ALETHEA VASILAS, Executive Director
Alethea incorporates her background in dance, somatic therapeutic exploration, cultural anthropology, and organic farming into the cultivation of vegetables and new relational kinesthetic possibilities that come about at the interface of agriculture and neurodiversity. She holds a B.A. in Africana Studies from Brown University, an M.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University, and certification in Biodynamics, Permaculture Design, and Developmental Somatic Psychotherapy. She is currently training as a Psychoanalyst at the Institute of Expressive Analysis in Manhattan.
Farm Educator, Design and Events Coordinator
Maya is a garden educator and visual artist with a BA in Sociology from SUNY Geneseo. She has worked creatively and educationally with individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and abilities for over 8 years. Maya recently completed an art residency at the Stony Point Center in the Hudson Valley, following several years teaching abroad and at a semester school in Northern California’s Sierras, where she developed skills in biointensive farming and assistant taught Farm-to-Table class at a high school level. Maya has always been drawn to working with people in a way that affirms their voice and sense of potential, and gravitates towards points of connection and integration between the arts, sustainability, education, and person-oriented empowerment. She is excited to join the team at Orkestai Farm this summer!
Assistant Director, Logistics and Outreach
Raïssa joined Orkestai Farm during its inaugural season in 2014 as a CSA member. She cultivates the farm's long-term sustainability via a deep-rooted and expansive community network- from local families & schools, to organizations, institutions and businesses. She co-developed the children's program - FarmPlay! - with Carmen. Raïssa merges her diverse studies and experiences from the arts, anthropology, grassroots community organizing, non-profits, the business sectors, and child care. Her tapestry of experience is also woven from her personal background - she is a native of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and grew-up in the Bronx, NYC. Raissa enjoys quality time at Orkestai Farm with her veggie-loving family.
CARMEN CASTRO, Farm Educator and Stewardship
Carmen is a facilitator & consultant. In her former role, Carmen was the VP for a market research and consulting firm. She has worked with diverse populations and those affected by stress and trauma. Visits to her grandparents’ farm in her youth anchor her connection to the earth and drive her interest in (re)connecting people to nature, community and gardens as spaces of healing and change. As part of her continued interest in human ecology, she explores the relationship of humans and their environments thru permaculture, holistic health, and Embodied Mindfulness. She is also interested in food & seed sovereignty and preservation, and in regional food sources that inspire and restore our health, environment and communities. She looks forward to continuing building relationships by sharing the healing benefits of nature, and growing food and herbs at the Farm and thru her own work cultivating spaces for repose & contemplation.
PETER VASILAS, Organic Ag Consultant
Hats off to our hardworking ag consultant! Peter is a very social man who speaks with everyone. He also speaks through his plants. When he first started dreaming about farming he used to ask anyone he met: “Do you have any extra land on which you would like me to cultivate vegetables for you?”. And so he grew friends, and vegetables, and finally Orient Organics Farm which is located on the East End in Orient Point, NY. Prior to becoming an organic farmer, Peter was a contractor and builder of many things. He is a jack of all trades; an essential quality in a farmer. When he is not in the field you can find him fishing.
JOSEPH MURPHY, Farm Production Assistant
Joseph recently graduated from Hofstra University with a BS in Sustainability Studies with a minor in Geology and Community Health. He started and maintained Hofstra's student-run vegetable garden and organized numerous events with the neighboring daycare center. He has also worked as a conservation steward, is a classically trained beekeeper, and spends time as a solar panel installation tech. He is excited to be on a farm that utilizes the arts as a tool to bring people together.
BOARD of DIRECTORS
Alethea Vasilas, MA : Executive Director, Orkestai Farm
Patti Edwards, M.Ed. Special Ed/Counseling Ed : Transition Coordinator, The Brookville Center for Children's Services
Abby Gerdts : Co-founder and former Program Director of ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty)
Joshua Marcus, MFA : writer, editor, and ecological sustainability consultant