The members of the editorial council provide and develop story ideas, write stories, take photographs, help to organize and direct stories and images, and coach other Plough to Pantry contributors.
Editor in Chief, Frances Figart (pronounced Fie-gert) moved to Asheville in 2013 from Kentucky after living in Costa Rica and New Brunswick as the communications director for a kayak eco-tour operator. Before that, she was the editor of a full-color monthly magazine for members of the National Tour Association. After freelancing for The Laurel for two years, Frances joined the team in the summer of 2014 and soon became involved with the development of Plough to Pantry. She lives in Flag Pond, TN, with two Australian shepherds, two cats and her husband John, who helps deliver both magazines and came up with the name Plough to Pantry.
Senior Editor, Banta Whitner, LCSW, is a holistic psychotherapist, organic gardener, and writer. Her book This Congruent Life: A Spiritual Ecology Practice, tracks her family’s journey toward living more lightly on the Earth. At home in Black Mountain, she follows biodynamic principles in an edible landscape of raised vegetable beds, berry patches, culinary and medicinal herbs. Yoga and mountain walks keep her young. Banta blogs at simpleandgrounded.com and may or may not be working on a novel.
Associate Editor, Sue Wasserman has been a corporate and freelance feature writer for more than 25 years. She has written for The New York Times, Southern Living, American Style, Our State, The Asheville Citizen-Times and Atlanta Business Chronicle. In 2013, she published her first book, Walk with Me: Exploring Nature’s Wisdom, which combines her nature photography and uplifting messages gleaned from her adventures.
Photography Editor, Joye Ardyn Durham owns the Gingko Tree Gallery and Frame Shop in Black Mountain, NC, and is known for her landscape, nature and canine photography. Her work has been published in The Laurel of Asheville, WNC Magazine, Our State, Wall Street Journal, Views Magazine, Blue Ridge Travel, Lensbaby, LLC and Paramount Pictures among other uses around the world. Joye’s passion for photography stems back to her youth in Eastern Kentucky where she began taking photos for postcards at age nine. Her website is artistwithcamera.com.
Amy Pryor grew up in Maggie Valley and attended school at UNC-Chapel Hill where she majored in graphic design. After graduating in 2000, she moved home to be closer to her family and took a position as a copy editor at The Mountaineer in Waynesville. In 2002, she joined Hard Times Creative, a small design firm, in Sylva. Amy began freelancing for The Laurel in 2007 and took on her current position as art director and production manager in April 2009. She also helped launch the Laurel’s sister publication, Plough to Pantry, in the winter of 2014.
Sara Hall provides graphic design for Plough to Pantry. She was born and raised in New York City, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and began her career at a small advertising agency in the city. From there, she ventured into publishing and worked at Marvel Comics in the children’s book division. After her daughter, Sophie, and son, Daniel, were born, Sara decided to go freelance for several Condé Nast publications before landing a steady stint at Vogue Magazine. After 25 years at Vogue, Sara and her husband, Bill, moved to Asheville in fall of 2015.
Advisory council writers
Sarah Jones Decker is a farmer and photographer who owns Root Bottom Farm in Marshall, NC, with her husband. She has a MFA in photography from SCAD and a BA in journalism and creative writing from Virginia Tech. She has thru hiked the Appalachian Trail and John Muir Trail, biked from Marshall to Key West and rowed the Grand Canyon. She spends winters skiing in Utah.
Tina Masciarelli, MLA, is a writer, explorer, photographer and entrepreneur. She spent her formative years following in her grandfather’s footsteps in search of undiscovered ecosystems hidden in the Great Smokies. Passionate about supporting local food and sustainable agriculture, Tina blogs at boldnarrative.com and serves as project coordinator for Buy Haywood. When not tending her organic French-style potager, she still enjoys chasing the wild places from her childhood while hiking with her husband and three daughters.
Chris Smith is an enthusiastic grower and permaculture student from a green-thumbed family in England. As community coordinator for Sow True Seed, Chris has launched himself into the world of seed and seed saving since moving to America. On his one-half acre homestead, he experiments with landraces, selective seed saving, crop trials and seed grow outs. He is active in promoting good quality, regionally adapted open-pollinated seed.
