Lara Lepionka, Backyard Growers Founder & Director
Mailing address: 9 Beacon Street, Gloucester, MA 01930
Lara Lepionka is the Founder and Director of Backyard Growers. She started Backyard Growers in 2010 with a $6,000 budget, serving a handful of families in her neighborhood. She has developed Backyard Growers into a non-profit organization with an annual operating budget of over $100,000, serving the Gloucester district schools, community organizations and groups, and over 125 low- to moderate-income families.
Lara and her family own and operate the Beacon Street Farm, an urban farm in the heart of downtown Gloucester. The farm serves as a model for urban farming for the community, feeds their family of four, and provides extra produce to sell to area restaurants. Lara grew up in Rockport and returned to the area in 2002 after living in New York and Chicago for many years receiving a master’s degree and pursuing a career in the arts. Prior to Backyard Growers Lara worked as an independent grant writer, non-profit administrator, and as a community-based artist.
Meghan Stratton, 2014-2015 FoodCorps Service Member
Meghan is a native of Syracuse, NY, and a recent graduate of Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY. As a student, she designed an Environmental Studies specialization focused on sustainable food advocacy, and became involved in the good food movement on campus and in the community. On campus, she helped build a university farm, volunteered at the student-run food cooperative, and worked with the Student Culinary Council, a student-administration partnership, to promote local food sourcing.
As the coordinator of a project to develop a community grocery store in Binghamton, NY, she saw firsthand the effects of the lack of food access and became committed to bridging these gaps with local food networks. This experience followed by a year focused almost exclusively on food justice and sustainable agriculture cemented her commitment to using food, gardening, and farming to promote health, justice, and sustainability.
As Backyard Growers’ new Food Corps Service member, Meghan will be working with kids from pre-K through high school on gardening, cooking, and learning about food.
Thank you for your year of service!
Anna Swanson, 2013-2014 FoodCorps Service Member