M. Omar Faison


M. Omar Faison is the Associate Vice Provost of Research & Economic Development at Virginia State University (VSU). In that role, he works to expand the research enterprise at VSU and facilitate internal and external partnerships for VSU faculty. In parallel with his service as AVP, Dr. Faison also served as Interim Dean for the College of Graduate Studies (2017-18) and Interim Executive Director for VSU’s Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement, and Outreach (2018-19). Prior to becoming AVP, he served VSU as Chair of the Biology Department (2009-13) and Director of the Office of Sponsored Research (2012-15).

Dr. Faison earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from Hampton University (1994) and PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Virginia (2002). He received his post-doctoral training at Virginia Commonwealth University before joining the faculty of VSU’s Biology Department in 2004. Dr. Faison has published and presented in the fields of developmental neuroscience, cognition, and student academic performance and has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. Coming from an agricultural family, Dr. Faison is passionate about local foods and local food systems and the concept of farmers as entrepreneurs. Dr. Faison is married to Dr. Jennifer Wolstenholme and they have 3 children, Kyra, Omar, Jr., and Haley.

Ricky Kowalewski


Darrius Slaughter is currently the Manager of the historic Lynchburg Community Market in Lynchburg,Virginia. As a child, his family would often frequent this very Market so it’s been an incredible experience for him to play a part in managing and creating relationships with some of the same vendors he interacted with as a patron in his youth. Darrius graduated from Lynchburg College in 2017 with a degree in Marketing and Public Relations, and held management roles in sales and food service before transitioning to his role of Assistant Manager at the Lynchburg Community Market in 2019. Darrius was then promoted to role of Market Manager in January of 2023. Outside of work, Darrius is an avid home chef, musician, and lover of sports.

Meredith Ledlie Johnson


Meredith Ledlie Johnson manages Policy, Systems and Environmental Change Programming for Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program. These programs are designed to ensure that all Virginians have access to enough healthy, culturally appropriate food in their communities through increasing access to farmers markets, gardening, and healthy retail outlets. Meredith holds a Masters degree in Social Work with a concentration in community organizing from Hunter College, CUNY. Before living in Virginia, Meredith worked as a farmers market manager for Greenmarket in New York City and as an urban park advocate with New Yorkers for Parks. Meredith is excited by the possibilities offered by the local food movement to strengthen the resiliency of Virginia’s families and communities.


Brooke Love


Lisa Archer is the Publisher & Editor of Edible Blue Ridge, a quarterly print publication that celebrates the food and beverage producers of Central and Southwest Virginia. Lisa believes in the power of telling stories to foster community. You can usually find her at a farmers market learning from a local grower or maker. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Hollins University and a bachelor’s in Natural Resources & Ecology from Cornell University. Before moving to Virginia, Lisa spent over a decade in the food and beverage industry in New York. When not at work, you can find her supporting her partner’s business, Fermented Fire Hot Sauce Co., converting her yard into a garden, or wrangling her chickens and dogs.

Jesse is a Roanoke native and has been behind the farmers market table since childhood, selling plants from his family’s nursery. Now using that same greenhouse space to grow peppers for his hot sauce company – Fermented Fire Hot Sauce – Jesse has participated in various farmers markets throughout the region for the past year. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a degree in Biochemistry and developed a passion for food science along the way. Farmers markets have become the highlights of his weeks and he looks forward to doing his part to help them grow.

Brooke Love


Originally from the Roanoke Valley, Isaac has a passion for local food systems and brings international experience to his work as the manager of the Salem Farmers Market. After studying environmental science at Roanoke College, he moved to Sweden to pursue a master’s degree in Sustainability Science from Lund University. With a diverse background that includes hands-on experience working on small farms both in Europe and Virginia, Isaac enjoys working with local growers and community members at the market and appreciates all aspects of local food, from farm to table.

Isaac views farmers markets as public spaces that are much more than marketplaces for local food and venues to support local farmers. As a former park ranger and science educator, he actively promotes community-based learning opportunities through the market and welcomes community partners to become integral parts of the Salem Farmers Market. He looks forward to helping VAFMA continue to work towards its mission of facilitating collaboration, networking, and sustainability for farmers markets statewide.


Debbie Edwards


Deborah relocated to SW Virginia 6 months ago from Delaware where she grew up and raised her children. She has always wanted to move to the mountains and jumped at the opportunity when she was offered the position as Director of the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. With her bachelor’s degree in Finance, her professional experience includes non-profit and bank management, and small business lending. Additionally, she has owned several small businesses and is currently a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher. As a believer in a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating locally grown food, she is excited to support the food system that unites produce and consumer.

Stephanie Ganz


Stephanie Ganz is a Richmond-based writer and farmers market devotee. She studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales before cooking professionally for the better part of a decade. Now, as a freelance writer with bylines in Bon Appetit, Eater, and The Kitchn, Ganz writes about the people and stories behind the food industry.

Erin Mann


My name is Erin Mann and I am a small business owner of Erin’s Elderberries, LLC, in Warrenton, Virginia. I am an FBI Intelligence Analyst turned Stay at Home Mom Entrepreneur! As a small food producer I have learned a lot over the last 3 years, and one thing I have truly taken to heart is the passion I have to see other small food producers and makers not only survive but thrive. They play a very important role that many do not see or understand until they have to, and my goal is to help their communities see it before they need it. Thanks to my prior career I am very much a rule follower, and with that I found it very hard to start up my business “the right way”. I could have easily given up on understanding the complicated system that can be food laws, but I didn’t, because I had to do it the right way. So when starting out at a local farmers market, I sought out resources that I could afford that would help me further my understanding of how it all worked. VAFMA was something I merely stumbled upon and quickly learned it was a valuable tool, and also an affordable one at that for someone like me! I can truly say it has been a resource I have used many many times.

