Today's Main Ingredient - Podcast Bios
"Today’s Main Ingredient: Bringing Farm Food to Your Table” is a podcast produced by SEEDS of Northeastern Pennsylvania and consists of 15-minute audio programs, focusing on local farms and food businesses one ingredient at a time.
Your host is Mikki Uzupes
A childhood transplant from the Bronx NYC, Mikki graduated from Honesdale High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. In 2005 while at The News Eagle in Hawley, she won a PA Newspaper Association Award for Beat Reporting. As News Director for Bold Gold Media Group, she hosted a weekly public affairs program called, Wayne Pike Now, which was honored with an Excellence in Broadcasting Award from the PA Association of Broadcasters in 2015. In 2017, Mikki became Wayne County’s Digital Media Specialist, a position she pursued specifically for the opportunity to work closely with the Wayne Tomorrow! initiative. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Wayne County Public Library and as liaison to the Wayne Library Alliance, where she is currently serving as President.
Carol Kneier MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Carol is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes care and education specialist, and currently the Community Health Manager at the Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale PA. She has over 25 years of experience in the field of nutrition and diabetes, and highly enjoys working with the community, providing programs that promote health and wellness.
Lily Allgood and Andy Curtis grow vegetables at Journey’s End Farm in Sterling, PA. Lily, originally from Maine, came to vegetable growing through a love of food and cooking, with a background in restaurant cooking and art. Andy grew up on his family’s farm in Sterling, and has had a lifelong interest in growing plants of all kinds. Since 2014 they have been growing vegetables that they sell at the Hawley Farmers Market and through their CSA program. Journey’s End Farm also produces eggs and award-winning maple syrup.
Anita Avvisato is a Wayne County native. She and her husband Dave call Far Away Farms, a 14-acre farm in Cherry Ridge, home. Since retiring from a 20-year stint with a Scranton surgical group, Anita has focused her attention on their extensive gardens, a flock of free-range chickens, and the multiple honeybee yards they tend throughout the county. Far Away Farms’ produce, eggs, and honey are sold to local restaurants and merchants and also at the Wayne County Farmers Market and winter Main Street Market in Honesdale. When not involved with farm work, Anita enjoys reading, sewing, and visiting her children and grandchildren.
Anita is a guest in Episode 10: Kohlrabi.
Stan Bialecki and Amy Bialecki are the owners of Bialecki Farms, in Lakewood PA (northern Wayne County), with over 20 years of farming experience of growing fresh, local vegetables for friends and neighbors. Their children have learned a self sustaining lifestyle growing much of their own meat, eggs, vegetable and milk. The farm operations started with a small, “on your honor” farm stand but can now be found online, at the Hawley and Barryville Farmers’ Markets, and at The Cooperage Market in winter with year round production! They combine traditional growing methods along with modern, hydroponic greenhouses to get the best production from a small plot of land.
Stan is a guest in Episode 13: Zucchini and Summer Squash.
Jane Bollinger is the amazing creator and producer of this podcast, and long-time supporter and activist for the farmers in & around Wayne County, and the foods they grow. She is a past chair of the Wayne County chapter of PASA, prior manager of the Wayne County Farmers’ Market, and current co-chair of the Wayne Tomorrow Agriculture committee. She is also president of the Bethany Library board of trustees and helps to organize their annual farm-to-table fundraiser.
Benjamin Cooper is the chef at Here & Now Brewing Company in Honesdale PA. Here & Now serves classic pub food, salads, pizza, wings, amazing duck-fat fries, alongside its house-brewed ales, with a focus on sourcing as many ingredients locally as possible. Ben originally moved to NEPA to work on an organic vegetable farm, and his mentally for cooking has never been the same. He says “Watching a carrot grow from seed to fruit over a matter of months truly makes one appreciate the beauty of sustainably grown produce, and I try to carry that with me into the kitchen as I cook.”
Marcia Dunsmore trained at the Culinary Institute of America (one of its early female graduates), and was the pastry chef at The Settler’s Inn in Hawley PA for many years. Later she was executive chef for the Highlights Foundation in nearby Boyd’s Mills. She currently cooks and bakes at home and seasonally for local farmers markets via her Myrtle Avenue Bakehouse, with husband David and a crew of hard working family friends. Marcia is a culinary artist inspired by the seasons and our bounty of local produce, so new creations rotate into the Bakehouse offerings on a regular basis. Her sourdough breads, cookies, fruit spreads and other seasonal treats are always delicious!
Gudrun Feigl began growing herbs on her two-acre farm in Mount Pleasant Township, PA not long after she moved to the U.S. from Germany in 2002. By 2009, she had founded Mount Pleasant Herbary and began selling botanical gifts and herbal teas at farmers’ markets and art shows.
