Board of Trustees
Robert G. Edmiston
Turner Farm Managers
One of Robert Edmiston’s guiding tenets in life is stewardship— the responsible management of something that has been entrusted to one’s care. Many aspects of such stewardship were brought into play when, in 2013, at the insistence of Turner Farm, Inc.’s founder, the late Bonnie Mitsui, he took over the role of Executive Director of Turner Farm. At Turner Farm, he continued Bonnie’s strong belief in the stewardship of the land. For Robert, such stewardship extends to ourselves, our loved ones and our community. Besides stewardship, managing Turner Farm, further embraces Robert’s commitment to conservation and preservation. In addition to his role at Turner Farm, Robert is a practicing attorney managing his own law firm. A graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, he began private practice in Cincinnati in 1981. In 2001, he established his own firm and also is Of Counsel with the firm Cors & Bassett.
For Abby, it wasn’t enough to study and observe beauty. She had to live it. Abby’s appreciation for authenticity and the human experience, led her to study Art History at DePaul University in Chicago. But she felt a strong yearning to break from the sterility of mere study and contemplation. While still a student, she started working as a baker at the famed Hoosier Mama Pie Company, which kindled a love of food. She also became a mobile apiarist at Bike-A-Bee, the Chicago-based, bicycle-powered beekeeping company. Somehow, she found time to volunteer at and later worked as Marketing and Education Coordinator for The Plant, a net-zero energy vertical farm and business incubator housed in a renovated meat packing building in Chicago’s stockyards. After the experience of making, growing and (teaching about?) food, Abby was hooked. She travelled to New Mexico to work at a Montessori Farm School near Santa Fe. Then she came back to Ohio to serve as a garden apprentice at Turner Farm in 2015, where she has continued to bring a unique perspective and willingness to manage projects to the farm’s organic fields and greenhouse production. As our Crop Production Manager, Abby brings a deep commitment to growing delicious and soil-enhancing food that increases and enhances the health of Turner Farm’s customers and the beauty of the place where the food is grown.
Danny grew up in Anderson township living the normal suburban life. He joined the Marine Corps out of High School to become an Arabic Linguist. It was while deployed to Iraq’s Anbar province that he had his “aha” moment. He noticed the local people had no topsoil, no agriculture of any kind and were bombarded by dust storms. Upon returning to the states, he began growing much of his own food and interning at various farms. Returning home to Ohio after nine years in the Corps, he started his own small-scale farm raising all sorts of animals. He began working at Turner Farm in 2015 and loves teaching about animals, pastures and how it all relates to improving the environment when done with love, care and knowledge.
A community service requirement at Dave’s high school exposed him to a local heritage farm in his Cincinnati neighborhood and planted a seed that would grow into a career. Like many young men, Dave wanted to be a firefighter/EMT and even attended college and attained the required certification for a career of saving lives and battling blazes. But that community service on a farm and the subsequent part time work he found there while studying to be a firefighter/EMT got deep enough under his skin that he gave in to the agricultural experience. Deeply drawn into the entire agricultural experience, Dave worked for seven years on that farm before joining the staff at Turner Farm. Working alongside the farm’s facilities management, he has garnered a reputation for being passionate about the care and preservation of farm machinery and for the farm’s mission of preservation and time-tested agricultural practices. Dave’s meticulously kept workshop is the sort of place where his co-workers can find just the right tool for the job and a man who can help them learn to use it. Whether instructing apprentices on how to operate a tractor or loading hay into the loft with the crew, he is always ready to lend a hand.
Joshua’s affinity for the outdoors started at an early age. He spent his youth traveling to every national park within reach. While getting his degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Cincinnati he discovered his love for plants, the elegance in the way they operated and interacted. He worked in a plant genetics lab during school, while publishing a research paper on invasive species. After graduation, Joshua wanted to continue working with plants and found farming to be a perfect fit. He began helping in a community garden in the neighborhood he lived and shortly thereafter got his first job growing food. Since then he has worked at several different farms, observing several different styles. In Turner Farm Community Garden Program, Joshua focuses on community building, securing local food for those in need, while educating people on best growing practices for healthy food and a healthy environment.
As one of eight kids on a family farm in eastern Ohio, Mary learned at a young age the importance raising nourishing food. Along with her brothers, sisters and cousins, she helped raise vegetables and animals and also kept bees. Later in life, Mary began a career as a nurse, before leaving the profession to raise her children. But she still maintained her farm roots and managed to keep bees in the city long before it was a fashionable hobby until an allergic neighbor caused Mary to start a search for a new home for her hives. That’s when she met Turner Farm founder Bonnie Mitsui, who allowed Mary to relocate her hives to the farm. Mary joined the farm’s meat CSA as well and was soon a regular face around the fields and barns. When she was asked to take over the childrens summer camp program, she took the opportunity to infuse the experience for the camp’s kids with the same sense of joy and wonder she had growing up on a farm. In 2016, Mary began her next chapter at the farm as the Director of Events. In this role, she oversees all special events on the farm, including scheduling and logistics for the Teaching Kitchen. Her attention to detail and unfailing ability to put together complex, multi-faceted special events, along with her background in healthcare and agriculture, serve to make Mary an asset to the farm in this evolving role.
