Chefs & Lecturers
Crystal Stewart Courtens
Crystal Stewart Courtens works with diversified organic, small and beginning vegetable farmers throughout a 17 county region of Eastern NY, helping them to improve both sustainability and profitability for long-term success. Her responsibilities are divided between providing on-farm support to address grower concerns; creating educational programming including local, statewide, and regional meetings; and conducting research in organic systems with a focus on root crops, garlic and other alliums. She also owns and operates Philia Farm, a certified organic vegetable and garlic farm, in Johnstown, NY.
Tony Sarmiento “Growing Garlic in Your Backyard”
Backyard gardener of garlic, tomatoes, and other vegetables in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, for more than 30 years. Tagged as a “garlic guru” by the Washington Post in 2018. Full time pensioner retired from the national AFL-CIO. His hardneck garlic has won blue ribbons at the Maryland State Fair and Montgomery County Fair. His backyard is so small that he’s able to serve on the board of the Charles Koiner Conservancy for Urban Farming, created in 2018 to co-hold a conservation easement that protects an iconic urban farm in downtown Silver Spring. CKC is working to establish a network of neighborhood farms that collectively support a more sustainable and resilient food system in Montgomery County, MD. www.ckcfarming.org
Elizabeth McClain THE PUMPKIN BUMPKIN
Elizabeth McClain, aka "The Pumpkin Bumpkin" is a professional pumpkin carving artist serving the Hudson Valley annually. With a background in graphic design and printmaking, Elizabeth specializes in etching the surface of pumpkins to create intricate and polished designs, her works featuring anything from iconic characters and artworks to illustrative scenes and typographic messages. Every Autumn, she is available to create custom carvings for community members and local businesses, and can be found carving at local farms and farmer's markets. During the rest of the year, Elizabeth is a freelance graphic designer and avid volunteer. Her work and contact info can be viewed at the-pumpkin-bumpkin.com.
For me the challenge has always been to find the balance between my family and work and my commitment to supporting sane policies that affect our communities. Moving to New York State in 1981 brought me into working with NOFA/NY and supporting the organic community. There I met David Stern and we found that one thing we had in common was garlic. The Garlic Seed Foundation was just starting up and I happily joined up to connect with this notorious group of stinkers! The first few issues of the press were out then and I began to send in letters and articles and by about 1985 I took over as editor. Many issues have come and gone since then.
I've been growing garlic for twenty years and I am trying to maintain a small collection of garlics that do well in the northeast. I have tried to level off at about 100 strains per year and no more than 10.000 row feet. I found that the quality suffered if I got too much bigger and my time became too compromised. I have even been planting a bit less quantity in order to work on quality while keeping the soil productive as well as chemically free.
Chef Kizzy Williams
Kizzy Williams is a leading area chef, expert on southern cooking, entrepreneur and community activist and organizer. She grew up on the East Side of Harlem and recognized her calling early, studying hospitality and culinary arts at Monroe College, and has since spent decades creating authentic southern dishes and working to spread an appreciation for classic soul food, one of America's true original cuisines.
Kizzy Williams owns and is the Executive Chef at Allie B's Cozy Kitchen in Albany, NY. The restaurant is the result of a generations-long legacy of community cooking. This legacy has defined Allie B wherever she has gone, from the backwoods of South Carolina to the bustling streets of Manhattan. In 2014, Kizzy opened Allie B's Cozy Kitchen and shared the family recipes taught to her by her mother with New York's Capital Region. Her passion is cooking and serving people and Allie B's reflects this passion. When people frequent it, they feel comforted, as if they are entering a refuge, where all are welcome and all will leave happy and satisfied. READ MORE!