Phyllis Stiles is founder and director of national programs Bee City USA® and Bee Campus USA. An Asheville resident since the 1970s, Stiles has spent her career serving communities from West Africa to the Mississippi Delta. Named the United States Pollinator Advocate for 2015, she enjoys hiking, trying to speak French and playing her upright bass.
Terri Wells is a farmer, educator and writer who enjoys exploring the mountains of Sandy Mush. Most days she can be found with her hands in the dirt at Bee Branch Farm, tending to all manner of vegetative life. Upon occasion, she leaves her beloved Sandy Mush to deliver vegetables and honey to CSA customers and to collaborate on farm policy and conservation work.
Natasha Anderson is originally from Kentucky, where her love of nature began with exploring the woods on her family’s farm and later led to camping excursions in the mountains of east Tennessee and western North Carolina. Since then she has become an avid traveler, spending time everywhere from New Zealand and Asia to the British West Indies.
Susanna Barbee is a native of western North Carolina and adores the Blue Ridge Mountains. She enjoys writing about organic, sustainable living and supporting one’s community. Before becoming a full-time freelance writer, Susanna taught middle school English. She is a mom to two little boys, wife to a middle school principal, avid reader, spontaneity seeker and faithful coffee drinker.
Taylor Barnhill is a native North Carolinian living in his adoptive home of Madison County for 38 years. A passionate curiosity for Appalachian culture led him to serve as director of several regional conservation organizations, a consultant for non-profits, an architect of sustainable design, and currently as part-time research historian for the Appalachian Barn Alliance, documenting the historic barn traditions of Appalachia.
Marie Bartlett was born in Australia but reared in North Carolina. Making her living as a freelancer, she produced corporate copy and print articles for more than two decades. She’s published four nonfiction books, two historical novels and four ghostwritten books and her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Seventeen, Lady’s Circle and True West.
Heather Berry is an award-winning feature writer and editor with more than 20 years of published work in both national and local publications. She resides in northern Buncombe County, NC, with her 13-year-old daughter and a menagerie of rescued animals. In her spare time, Heather enjoys exploring western North Carolina, eating her way through Asheville and listening to the many local, colorful stories, both old and new.
Calie Brummer grew up in Arkansas where she cultivated a love for exploring the mountains. She has a passion for secret mountain lookouts, animal rescue and anything related to Edgar Allan Poe. Calie earned an English degree from Appalachian State University in 2015, where she studied the folkways of Appalachia and archived Watauga county ballads from the late 1800s for the library.
Thomas Calder earned his MFA in fiction from the University of Houston’s creative writing program. He writes “Asheville Art Talk,” a bi-weekly online column for the Mountain Xpress. He also has articles forthcoming in The Collective Quarterly and PorterBriggs. You can find his weekly online historical posts by following his Instagram account, @t.calder.
Kayla Carter is a freelance journalist who enjoys raising awareness about local food initiatives in her native region of Northeast Tennessee. After her 2014 Appalachian Trail thru hike, she began searching for ways to bring the sense of support she received during the journey back home. She strives to fill her life with more sustainable practices in order to reduce her environmental impact. Through Appalachia CARES/AmeriCorps, she provides communication services to Rural Resources, a Greeneville, TN, non-profit organization that aims to connect farms, food and families. She is also a volunteer AT maintainer and beginner farmer.
Emily Cooper is author of two books, has edited three SC newspapers and published another. She was press secretary to a congressman, director of public relations for a national trade association based in Washington, and a SC trade association. Until 2010, she edited the SC United Methodist Advocate. Emily and her husband Wiley, a UM pastor, now live in Asheville (and at their cabin in Shelton Laurel when they can). She serves as a companion at Haywood Street Congregation and she’s active in caring for creation.
