Sarah Brown

Sarah BrownSarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Science in Secondary Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching in Philadelphia and Seattle, she moved to Detroit where she became involved in urban agriculture. Upon moving to Syracuse in 2010, Sarah quickly became involved in Syracuse Grows by joining the Advisory Board. Serving on the Syracuse Grows Advisory Board allows Sarah to combine her 10 + years of classroom-teaching experience with her love of community gardening, while working toward a healthier food system for all. Sarah is passionate about empowering a younger generation to take part in creating a more just food system. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and three children, traveling, reading and cooking.

Jonnell Robinson

Jonnell RobinsonJonnell is a founding member of Syracuse Grows and the director of the Syracuse Community Geography Program at Syracuse University, a program that uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and a participatory approach to examine community concerns. A native of Central New York, Jonnell returned to Syracuse in 2005 to work with the Syracuse Hunger Project, a coalition of social service providers, activists, and faith leaders that was created in 2003 to better understand and combat hunger in CNY. Syracuse Grows emerged out of discussions among Syracuse Hunger Project participants who were interested to expand urban agriculture and community gardening in Syracuse. Jonnell enjoys engaging with community members through community gardening and creating opportunities for university students to participate in grassroots food efforts. Jonnell enjoys gardening and cooking at home with her husband and children. Jonnell received her Master of Public Health and PhD in Geography from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Amy Grover

Amy GroverAmy is the Sports Medicine and Wellness Program Coordinator for Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS). She has been in the Sports Medicine realm for fourteen years and employee wellness for the last six years. It’s in this position that she’s been able to dive into her passion to increase food security and help families learn how to cook with local ingredients. Amy enjoys growing a variety of vegetables out of her own three gardens at home and sharing how she prepares the food, both as it’s harvested and how it’s preserved for the winter months. She believes anyone can start or share a garden in their home or community to have nutritious foods available to them year-round.

Amy received her BS in Athletic Training & Exercise Science from Ithaca College and MS in Athletic Training from A.T. Still University in Arizona. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, gardening, reading, and camping. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and pets. Amy joined the Syracuse Grows Board in June of 2021 as well as the Syracuse Board of Directors for the American Heart Association (AHA) and Co-Chair of the AHA’s Community Action Committee, in which one of the Greater Syracuse priorities is increasing food security.

Alicia Blanding

Alicia BlandingOriginally from southern New Jersey, Alicia grew up riding past vast fields of produce. She has vivid memories of the purple soil beneath the blueberry fields, shucking corn still warm from the sun, and the unique smell of a freshly picked tomato.

Alicia earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Operations from Drexel University and a Masters of Business Administration from Villanova University and is currently a Project Manager at Hill-Rom. Her first introduction to urban agriculture and fresh food access came during a consulting project during her time at Villanova. Alicia joined the Advisory Board in 2021 after searching for an organization focusing on food accessibility in the community.

Michael Hartwell

Alicia BlandingMike joined the board in 2023 and is currently employed at FustCharles, LLP – a regional Syracuse public accounting firm. Mike provides income tax planning, compliance and advisory services to proprietorships, partnerships and corporations, and the owners and executives associated with such entities. He focuses on commercial clients utilizing pass-through entities, such as partnerships and s-corporations. Mike is also involved in the delivery of tax services to the Firm’s not-for-profit organizations. Mike is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA). Mike is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and resides in Cicero, NY. In his spare time Mike prefers to spend time in the Adirondacks with his fiancé and dog.

Lisa Hart

Lisa holds a master’s degree in Community/Public Health Education from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, national certifications as a Certified Case Manager (CCM) and Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and a license as a Professional Registered Nurse (RN) from New York State. Lisa is a lifelong resident of Syracuse. She moved into the City of Syracuse in 2015 and along with her husband is restoring an older home to its former glory.

Lisa has had a lengthy professional career holding various roles in healthcare and public/community health, with her current position as Public Health Analyst and Grants Manager with Syracuse Housing Authority, a public housing agency in Syracuse. Lisa’s work in the local community includes serving on boards and volunteering with organizations that seek to address ongoing societal disparities and inequities that adversely affect the populace’s health, wellness, well-being, and overall quality of life.

Lisa is interested in bringing urban agriculture and community gardening to a wider audience and helping people grow their food for a healthy lifestyle. Along with her husband, she has her own raised garden beds and enjoys the fruits of their labor all season long!

In Memory Of:

Evan Weissman

Evan WeissmanEvan is a Syracuse native and founding member of Syracuse Grows and the Westcott Community Garden. Evan is an assistant professor in the new food studies program at Syracuse University. His research examines grassroots efforts to address food disparities in urban America and he teaches introductory and upper-division courses in food studies through hands-on approaches. Evan would like to see Syracuse develop comprehensive food policy that includes urban agriculture and community gardening. In his spare time, Evan enjoys cooking, eating, drinking, and merry making with his partner Erin, his three children, and a wonderful group of friends. The family can often be found tending the Westcott Community Garden during growing season.

Read the tribute written by Syracuse Grows in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development