In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Pat talks with local and national sustainability and environment experts.

Onika Abraham
Director of Farm School NYCCo-Founder of Black Urban Growers

Onika Abraham is a parent, partner, farmer, and educator. A Farm School NYC teacher before she became Director in 2014, Onika has always been drawn to growing and teaching. After leaving her position as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Safe Horizon in 2010, she spent the next four years with her hands in the soil—learning as much as possible about growing food sustainably. In 2012, Onika completed the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) in Santa Cruz. At CASFS, Onika valued the hands-on agricultural training but was concerned by the lack of focus on social justice—one of the pillars of Agroecology. She served on the Social Justice Action Committee, helping expand the curriculum, diversify staff and faculty, and create more support systems for apprentices of color, including hosting the first CASFS People of Color Reunion, now an annual event which has drawn farmers from across the country each year.

Onika’s work to support farmers of color and increase the number of black farmers nationally, in particular, predates her time at CASFS. She is one of the co-founders of Black Urban Growers and helped organize three national Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conferences since 2010. Her commitment to this work continues in her efforts to recruit Farm School NYC students that reflect the diversity of New York City, especially those from low-income and black and brown communities, and help them achieve their professional farming goals.

Ben Hartman
Owner/Operator of Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Ind.Author of The Lean Farm

Ben is a full-time farmer and author of The Lean Farm, winner of the prestigious Shingo Prize. In 2017 he wrote a field guide companion called The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables, and was named one of 50 green leaders in the US by Grist. Clay Bottom Farm offers on-farm workshops and online courses teaching small farmers how to farm smaller and smarter.

Therese Dorau
Founding Director of South Bend’sOffice of Sustainability

Therese Dorau is the Director of Sustainability for the City of South Bend, Indiana, where she is responsible for climate and energy programs.  Prior to joining the City, she managed consulting projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmentally-friendly practices for corporate, federal, and local government clients. Therese has a B.S. in Chemistry from Xavier University and an M.S. in Sustainable Systems from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. In her spare time, Therese takes advantage of the great South Bend-area amenities, including the arts and music scene, restaurants and microbreweries, and hiking and biking trails