whole-life skills for a radically different future
It takes a village!
Director and Co-Founder
NikiAnne Feinberg has over a decade of experience with experiential, nature-based program development in both the nonprofit and academic sectors. She is the co-founder of the School Gardens Program in Santa Barbara, CA, which has been instrumental in implementing food production systems in over 30 public schools, serves on the advisory board of Quail Springs True Nature Society, and holds a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Traveling throughout much of Asia, the Americas, and Europe helped ground NikiAnne’s formal education with “real-world” connections and have shaped her cooperative cultural values and commitment to responsible global citizenship. SOIL is the manifestation and culmination of her life experiences in sustainable living, experiential-education leadership, and program management.
Administrative Manager, Bookkeeper
Carmen Lescher is a "jill-of-all-trades" who is comfortable on the farm or construction site, around the kitchen, and in the garden or office. She has owned and operated a pasture-based poultry farm; worked on construction crews building passive solar, off-grid houses; and supported many small business with online marketing, administration, and event registration. Carmen is currently the Outreach and Operations Coordinator for Southeast Wise Women, where she works with team of amazing women to put on the Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference and Herbal Immersion. She has spent most of the last 10 years at Earthaven Ecovillage as a dedicated and participatory community member. She is happy when she's cooking, solving problems, and practicing nonviolent communication.
Co-Founder and Consultant
Lee Warren is a homesteader, herbalist, writer, food activist, and the co-founder of Imani Farm, a pasture-based cooperative farm focused on small-scale organic dairy and egg production. She is also a co-founder of Village Terraces CoHousing Neighborhood, a permaculture neighborhood “pod” within Earthaven Ecovillage. Lee has lived, loved, and worked in cooperatives since 1997 and has facilitated work-trade, internships, and apprentice programs for over ten years. Equally passionate about women’s empowerment, nourishing foods, and self-reliant healthcare, she is the Program Director for the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference. For more information and to see her articles, newsletters, and blogs, visit her website.
Daniel Walton is an Asheville-based professional writer and editor with a keen interest in the issues of ecological sustainability and local economy. His eclectic background combines over five years of freelance experience with a double major BS in biology and music from Centre College, an MS in crop sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MA in professional writing from the University of Cincinnati. Daniel’s writing has previously appeared in Mountain Xpress, Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville Times, and many other area publications. At SOIL, his work aims to excite prospective students about the prospect of a radically different future. For more information and to see his writing, design, and creative work, visit his website.
Registrar and Program Assistant
Gabriel is a part-time technology consultant and full-time father, firekeeper, milpa farmer, and committed village builder. Since graduating from Gaia University in 2012 with a BA in Integrative Ecosocial Design, Gabriel has been building family and community in the Hut Hamlet neighborhood at Earthaven Ecovillage, where he is deeply involved with community governance processes, land-use projects, and agriculture.
Madison Zelley is a young mother determined to plant a seed for her children that will continue to grow into a healthy planet and strong community for future generations. She believes it is important to get in tune with nature to help restore our Mother Earth. Madison and her family are on an adventure to further educate themselves about permaculture, community, herbal medicine, homesteading, and birthing, which has brought them to Earthaven Ecovillage.
Mana Vermeulen-McLeod has been a resident and full member of Earthaven Ecovillage since 2007. At Earthaven, where she is researching the ins and outs of a thriving and well-integrated community, she is raising her family, building her green home, and creating right livelihood. Since 2009, she has served on the staff of the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference. Within Earthaven Ecovillage, she is actively involved with orienting and integrating the flow of incoming volunteers, as well as facilitating the consensus-based Council (bimonthly business meetings).
Before earning an Associate Degree in Integrated Eco-social Design at Gaia University, Mana traveled and networked through Australia, the US and Europe as a WWOOFer (Willing Worker on Organic Farms). Because of their passion for the educational aspects of Earthaven Ecovillage, Mana and her partner enjoy the diverse international travelers that come to their doorstep every season. Since 2013, Mana has been a student advisor for Gaia Education, where she supports others in their explorations of how to contribute meaningfully to the world. Mana is originally from Holland and has made WNC her home with her family.
Brent has been a graphic designer and marketer since 2010 after studying at Ringling College of Art and Design. He is passionate about producing marketing materials that show how beautiful, amazing and fun it is to live a life connected to nature and community. With a BA in Counseling and Psychology, he has been working with young people in various capacities for 15 years: serving orphans, homeless, and special needs youth; directing day camps, summer camps, and apprenticeship programs; counseling and mentoring at-risk youth, teaching photography; and managing hands-on community service projects. Brent grew up homeschooled and homesteading in Kentucky. He brings a passion for the forest, sustainable living. and philosophy to his work with youth.
Check out Reaching Nature Connection
Join SOIL for this weekend exploration of how to incorporate nature into early childhood education. The conference is designed for beginners and experienced educators alike, as well as therapists, administrators, homeschool families, camp counselors, grandparents, and parents who have an interest in developmentally appropriate nature mentoring for children.