Carole Colter

Executive Director


Carole currently serves as the Executive DirectoR of Memphis Tilth and also serves as a consultant working on food systems issues related to: increasing community access to healthy local food, addressing issues of food equity, social justice, and economic disparities, as well as connecting rural and urban agriculture initiatives for sustainable food systems change.

Aside from her academic career and community work, Carole maintains a home garden with a backyard flock of chickens. “I am committed to natural and sustainable growing practices and hope to encourage my community in becoming more knowledgeable about food sources and food security through urban agriculture. I think this message starts at home.” As a Memphian and as a mother, Carole feels very strongly about public service and commitment to community. 

Melissa Dison

Operations Manager

Melissa serves as the Operations Manager of Memphis Tilth, where she focuses on implementing and overseeing Memphis Tilth’s operational systems, processes, and policies to support strong organizational reporting and planning, information flow and management, human resources, and program oversight.

Before working at Memphis Tilth, Melissa lived in the Pacific Northwest for five years working for environmental nonprofits in both Portland and Seattle. Melissa’s passion for food systems change began in Seattle while working at Tilth Alliance (formerly Seattle Tilth). Her work there inspired her for love environmental sustainability, and she is proud to bring this passion to her hometown of Memphis at our very own Tilth. Melissa holds a Bachelor in Arts in Political Science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, and is certified in Permaculture design practices.

Chris Peterson

alpha omega veterans services urban farm manager  

Christopher Peterson fell in love with agriculture during college after witnessing first hand the intersection of food, community development, and social justice in agricultural projects in Nicaragua and Argentina. After graduating from Christian Brothers University where he co-founded the campus’ first community garden, he completed his M.A. in Human Values and Global Ethics at King’s College London, focusing on the ethics of sustainable food systems.

Upon returning from London, in 2012 Christopher took the reigns of GrowMemphis as the organization’s first Executive Director. Under his leadership the organization helped to found dozens of community gardens in the greater Memphis area, and he served as Chair for both the Food Advisory Council for Memphis and Shelby County and the Tennessee Food Policy Council. He served in those positions until 2015 when he founded Loch Holland Farm, a sustainable farm in Saulsbury, TN specializing in producing high quality, pasture raised meat through managed intensive grazing. At the same time, he worked as a field hand at Tubby Creek Farm, a Certified Naturally Grown vegetable farm in Ashland, MS.

In addition to his passion for agriculture and community food systems, Christopher has taught Ethics as an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Christian Brothers University and other local colleges since 2015. He also writes and publishes on food justice, ethics, and the environment.

Jennifer Marshall

GrowMemphis Community Garden Organizer

Jennifer was introduced to gardening at home as a child and those skills manifested themselves in the cultivation of her own home garden with her husband. Living in a food desert inspired collaborative work with her neighbors in Orange Mound to purchase and farm a vacant lot, which developed into a small-scale farm and farmer's market for the neighborhood. As the Community Garden Organizer with Memphis Tilth, Jennifer is a member of the garden team and assists with garden planning and management, teaches the garden Elective for Advance Memphis Students, Assists with farmers market operations and coordination, and continued multi-site community garden maintenance.

Mary Carnes

GrowMemphis Community Garden Site Coordinator

Mary serves as the site coordinator for the garden program at our hospital institution community garden in the pinch District. after Returning from a year of teaching in France, Mary discovered an unexpected love of growing plants. Her focus, since then, has been on the growing process and how it can feed and engage individuals and communities. She has volunteered on several farms and gardens, worked as a farm assistant on two local farms and expanded her knowledge of horticulture and home gardening by working at a plant nursery. She hopes to promote the importance of urban agriculture in the city of Memphis and to teach locals how to love good food, green spaces, and the community that grows there.

Ashley Atkins 

GrowMemphis Community Garden Associate

Ashley began her professional career at GrowMemphis in 2013 as the Garden Program Manager. ashley currently helps the growmemphis program manage special community projects and grants. She also oversees a hummingbird and butterfly garden at our hospital institution site in the pinch district. Ashley has successfully developed an annual urban agricultural themed workshop series and established the first seed library in West Tennessee.

Sam Polzin

GrowMemphis Community Garden Project coordinator

Sam offers his agricultural expertise to our team as a project coordinator for the Shelby County's Greenprint for Resilience Project, with a specialized focus on the South Cypress Creek Watershed and Neighborhood Redevelopment effort. As a representative of Memphis Tilth, Sam will help the project team craft a Neighborhood Food Resilience and Lot Program Action Plan. Originally from St. Louis, Sam came to Memphis in 2013 to attend Rhodes College, where he cultivated an interest in food policy and neighborhood empowerment. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies and with a desire to further align food access with the specific human and social capital needs of individuals, families, and cultural groups. While relatively new to gardening and the growing process, Sam has rapidly honed his attention on civic projects, business models, and local institutions that promote a healthy, equitable and sustainable local food system. 

