City Schoolyard Garden Team

Jeanette Abi-Nader, Executive Director (

Jeanette Abi-Nader worked for a dozen years with the national food justice non-profit, the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). CFSC co-founded the National Farm to School Network and was instrumental in the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. As CFSC’s Evaluation and Training and Capacity Building Director, Jeanette utilized multiple learning strategies to support the work of hundreds of organizations and funders. She authored publications on strategic evaluation design including Whole Measures for Community Food Systems, Community Food Project Indicators of Success, and Growing Communities Curriculum.  Jeanette is the former Board Treasure for the American Community Gardening Association, Vice President of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Board of Directors, and a founding member of the Growing Food and Justice for All initiative (GFJI). GFJI is a national network focused on dismantling racism in the food system. Jeanette is an experienced farmer, having launched the first community supported agriculture project in the state of Louisiana and as Director of Farms for Frontier Natural Products Co-op. She has a Masters of Science in Sustainable Systems/Agroecology and is a certified permaculture designer and instructor.

Shannon Gaffey, Garden Educator for Teens (

Shannon joined City Schoolyard Garden in June 2018 and brings over 6 years of experience working in environmental and experiential education roles. A life-long gardener, she has worked and volunteered in small market gardens in Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico and Vermont. She holds a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont, where she also earned a certificate in Permaculture Design. After graduating, she ran environmental programming for the DREAM Program’s Vermont chapter, then moved to West Virginia to run wilderness and community-based programming for students across the eastern sea board, serving as a Resident Instructor and Course Director with The Mountain Institute. A Charlottesville native, Shannon moved back home in 2015 to work as a horticulturalist in the gardens of Monticello, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to blend her passions of gardening and education as the Garden Educator for Teens.

Jordan Johnson, Program Coordinator (

Jordan officially came on board as Program Coordinator in May 2017. He was born and raised in Rochester, NY and moved to Charlottesville in April 2017. Jordan has always been involved with planting and growing. Even on their tiny city lot growing up, his mother found a way to grow pumpkins, sunflowers, roses, and herbs. Jordan earned his masters degree in Public Administration from SUNY The College at Brockport, where the majority of his work focused on engaging the community and schools, emphasizing garden-based learning. Before leaving upstate New York, Jordan led a project to create a garden program at a day rehabilitation program for individuals with developmental disabilities. He is excited to be a part of the City Schoolyard Garden team and engage Charlottesville’s youth.

Richard Morris, Outreach Coordinator (

Richard joined City Schoolyard Garden in June of 2018. He grew up in the desert valley of Phoenix, Arizona and began an apprenticeship in the family garden sometime between learning to walk and ride a bike. He earned a degree in graphic design from Arizona State University and went on to become an instructor of design at the National Education Center. For over two decades, Richard has worked across the healthcare, education, aerospace, and financial industries as a graphic and software designer/developer and team manager. In that time, he has always maintained a garden of one sort or another. In 2005, he completed a Summer internship on the Flack Family Farm in Vermont. More recently, he comes to CSG from a ten-year stint at Polyface Farm. He has done volunteer work with local Charlottesville food equity organizations and is the author of “A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting On With My Life”. Currently, Richard lives on a few green acres with his family where he practices small-scale food production on a home foodstead.   

Shantell Bingham, Charlottesville Food Justice Network Advisor (

Shantell Bingham is the Outreach Coordinator for City Schoolyard Garden and facilitator of the Charlottesville Food Justice Network. She is a graduate from the University of Virginia’s Master in Public Health program and has a bachelor’s degree in Global Public Health. While completing her studies, Shantell built strong relationships with various communities in Charlottesville. For two years she served as a Program Director of Madison House’s Bridging the Gap, a program which mentors refugee youth. While directing this program she mentored a group of kids from Tanzania and coached a girl’s U12 outreach soccer team of immigrant and refugee kids for SOCA. Shantell received the Dalai Lama Fellowship, which awarded her funds to co-found the organization called Growing for Change, an urban garden initiative which co-designs personal gardens for citizens living in public housing and low-income areas. As a Dalai Lama Fellow, Shantell received training in ethical leadership, collaborating across differences, designing ethical systems, and mindfulness. In addition, Shantell has conducted research on community development with the University of Cape Town in South Africa where she utilized participatory methods to co-design a new community center.

Joshua Rene, Outreach Consultant (

Joshua is our new Outreach Coordinator, and he’s already diving into new projects for CSG! Joshua’s philosophy is that serving people begins with serving how they think, which he learned in his 13 years of leadership in human services. As a creative consultant, he works to bring out the best in others and their businesses, as well as point out and work towards growth opportunities. Since growth is what we do here at CSG, Joshua will fit right in. Equally comfortable in a boardroom and a classroom, with adults and with youth, Joshua will be doing vital outreach work, both by spearheading youth programs and strengthening relationships with our community partners. He is also an adjunct instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

Mary Anderson, Development Coordinator (

As of May 2017, Mary is our new Development Coordinator. She graduated from UVA with a BA in Psychology and, following a 3-month attempt at a thru-hike of the AT, spent several years working in the field of mental health. For a brief time “back home” in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern VA, and then for a few more years back in Charlottesville, she engaged youth in the home and in school before moving into parenting education and environmental stewardship.  A need for health insurance to support her roller derby habit forced Mary to spend the next decade in the for-profit world learning about project management and becoming a spreadsheet geek before finding her place with CSG.  Mary developed a green thumb through haphazard urban gardening trial and error on an extremely small but fertile lot in the city.  She is excited to see how well she fares on a larger lot with chickens, with guidance, of course, from the great teachers at CSG!

