Learn more about the amazing people who keep Lynchburg Grows going and growing.
Shelley Blades is Farm Manager and Executive Director. She oversees all aspects of the farm's operation as well as the organization as a whole. Her experience includes health promotion, working with people with disabilities, and managing urban agriculture. Shelley previously served as garden coordinator at the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, where she implemented seven school gardens and worked with teachers to integrate them into the schools' curriculum. If she could have it her way, everyone would eat radishes rolled in butter and sprinkled with salt.
Stuart joined us as CSA Manager in August 2016. She grew up in rural Campbell County, Virginia with horses and cows and a big backyard garden. She's always grown food wherever she has lived, most notably on her farm in Floyd County, which she owned during the '80s. More recently, she gardened in the desert of New Mexico, where she lived for thirteen years before returning to Virginia in 2012. Stuart has worked in marketing, journalism, real estate, and has owned and/or managed businesses and nonprofits, including a production company and an alpaca farm. She loves to cook and is perhaps most well-known for her whacky what's-in-the-refrigerator salad creations that are (almost) always delicious.
Dereck Cunningham, a former stained glass maker, is a founding member of Lynchburg Grows, which means he has been here for close to thirteen years and has been an integral part of making Lynchburg Grows the place it is today. He not only makes sure our roses are in great condition, but also provides tours and guarantees that all of our produce is the best it can be. If he’s not working hard in one of our many greenhouses, you’ll find him snacking on some guacamole chips.
No farm chore is too big or too small for Joseph. He is always willing to lend a hand where it’s needed. He also makes sure our animals are fed and happy. Before coming to us in 2011, Joseph worked at Forks restaurant in Bedford, at Movies 10, at Liberty University dining hall, and at Bill’s Pastry Shop. When his hands aren’t dirty from the farm, you can find him munching on an apple or a pastry.
Markey has worked with Lynchburg Grows since 2013 and we could not be happier to have him. Markey helps out in the greenhouses with pest control, harvesting, and weeding, but his favorite job is helping prepare for our weekly CSA. He also greets us every day with a huge smile that brightens up the entire farm. In fact, no matter what his chore for the day is he does it with a smile.
Chris Price is one of our hard-working farmers that keeps us all laughing and on our toes. Chris helps with all farm chores, but especially loves task that require some extra muscle like turning compost and hauling soil. Chris is originally from Lynchburg and has previously worked at Bill’s Pastry Shop. When he’s not busy with farm chores, you can find him chugging ice cold water or drinking coffee.
Gary wears many hats around the farm, but one of his main jobs is ensuring everything is stocked and ready for the CSA. It’s hard to get a serious answer out of him, but he is very serious about his roles on the farm and loves cutting bread as well as bagging the lettuce each week. He was happy to join us in 2013 and came to us from his previous job at Lynchburg Sheltered Industries. If he had the choice, he would eat sushi every day!
Another Lynchburg native, Chris graduated from E.C. Glass High School in 2001. Previously, he worked at Bob Evans restaurant and the Weenie Stand but has been with us since 2006. Not only is Chris Matheson one of our produce washing extraordinaires, he is multi-talented and lends a hand in the greenhouse, with maintenance, and CSA set-up. But his most coveted skill may be his ability to remember names and welcome our customers. If you meet Chris on one of your visits, be sure to ask him about his love of Broadway and Disney World. If cinnamon buns happen to be delivered to Lynchburg Grows you will be sure to find him close by.
Karen is in charge of making sure our main office is always spotless and is our number-one organizer and dust buster. She’s a Lynchburg native and a proud graduate from E.C. Glass. Karen came to Lynchburg Grows in 2014 from Bill’s Pastry Shop and couldn’t be happier to be part of the team here. Her fingernails are always painted to match the season and she loves kittens (but don’t we all?). The best way to cheer her up on the hard days is with a big bowl of mac-n-cheese.
Keith has worked at Lynchburg Grows since 2004, which is just one short year after we opened our doors. With his time comes wisdom and he knows exactly how things have been done through the years. He excels at keeping everything clean, whether that means taking out the trash each week, weeding the raised beds, or, his favorite, making sure the animals are healthy and happy. If it weren’t for him the animals on the farm wouldn’t have quite such a luxurious life. He enjoys snacking on an apple when, and if, he ever takes a break.
Latrell Langhorne, a 2006 graduate of Central Virginia Community College and a Lynchburg Native, came to us in 2013 after working at Bill’s Pastry Shop and T-Shirts Plus. Latrell enjoys many aspects of his job but especially enjoys bagging lettuce each week for our CSA members. When he is not bagging produce, you can find him slicing bread for our Produce Van or starting seeds for the next round of growing. He is focused and hard working making him an integral part of our team.
Board of Directors
L. Kimball Payne, III
Kimball (“Kim”) Payne is Board President. He served as Lynchburg City Manager for more than fifteen years, beginning in 2001. Previously, he served fourteen years as County Administrator of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Prior to that was Assistant County Administrator in Spotsylvania for three years. He is a Credentialed Local Government Manager, a member of the International City-County Management Association (ICMA), and a Past President of the Virginia Local Government Manager’s Association (VLGMA).