Having the chance to come on board an organization like this is truly exciting, not only because it affords me the opportunity to help others, but also to give a little back to something that has given me so much as a small business. I feel I bring a unique perspective from not only a vendor/producer standpoint but also one of a market manager in a small town just getting their footing in their own farmers market.

Amy Jordan


Sabrina Dooley has been the Smithfield Farmers Market Manager for Smithfield & Isle of Wight County since December of 2021, following obtaining her bachelor’s degree. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Anthropology with a minor in Museum Studies and Hospitality from Christopher Newport University. Her experience includes managing the Smithfield Farmers Market, as well as serving on the board for Harvest Faire, a non-profit for the Southeastern and Eastern Shore Food Bank. She also manages the Carrollton Christmas Market and Carrollton Farmers Market.

Sabrina also works with her tourism team to help put together several different events for the Town of Smithfield and Isle of Wight County including the Spring Vintage Market, Smithfield Arts Festival, Autumn Vintage Market, Mistletoe Market, and the Downtown Smithfield Christmas Parade.

Sabrina has facilitated numerous fundraising events at the Smithfield Farmers Market for local non-profits such as Isle of Wight Social Services, Isle of Wight Chapter of NAACP, Isle of Wight County Animal Services, and Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department.

Sabrina enjoys spending her free time visiting other markets in the state with her husband, Sean. When she isn’t spending time at other markets, she can be found at home in Carrollton baking every known thing with her husband, family, and animals (Charlie, Marnie, and Salem) as her taste testers.

Deb Matthews


I have been on the Board of Directors of the Loudoun Valley Homegrown Market Cooperative for more than 10 years and served as its President for 3 years (some of which was during COVID). We kept our markets open by being flexible, working with VAFMA, working through problems we never saw coming and running markets that were safe and appealing to both our vendors and our customers. Additionally, I am a student of farmers markets. While on vacation, some people visit museums, historic sites, play golf or enjoy different activities. I go to farmers markets. When I go, I chat with vendors, market managers and even customers. I bring best practices back to our cooperative and share the frustrations and concerns other market systems wrestle with. I cannot say that I have gone to a market and not learned something of benefit for our market system.

On top of this, I have had a 30+ year career in management and am well versed in logistics, planning and organizational management. I am great at building consensus among diverse groups of people and am always ready to listen and learn from folks who are wiser than I am. Farmers markets are my passion and I feel I would be a valued addition as the NOVA representative for VAFMA.

Megan Marshall


Megan Marshall is the Director of Food Access at Project GROWS, a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational farm in Staunton, VA. Her leadership experience involves implementation and design of community-centered nutrition security programs at the local, regional, and state level including a mobile market program, farm to school initiatives, farmers markets, and healthy food purchasing programs including SNAP-Match and the WIC/Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. In addition to her role at Project GROWS, Megan serves as the Shenandoah Regional Lead for the Virginia Fresh Match Network, a network of over 90 local food retailers dedicated to increasing food access throughout the state of Virginia. Megan earned a BS in Public Health Promotion and Behavior from Oregon State University in 2017 and has had the privilege of working with many different communities to decrease barriers to accessing fresh foods throughout the state of Oregon and Virginia over the past 7 years. Megan is passionate about creating an equitable food system and believes that food, farming, and people are interdependent and essential for systemic change.

Carolyn Cooper Wright


Carolyn Cooper Wright is a resident of Sussex County and has been since birth. She attended the University of Phoenix to complete a B.S. in Business Management. Carolyn currently works as a Paraprofessional at Sussex Central Elementary School (SCES). She joined Sussex County Extension VCE- (Virginia Cooperate Extension) to work on a grant-funded model, PROSPER as a Prevention Coordinator. Volunteers with Sussex 4-H often, especially during camps. Carolyn and her sisters own their family farm, Cooper Family Farms, that is located in Littleton, in the Courthouse District of Sussex County. Carolyn established a 501 (C)3 nonprofit organization, Save-ASeed (SAS) which plans programs, events and outings to address the lack of youth outreach and youth enrichment throughout the county and beyond. SAS also manages the beautification project in the SCES Courtyard. She also serves as administrative Support for the South Centre Corridors’ RC&D Council where she assists with the updates and publication of the Buy Fresh Buy Local Guide.

Lindsey Felty


Lindsey is the Outreach Manager for Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), who manages work in Buchanan County, VA and Tazewell County, VA. She was born and raised in Buchanan County, VA, she is thrilled to be able to work “back home” and increase awareness of ASD’s resources.

Hugo Mogollon


Hugo is a results-oriented leader with twelve years of management experience in multicultural settings. He is the Executive Director of FRESHFARM, a nonprofit working to improve food access in the DC Metro Area while creating opportunities for farmers in the mid-Atlantic region.

Under Mr. Mogollon’s leadership, FRESHFARM has become the third-largest network of farmers Markets organization in the country. He has also conceptualized and developed a unique and innovative low-infrastructure food distribution model that connects historically underserved communities to sustainable, locally grown farm food, creating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for family farms.

Mr. Mogollon has a Masters in Natural Resources and Leadership from the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability from Virginia Tech, where he concentrated on Collective Impact. He is proud to serve as a member of the Food and Agriculture Regional Member ad-hoc Committee (FARM) at the Metropolitan Council of Governments, and as the Vicechair of the Farmers Market’s Coalition.