Julie Darnton, President
Julie is passionate about the potential for farmers markets to be a critical link in our local food systems. Not only will farmers’ market customers be able to access fresh food but our local farmers and producers can bring products directly to customers and build relationships around those products. Julie also sees the potential for farmers markets to be an incubator for entrepreneurship, a site for education and community celebration, and a true destination for people living in and visiting our communities. Through her work with Michigan State University Extension, Julie has had the opportunity to work on all sides of the market table – as an organizer of a market, a vendor, and as a customer. She has had experience in the financial aspects of farmers’ markets has served as the Downtown Saginaw Farmers Market treasurer for two years and as the food assistance bookkeeper for two years. Julie has a connection to MSU’s new Center for Regional Food Systems as well as the opportunity to collaborate with staff from around the state through MSUE.
Michael Finegan, Vice President
Michael has had a long interest in supporting local food economies and creating linkages between consumers and local food producers. Professionally, he has been a health care administrator for more than 25 years, first with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) and now at Trinity Health, based in Livonia, serving as a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and his present role of Senior VP of Operational Excellence, focusing on performance improvement, strategy deployment, and project management. While at VHA, he held several leadership positions such as co-chair of the Healthcare Delivery and Finance Committees, providing oversight of clinical performance and financial effectiveness, and as the field sponsor of Veterans’ Homeless program. He briefed congressional staff and members, and in 2010, testified before the US House Veterans Affairs Committee on budget formulation and deployment at VHA medical facilities.
Lindsey Scalera, Secretary
Since 2012, Lindsey has been working for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, collaborating with Michigan food and farm allies to advocate for policies and programs that support this vision of sustainable agriculture, healthy environments, and strong local economies. Since 2010, she’s been serving as co-director of the Michigan Young Farmer Coalition. From 2008 to 2011, she founded and led a community garden in Ypsilanti. All of this work, grounded in specific communities, has been to further build capacity to respond to the challenges of a changing food system, now and in the future.
Sharon Ostrowski, Treasurer
Sharon is a fourth-generation farmer and the proud owner and operator of Sharkar Farm. Sharkar Farm is a fifteen-acre operation with 12,400 square feet of greenhouses (hoophouses), which is helping to extend her vegetable growing season. Sharon sells 90% of her products at 10 local farmers markets. She specializes in specialty vegetable and herb production. In addition, Sharon is also the mother of 7 children, all of which have or continue to help on the farm.
Linda Bader is a market manager and current partner in a small farm that sells at markets who has seen the effects MIFMA has contributed to the success of both. She feels that serving on the Board of Directors is the perfect way to give back to an organization that has done so much for her. Promoting farms, farmers markets, and food access initiatives is a key part of desire to serve. Linda hopes to bring a unique perspective to the board, along with her perspectives as a certified market manager, market vendor, and a farmer. She has a Bachelors in Computer Science with a minor in management. She has worked as a computer programmer/systems analyst, owned a website design business (while raising three children), and currently owns and manages ten rental properties. These experiences have trained her to be analytical, organized, and good at working with people.
Shane Bernardo is a lifelong Detroit resident involved in social justice and primarily food justice issues. He is currently the outreach coordinator for Earthworks Urban Farm, a program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Shane is also a member of Detroit Asian Youth Project, Uprooting Racism: Planting Justice, The People’s Platform Detroit, Groundswell and the Detroit Equity Action Lab. Shane grew up working in his family’s small, ethnic grocery store on the west side of Detroit. For 13 years, his family helped cultivate a safe, nurturing environment for the South East Asian, West African and Afro-Caribbean cultures to purchase culturally relevant foods. These transactions also allowed for the sharing of recipes, traditions, rituals and ancestral struggles linked to these foods. As a result, Shane developed a heightened awareness of social and economic conditions within the context of a racially, ethnically and culturally stratified community.
Chris has four years of experience as an employee of the People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo experiencing first-hand many parts of our entire food system, as well as managing small and large farmers’ markets which include the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. He has two years participating as a mentor in MIFMA’s Market Manager Mentorship Program. He brings a positive attitude, collaborative approach to problem-solving, asks great questions and works collaboratively to create solutions, and fosters a stewardship approach to support MIFMA.
Patrice Brown is the Food Access Coordinator at Eastern Market Corporation. She has worked at Eastern Market since 2015, first as a Food and Health Fellow, then as the Assistant Food Access Coordinator. Before that Patrice worked with the community in various ways, including as a community organizer for the Michigan State House of Representatives in Detroit’s third district, a recruiting assistant at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, an executive staff secretary and community advocate for the City of Detroit, and a substitute teacher. Patrice earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan, then went out to study Law at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. A life-long Detroiter, Patrice says her mission in life is to fight for social justice and ensure that in this time of Detroit’s urban revitalization that everyone has access to healthier, wealthier, and happier lifestyles.
Mike has 33 years of experience being an attorney, 20 of which were spent with the Michigan Attorney General’s office providing legal advice and representation to State agencies. He now works in private practice and represents many farm clients providing them with business and succession planning services and providing legal advice on contract and other operational matters. Mike believes that the development of local farm markets can improve the availability of fresh, nutritional food to urban communities.
Lisa Oliver-King, MPH
Lisa is the founding executive director for Our Kitchen Table (OKT), a grassroots organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, OKT is developing a set of best practices and evidence-based applications for how community women can improve health and wellness by building a healthy neighborhood food system. Essentially, OKT is addressing the diet related and environmental health disparities that impact these women and their families. Information learned and documented will be used to help vulnerable children, their families, and the neighborhoods in which they reside. This information will lead to residents gaining a better understanding of their local food system, learning how to address systemic change in order to become food secure, and building neighborhood-based sustainability.
As small-scale farmers, Steve’s family has had the pleasure of selling eggs, goat milk soap, and vegetables at the Sault Ste Marie Farmers’ Market for 10 years. He has witnessed his local market grow from very humble beginnings into a flourishing component of the downtown. As a Land Grant Director for Bay Mills Community College, he is involved with the development and improvement of the agriculture sector on a daily basis.