He is a retired Commander in the Naval Reserve, having completed nearly eight years of active duty as a Naval Flight Officer with his last assignment as a Naval ROTC Instructor at the University of Virginia. Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and Master of Planning and Master of Arts in Public Administration degrees from the University of Virginia. Kim serves on boards of a number of regional agencies including the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Region 2000 Services Authority and the Region 2000 Local Government Council, the Business and Economic Development Alliance and Metropolitan Planning Organization. He and his wife Leslie have five children and six grandchildren.
Sarah is Director of Marketing at Southern Provisions Company in Lynchburg. She previously worked six years at Moore & Giles as Samples Stylist. She has also been a Station Agent with Atlantic Southeast Airlines in Lynchburg as well as an Art teacher for first-through-eleventh grade students in Nonthaburi, Thailand. She holds a degree in Interiors & Fashion Merchandising from Liberty University. Sarah is passionate about creating a way for all people in the community to have access to healthy, sustainable food.
Kevin is currently the 4-H / Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Agent and Unit Coordinator for Virginia Cooperative Extension in Lynchburg. Serving in this dual role, he manages the Extension Master Gardeners group, organizes pest management programs, and provides educational programs to nearly all of Lynchburg’s eleven elementary schools, including directing the Urban Agriculture Day for 5th graders of Lynchburg City Schools. This program exposed urban youth to agriculture while integrating with the Virginia Standards of Learning and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics standards. Kevin also assisted in the creation of the Strategic Plan for the Agriculture and Forestry Economy in Virginia’s Region 2000. He holds a degree in Political Science from Radford University and a Masters in Agriculture and Life Sciences from Virginia Tech. He serves on the Lynchburg Area Food Council and is the Central District Representative for Virginia Extension Service Association (VESA).
Sarah-Louise is a Lynchburg local who returned after receiving a BA in sculpture from the University of Virginia. Over the past four years, she has worked for and managed Irvington Spring Farm, been the Project Manager at the Lynchburg Community Market and the CSA Manager at Lynchburg Grows. Currently she is focusing on making and selling her own artwork, which includes woven textiles for the home. While art may be her passion she has a great interest in organizations that exist to better the community around them (especially if they have farming involved) and finds Lynchburg Grows to be a good fit in that regard.
Shane was born and raised in Lynchburg. He traveled for a few years after high school, then returned to attend Lynchburg College and graduated there with a degree in Environmental Studies. He has worked in restaurant management for many years and is currently Chief Mixologist at The Water Dog restaurant in downtown Lynchburg. Shane joined the Lynchburg Grows Board in early 2015. He has a ten-year-old daughter named Madelyn and he enjoys hiking, mushroom hunting, and most anything that takes him outdoors.
Stephanie Fees is a private chef and caterer from Lynchburg. After studying at the University of Virginia, she attended the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Following culinary school, she worked at Blue Hill in New York City, and The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, both of which sparked her interest in the growing farm-to-table food movement. In 2012, she returned to Virginia as Chef of West Manor Estate, a wedding venue in Forest, where the menus were sourced locally and changed seasonally. Stephanie joined the Lynchburg Grows board in 2016.
Philipp Gabathuler is Secretary of the Board. He is a Lynchburg native and a 2002 Graduate of E.C. Glass High School. He works as an Urban Planner at the Region 2000 Local Government Council and serves on the board of Rush Homes and the Daily Bread in addition to serving Lynchburg Grows. Philipp received his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and Planning and Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2007. Philipp and his wife Andrea—also a Lynchburg native—live on a small farm in Amherst County and are expecting their second child in April, 2017.
Dr. Scott Lowman
Scott is a co-founder of Lynchburg Grows and has served as a volunteer here since 2003. Initially serving as volunteer Director of Buildings and Grounds, Scott, a Class A contractor at the time, led the effort to resurrect the then-abandoned greenhouses and property that Lynchburg Grows now calls home. Scott is currently a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia and is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. His research program focuses on developing bio-pesticides and bio-stimulates, which increase plant growth and health naturally. Scott holds a Masters Degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. focused on Molecular Biology from Virginia Tech.
Eugene is Owner and Director of Tweedy Mentoring Services LLC, which for the past 13 years has provided mentoring services, employment opportunities, and positive role modeling to youth in our community. Mr. Tweedy is currently a Resident in Counseling with the Virginia Board of Counseling and is providing group counseling services with inmates participating with the Re-Entry Program at the Amherst Regional Jail. He serves the community as a volunteer in many ways, including as a board member and former President of the Hill City Football and Cheerleading Association; a member of the Equity Task Force with Lynchburg City Schools, a member of the Lynchburg Area Counseling Association, and as member of the Gamma Omega Chapter of Omega Psi Fraternity Inc. He is a supporter and active participant on a local, state and national level with many other groups and organizations that work for equity and fairness. He holds a BS degree in Sociology from James Madison University, and a Master’s in Education degree from Lynchburg College.