Sera Deva has a bachelor of science degree in microbiology and agroecology from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. A resident of Celo, NC, Sera founded The Driving Food Home Collective, which works to empower young women to publish investigative writing about food and farming organizations across the United States. More at drivingfoodhome.com.
Ashley English is the author of seven books, including four in her Homemade Living series (Canning & Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Keeping Bees, and Home Dairy); A Year of Pies; Handmade Gatherings; and Quench. She also does freelance writing and has been featured in a number of major publications. Ashley writes about her adventures in homesteading and beyond at smallmeasure.com.
Jake Flannick grew up in western Pennsylvania in the town of Beaver and graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in 2009. Enjoying life in Asheville as a freelance writer, he has contributed his journalistic talents to several local publications besides Plough to Pantry, including The Asheville Citizen-Times and Smoky Mountain Living, a regional lifestyle magazine.
Jennifer M. Fulford is a journalist and novelist who runs her own micro-press, Black Bomb Books. Her first writing gig spanned 10 years producing news at an NPR station. Between sentences, she’s busy running her kids to school or chasing their dog and cat around her acre in Candler. She blogs at LivingOnInk.com and dreams about musketeers at TheMusketeerSeries.com.
Ruth Gonzalez farmed and raised her family in Madison County until in 2006 she moved to “town” and now lives in Weaverville, NC. She serves on the Organic Growers School board of directors, and since 2003 has worked at Reems Creek Nursery, offering advice on a wide variety of gardening questions, and benefiting from the wisdom of local gardeners.
Lindsey Grossman writes and edits from her home in Weaverville, NC. Her writing has appeared in Paste, USA Today, Where and more. She loves the idea of daily yoga and meditation, but when she’s not chasing after her two kids and three dogs, she’s more likely to squeeze in a nap or an episode of her latest TV binge. You can find her blogging at lindseyliving.com.
Kate Hanford is a gardener and local foods advocate. Her history includes directing a farmers’ market and managing urban farms, including Growing Power, an international urban farming training center, and Ashevillage Institute, an eco-urban homestead and demonstration site. Located in Asheville, NC, she continues to garden in an urban setting, one backyard at a time.
Carole Howell was raised in Lincolnton, a tiny town in North Carolina’s Piedmont. Before she was old enough to reach the kitchen counter, she learned to cook and preserve vegetables. Her first job took her to Asheville, where she worked at WLOS for six years and Mission Health for 22 years as a writer and editor. Life events led her back to the family farm, and she’s dusting off her skills by tending to 31 acres and a muscadine vineyard. Carole serves on the board of Lincolnton’s annual Apple Festival.
Peter Kent is a writer and audio producer who focuses on Appalachia’s culinary tastes, traditions and sense of place. Previously he served as the public information director for the Clemson University Experiment Station, a part of a land-grant university’s mission to improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers and rural communities. Peter was a reporter, editorial writer and op-ed page editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He volunteers with Slow Food Asheville’s Appalachian Food Storybank that collects oral histories to preserve regional foodways and celebrate the people who call the mountains home. He’s always ready to hear a story.
Roger Klinger is a naturalist, ethnobotanist, counselor, writer and artist. Roger has written extensively on wild edible and medicinal plants as an educator for The Audubon Society, The National Park Service and Smithsonian. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the University of Maryland, he currently works with No Taste Like Home in Asheville and lives on an organic farm and healing sanctuary in Fairview, NC.
Mary Koppenheffer spent 25 years in finance and marketing in New York and New Jersey, where she was assistant editor for the West Essex Tribune. She now writes for the Biltmore Beacon and is a Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener volunteer. Mary’s ‘off duty’ passion is running, and she has completed eight marathons in the past five years.
Kim LaViolette moved to Asheville 12 years ago from Wisconsin. She is executive director of a scholarship foundation and is active in the local community through the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and volunteering through other local organizations. Kim enjoys the outdoors, traveling, art and wandering around our great city. She describes the area like a warm hug every time you step outside.