Devan Del Conte

GrowMemphis Community Garden Associate

devan Del Conte serves on our team of growmemphis community garden associates, assisting in our hospital institution community garden in the pinch District. Devan is a native Memphian who learned a love of gardening from her grandfather. Devan studied material physics at University of Memphis where she assisted on research in solar technology development. She went on to pursue graduate studies in Creative Writing, specifically socially and ecologically conscious fiction that examines the interplay between people and place. She hopes very much to one day have chickens and a goat or two in her backyard. 

Sarah Needham Taylor

GrowMemphis Community Garden Associate

Sarah Taylor is a Memphian born and raised. For the past five years, Sarah has been growing food in urban gardens and rural farms across the Mid-South. She is the former Farm Manager of Thistle and Bee, and has run the Community Table Food Bank Garden in Midtown Memphis since 2014. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Memphis, and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management at the University of Memphis. While completing her undergraduate degree, Sarah worked at ALSAC in fundraising recruitment. Sarah believes passionately in access to clean, healthy food for all, and is committed to devoting her life’s work to this mission.

Kelvin Neely

Bring It Food Hub Manager

Kelvin serves as the Food Hub Manager of the Bring It Food Hub. Kelvin is a native Memphian, with deep ties to our region’s food culture. Kelvin’s grandfather established Memphis’ famed Interstate Barbecue in 1979, where he began working at a young age to learn the family business. Although now a practicing vegetarian, Kelvin owes his love of food and his earliest business lessons to working alongside his family at Interstate Barbecue. Kelvin worked his way up in the family business, managing two Interstate Barbecue locations by college. In addition to managing two restaurant locations, Kelvin also oversaw the restaurant's shipping parcel, staff, vendor relations, and marketing for the restaurant and its brand.

Kelvin earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Memphis, studying Finance and Organizational Leadership. While studying finance in college, Kelvin balanced his time between school, working at the restaurants, and completing an internship in equity trades at Raymond James. After college, Kelvin pursued a career in municipal bonds at Carty and Company, further expanding his sales and negotiation skills. Along with Kelvin’s passion for business, he has a strong desire to create food systems change for our city, and for our region. In his words, “My goal is to one day see the ever-present problem of food access greatly diminished. I have a desire to be an intricate part of an improved community and city, that as a whole, has made me become such a proud ambassador of Memphis.”

Rob Coleman

Bring It Food Hub Direct Sales Coordinator

Rob is a proud Memphis native who graduated from Christian Brothers High School and studied biology at the University of Memphis. Rob worked for many years in retail where he discovered that he was a natural salesman, and his aptitude for working with people. Rob also worked for several years in a genetics lab studying crop carrot, the endangered Whorled Sunflower, among other plant species. He was a founding member of the University of Memphis Botany Club, where he had several opportunities to do service work around the university and the Memphis Botanic Garden.

Rob is an avid gardener, naturalist, and chef, actively maintaining a large vegetable garden and a backyard flock of chickens.

Asuka Taga Yow

Community Kitchen Coordinator

Asuka coordinates our community kitchen programming and instructs our kitchen elective courses for Advance Memphis Work Life students and food insecure communities in Memphis. Her work is made possible by the Tennessee Department of Health Project Diabetes Grant. Asuka is also a ServSafe Food Protection Manager certified instructor and proctor, which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute - Conference for Food Protection. She has an undergraduate degree from University of Memphis and a master’s degree from Michigan State.

Asuka is a native of Osaka, Japan, and is the mother of two wonderful boys. She was introduced to cooking at an early age in her mother’s kitchen where seasonal produce from their family garden was always incorporated. She is excited to share her diverse knowledge of food, with the hopes of inspiring others that the food that we grow can be turned into delicious, accessible, and healthy recipes.

Ainsley Stephens 

administrative associate

ainsley assists the memphis tilth admin team with managing grants, contracts, and program communication and marketing. Ainsley began at Memphis Tilth as an Operations Intern in February 2017. Before Bring It Food Hub joined Memphis Tilth, Ainsley regularly volunteered at the old food hub location. Ainsley was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and currently attends the University of Memphis, seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies with minors in Environmental Studies and History.  After college, she plans to study environmental law in hopes to see policies that reflect her beliefs of the importance of more sustainable practices in our communities.