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.
Jennifer is our CSA Manager and Assistant Farm Manager. She first became involved with Lynchburg Grows by giving workshops on composting to help us implement our community composting program on the farm.
Besides her in-depth knowledge of how to turn vegetation into rich soil, she also has a passion for all aspects of growing and preparing fresh, healthy food. Prior to joining us, she managed Magnolia Foods restaurant in Lynchburg for 16 years, where she developed something of a cult following for her outstanding customer service. She is happiest in early spring, because that is when asparagus is in season and she can eat a whole pound of it all by herself for lunch.
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.
Markye has worked with Lynchburg Grows since 2013 and we could not be happier to have him. Markye 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.
As a Liberty University graduate in Criminal Justice, Alex pursued Law Enforcement in Bedford County, VA. But after feeling called to business, he started his entrepreneurial journey by launching some small companies in drone videography and social media marketing. He also helped grow other local businesses in the Lynchburg region.
He transitioned to Liberty University Police Department and eventually ended his career in Law Enforcement. “Through a series of events, the Lord put me in the right place at the right time,” Alex said of his opportunity to run Liberty University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. He currently remains at LU, teaching students the entrepreneurial mindset and helping grow our entrepreneurial community at LU and in the Lynchburg area.
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).
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.
Robb Foster was a staff member at Lynchburg Grows in 2011 and 2012, when he served as Associate Director of Stewardship. Currently he employed at Jamerson Lewis Construction as Director of Quality and Safety. He holds a Masters in Project Management from Northeastern University and Bachelor’s degrees in Construction management and Appropriate Technology with a focus in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University.
Most of his spare time he spends with his two sons, River and Sky, and he is very proud to be raising them in the City of Lynchburg with his wife Samantha. Robb views being a member of the Board as a great opportunity to participate in the grass-roots initiatives that are prevalent in the City of Lynchburg; making it an amazing place to raise a family.
Linda is retired and spends her time actively working to contribute back to the community that she has called home her entire life. She retired as the co-owner of Dominion Seven Architects in downtown Lynchburg.
She is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and her career in Lynchburg has included working for various nonprofits. She was formerly the Executive Director of the United Way of Central Virginia as well as several other organizations.
She is currently the Treasurer of the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation and served previously as the organization’s President. Linda has one daughter who is a teacher at Heritage High School. She enjoys playing golf, reading, and learning new hobbies.
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.
Stuart served as manager of the Lynchburg Grows Veggie Box program during 2016 and 2017. She now is working on building her own backyard, urban mini-farm in Lynchburg's Rivermont neighborhood. She also continues to run her own one-woman company, So Far Media, which provides various marketing services to small businesses and nonprofits. With a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of New Mexico, Stuart has worked as a reporter for radio and print and managed a video production company for eight years. Through it all, she has remained a dedicated locavore and maintains a passion for promoting the proliferation of local food systems.
Carl is a Senior Manager in the IT department with Genworth Financial. His career spans 30 years of different tracks in the Financial Services Industry ranging from Financial Planning, Program/Project Management, and disciplines in the Software Development Life Cycle. His current role at Genworth has him leading a technically diverse team delivering IT solutions for the Agent Licensing and Compensation functions.
Carl began his career studying Managerial Accounting, but veered off the traditional education path as he began to nurture his passion for solving business challenges/opportunies with technology and found his inner geek along the way. He has lived in Central VA since the late 1990s, when he relocated here from the Pacific Northwest. Carl enjoys fishing, camping, photography, and anything else that takes him outdoors, along with spending time with his partner Maribel and their three children.
Rick is a principal attorney at Woods Rogers law firm. He has more than two decades of experience representing and advising companies and individuals throughout Virginia in the areas of business, corporate, securities, banking, and health care law. He joined the Lynchburg law firm of Edmunds & Williams in 1994, then became part of the Woods Rogers’ team of attorneys when the two firms merged in October of 2016.
Rick completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and graduated cum laude from the Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he served as administrative editor of the Washington and Lee Law Review. For several years, Rick taught both undergraduate and graduate business law as an adjunct professor at the Lynchburg College School of Business.
Rick has been named to Virginia Business magazine’s Legal Elite in Business and Corporate law and has been selected as one of Lynchburg’s Top Lawyers by Lynchburg Business magazine. Throughout his career, Rick has maintained a commitment to supporting his community by providing legal services and guidance to a variety of nonprofit organizations. He lives in Lynchburg with his wife and three children and is an avid reader, runner, and photographer.
Kay Van Allen
Kay is a gardener and lover of flowers. She has extensive gardens including a walled "secret garden". A long time garden club member and co-chair of St. John’s Flower Guild, she enjoys creating flower arrangements for home and church.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Kay attended Hollins College until she married and moved to Spartanburg, SC, where she attended Converse College. After becoming pregnant with her first child, she and her husband moved to New Jersey, where she graduated from Drew University.
In 1997, Kay moved to Lynchburg with her husband Kent. They live in a very old farmhouse in Bedford County. In addition to serving on the board of Lynchburg Grows, Kay is also on the board of Poplar Forest and the 500 Year Old Forest Foundation, as well as serving on the vestry of St. Johns Episcopal Church.
Martha is a retired financial professional and CPA with over 27 years of accounting and financial experience with BWX Technologies, Inc (BWXT). Prior to working for BWXT, Martha spent 10 years in Public Accounting.
Martha moved to the Lynchburg area in 1997 from New Orleans, LA. She has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of New Orleans. Martha enjoys traveling, water aerobics and rooting for the New Orleans Saints.