adirondack chairs summer spring  
Beyond Garden Hill
Summer 2014

Greetings from the Alumni Initiative!


Welcome to the third edition of our online bulletin, Beyond 
Garden Hill!

Hard as it is to believe, the Alumni Initiative is now entering its fourth year. We have just welcomed a new group of alums 
to the Alumni Committee and have reluctantly said goodbye to others who are rolling off after a 3-year term. 
We are very grateful for the service of those leaving -- Cassie Marlantes Rahm s97, Frank Gorke f93, Jim Sherwin s00 and Schuyler Daum f06, all of whom were Committee "pioneers" 
who played important roles in establishing the shape and 
direction of the Alumni Initiative.


Taking their places are Alexa Engelman s98, Ian Francis f87, Lise Clavel f96 and Shay Lawson f00.  Click here to learn more about all 12 members of the Alumni Committee.


We will mark another milestone in our development on July 1, when Nancy and David Grant, co-founders of the Mountain School semester program, hand the reins of the Alumni Initiative over to new Alumni Coordinator, Beth Sigman Somerset s97, and new Alumni Committee Chair, Ben Pomeroy s95

We are appreciative of all the support and positive feedback we have gotten from the alumni community in our first three years, and excited about the plans we have for the future!


--The Alumni Committee
In This Issue
Featured Article: 
Mountain Schoolers in the Food Business
Wow! When we asked alumni who work in the food world to tell us about what they do, we got such a wonderful variety of responses, we can hardly wait to share them with you!  Eighteen TMS graduates shared their stories with us, so settle in for some fascinating reading!
Beth Somerset takes the helm as Alumni Initiative Coordinator   
Beth Sigman Somerset, s97, will take over from Nancy and David Grant as Alumni Coordinator on July 1. 

Second round of Garden Hill Fund  
grants awarded
$24,000 was awarded this spring to six alumni projects. 
Mountain School Where You Live, May 2014
MSWYL in LA 2014
Mountain School alumni in Los Angeles

On the weekend of May 3-4, alumni groups from San Francisco to New York participated in the 2nd annual Mountain School Where You Live event. 

MSWYL is meant to evoke the idea of knowing and celebrating a place, with each local activity organized by a volunteer alumni host around a Mountain School theme: appreciating a place; serving a community; exploring the outdoors; making your own fun; sharing food and fellowship.
In that spirit, alums gathered to work on farms, hike trails, walk a literary tour and clean up a creek.  

Thank you all who hosted and attended!
    Upcoming Events

          August 1-3  Reunion for f93 and s94
          August 8-10  Reunion for f88 and s89
          September 8  Garden Hill Fund applications due 
          October 4  Big Idea Day -- Save the Date!
          October 14  Alumni Gathering in Washington, D.C.
    DC/MD/VA alums -- watch your mailbox for                 details later in the summer

      Alumni Resources 

       Garden Hill Fund

Mountain Schoolers in the Food World
From an herbalist in Queens, to a goat farmer and cheesemaker in Mexico, an executive chef for Alaska Airlines, and a cookbook author in Boston, Mountain School alumni are involved in an amazing variety of food-related jobs.  We have farmers (many of them!), food activists, food educators, food entrepreneurs, food writers, food businesspeople -- you name it! What a treat is has been to read their stories.
We asked them to tell us something about the work they do; what drew them to that work -- and what keeps them there; what accomplishment they are most proud of; where they think the food world is heading; and what their advice is for other alumni looking to start a career in their corner of the industry. Many of them included their contact information, so please feel free to get in touch! Their responses are below, in alphabetical order. 
If you are an alum working in the food industry who did not receive a note from us asking for a contribution to this article, it's because we don't know you're working in this field! Please let us know if you are; we would love to add you to our list of food professionals. 
Aaron Freedman s07 - Food Distributor, Boston, MA
Claire LaFave, Chloe Zelkha and Aaron Freedman, all s07, ran into each other at a food conference.


Aaron Freedman works at Red Tomato, a food hub in the Boston area that creates systems to deliver produce from sustainable farms in the

Northeast to the places where people get most of their food: 

supermarkets and institutions. Aaron focuses on marketing, sales and 

logistics at Red Tomato and is most proud of working with partners to 

try new programs, such as getting produce to 26 supermarkets in 

New Jersey within 24 hours of harvest all summer long.  

"As a systems thinker, it is a constant joy dissecting the way the food 
system works, changing parts of it and watching        [Read more]   
Amy Traverso f87 - Food Writer, Boston, MA

As the Senior Lifestyle Editor, Amy writes and edits the food, home, and garden 

departments at Yankee Magazine. She has also written two cookbooks: The 

Apple Lover's Cookbook and Yankee's Lost & Vintage Recipes (both available 

on Amazon -- get 'em while they're hot!). The Apple Lover's Cookbook garnered 

her a finalist position for the Julia Child Award for first time authors, an IACP 

(International Association of Culinary Professionals) award, and an appearance 

on the Martha Stewart show. 