Each year in the early spring, Gudrun starts preparing her herb beds. The herbs are clipped several times during the growing season and put on screens to dry in a drying shed. They are then either blended together into teas, ground up for soaps, or used in infusions for herbal salves.
In 2016, Gudrun opened a gift shop on Maude Alley at 1023 Main Street, Honesdale. It features her handcrafted teas, soaps, salves, foot baths and other herbal creations. Today there’s also an outdoor, European-style café that features organic cookies and treats with many vegan- and gluten-free options, a small, healthy lunch menu, and, of course, Gudrun’s herbal teas.
Gudrun is a guest in Episode 17: Herbs.
Lori Fogg is a coal miner’s daughter, born in 1960 and raised in part of Schuylkill County, PA where local food traditions were influenced by Eastern European immigrants and the Pennsylvania Dutch. She started cooking at age five with her mom and grandmother, whose recipes are among dozens posted on her website www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com. The website, which she started in 2010, is a celebration of the foods of her childhood living in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania. Prior to that she wrote a blog about anthracite coal miners.
Lori explains that “coalcracker” is an affectionate term for a resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania, but particularly of the anthracite coal region from Scranton to the Lehigh Valley to Schuylkill County.
Today, Lori lives in Johnstown in western PA in the bituminous coal region of Pennsylvania.
Lori is a guest in Episode 18: Cabbage.
Brian Fox of Salem Mountain Farm is a third generation farmer from South Canaan PA. As many teenagers do, Brian dreamed of other things and left the farm to attend college in Washington DC. He stayed for nearly 15 years, working as a graphic designer before returning to the farm of his childhood. In 2001, he shifted the farm’s focus from conventional dairy to growing vegetables and raising rotational grass-fed beef. In 2017 he married Rachael, who joined him on the farm. They have two children, Angus born in 2018 and Agathe in 2019. Together they work the land as a family, with their main goals being to grow amazing vegetables to feed to their community, feed the soil to leave the land better than they found it, and to lay the groundwork for the next generation.
Roger Hill is the owner/operator of Treeline Farm in Dyberry Township, PA, and a soil consultant for both home gardeners and commercial farmers including large farming operations like Willow Wisp Organic Farm in Damascus.
Roger began farming in 1981 in southern Ohio using a regenerative farming approach advanced by soil-health proponents Neil Kinsey, Elaine Ingham, and Hugh Courtney. Roger has continued to grow his soil knowledge by following ongoing research into insect and disease resistance in crops through soil mineral balance and the addition of beneficial microorganisms, including how these contribute to nutrient density in vegetables and fruit he grows. Roger is also the manager of O’Neill’s Orchard in Mount Pleasant Township, PA, which follows organic growing methods.
As an active artist with a background in Fine Arts, Roger captures the natural environment and landscapes in oil and watercolor. He has participated in the Wayne County Arts Alliance studio tours and has been featured on The Great Wall of Honesdale.
Joe Infante grew up in Lake Ariel, PA, and one of his first jobs at age 16 was as a dishwasher there at The Hideout’s Clubhouse. This modest beginning in a professional kitchen inspired him to pursue a career in the food world. After graduating from Western Wayne High School, Joe attended Johnson and Wales University where, in 2017, he received an Associate of Science degree in Culinary Arts. In 2016, as part of his education, he completed an internship with The Settlers Hospitality Group at The Settler’s Inn and at Glass in The Ledges Hotel in Hawley. He has worked in restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and for the past four years, Joe was Chef de Cuisine at The Hideout Clubhouse. In 2021, he decided to take a new step in his career by advancing to Executive Chef at Tick Tocks on Terrace in Honesdale, which has newly reopened as a farm-to-table restaurant. Chef Joe’s new menu highlights local farm and food sources in his dishes.
Caleb Johnson is the chef and co-owner with wife Alex of Native Food and Drink on Main Street in Honesdale. Alex is a Honesdale native, who met Caleb while both were working in a restaurant in Philadelphia, then brought him home. Caleb’s menus change weekly, featuring local fresh produce and proteins. The restaurant also has a chef’s table (actually a counter) where you watch up close as the chefs prepare dishes in their small, open air kitchen.
Tannis Kowalchuk started Willow Wisp Organic Farm with Greg Swartz, and she leads cut-flower production, cooks the farm crew lunch, and manages the social media accounts at Willow Wisp. In 2018, Tannis became the founding artistic director of Farm Arts Collective, an agri-“cultural” center based on the farm that provides public programs in theater, agriculture, food, and ecology. Tannis is a professional theater-maker and has created over 25 original productions including work with NACL Theatre and Primus Theatre. She has a weekly radio show, “Ophelia’s Flowers,” on WJFF and sits on the boards of Evergreen Garden in Monticello, NY and the Tusten Heritage Garden in Narrowsburg, NY.
