Av Singh, Ph.D, P.Ag:Chair
Av serves as the Organic & Rural Infrastructure Specialist with Perennia in Nova Scotia, working predominantly with organic and small-scale farmers on issues of production, processing, and marketing of agricultural goods. Av emphasizes farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange and works towards revitalizing rural communities through increasing social capital. He has had the privilege of visiting over 1500 farms across four continents, which has shaped his understanding of holistic, system-based farm management solutions. He has authored over 160 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, and extension articles, spoken at over 375 workshops, conferences, and symposia, guest-lectured at over 20 universities in Canada and the US, and is a faculty member at Earth University (Bija Vidyapeeth) in India.
Av believes that although small farm sustainability can be greatly enhanced with the sharing of farmer knowledge, true sustainability will only occur through significant societal change. The solutions are not complex, but require awareness, action, and will.
Sarah Pittoello, M.Sc., M.Ed.:Faculty
Sarah’s interests connect food, farming, environmental stewardship, mental wellness, and spirituality. She is a canadian certified counsellor, yoga and meditation student and teacher, organic farmer, and a mom. Sarah’s education includes a BScH in astrophysics from Queen’s University, a MSc. in holistic science from Schumacher College, and an MEd. in Counselling from Acadia University. She has been farming organically for the last five years: first at Stewart’s Organic Farm, and now at her own family’s farm, Rerooted. Sarah and her husband Joey will be farmers-in-residence at the Centre this year. Sarah brings her many interests to the Centre as tools for increasing our capacity to care for ourselves and others.
Chaiti Seth, B.Sc.:Faculty
Chaiti moved to the Annapolis Valley in May 2013, drawn to the opportunity to live and work closely with the land and be part of a vibrant and active community. Over the past 7 years, her work has focused on environmental and sustainability education with young adults and children.
She has a B.Sc. in Geography and Environment through the University of London, completed while deepening her learning through farming, land stewardship, and running educational programs at the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary in Kerela and the Centre for Learning in Bangalore, India. She co-created and facilitated InSPIRE, an intensive 5-week travel exploration program for university-age youth. She has also worked as a linguistic and cultural interpreter between Japanese, English, and Hindi. Chaiti is bringing her passion for living sustainably and her love for working with her hands, engaging with people, creative problem-solving, and being outdoors to the Centre for Small Farms.
Karen Shepard, MSc.:Faculty
Karen is an adult educator with a passion for community development and wellness. With an M.Sc. in Rural Extension Studies from the University of Guelph, she is one of the founders of the Tatamagouche and Area Breastfeeding Support Group. For the past eleven years, this group has reframed and grown a breastfeeding culture, building upon the wisdom of mother to mother support. Karen has also homeschooled her two daughters and developed the first local food guide in Atlantic Canada. She sees the relationship between breastfeeding, local food, and community building as a major step towards fostering food security. Calling attention to what’s going well in communities and linking community groups, not to mention throwing a good party, is her philosophy of practice.
You can find Shaani on the Just Food Farm “socially farming” or giving head massages to those working the land. In addition to her farm and food work, Shaani is a trained doula (Birthing Coach) and works in the areas of social justice, experiential learning, and communication, with training at the Coady International Institute and the Tatamagouche Centre.
Shaani offers activism through film making, art of hosting, music, and food in her daily life. She loves to focus on quality time in hopes of nurturing a strong, multi-generational community. As in life, building community is an important theme in nearly all the documentary films she and her sister have made. Their latest film, Mama Milk, shows the strength and beauty of a breastfeeding friendly village, Tatamagouche (NS), as a model of building community wellness, and can be found on YouTube.
Joey Pittoello, B.Sc.:Farmer-in-Residence
Joey Pittoello is an organic farmer and Director of Coffee at Just Us! Cooperative Coffee Roasters in Hortonville, Nova Scotia. Joey apprenticed at Ravensfield, a biodynamic farm with Titia Posthuma, and has worked with Alan Stewart at Stewart’s Organic Farm for the past 5 years, growing organic fruits and vegetables for the Wolfville Farmers Market and individuals and restaurants in Wolfville. He, his wife Sarah, and their daughter Mia are now also farming on their own land, Rerooted, and will be farmers-in-residence at the Centre this year. You can almost always find Joey in the small triangle between Just Us!, Stewart’s Organic Farm and Rerooted. Joey’s role at Just Us! ties together his aptitude for efficient production, his passion for organic and fair trade agriculture, his interest in democratic governance, and his love of learning about other cultures and languages. He has taken many trips in the past 2 years to visit growers in the Global South, creating strong relationships with the farmers who grow our coffee.