"One of the best parts of publishing the apple book has been that I found a

community of fellow apple nerds and apple growers who share        [Read more]   

Becky Maden f93 - Farmer, Burlington, VT


Becky co-manages the Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, Vermont, 

member-owned consumer cooperative which cultivates 25 acres of

vegetables with a year-round CSA. Her responsibilities are numerous and 

varied: a lot of her job is managing staff, trouble-shooting problems, and 

planning ahead. On a day-to-day basis during the season, you can find her

in the fields or greenhouses.  


Becky came to farming directly after the Mountain School. She apprenticed 

and worked on several farms (including TMS) while also       [Read More]

Ben Pomeroy s95 - Food Writer, Brooklyn, NY

Ben Pomeroy is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with interests in 

cooking traditions and rituals of eating and socializing around food. He 

contributes to Bon Appetit, Serious Eats and How About We. He also writes 

on feasting for his blog BK + MTL Kitchens.


Ben equates how we eat and the manner in which we source and prepare 

meals to portals into people's lives and communities.  


"Talking about food with people and their personal connections to dishes 

and their family traditions is endlessly interesting," he says.      [Read more]

Caroline Leibert s01 -  Restaurant Industry Educator, Cleveland, OH
Caroline was, until recently, the manager and a teacher at 
EDWINS Leadership Institute iCleveland, Ohio. The program 
is designed to educate, motivate, and inspire formerly incarcerated
individuals to start career path in the culinary world. EDWINS 
teaches both front and back of house skills and students rotate 
roles in the restaurant in order to learn all aspects of the business. 


Caroline taught baking at a couple of local prisons and witnessed the 

change that is occurring on the inside. Relationships       [Read more]


Charlie Langston s88 - Lobster Company Executive, Portland, ME 

Charlie works at
Shucks Maine Lobster Company, LLC, an organization 

that uses innovative technology to process Maine Lobster into a variety 

of new products that are distributed throughout the world. Although Charlie 

is officially titled the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Shucks Maine Lobster

Company is a small business that requires flexibility so he has become quite 

a versatile employee, with work ranging from supervising and overseeing 

operations to sales and customer relations. 


Charlie is proud of the work he and his company have done to uphold and 

even improve upon the quality, extent of distribution, and        [Read more]

Chloe Zelkha s07 - Farmer & Farm Educator, Lynn, MA

As the North Shore Root Program Coordinator at The Food Project in Lynn, 

MA, Chloe leads a youth program centered on farming and food justice for a 

diverse group of high school students. Similar to the Mountain School, Chloe's 

project offers a chance for young people to be their best selves while getting to

 know and care deeply for a place. She primarily spends her time working in 

partnership with youth on the land, facilitating social justice and team-building 

workshops, and training youth to be powerful facilitators in their communities.        

Chloe has melded her college interest in social justice and teaching --

"with the feeling of belonging, the sense of community that        [Read more]

Claire Cheney s01 - Food Writer & Spice Specialist, Boston, MA

Claire Cheney is a writer and spice explorer, who just spent four months 

traveling in Asia researching spices in order to start her own spice 

business. The business, which will launch in Boston in 2015, will focus 

on hard-to-find exotic spices and also emphasize sustainable production 

methods, health, and community.  As the business develops, Claire will 

be posting updates on her website,


Her interest in spices started in college when studying saffron for a poetry 

manuscript. Since then, she has traveled to Greece        [Read more]


Courtney Brennan Dixon f90 - Vegan Deli & Tofu Producer, Portland, OR

Courtney Dixon works with her husband Grant at their packaged tofu, catering 

and restaurant business, Papa G's, in Portland, Oregon.  

"Learning about sustainable living from the Mountain School was 

a life changing lesson," she says. 


"Ideas of sustainability and healthy communities have stayed 

very sacred to me since leaving the Vermont campus 25 years ago." 


Courtney views their restaurant as a commons where local musicians are 

welcome to play, visual artists can hang their artwork, and food producers can 

vend their wares. In turn, Courtney and her family feel              [Read more]


Cristina Gerez f86 - Goat Farmer & Cheese Producer, San Miguel, Mexico

For the past twelve years, Cristina has been an independent herd-keeper and 

cheesemaker, growing her herd from a mere 3 goats to the 120 Nubian goats 

she now keeps. When she first entered the industry, the market in San Miguel, 

Mexico (the location of her goat farm) was so limited that she actually had to 

buy extra chickens to consume the leftover cheese she could not sell. Now she 

owns a healthy herd and is able to provide impeccably produced cheese and 

fresh yogurt to her community.  


