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Having been born and raised in Seattle, Learner has called Orcas Island home since 2001. Learner’s primary focus is transforming the food system and creating a just economy based around the cooperative principles and values. In addition to managing the Orcas Food Co-op, Learner is actively involved in farming, food and agriculture advocacy, and a variety of community organizing and non-profit work.
After graduating from Orcas Island High School in 2003, Learner spent much of his twenties farming and working to advance local food and sustainability in the islands. From 2006-2013 Learner managed a small off-grid homestead where people came to learn land-based skills including raising dairy goats, growing vegetables and herbs, seed-saving, wild-crafting, utilizing renewable energy, and much more.
In 2013 Learner put together a team to spearhead and launch the Orcas Food Co-op, opening the co-op’s doors in June of 2014, one year after the first steering committee meeting. Learner currently serves as the Chair of the Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) of San Juan County, a committee established in 2005 for the purpose of protecting and restoring the agricultural resources of San Juan County.
DeWayne is new to Orcas Island and has an incredible four year old daughter. He received an associate degree in 2013 for neuromuscular therapy and has been studying permaculture and building cob homes for the last five years in Oregon and Northern California. He believes the Co-op brings the best qualities of an incredible community to the forefront and creates space and opportunities to shares those qualities with each other.
Drawn by the strong sense of community and undisputed beauty of the San Juans, Natalie and her partner, Nik Schulz, moved to Orcas Island from West Sonoma County, CA in early 2016.
Regina is a believer in the power of good food and community to keep us strong and healthy.
With a diverse background in finance, nutrition, yoga and massage, teaching, and small-business ownership; Regina is equally at home book keeping as teaching a class about the joys & benefits of fermenting!
She first discovered the benefits of local organic food and the importance of eating healthy fats (like butter!) more than 15 years ago, after reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This set her on the path to learning and teaching about making healthy food choices and how the food we eat impacts our health, overall vitality, well-being and happiness, as well as the health of the planet.
Regina loves working at the Co-op so she can share her knowledge and passion for local organic food with her community while helping our local economy grow and thrive.
Chelsea has worked, learned, and volunteered as a farmer, artist, educator and goat herder for the last ten years or so, moving with constant curiosity and a determination to co-create a just and healthy future for the Earth and its peoples. Chelsea believes in the transformative power of cooperatives as a holistic model to heal and realign communities with their food, fellow beings and environment, and she feels grateful to have the opportunity to serve at this exciting time in the Orcas Food Co-op’s history. She is very passionate about creating supportive and sustainable community resources.
Sue and her husband, Steve Bernheim, moved to the island from the Seattle area about the same time the food co-op was open for business. She has been passionate about staying environmentally-engaged for a long time and has tried to be a helpful advocate for locally sourced food and other basic needs. In her previous life, Sue was the operations manager in Asia and India for a software company back when software was a tangible product, helping to create an array of developer products locally.
Mary has been fortunate to live, work, and raise two sons on Orcas Island, where she and her husband built their own home in the 1980’s and have lived ever since. After working many years in the Orcas Public Schools, she is enjoying having more time to contribute to the community in other ways. She is co-chair of the Environmental Action Team of the Orcas Women’s Coalition, and volunteers on restoration projects with the San Juan County Land Bank. She also manages the business side of her husband’s custom metal work business and understands the unique challenges of running an independent business in a small community.
Tony Grosinger moved to Orcas Island in the summer of 2018 with goals of reducing his footprint , growing food, and building community. Tony previously served on the board of the NE Seattle Tool Library where he focused on growth and teaching. He is very passionate about creating supportive and sustainable community resources.
Lesley arrived on Orcas in 1977, an impoverished artist looking for a peaceful rural island life. Shortly thereafter, she became a founding member of both the Olga Artworks Cooperative Gallery and the Olga Symphony. She is currently an active member of the Actors Theater and volunteers at Orcas Center. She loves gardening and training dogs and became a certified service dog trainer in 2010.
Caitlin believes nourishing food and regenerative farming can act as mechanisms of progressive social change, and has been acting on this conviction as an activist-farmer for over a decade. She is an anchor farmer in the Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture project, serves as the Outreach Chair for the San Juan County Agricultural Resources Committee, sits on the Steering Committee of the Orcas Women’s Coalition, and operates her Eastsound-based edible landscaping company.
Bredin has worked at the Orcas Food Coop since 2016, starting out in the grocery department and joining the produce department in fall of 2017. Before that she led many lives, working for a decade as an editor in NYC, where she became involved in the local food movement. She was a member of the infamous Park Slope Food Co-op and of the Astoria CSA, in which she was involved as an organizer and helped develop their subsidized share program, making organic, local produce accessible to more diverse members of the community.
After heading west in 2012 to pursue more work and study as an herbalist, she lived on Waldron Island for 3 years, growing and foraging her own food, living off-grid (without refrigeration or running water), and working on a local farm, Blue Moon Produce.
As an herbalist, Kristy has studied with Robin Rose Bennet in New York, studied clinical herbalism with Chanchal Cabrera in BC, and has studied and worked with local herbalist Ryan Drum for the past several years. She teaches on Orcas and in the region about seaweeds and wild foods and plant medicines of the islands. In 2017 she founded an Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship Program on Orcas, a unique field-based opportunity for local and regional students, featuring classes and retreats with Ryan Drum.
Since 2013 she has been sharing plant remedies of the northwest through her business Mermaid Botanicals and is currently inheriting Ryan Drum’s Island Herbs offerings, one of the country’s few purveyors of excellent quality, wildcrafted herbs.
As Produce Manager at the Orcas Food Co-op since fall 2018, she has prioritized local produce buying and launched the Eat Local Challenge, to help support the health of our community and to continue the Co-ops mission of working toward a sustainable future in the islands. A classically trained pianist and yoga enthusiast, Kristy enjoys these activities in her free time as well as swimming in the Salish Sea regularly (without a wetsuit!).