As a seasoned leader Patricia brings to the table extensive experience in the areas of community engagement, project design, development and implementation; program marketing and promotions; budget preparation, fundraising and administration.
Prior to joining the Urban Farming Institute, Pat served as the Community Field & Literacy Coordinator for Boston Public Schools, as well as having worked as an education advocate assisting parents navigate the school selection process through the Educational Options Series. Over the years, Pat has work with numerous non-profits specializing in the areas of the arts, employment and education. Her earlier beginnings started in sales and marketing for Xerox and the Digital Equipment Corporation. She continued in sales, in the community, working for WILD 1090/ HOT 97.9 radio and WGBH. In the background Pat has worked on various projects and community engagement efforts to empower families and the community.
Mrs. Spence is the Founder Board member of “They Made It So Can I”, the 5th grade speakers series, and serves as the Vice Chair of the Boston Nature Center Sanctuary Committee.
Patricia is passionate about the environment, and as the daughter of a farmer, in her free time, she enjoys growing her own herbs and vegetables in her back yard. Pat is excited about the work ahead for UFI and looks forward to empowering the community through creating farmer entrepreneurs, increasing urban land dedicated to farming and working on urban farm related advocacy issues.
Bobby Walker III
Farm Training Manager
UFI’s energetic trainer offers more than five years of farming experience, having ran his own small scale farm and farmers market, and as the former farm manager for City Growers. By trade, Bobby has worked in construction and property management for over 15 years, and along with his love for growing, he creatively combines both trades to open opportunities for individuals passionate about farming.
As a young entrepreneur, Mr. Walker has lead several youth based programs and and ran a small scale farmers market in Lower Roxbury, teaching youth about urban agriculture and entrepreneurship. This among many other initiatives he is involved in, working with schools and universities, Bobby continues to bring young people and the community closer food and their connection to the earth, while courageously creating opportunities to learn about business and creating ones own wealth opportunity.
Nataka S. Crayton
Nataka S. Crayton-Walker, has committed her existence to the discovery and development of meaningful strategies for social, economic and food equity, particularly for communities of color. Mrs. Crayton believes that through such discovery and determination, we are able to unleash our human and innate entrepreneurial capacity to create opportunity and new industry. Mrs. Crayton-Walker has worked as an urban farmer for more than 8 years with the Village Farm, City Growers, and helped to create the Urban Farming Institute. In 2016, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, selected Mrs. Walker among other great women for the Extraordinary Women Campaign of Boston on International Women’s Day.
Her childhood dream to become a farmer, coupled with her hands in the ground gardening, led her to acquire her Master Urban Gardener Certificate from Boston Natural Areas Network, and her farming certificate from New Entry Sustainable Farming Program. Nataka S. Crayton-Walker, is working to complete her Masters in Community Economic Development.
Mrs. Crayton has developed youth programs and led several community development projects including the Bessie Barnes Memorial Garden and the Frederic Douglas Peace Park. In 2006, she was nominated for the REI Stewards for the Environment award for her dedication to her community and the environment. In her spare time, Mrs. Crayton takes her harvest to the table and chefs up vegetarian and vegan cuisine for events. She also volunteers as one of the Co-Hosts of Sisters Sewing Seeds on Drum Beat Radio, a program of the Black Community Information Center.
Tristram, in his role as Enterprise Manager, he manages production on three urban farms in Dorchester and Roxbury. After completing the Urban Farming Institute’s farmer training program, Tristram worked as the Farm Manager at City Growers LLC from 2013 to 2015. When he is not in the fields, Tristram enjoys deejaying, cooking, and wild foods.
Education & Volunteer Coordinator
Jerel, in his role as Volunteer Education Coordinator, organizes and coordinates farm-volunteer workdays for diverse urban groups throughout Metro Boston, to connect folks hands-on with fresh food, and with the labor and land that sustain us.
Jerel worked at the The Food Project for 2 years as a Youth Development Specialist for the Greater Boston Region. As founder of Hike4Life, through his nature-based enrichment programs, his love of the environment and the land, sparked his interest in urban farming. Jerel joined The Urban Farming Institute team in May of 2017. Jerel is a husband, and father of three and loves hiking, music, photography, cooking and intellectual conversation.
Linda Palmer is an experienced education and healthcare program management and training professional. She was drawn to Urban Farming Institute of Boston’s mission to build a healthier and more locally based food system, having grown up with urban family gardeners and having spent summers on family farms in North Carolina. She is an outdoor enthusiast and loves to hike.
Administrative & Marketing Assistant
A recent college graduate from Westfield State university in the communications department, Semsarah joined the Urban Farming Institute of Boston’s team in 2016. While working at UFI, Semsarah also worked with a Boston communication firm, as a social media intern, learning to create unique campaigns for individual clients. Semsarah quickly utilized what she learned from her internship and now handle’s much of UFI’s social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Semsarah also assists with office work and helps organizing UFI events and workshops.
“Being a part of the UFI team has been an amazing experience, I learn something new every day. This non-profit organization is a staple for a brighter future and I am proud to be a part of a movement for change and healthy eating within our communities and families.” (Semsarah Faustin)
Barbara Knecht, R.A.
Project Leader for Farm Site Development
Barbara has been developing urban land for public benefit for more than thirty years. Her work has included managing the design and construction of affordable housing, public space and commercial facilities. She has worked in the public and not for profit sectors and has taught and directed several university programs. Through her work, she has researched and observed urban farms across the country and around the world.
Barbara’s mother made sure she got her fingers dirty, by growing vegetables and raising animals for food, and by training her in the preparation of food for the table. Working with UFI to develop urban farms in Boston brings together her experience developing urban land with a love of all things edible. Ms. Knecht holds degrees in architecture from UC Berkeley and Columbia University, and she was a Loeb Fellow in advanced environmental studies at Harvard University.
Andy’s experience spans all three sectors of the economy and includes starting a successful business and nonprofit. He has worked on valued added agricultural economic development projects in Mozambique and Afghanistan and projects focused on community-based economic development, access to affordable health care and access to sustainably produced food for underserved, low-income communities.
Previously he was the national program director of Boston University’s InnerCity Entrepreneurs, which was contracted by the US Small Business Administration to teach its curriculum in cities throughout the United States. Prior to BU, Andy founded a successful international IT/telecom consultancy and publishing enterprise. He served as the Latin American trade representative for Massport, where he pioneered a new approach to international trade development, an account executive for Drexel Burnham Lambert and international procurement officer for Wang Computers. He earned his B.A. from Bowdoin College and M.A. from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Andy enjoys planting and gardening in his backyard.