Garden Coordinator Consultants

Peter Davis, Garden Coordinator at Charlottesville High School (

City Schoolyard Garden is pleased to introduce our new Garden Coordinator at Charlottesville High School. Peter and his family settled in Charlottesville in 2009 to reclaim their Virginian roots after living in Los Angeles and Charlotte, NC for several years.  He discovered a love of gardening while tending two small tomato plants in a patio garden at their apartment in Los Angeles.  Over the years, he started several small gardens at rental properties where they lived until they decided to buy a little more land in Stony Point in 2014 to take on a bigger garden, fruit trees, and chickens.  In 2012, along with a small group of teachers and students, he began the garden at Charlottesville High School where he has taught since moving to town.  He now teaches a Garden to Market class at CHS and is most happy when he either has a shovel, hammer, or chainsaw in his hand!  Peter hopes to expand on the foundation that the high school students have gained through CSG in their elementary and middle school experiences, giving students hands-on experiences and empowering them to grow their own food.

Sarah Wayne, Garden Coordinator at Clark Elementary (, Venable Elementary (, and at Jackson-Via Elementary (

Sarah is a lover of all things related to food.  She received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a minor in Plant Biology from the University of Vermont.  During her time in Vermont, Sarah worked on various farms in the area to learn more about the local food community and farming practices.  Sarah has experience working as a Farm-to-School Coordinator in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where she worked to connect schools and farms through food and education.  As a Garden Coordinator, she strives to nurture curiosity, build relationships, and foster a connection between children and nature through exploration, experiences, and play. 

Emily Anderson, Garden Coordinator at Greenbrier Elementary (

Emily is a landscape architect by training and has experience designing and building small residential projects.  She loves getting her hands dirty weeding and making, and has especially loved plants since childhood.  She also enjoys working with the produce of the garden, whether that’s just plain eating it, or preserving it for later via fermenting or canning.  As an amateur naturalist she might just know the name of that plant, insect, or bird that you spotted, and she loves to learn about anything you know about what we see around us!  She enjoys being outside and introducing the world to her own young children and is looking forward to working with kids and volunteers in the garden. 

Rick Harden, Garden Coordinator at Johnson Elementary (

By trade, Rick Harden is a craftsman and artist with over 15 years of experience working with reclaimed and archival quality material. He specializes in wood frames, shadow boxes, birdhouses, and other custom home goods. Rick’s interest in and commitment to gardening was fostered by both his extended family and his own children. Coming from a family with a long history of farming in south Georgia, the importance and joy of being able to serve your community through the sustainable cultivation of the land was instilled in him at a young age. After moving to Charlottesville, Rick connected with gardening in a much more personal way, through his own children’s enthusiasm. Rick is excited about the value in a schoolyard garden for the community, and glad to be a part of CSG.

Hanna Davis, CSG Summer Intern (

Hanna is one of the 2018, City Schoolyard Garden summer interns. She is currently a rising 2nd– year at University of Virginia, hoping to study Public Policy. Hanna has always had a garden at her home in Earlysville, spending a large majority of her childhood sitting in the dirt eating vegetables. Throughout her life she has been inspired by her parents love of plants and the outdoors, and hopes to spread these passions to her friends and those she comes into contact with. Hanna has volunteered at Camp Holiday Trails for the past three summers, a camp which also seeks to empower youth and promote healthy living. She has further interned with Habitat for Humanity, learning more about the functions of a non-profit. Hanna is very excited to intern with City Schoolyard Garden this summer, and can’t wait to learn more and experience all City Schoolyard Garden does for city schools and the Charlottesville community.

Michael Jarosz, CSG Summer Intern (

Michael joined City Schoolyard Garden as an intern for the summer of 2018. A rising fourth year at UVA, Michael is studying Global Public Health and will begin a Master’s in Public Policy and Leadership at UVA in the fall. Although his time in gardens growing up was limited, Michael is interested in studying urban and schoolyard gardening and is interested in how the efforts implemented at CSG can be applied to other contexts. Returning from a semester studying urban design and livability in Copenhagen, Denmark, Michael hopes to work on health policy and design of urban spaces. In the meantime, Michael enjoys spending time outside as much as he can, biking, running, finding cheap (fresh) eats around Charlottesville, hammocking in his ENO, and teaching himself how to cook meals with real, fresh, whole ingredients. 

Meet our Board of Directors