For more than 20 years, Melinda has been a passionate advocate for Turner Farm’s mission of stewardship and building community. She is known on the farm for loving vegetables and flowers with equal enthusiasm. An ag school graduate of The Ohio State University, Melinda has worked in flower shops and greenhouses from Indiana to Denver to North Carolina. But her natural talents as an educator led her to teaching horticulture classes to university students at Vincennes University, the oldest higher education institution in Indiana. After returning to her home state, Melinda taught horticulture to vocational high school students. When that job was combined with another and Melinda found herself back on the job market, she took a chance on a handwritten flier she found at a greenhouse tradeshow in Cincinnati. The handwriting was that of Bonnie Mitsui, Turner Farm’s founder, and Melinda soon found herself growing vegetables as part of Bonnie’s small garden team. As the farm grew, Melinda was promoted to garden production manager before being offered the opportunity to return to teaching. As the farm’s Director of Adult Education, Melinda brings a lifetime of practical growing experience to her classes, which are aimed at members of the local community who are interested in learning more about the basics of gardening and Turner Farm’s seasonal apprentices. Melinda also handles all of Turner Farm’s flower business, including our popular flower CSA.
A resident of Cincinnati for over 35 years, and a vegetable gardener for over a twenty-five years, Peter is interested in working with traditional organic farming best-practices but also exploring the evolving techniques of Permaculture and regenerative agriculture practices and how they can provide healthy food for neighborhoods and encourage healthy lifestyles. Through neighborhood-centered initiatives the goal is to create urban gardens that provide in-depth, immersive hands-on gardening experiences for participants and creating opportunities for diverse communities to learn and share their cultural heritages. Peter is also a graduate of the Sunbridge College’s Administration & Community Development Program, a graduate of the Civic Garden Center’s Community Garden Development Training program and former Garden Manager of The Gardens at Village Green (a not-for-profit urban community garden/greenhouse facility) – as well as having a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Florida State University.
A fourth-generation farmer from southwestern Ohio, Rob’s childhood was infused with a respect for the beauty and challenges of agrarian life. Prior to continuing his family’s farming tradition, Rob tried his hand as a writer. As a first step toward a desired career in journalism, Rob enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he served four years as a combat correspondent, writing and reporting from locations around the world. He followed up his enlistment with a decade of service with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the nationwide non-profit dedicated to building better lives for disabled veterans and their families. In 2015, Rob began his service at Turner Farmer as an apprentice in the Veteran to Farmer Training Program, the program he now manages in addition to telling Turner Farm’s story through our marketing and media relations efforts.
As a young girl growing up in central Connecticut, some of Stephanie’s earliest memories are of picking and selling raspberries from her grandparents’ property and cooking with her mother. By the time she was able to spend a semester on an organic farm in costal Maine at age 16 (studying ecology, working the fields, but also spending time in the farm kitchen), she was already forming a blueprint. She discovered that cooking could bring to life the vitality of a place, connecting people to the land in profound and beautiful ways. Stephanie is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where she earned degrees in Culinary Arts and Culinary Arts Management. She also earned a masters degree in Food Studies from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Stephanie is a dedicated world traveler, having studied food culture up close in countries that include Germany, India and Ireland. As Turner Farm’s Chef and Culinary Manager, she is at the helm of the state-of-the-art Teaching Kitchen, serving as its educational program coordinator and providing the vital link between those wanting to learn about nutrition and stewardship of the land.
Colleen figured her next job would be the last one before retirement, so she wanted to make sure it reflected her values. Given her work history, it wasn’t surprising that she would go in an entirely new direction. The graduate of the University of Cincinnati School of Nursing had spent 22 years—an entire career for some people—as a nurse. Then, Colleen returned to UC, this time as a student in the university’s prestigious Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) graduate school, where she graduated in 1998 to pursue a career in architecture. In that field, she worked with a vast array of projects including museums, amusement parks and trade show exhibits. Unfortunately, her employer was taken down by the “Great Recession” and Colleen had to pivot yet again. She and her husband, Ben, had been homesteaders for two decades in rural Clermont County, Ohio, so she took it as a good sign when she was offered the job of managing the books and administrative duties at Turner Farm. She had found a job that not only allowed her to showcase her vast accounting and project management experience, but also put her in the center of a thriving organic farm with a design/build company specializing in museum exhibits and amusement parks, and tradeshow exhibits.