During her time in San Miguel, Cristina has contributed to the "farm to table" 

movement and helped to make San Miguel one of the few         [Read more]

Curt Ellis s97 - Food Activist & Educator, New York, NY

Curt Ellis, who was profiled in the Spring 2014 Mountain School newsletter, is one of six co-founders of FoodCorps (along with Ian 

Cheney s'97) and serves as its CEO. FoodCorps is a nationwide team 

of AmeriCorps leaders who work with state and community partners to 

commit corps members to a year of public service ensuring that children

grow up in healthy school food environments.  


"There's tremendous pressure to improve school food these days, 

which is terrific. Public health officials are making a         [Read more]


Haley Mackrow Sammen s02 - Urban Farmer, Denver, CO

Haley and her husband realized that they wanted to raise their kids on a farm 

because all the other kids they knew who lived on farms were super cool. 

She and her husband decided to bring the farming life to Denver in order to 

commit to careers in social justice work.  


She describes their Sunnyside Up Farm as an "urban family farm", which 

Haley says is just like a rural family farm. Their children and free time are as 

integrated into the cycles of farm life as their rural counterparts. She and her 

husband hold off-farm jobs in order to maintain their farm, another characteristic 

of contemporary family farming. They are working to share their     [Read more]

Henry Cammack s09 - Dairy Farmer, Shelburne, VT

It was the sweet disposition of dairy cows as well as the delicious 

and nutritious things they produce that led Henry to dairy farming. 

He is currently taking care of 210 Brown Swiss dairy cattle and 180 

sheep as the pasture manager and assistant herds person at 

Shelburne Farms in Vermont. 


Harry graduated this May from the University of Vermont with a B.S. 

in Diversified Farm Management. He says that despite      [Read more]


Joshua Rappaport s88 - Airline Executive Chef, Seattle, WA

Joshua Rappaport is the executive chef for Alaska Airlines, where he 

composes menus, sources ingredients, writes recipes, organizes presentations

for various menus, and provides training and support to more than 20 kitchens 

that cater Alaska flights nationwide.  


"Since my company (LSG SkyChefs) is the largest airline caterer worldwide, 

also have the opportunity to support presentations for several of the major 

European and Asia-Pacific carriers.  As someone whose training was almost 

exclusively European, I have been thrilled to work alongside master Chinese 

and Japanese chefs," he says.                                                 [Read more]

Josh Viertel s95 - Farmer, Food Activist & Writer, Wingdale, NY

Josh Viertel plays a variety of roles in the food movement as a writer, farmer, 

and activist. He began his food career as a founding director of the Yale 

Sustainable Food Project and has been involved since, even becoming the 

president of Slow Food USA. 


He was listed as one of the seven most powerful voices 

in the food movement by both Forbes and Michael Pollan. 


Josh currently lives and works with his wife in Harlem Valley NY, 

where he grows, forages, catches, or hunts nearly all of what they eat.  


Josh says the most satisfying aspect of his work is when he finds someone 

he mentored or inspired out in the world simultaneously doing what they love 

and what the world needs. He emphasizes that in order for       [Read more]


Laura Sackton f02 - Farmer, Concord, MA

Laura Sackton is the owner, cofounder and farm manager at First Root Farm

four-acre vegetable farm in Concord, MA. First Root grows veggies and 

flowers for a 120-member CSA, mini-farmstand, farmers' market, and local 


"We use sustainable growing practices, encourage lots of community 

involvement, and celebrate good food, good neighbors, and good dirt!" she 



Laura fell in love with farming at the Mountain School, and while she admits

that she didn't know that she wanted to be a farmer               [Read more]


Pruittiporn Kerchoochuen f05 - Food Justice Activist, New Haven, CT 
Since graduating from Yale in 2011, Pruttiporn Kerdoochuen has 

worked for Wholesome Wave, a CT-based nonprofit whose goal is to 

make fresh, locally grown foods more affordable and accessible to 

all Americans. She specifically works as the Double Value Coupon 

Program Associate, supporting 50-60 community-based organizations

in their administration of federal nutrition benefit incentive programs 

at over 300 markets across the country.


Pruttiporn's work represents the intersection of her love of food and 

interest in social justice. "It's not enough to get local       [Read more]


Rossana Inez Rossi f93 - Herbalist, Queens, NY
Rossana Rossi f93 for NYC wildflower walk

Rosanna occupies a unique corner of the food world as an herbalist 

specializing in plant medicine.  Based in Queens, NY, she works with 

plant medicine in traditional preparations -- as food/meals and in infusions 

of vinegar, honey, oils, alcohol, or water. Rosanna will also occasionally 

teach workshops on identifying medicinal plants in the wild and preparing 

medicine independently. Her major successes include helping a woman 

suffering from long term alopecia (hair loss) regrow her hair in two weeks, 

and assisting young woman in healthily gaining            [Read more]

About Us
The Mission of the Mountain School Alumni Initiative is to support a dynamic community of Mountain School graduates by connecting them to each other and helping them to carry forward the intellectual curiosity, celebration of place and commitment to service we associate with the Mountain School.  

Meet the members of the Alumni Committee.