Charles Schembre, Program Manager
Charles is responsible for all administrative duties, strategic program development, grant management, and coordination of all farming operations. Previous to joining DFI, he worked for the Napa County Resource Conservation District managing a demonstration vineyard and orchard, and multiple agricultural resource conservation programs working with land managers and farmers to improve soil health, erosion control, and irrigation water use efficiency. Charles has worked on multiple diversified row crop farms, marketing product in farmer’s markets, CSAs, and restaurants, and has many years of experience managing vineyards, and small scale orchards in Northern California. He served in the AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards Project where he gained a passion and belief that farms can contribute to maintaining and protecting the health of watersheds through sustainable soil management and enhancing farm biodiversity.
Charles is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control and registered Soil Health Champion with the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Jill Moe, Education Program Coordinator
Jill develops and implements sustainable agriculture and food safety education programs for area growers, along with coordinating on-farm demonstration projects at DFI. She has a Master degree in environmental policy from the University of Washington, a Master certificate in sustainable agriculture from Washington State University’s global campus, and 15 years of experience in her field. Jill comes from a family with agricultural roots in the Midwest and became interested in desert farming as a US Peace Corps agroforestry volunteer in West Africa. She has worked on multiple watershed planning and regional natural resource management projects, has hands-on experience in market farming in the US and Europe, and enjoys working directly with landowners and growers. Her key interest is in helping to build a healthy local food system.
Andrew Harrington, Farm Production Manager
Andrew is in charge of all day to day operations on the farm, from seeding and planting to weed management and harvest. After receiving degrees in Environmental Studies and Sociology from Connecticut College, he developed a passion for organic farming and worked on and managed vegetable farms in New England and New York for seven years. He is excited to be joining the DFI and to experience vegetable production in an arid climate, and to develop a community in the Reno/Sparks area. He is joined by his wife Christine, an orchard manager and beekeeper by trade, and their beloved cat, Sunshine.
Tanner Petrilla, AmeriCorps Farm and Garden Assistant
Tanner works directly with Charles, Jill and Andrew to bring production, efficiency and farm fun to a new level! He studied Nutrition at Truckee Meadows Community College and is earning an Associates of Science Degree. He is in his 4th year working in the field of organic vegetable farming and his passion for soil health, community, and the epic Sierra Nevada Mountains is constantly overflowing into his daily work. Tanner also works with Farmily, a local non-profit focusing on social and emotional learning through garden education. He keeps community close to his heart, and is starting the first Young Farmer’s Coalition chapter in Nevada.
Affiliate Staff and Advisers
Greg Plotkin, American Farmland Trust
Felipe Barrios Masias, Ph.D. Horticulture and Agronomy – University of Nevada, Reno – Assistant Professor Environmental Sciences
Grant Cramer, Ph.D. Plant Physiology – University of Nevada, Reno – Professor in Molecular Biosciences
Heidi Kratsch, Ph.D. Horticulture/Plant Physiology – University of Nevada, Reno Extension – Associate Professor and State Specialist
Wendy Hanson Mazet – University of Nevada, Reno Extension – Program Officer
Gary McCuin – University of Nevada, Reno Extension – Rangeland Specialist and County Educator
Maninder Walia, Ph.D. Environment and Natural Resources – University of Nevada, Reno Extension – Assistant Professor and State Specialist
Student and Seasonal Employees
- Jose Velazquez, Student of Agricultural Sciences
- Everett Cook, Student of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
- Claire Holden, Student of Environmental Science with a focus in Preservation and Conservation
- Noelle Tegano
- Janine Gonzalez
Interns and Volunteers
- Greg Plotkin, American Farmland Trust – Volunteer extraordinaire and website advisor
- Dylan Thomas – Summer Vineyard Volunteer Intern
… and countless others who come out to help with events and work days!