A native of Merida in the Yucatan state of Mexico, Gerardo grew up with an eye toward becoming a businessman. Inspired by his father, who was a Cummins Diesel salesman, Gerardo studied economics at in college. By that time, he had lived in the United States—first in Florida, then Indiana and Ohio—for several years. While studying economics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, he had the opportunity to travel with the founder of the school’s sustainability program on a group trip to Ghana. While on this immersive student trip, Gerardo had his eyes opened to the problems inherent in global economics and the power of local economics to undo some of the damage. As he approached graduation, he remained unsure of his next step, knowing only he wanted to make a product and sell it. “Why don’t you grow food?” asked the professor who had led the African trip. She told him he could learn about sustainable, local economics by training as a garden crew apprentice at nearby Turner Farm, where the professor was a longtime CSA member. Gerardo excelled as a seasonal staff member and returned for a second season before heading to Denver to attain his master’s degree. He worked on a farm in Denver and continued at yet another farm in West Virginia. When the opportunity arose to come back to Turner Farm to rejoin the garden crew as its greenhouse leader, Gerardo didn’t hesitate. “When I’m asked, I always say I’m from Cincinnati because it feels like home.”
Gretchen chose to study psychology at the University of Notre Dame because of a strong desire to help others. But she was also born to run and possesses the sort of boundless energy that guided her to become a Division 1 collegiate track and cross country athlete. Her love of running led to Atlanta and the famed running shoe store Phidippides, which was started by Olympian Jeff Galloway. The desire to help others eventually led her to begin volunteering in an assisted living facility, where she saw firsthand how growing plants and working in soil can increase the richness of life. This led her to explore the possibility of a career in agriculture. She began as an apprentice at the organic farm Serenbe, the renowned community near Atlanta that has garnered the national spotlight for its unique spaces that blend homes with nature and farming. Returning to her home state to further her agricultural education, Gretchen became an apprentice at Turner Farm in 2011. She left to work on a nearby dairy farm for a year (where she also met and fell in love with her husband, Stephen), but came back to Turner Farm to join the garden crew. Gretchen is an assistant crop production manager and also runs the farm’s dairy. Her years of expertise in retail have also made her a natural fit to manage the Farm Market.
Grounds & Livestock Assistant
A native of Hamilton, Ohio, Butch grew up learning the value of working on farms owned by family members. After more than 30 years working for the Avon Corporation in Cincinnati, Butch settled into retirement. But a call from his Avon workplace buddy Raymond Vitatoe brought him out to Turner Farm, where the two work diligently to keep the farm looking beautiful while also caring for the draft horses, sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens.
While many equestrian professionals are raised on farms or around horses, Leah didn’t discover her passion for working with these highly intelligent animals until college. Warren Wilson College in Ashville, North Carolina, where Leah went to school, has a work/study requirement for all students. She was accepted as a member of the school’s Horse Crew and was taught by teamster Jim Price and two Belgian draft horses, Doc and Dan. After graduating, she worked on farms in Wisconsin and Kentucky before coming to Turner Farm in 2017 to work with our livestock and pastures team. In carrying on Turner Farm’s longstanding draft horse program, Leah is responsible for continuing the vision of the farm’s founder, Bonnie Mitsui. Like Bonnie, Leah believes draft horse power has a lot to offer the small sustainable farm movement. Not only is draft power a renewable resource fueled by sunlight rather than gasoline, but they also reproduce, expel manure which fertilizes our fields and pastures, and can be rotated around pastures to improve soil quality effectively sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow plant material.
Life isn’t always easy for an educator who loves working with children but also wants to be outdoors. For this Cincinnati native, Turner Farm has been the answer. Jamie earned her bachelors and masters degrees in Occupational Therapy from Xavier University. During the school year, Jamie works with children through Hamilton County ESC. But in the summers, Jamie can be found at Turner Farm helping dozens of children attending Turner Farm Summer Camps discover their connection to the land, plants and animals that nourish life. She has brought a wealth of educational knowledge to the summer camp programming. Jamie is passionate about helping children at camp grow in character through rewarding and meaningful work and experiences here on the farm.
As a child, Rachel developed an intense desire to understand living systems. This led to a biology degree from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. But the joy of fieldwork juxtaposed against the monotony of lab hours helped Rachel realize that she needed to be an active player, not just an observer. Agriculture seemed like an interesting place to start exploring the interplay between personal health and biology. Like many young men and women interested in exploring the possibilities of sustainable agriculture, Rachel took to WWOOFing (code for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and never looked back. Her exploration of sustainable agriculture took her to farms in Missouri, California, Virginia and her beloved home state, where she worked as a seasonal apprentice at Turner Farm in 2014. In 2016, she returned with a new skill that Turner Farm needed—organic mushroom production—and joined the garden crew with a remarkably seasoned pedigree for a farmer in her mid-20s. Here at Turner Farm, Rachel is an invaluable field worker, leader, mushroom producer and even finds time to train as a teamster with our draft horses.
Grounds & Livestock Assistant
A native of Cincinnati, Ray enlisted in the Army and served from 1966-69, which included combat service in Vietnam. When he returned to civilian life, Ray found employment in material handling at the Avon Corporation, where he worked for more than three decades. Six weeks into retirement and already bored, Ray received a phone call from a friend who worked at Turner Farm asking for his help with painting a barn. Once that project was wrapped up, Ray was asked to stick around to continue keeping the farm beautiful and to help care for its livestock. Along with his Avon work buddy and fellow Grounds and Livestock Assistant, Butch, Ray can be found mending fence, moving hay, watering animals and otherwise helping preserve the beauty and charm of Turner Farm.