Larry and Sandra Layton are Plough to Pantry’s European correspondents for 2016. The Asheville couple is visiting farms, markets, restaurants and festivals in several countries as part of a yearlong ‘bucket list’ adventure. The goal: to track the connections between Old World foodways and the culinary traditions that have developed in the southern Appalachian region. Follow their blog at sandraandlarry.wordpress.com.
Gina Malone, a native South Carolinian, now happily calls Asheville home. She has won awards for feature writing, poetry and short fiction. Before devoting herself fully to writing, she owned and operated The Village Book Shoppe in Tryon, NC, for 19 years where she raised two daughters among the bookshelves. An avid reader, she also enjoys hiking to beautiful views with a certain artist, researching local history and taking long walks with Snoopy.
Cinthia Milner is a native of Western North Carolina, and graduate of Furman University and Haywood Community College. She is a horticulturist, writer and garden coach at BB Barns Garden Center in South Asheville. Her advice to all gardeners is, “Have a place in the yard for all impulse buying plants, because every gardener buys them. Call it impulse corner.” She has written for Mountain Xpress, WNC Magazine, WNC Women, and Carolina Gardener.
Mardi Letson designs gardens that are uniquely created for each client, preserve the character of the land, and are a delight in every season. She lives with her family on a small parcel within the city limits of Asheville, where she tends a kitchen and flower garden and a small flock of chickens. See her work at gardensbymardi.com.
Frances Nevill was born in Savannah, Georgia, raised in the heart of Florida’s citrus community, and enjoys property in Black Mountain, NC. Her career spans public relations, conservation, legislative affairs and publishing, and she is a Master Food and Nutrition volunteer through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Services.
Jay Salton is a writer based out of Boone, North Carolina. A graduate of Appalachian State University, he has written for publications in Boone, Asheville, and around the country. He is also a musician, playing in multiple bands based out of Western North Carolina. Within the next few months, he plans to move to Asheville to pursue a career in writing.
Anna Smathers is a native of western North Carolina, hailing from Haywood County. She earned a bachelor of science in recreation management, concentrating in travel and tourism, from Appalachian State University. She first pursued her career in the piedmont region, but the mountains quickly called her home. She serves as communications manager for the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.
Megan Authement served as summer photography intern for Plough to Pantry and continues to contribute. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she is studying for her bachelor’s degree with a photography concentration at UNC-Asheville, where she is an honor’s program member. Megan also works as a real estate photo editor at TCM Photos.
Linda Doll Cluxton is a professional photographer whose career has ranged from advertising photography to capturing the lives of teenaged boys at Christ School, where she was director of communications and magazine editor. Her photographs of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie were featured in a jazz documentary. Linda has raced vintage motorcycles competitively since 2007 and has planted an edible landscape at her home in Hendersonville.
Halima Flynt is a local freelance photographer, who received her Bachelors of Arts from UNCA with a concentration in Photography. She believes that photography has the beautiful ability to connect people and ideas, and enjoys being part of that process. Halima’s work has been featured in various publications, including arts and entertainment magazines and educational journals.
Richard Kennedy has been a photojournalist since 1966, when he went to India as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has built unique homes and led Earthwatch expeditions to study and document underground villages. Richard lives in the Toe River Valley, where he is actively involved with the local Community Foundation affiliate, the Yancey Fund and the Toe River Arts Council.
Warren Lynn is an ordained clergy-person within the Christian Church and serves as executive minister for Christian Vocations at Disciples Home Missions. His passion for spiritual practice includes playing the Native American style flute, mindfulness meditation and walking labyrinths; he holds advanced certification as a labyrinth facilitator. Warren enjoys sea kayaking and photography as a contemplative activity.
Don McGowan was staff photographer for Friends of the Smokies from 1998-2002. Now in Buncombe County, he operates EarthSong Photography, specializing in commercial imaging, stock photography, environmental photojournalism and conducting seminars throughout the nation. Don leads weekend photography workshops for the Appalachian Barn Alliance, helping preserve the heritage of Madison County barns.
