Kelly Owensby; Executive Director: Kelly began working in sustainable agriculture in 2005 after graduating from UNC-CH with a degree in cultural studies. She worked on eight vegetable and flower farms in N.C. before shifting her work towards community development and starting Transplanting Traditions Community Farm in 2010. Over the past eight years she has grown Transplanting Traditions from ½ acre to 8 acres and helped the project grow to national recognition. She is particularly interested in how Transplanting Traditions is a platform to uplift and share cultural traditions around farming and food, foster community and psycho-social well-being and provide a space for the refugee community from Burma to re-create home and meaning after the difficult upheaval of re-settlement. Outside of Transplanting Traditions, she plays the surdo drum in Batala Durham and loves building, cooking and creating.
Friday Lumu; Cultural Liaison and Interpreter: Mr. Friday is the Transplanting Traditions Interpreter and Cultural Liaison and a refugee from Burma. He works with the project because he is happy to help refugees get access to healthy vegetables and fruits, both those that they already grew in Burma, and also those typical in the United States. He is glad to support refugees getting a better place to grow food, which leads to fresh, healthy vegetables and better nutrients.Mr. Friday is also the organizer of Karen Community of North Carolina (KCNC), a nonprofit, refugee managed organization. The mission of KCNC is to strengthen the Karen community in North Carolina and to improve the quality of life of Karen people living in North Carolina. The objectives are to a) preserve the Karen culture, language and history; b) to provide services to the Karen community in promoting literacy, education, health and social welfare; c) to assist Karen refugees arriving in North Carolina with access to services and integration into North Carolina while retaining Karen culture and d) to collaborate with other organizations to better serve the Karen community
Vera Fabian, Farm Manager: A Chapel Hill native, Vera graduated from UNC-CH in 2007 with a degree in Anthropology and International Studies.
For five years she worked as a Garden Educator, first at The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA and then as a founding member of the Edible Schoolyard NYC team, where she helped start a half-acre school garden and cooking program for Pre-K-5th grade. In 2012, Vera left NYC to learn to farm at Bob Cannard’s Green String Farm in CA and at Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Farm in ME, where she gained experience in season extension and greenhouse management for year-round vegetable production.
Vera and her husband, Gordon, decided to settle and start their own farm in NC (Ten Mothers Farm). She hopes to continue to share her love of food with the community through farming and teaching. She currently divides her time between her own farm, teaching cooking classes, and Transplanting Traditions and feels incredibly lucky to be a part of a project that gives so many people a farming home and the chance to grow their own food.
Ku Khu; Landscape Crew Manager: Ku Khu loves plants, gardening, and thinking about how to make places beautiful and inviting. She loves helping to make Transplanting Traditions a beautiful place for people to visit and to learn about the culture of refugees from Burma. She likes to involve friends in her work by asking for gardening advice or seeking out special and beautiful plants to bring to TTCF’s Garden of Tropical Wonders; that way, everyone can contribute to her work. Her favorite things to grow are spicy peppers because they are delicious, and the flowers and peppers look very beautiful together.
Moo Kho Paw; Greenhouse and Supplies Crew Manager: We are incredibly lucky to have hired Moo Kho Paw as a Greenhouse and Supplies Manager. She is in charge of starting seeds, taking care of the greenhouse plants, and collecting seed and supplies orders from farmers. She is excited to learn more about growing in cold weather and achieving 99% germination through her position.
Moo Kho is farmer Tri Sa’s eldest daughter, and in 2018, she began growing flowers in her mother’s plot. When she’s not growing flowers or working as a farm manager, Moo Kho is helping her mother harvest for CSA shares and for market. In her free time she likes to cook and hike, and especially enjoys camping and rafting in the mountains.
Paw Moo; Greenhouse Crew Manager: Paw Moo loves being Greenhouse Manager because she gets to help TTCF staff and other farmers by getting seeds and plants ready for them. She gets to work outside on beautiful days, and inside the greenhouse when it’s not so nice out. Sometimes her father, mother, husband, and niece come to the farm to visit and to help. Her favorite thing to grow is spicy peppers. She loves them very hot! Her friend gave her some special seeds and they are the best that she has found.
Talar Hso; Youth Program Coordinator: Talar first came to TTCF when her family began farming here and participated in the youth program for two years before becoming the Youth Program Coordinator during her third year. In her role she helps plan and lead cooking demos at the farmers market, tours at the farm, and workshops or trainings for the youth, and serves as a liaison between TTCF and the youth. She has enjoyed seeing behind the scenes of TTCF and has a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into the programming. She has found that TTCF has helped her learn more about and better tell her story of being a Karen refugee. When she is not at the farm, Talar is a busy junior at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. In her free time she likes to hang out with her friends and play soccer. Her favorite food is her mother’s coconut curry with Thai eggplant and chicken.
Sara Snyder; AmeriCorps Educational Programs Coordinator: Sara grew up in eastern NC. Sara recently graduated from Duke University with a BS in Environmental Science and hopped a city over to work at TTCF. In her role she helps build organizational capacity and she is excited to learn so much about Asian vegetables! Before coming to TTCF, she worked at the Duke Campus Farm and Somerset Farm. Her favorite vegetable is okra and she loves using it to thicken soups!