 15 years. Look for her wandering through the woods, kids and dogs in tow. Kristin teaches Topics in Herbalism online.  More information.

Christopher Hobbs

Christopher is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine.  He is an acknowledged expert in the field, lecturing all over the U.S., and internationally about herbs and the immune system; adaptogenic herbs, Native American uses of herbs, the pharmacology and chemistry of herbal medicines, herbs for the liver and the botany and taxonomy of herbs. Christopher has taught or lectured at universities and medical schools such as Stanford Medical School, Yale Medical School, John Bastyr College and the National School of Naturopathic Medicine. He received his acupuncture license in February 1995.  He has written 22 books on herbs and health, including the recent Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants of the Western U.S. (with Steven Foster), and the mainstream Herbal Remedies for Dummies, and Vitamins for Dummies (with Elson Haas M.D.). He earned a Ph.D. degree from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry.  He teaches Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plant online.  More information. 

Deborah Niemann

img_9307-deb-goat-portrait-1Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer, and a self-sufficiency expert. In 2002, she relocated her family from the suburbs of Chicago to 32-acres on a creek in the middle of nowhere where they built their own home and began growing the majority of their own food. Sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys supply meat, eggs, and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables. Deborah speaks across the U.S. and in Canada and is the author of six books, including Homegrown and Handmade, Goats Giving Birth, and Raising Goats Naturally. She also authors the Thrifty Homesteader blog and website. She has a master’s degree from Illinois State University.  Deborah teaches Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably online.  More information.

Om Parkash Dhankher

Bio-Om_ParkashOm Parkash Dhankher is a plant/agriculture biotechnologist. His research focus is multidisciplinary in nature ranging from crop improvements, environmental remediation to biofuels. Along with strong research in engineering plants for detoxification and phytoremediation of heavy metals, his laboratory is developing arsenic free and arsenic tolerant food crops in order to improve human health using both forward and reverse genetic approaches.  Additionally, his lab is involved in metabolic engineering of oil seed crops such as Crambe abyssinicaCamelina sativa and Brassica juncea for increased oil yields for biofuels production and specialized biopolymers for industrial uses. Prof. Parkash Dhankher has extensively published his research work in high profile journals including Nature Biotech, PNAS, The Plant Cell etc. and has several patents awarded to him based on his research findings. His research has been widely publicized in numerous leading national and international newspapers (e.g. USA Today, Salt Lake Tribune, The Ottawa Citizen (Canada), Le Monde (France), Indian Express (India) etc.) and science magazines (e.g. The Scientist, National Geography, Science Daily, MIT Technology Review, Geotime, La Recherche (France), Down to Earth, Terragreen etc.). His research has also been featured in headlines on National Geographic Channel, ABC, Reuters, and PBS online project “How we Get to Next”with Steven Johnson etc.

Elsa Petit

Elsa’s teaching and research revolve around two main interests; viticulture and disease ecology. Her original interest in grapes started in Bordeaux, France. She studied diseases of grapevines at the University of California, Davis where she graduated with a PhD in plant pathology. Elsa’s research focuses on how viticultural practices influence microorganisms and more specifically disease-causing (microorganisms) evolution. She teaches courses in viticulture, plant pathology and disease ecology and is also involved in helping students making the transition from vocational agricultural high schools in Massachusetts to the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Elsa teaches Integrated Pest Management online.  More information.

Catherine Sands

Catherine is a front-line community food systems organizer, educator, network facilitator, capacity builder, and evaluator/learning partner living in Western MA.  Catherine brings to her work a commitment to social change and a belief in the potential of groups of people coming together to create powerful solutions to entrenched social issues.  As director of Fertile Ground, established in 2001, Catherine provides school districts with technical assistance in developing curriculum-integrated teaching gardens, mentoring and evidence tracking programs that unify school communities around growing fresh food and cultivating local knowledge. Since then she has provided technical assistance to the MA Food Planning process, conducting listening sessions with food and justice groups; and is designing evaluation processes for community food projects throughout New England to strengthen the impacts of their programs to improve health and access to good food. Catherine holds a Master’s degree from the University of MA/Amherst Center for Public Policy and Administration, with a focus on food access and social justice. She teaches Community Food Systems, and Food Justice and Policy online.  More information. 

Jennifer Santry

Jen moved to the Olympic Peninsula in 2014 to start her own farmstead. She’s currently a full-time advisor at Peninsula College and teaches courses in the Sustainable Agriculture Certificate and Service Learning program. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years as an environmental instructor, land and animal conservationist, and local food advocate. Jen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Zoology and minor in Anthropology. She completed her Masters in Nonprofit Management with an emphasis in environmental education from Regis University in 2007. As the former Community Programs Director at the High Country Conservation Center in Colorado, Jen spent six years developing sustainable food programs including community gardens, student-run CSAs, and urban farming policies.  Jen earned her Masters degree from Regis University and teaches Sustainable Agriculture and Non-profit Management for Community Food Programs online.

Sonia Schloemann

After 14 years of direct farming experience, Sonia Schloemann earner her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and worked as a Senior Extension Educator with the Massachusetts Fruit Industry for over 30 years.  She has extensive expertise in commercial and residential production of Small Fruit (berries and grapes), Edible Landscaping with Fruit, and Pollinator Biology and Conservation. Her career focus has been on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Sustainable Fruit Production Practices. She has  worked with large commercial farmers, small scale homesteaders and Master Gardeners and has carried out research projects in fruit production innovations.  Research projects include cold climate table and wine grape production, pollinator habitat conservation and improvement, alternative fruit crops (Beach Plums, Schisandra Berry), and alternative management methods (Swing Arm Trellis for Blackberries, and Use of Exclusion Netting for SWD Management).   Sonia teaches STOCKSCH305 Small Fruit Production in person for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and STOCHSCH209Holistic Fruit Production online for the Sustainable Food and Farming Program.

Rachel Surls

Photo of Rachel A. Surls Ph.D.Rachel Surls, Ph.D., is the Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, part of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. From school gardens, to urban farms, over her 30-year career she has been involved in a wide array of programs related to food production in cities. She coordinates a team of researchers and educators who provide training, technical assistance, and resources for urban farmers in California. Rachel is a member of the leadership board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, and is active in its Urban Agriculture Working Group, which advocates for policies that make it easier to grow food in the city. She is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and in that capacity worked with small-scale farmers in Honduras. In addition to her training as an agronomist and educator, she is agricultural historian and has written about the history of urban farming.

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