Tannis is a guest in Episode 2: Lettuce and Salad Greens.
Liz Krug is co-manager of Fullers Overlook Farm in Waverly PA. Through her career as a social worker, working with community organizations around food justice issues, Liz found an interest in farming. Wanting to further understand where food comes from, she apprenticed for several seasons at Riverbank Farm and fell in love with growing food. It was the perfect combination of feeding people, stewarding the land, and being part of a sustainable future. A decade later, she loves the continual learning farming brings, feeding her community, and growing her family on the farm.
Erica Madden is the founder of Good Find Farm, a small vegetable and herb farm, certified organic through NOFA-NY. As with any project, it’s evolving as she and her team learns the land and integrates new knowledge. In the fourth year of business, Good Find Farm is located at 25 Stone House Road in Damascus PA, where they have an on-farm store every Saturday in-season from 10 AM to 4 PM. They also sell on Saturdays at the Tucker Square Greenmarket in New York City. Please say hello when visiting and purchasing all their delicious vegetables.
Erica is a guest in Episode 6: Radishes.
Keegan Marchand is the chef at The French Manor Inn and Spa, a AAA Four Diamond hotel in South Sterling, PA. Keegan grew up in Lackawaxen PA in a family where ‘magical things’ happened in the kitchen, and at a young age he realized, “Food is more than just nourishment, it’s an experience. It’s time spent with loved ones.” Attending Wallenpaupack High School, his passion for food was transformed into a complete obsession while studying under Mrs. Sue Rowe, the school’s foods instructor. “Mrs. Rowe cultivated my creativity and love for manipulating food.” After high school, while studying culinary arts and business management at Northampton Community College, Keegan began working in the culinary industry. Cooking professionally for 12 years, Chef Marchand has worked at many other great local restaurants including The Settler’s Inn and Glass.Wine.Bar.Kitchen in Hawley; and Honesdale’s Dyberry Forks.
Keegan is the featured chef in Episode 10: Leeks.
Bobby Morgan oversees the blueberry fields at Paupack Blueberry Farm, not far from the east shore of Lake Wallenpaupack. The farm is family-owned and operated since 1964 when Donal and Shirley Coutts purchased 41 acres in Paupack Township. Some of this land was already in cultivation with Northern Highbush Blueberries. Bobby is married to Carol, one of the Coutts’s daughters, and together with other Coutts siblings, their generation has grown the business.
Today the farm grows more than two dozen blueberry varieties. There’s now an on-farm store and gift shop, which sells all things blueberry, including—you guessed it—blueberry pies and other baked goods. But the farm’s primary business every summer is pick-your-own berries, which opens near the end of July or beginning of August and lasts until Labor Day weekend. Contact the store at 570-226-9702 for information.
Bobby is a guest in Episode 12: Blueberries.
Evan Morgan is the owner and operator of Food for Beings, a large market garden in the rich bottom soil of the Dyberry Creek, near Honesdale, PA. Evan practices intensive, small-plot farming. He lives close to the land and follows natural growing methods, raising vegetables “with deep reverence for all beings.” Evan offers subscriptions to his harvest via a weekly CSA vegetable-box. He saves as much seed as he can and enjoys experimenting in the garden. You can reach Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy Preble is the owner and operator at Wolfe Springs Farm. Recently moved to Wayne County, Tammy and her husband Matt are U.S. Army veterans. She also manages market garden production plus sales & marketing at Fertile Valley Farm, all while homeschooling their young daughter. Working together the two farms also source a local CSA, providing weekly meat and/or vegetable shares to 40+ subscribers. Tammy focuses on growing unique and beautiful fruits and vegetables in a natural way.
Allaina Propst was born and raised in the woods outside of Honesdale, PA and spent much of her childhood in her Grandpa’s garden. Although her green thumb never truly developed, she enjoys cooking the overwhelming bounty grown by our wonderful local farmers’ in her home kitchen.
Allaina owns and runs Here & Now Brewing Company on Main Street in Honesdale, and strives to help create a more sustainable local economy the old-fashioned way by sourcing products as locally as possible, reducing waste, and just doing the right thing.
Allaina is the featured foodie in Episode 14: Peppers.
Bryan Roff grows cultivated exotic mushrooms in a year-round, indoor temperature- and humidity-controlled environment and forages choice edible, wild mushrooms in the Tri-State region (PA, NY, NJ). He studied mycology (mushroom science) at Penn State University, and Woodland Mushroom Cultivation and Forest Pathology at Cornell University. And he completed certification courses from Mushroom Mountain LLC and holds a permit to sell wild-foraged mushrooms in PA and NY. His farm, Marley’s Organic Mushrooms and Wild Foods, is located at 100 Mushroom Farm Road near Milford, PA. You can find Marley’s Mushrooms at a half dozen farmers’ markets in the Upper Delaware River Region including Honesdale and Milford, PA, and Narrowsburg, NY.
