Future Harvest, the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, has selected Grace Leatherman as its new executive director.
“Our farmers and food producers have played a heroic role in supporting communities during the pandemic,” said Steven Jones, Chairman of the Board of Future Harvest. “Yet perhaps their greatest contribution will be to strengthen the regional impact of our food system in these times of continued uncertainty. Grace intuitively socially understands how we got here, the role of education in change, the value of teamwork and leadership while sharing the values of this organization.
Leatherman joined Future Harvest on May 9, bringing a lifetime of experience working on farms in the region as well as an in-depth understanding of the complex history of agriculture in America, which she studied during her studies. graduate school at the University of Delaware, according to a press release. .
A Baltimore County native, Leatherman raised sheep and was immersed in 4-H. After studying history and horticulture in college, she pursued a master’s degree in history and became a history teacher.
While teaching, she spent summers and weekends working at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown. Leatherman became the Maryland History Day Outreach Coordinator for Maryland Humanities and, in 2019, the Executive Director of the National Council on History Education.
She also spent nine years on the Damascus Community Fair Board, volunteered with the Montgomery County 4-H, and served as secretary of the Montgomery County Agricultural Bureau. I admired the wide variety of farms that stretched from the mountains to the ocean,” Leatherman said. “Sustainable agriculture is essential to the environmental and economic health of our region, and it is important that a diverse group of farms, growers and consumers have access to support and resources. ”
At the National Council on History Education, she helped guide the strategic planning process focused on equity and inclusion, developing programs and securing funding to host the first-ever Summit on History. equity organization and The Rural Experience in America program.
Since 1998, the goal of Future Harvest—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation—has been to advance agriculture in the Chesapeake region. Member farms continue to be leaders and practical laboratories for developing and championing practices that lead to business success while protecting the berry, according to the organization’s website.
Future Harvest’s core programs include:
- The Beginning Farmer Training Program, which aims to replenish the aging farming population with a workforce trained in sustainability. The three-tier program lasts one year and features a competitive application process.
- The Field School, which conducts approximately 35 farmer and consumer education workshops each year, visits and intensive internships at area farms and food businesses.
- The Voice 4 Change program, which works collaboratively with others to advance policies and raise awareness of issues that help advance the organization’s mission.
- Farm Research, its most recent program. Future Harvest is conducting a 7-10 year comparative soil study, testing the soil on select farms over time to help participating farmers better understand and share with others how their practices affect soil fertility.