FARMS OF AMADOR STAFF

Andrea Macon, Executive Director

Andrea’s love of all things agricultural began while growing up on a small cattle ranch in Central Oregon. Between local food cultivation, preserving, bartering, and hunting, her family was keenly aware of how their food was raised and sourced. This included freshly caught tuna from the Oregon Coast that they canned; their local farm fresh beef, pork, milk, butter, eggs, and chicken; venison and elk; and home canned fruits and vegetables from the wide array of Oregon producers.

Andrea moved to Amador County in 1994 and while commuting daily to her Mail Boxes Etc. store in Sacramento, also served on the Board of Directors with the Lockwood Fire Department for twelve years. Once her kids started kindergarten, she sold her business in Sacramento and went to work at a (then) small IT start-up – EDEX Information Systems, Inc. The community focus of EDEX allowed her to also invest her time as a volunteer with the Sutter Creek Parent Teacher association while her twin boys were in school and continue to volunteer throughout her community.

Her goal to create a sustainable, diverse food oasis within Amador led her to the Farms of Amador and continues to fuel her passion towards public food awareness. Additionally, she started the Amador Tableware Share program that loans up to 200 glass place settings to anyone who wants to avoid generating plastic or paper waste when entertaining or holding fundraisers.

https://facebook.com/AmadorTablewareShare

Andrew Gardner, Director

Andrew has been a resident of Amador county since 2014. An educator of 20 years, he currently serves as the Career and Technical Education Coordinator for the Amador Unified School District.

He is a strong advocate for agricultural education in our schools and has been a partner in the development of many school garden and farm projects across the Mother Lode region.

He and his wife Amber are committed to biodynamic growing and sustainable farm management practices on their property they refer to as Amberchella Farm. They have two amazing children that both attend Amador county schools.

 

Mel Welsh, Director

Mel is a native of Wisconsin and comes from a multigenerational family of Mennonite farmers. She spent over a decade raising corn and alfalfa hay to feed to her horses, cows, goats, sheep and pigs all while working as a Registered Nurse.

Mel and her husband moved to Amador County for work in the medical field and to live in the beautiful Sierra Foothills. They raised their daughter here who is also an RN. Mel continued as an RN in various roles in the community until retirement in 2016.

She has been involved in local politics, volunteering on boards and community non-profits. She helped start the Foothill Conservancy in 1989. She fulfills her need to ‘farm’ with many gardens at their home on Pine Grove. She has been a trail runner for over 4 decades and can never get too much of nature and being outside!

Daniel D’Agostini, Director

Daniel D’Agostini is a long-time member of the community living in the Shenandoah Valley house he was raised in and built by his father. He states, “I am privileged to be the steward over land I have known and loved since birth.”

For thirty-one years he taught in California public schools. Recognized for creating innovative educational experiences he was honored by being named the 2013 UC Davis School of Education Distinguished Alumnus.

Concurrent with his education profession Daniel’s photographic career, commercial and personal, spans over forty years with numerous published works, fine art exhibitions, books, and commissions from The Nature Conservancy and Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Council.

In 2010, he founded Abbondanza, a sanctuary for exploring mindful farming and gardening with a mission to inform and inspire regenerative farming approaches leaning strongly into Biodynamic methods to encourage healthy eating and manifest mindful living through our actions. Since 2016, hundreds of youth of all ages have visited and experienced his gardens, chickens, and bees through the Farms of Amador School farm visits.

https://abbondanzafarms.com/
https://facebook.com/AbbondanzaFarmAmador
https://instagram.com/abbondanzafarms/

Ron Antone, Director

Ron Antone

The antique flower cart has been a popular fixture at the Amador County Farmers’ Markets since 2014 – when Ron retired from his lifelong work in the entertainment industry. Over a 50-year span, Ron worked as a professional set builder, technical director, and production stage manager and designer in New York and Los Angeles. As much as he enjoyed the artistic collaboration process, after 50 years, it was time for something new. Ron and his wife, Deborah, settled into a 2.5-acre lavender farm in Mount Aukum that they discovered while visiting their daughter in Sacramento.

Over the last 9 years, Ron has become actively involved in the Amador County community of small farms and ranches that sell products at the local farmers’ markets. Ron initiated the Farms of Amador School Farm Tour program and formed the Foothill Flower Co-op.

In addition, he continues to pursue his drawing and oil painting. A collection of his charcoal drawings was presented in a solo show at 3 Fish Studio in Amador City in 2023.

https://SouthRiverLavender.com

Susan Bragstad, Director

Susan Bragstad

Susan is a Berkeley graduate, retired architect, and the current vice mayor of Amador City. She established Amador Olive Oil, a 400-tree olive farm, and sells her Olive Oil products at the Amador Farmers Market.

Notably, Susan is also one of the original founders of the Amador Farmers Market and has been in attendance every week since it started (yes, that’s 30 years!!)

In addition to her central role in the AFM and the Farms of Amador over the years, Susan has been a pillar of the community in so many ways. She served as the mayor of Amador City for 3 terms and is the current Vice Mayor. Susan is a founder and director of the Mother Lode Land Trust, Foothill Conservancy, and Kennedy Mine Foundation – local organizations focusing on land stewardship and natural resource protection. “When you start something, you should stay with it, and make sure it thrives.”
Susan loves Amador County for its beautiful countryside and historic towns. She is inspired by the way the market has evolved since its origin, and how the community’s interest and support for local agriculture and small farms has grown and flourished.

Dr. Kelsi Williams-Karschner, Director

Kelsi Williams-Karschner

Kelsi was born and raised in Jackson, California and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology (UC Davis), a Masters in Cross-Cultural Education (National University) and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership (City University of Seattle). With a deep sense of commitment to the community, she has spent her career in science education and many years as a volunteer for organizations that promote and support the sustainability of the local lands and economy. She and her family live outside of Jackson where they raise and enjoy the company of many critters including chickens, dairy goats, dairy cattle, and rabbits. Kelsi brings not only a breadth of experience to the board, but also a desire to steward Amador County into a viable future.

Lori Jagoda, Director

Lori Jagoda

Born and raised in Michigan, Lori moved to San Leandro, California in 1981. She has lived in Pine Grove since 1984 where she and her husband built a log house, worked, and raised their two daughters.  Lori’s mom was a vegetable gardener and Lori can remember picking green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and (her favorite) acorn squash! 

Lori has been an RN/PHN for over 40 years and has worked in several settings with public health/community health her favorite.  She earned her Masters Degree in Healthcare Leadership at UC Davis in 2013 from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.   Although primarily retired since 2018, she returned to Amador County Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains as an extra help PHN doing special projects when asked. 

Lori completed the Master Gardener training program in 2019 and is active with Public Education classes, Farmers Markets, and a member of the Advisory Board.  Working with children has been a favorite activity as a Master Garden and she is one of two Master Gardeners that are coordinating volunteer MG mentors for the Farms of Amador School Garden Grants.  Her relationships with other groups and organizations within the county have helped foster this program which continues to evolve and grow each year. 

She has served on the board of Operation Care, volunteered at the Interfaith Food Bank, organized Breathe Deep Amador 5K Walk/Fun Runs to raise funds for lung cancer research, and has been active with many other volunteer organizations throughout her years in Amador County.

Lori lives in Pine Grove with her golden retriever Bella who keeps her active outdoors.  She enjoys amateur photography, hiking, snowshoeing, travel, volunteer work, and spending time with her family and friends.