Bryan is a guest in Episode 9: Mushrooms.
Matt Shaffer has operated Matt’s Farm Market outside Hamlin for 20 years. He grew up in a farming family. At age 5, working beside his mother in her garden, he planted his first patch of sweet corn. By his early teens, he was growing and selling sweet corn and pumpkins locally, and he started raising beef cattle. Today, Matt farms about 200 acres, growing sweet corn, pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes and a few other vegetable crops, as well as hay for his cattle. “Watching things grow and gathering them for harvest is really rewarding,” he says. He also likes working with animals and finds being around his cattle is “very relaxing. They are my therapists.”
Matt also works part-time off the farm to catch up for bad years. “We farmers are at the mercy of the weather, markets, equipment failures, animal damage, a dangerous workplace, and a bunch of other things,” he explains. “But then there’s that everyday challenge on the farm that keeps it interesting. That’s the lifestyle I’ve always known and grew up in. I wouldn’t change that.”
Matt is a guest in Episode 16: Sweet Corn.
Jamie Stunkard is the owner and chef at Nature’s Grace Healthfoods and Deli on Main Street in Honesdale, PA. Nature’s Grace has been open since 1981, providing an atmosphere where people can feel encouraged to explore the many elements of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Jamie is a licensed certified nutritionist, and graduated from the American Health Science University in Colorado. He received his degree in Naturopathy from Westbrook University in 1997 and is board certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board. His consuming interest is helping people explore the path to better health and sustainability.
Jamie is a guest in Episode 13: Zucchini and Summer Squash.
Greg Swartz has been farming in the Upper Delaware River Valley since 2000, beginning as an apprentice on local farms in Sullivan County, NY. In 2007, he and wife Tannis Kowalchuk bought their first farm in Wayne County, PA. During the first couple years of building the farm, Greg held down two jobs, farming part-time and serving as executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY). In 2010, Willow Wisp Farm earned its organic certification, and he returned to full-time farming and hasn’t slept much since. In 2015 Willow Wisp Organic Farm moved 5 miles down the road to the banks of the Delaware River. This new farm has allowed a tripling in production. Greg’s goals are to grow high-quality food, improve the farm ecosystem, and employ as many people as possible to show that farming can be and should be the key to economic development in our region.
Josh Tomson is the executive chef at The Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA where he and his staff offer five-star spa cuisine at the distinguished TREE restaurant. In accordance with Josh’s farm-to-table philosophy, TREE’s menu features just-picked items from the Woodloch’s own Farm-to-Table Garden, and whenever possible products from local farms as well. The result is a cuisine that is fresh, flavorful, inventive, and nutritious. In 2016, the chef and his team gathered recipes—personal and guest favorites—to create a cookbook: Nurture with Nature: Seasonal Recipes for Body, Beauty ad Healing.
Chef Tomson is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City and the New York Wine Tasting School. Prior to joining the Lodge at Woodloch, he gained national and international exposure at award-winning restaurants, inns, and hotels in the U.S., France, and Switzerland.
Donna Fitzgerald Vannan was born in Tasmania, Australia, and grew up on a farm. “I have been cooking as long as I can remember and have always had an affinity with fresh and beautiful fruit and vegetables.” Donna has been living in the United States since 1994, and in NEPA since October 2001. She is the owner and chef at Maximum Zen Bakery and Café, a vegetarian & vegan, bakery/cake shop and café in Clarks Summit, PA. “I serve fresh, organic, local foods, which I create from scratch, with love and joy. I truly believe that what you eat can change your life.” Donna is the mother to two amazing kids and several cats.
Donna is the featured chef in Episode 12: Blueberries.
Kate Woerhle graduated from Paul Smith’s College with a degree in Culinary Arts and Service Management in 2012 and started shortly after at The Settler’s Inn in Hawley PA as a prep and garden manger cook. She’s held several roles for Settlers Hospitality, including positions at Glass Wine Bar & Kitchen and Cocoon Bakery before being promoted to Sous Chef at the Inn. From there she worked her way to Chef De Cuisine and in 2019 she was promoted to Executive Chef. She leads the Chef’s Demonstration Garden and the Apiary Program at The Settlers Inn, integrating her love of gardening with the restaurant. She works closely with local farms, showcasing their products on her menus. She also spends time collecting blankets and food to donate to Pike County Humane Shelter.
Today's Main Ingredient is sponsored in part by:
Thanks also to Fertile Valley and Wolfe Spring Farms for their sponsorship of the BoldGold radio station broadcasts.
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