Ashley Ruzich is a digital media manager, business owner, artist and teacher. She has internationally presented her academic research on digital media and university classroom standards and taught Fulbright students Media and Tech standards at the University of Kansas. She has also been a professional photographer for over a decade. Ashley’s writing and photography has been published regionally, nationally and internationally.
Olivia Siegel loves documenting artisans, farms, travel, adventure, nature and community. Most recently, she used her skills to support events and marketing at a non-profit environmental education center. Her images have been in USA TODAY, Rock and Ice magazine, Edible Aspen, Aspen Daily News and more. Olivia has lived in Brooklyn, Marin County, Boston, Chicago and Aspen, but now calls Asheville home. More at oliveandwest.com.
Scott Dean grew up in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia, where his grandmother taught him the traditional mountain folklore of plants. He earned a degree in biology from UNC-Asheville with a focus on the flora and fauna of the southern Appalachians. Scott teaches for the NC Arboretum and through his company, Western North Carolina, Naturally.
Sharon Mammoser is a nature photographer, naturalist, writer, teacher and Appalachian Trail thru hiker. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education, and shared natural history in Minnesota, Michigan, Rhode Island, Colorado and New York before moving to Asheville. She has been published in the NY State Conservationist, Country Magazine, Highlights and Northeastern Naturalist. Follow her blog at NatureForMySoul.com.
Rebekah Price, reporter, photographer and river guide, is focused on improving food security in Johnson City, TN, through communication, programs and outreach. After receiving her BA in journalism, traveling in the US and working on a sustainable farm in Nicaragua, she decided to return and contribute her ideas and energy locally to improve the community in her own backyard.
Simon Thompson operates Ventures Birding Tours based in Asheville, taking small groups of birders throughout the Blue Ridge, North America and around the world. Serving on the board of the local Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society, he teaches classes at the NC Arboretum, plans bird watching programs throughout western North Carolina and has done regular weekly commentary on WNCW.
Stephanie Peterson Jones is a graphic designer, illustrator, certified K-12 art teacher and pilates instructor at Happy Body Studios in Asheville and Black Mountain and Body Synergy in Flat Rock. She moved to Asheville from Connecticut, where the effects of Hurricane Sandy inspired Stephanie and her husband to found Art & Kindness, repurposing their stockade fence sections to create colorful folk art fish.
Linda Santell uses her talent as an illustrator to support projects that promote the well being of others and the planet. The inspiration for her images and fabric designs comes from the diverse harvest of local farms, her herb garden and other natural forms. Originally from Ohio, she lives in the historic district of Reidsville in Rockingham County, NC.
Stephanie M. Sipp is an artist and educator specializing in images of native flowers, vegetables, butterflies, bees and birds. Originally from New York City, she is an interior design professor at Florida State College of Jacksonville. Her blog, Drawing + Hand, is a global resource on the creative process for those developing design drawing and marker rendering skills.
The members of the advisory council help to provide story ideas, expand our network of contacts and support the success of Plough to Pantry as ambassadors in our region, which encompasses western North Carolina, east Tennessee, parts of southwest Virginia and upstate South Carolina.
Lisa Soledad Almaraz
Eartheart Network, founder/CEO
Living Web Farms, multimedia director
Andrew Goodheart Brown
permaculture, vermiculture and agriculture educator
Scott Bunn, development director
ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project)
Steve Crimi, publisher
Logosophia Books, Asheville
Sarah Jones Decker, co-owner
Root Bottom Farm
Nicole DelCogliano, farmer
Green Toe Ground Farm, Celo
Farmer programs coordinator, Organic Growers School
Sheila Dunn, edible landscaper and forager, Weaverville
Suzanne Q. Evon, owner
Q Evon Jewelry, Weaverville
Terry Hummel, former publisher, Rolling Stone
Strategic Development, Gatlinburg
Meherwan Irani, owner
Tina Masciarelli, writer, photographer and farm advocate
Diana S. McCall, supervisor
Dr. John Wilson Community Garden
Chris Smith, communications and marketing manager
Sow True Seed, Asheville
Terri Wells, farmer
Bee Branch Farm, Big Sandy Mush