OUR PEOPLE :
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 has over twelve years of experience on an organic farm, and 6 years experience working with autistic adults. She was the farm and project manager for SustainAbility Farm, Orkestai’s mentor farm, for the 2013 growing season. She is currently training as a Psychoanalyst at the Institute of Expressive Analysis in Manhattan.
MAYA HORTON, Farm Educator
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!
RAISSA BAKALIS, Community Outreach
Raïssa joined Orkestai Farm during its inaugural season in 2014 as a CSA member. She has since become more involved in assisting with various aspects of Orkestai Farm, with the goal of long-term sustainability via a deep-rooted and expansive community - from local families & schools, to organizations, institutions and businesses. A graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York and Fiorello H. LaGuardia H.S. of Music & Art (the “Fame” school), Raïssa is a former Van Lier Fellow at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and brings with her diverse experiences from grassroots community organizing, non-profits (local and global), the small business sector, the corporate sector, the visual arts, and child development. Raïssa’s 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
Carmen is a consultant, translator & facilitator. In her former role, Carmen was the VP for a market research and consulting firm serving the marketing and media industry in the U.S. and Latin America. She has experience with community outreach, sales, operations, strategy, and event planning in a variety of sectors. As part of her continued interest in human ecology, she is certified in Permaculture Design, Holistic Health, and Applied Embodied Mindfulness. She has worked with diverse populations and those suffering from 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 and community and gardens as spaces of healing and change. She looks forward to continuing building relationships in the farm by sharing the healing benefits of nature, and growing food and herbs. Carmen is particularly interested in food and seed sovereignty and preservation, and in regional food sources that inspire and restore our health, environment and communities.
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
FRIENDS OF ORKESTAI FARM :
- United We Om
- HorseAbility : Center for Equine Facilitated Programs
- Sylvestor Manor Educational Farm
- SustainAbility Farm
- Peconic Land Trust
- The Planting Fields Arboretum
- Long Island Community Agriculture Network (LICAN)
- Fox Hollow Farm
- Orient Organics Farm
- ASTEP : Artists Striving to End Poverty
- North Shore Land Alliance