Dominic Barrett, Executive Director
Dominic Gibbons Barrett is the Executive Director of Shalom Farms. He was drawn to UMUMR by a lifelong passion for social justice, a desire to find equitable and sustainable ways to empower communities, and a belief in the transformative power of food. He came to Shalom Farms from Palmetto Project in Charleston, SC where he ran their statewide Youth, Families and Schools Programs and chaired South Carolina’s only immunization coalition. In addition to providing leadership on a number of local and regional food access initiatives, he served on the Governor’s Transition Council on Agriculture and Forestry and is on the board of the Virginia Food System Council where he works to develop statewide strategies to improve the food system in ways that benefit the most poor and marginalized communities. In 2010, Bread for the World recognized Dominic as one of the “the best and brightest young advocates” on issues of hunger. Other recognition include Style Weekly’s 2012 Top 40 Under 40, The Valentine’s Richmond History Maker award for social justice, and Style Weekly’s 2014 Power List. He is most proud that his “Little Brother” Devonte still wants to hang out after being paired for 4 years and that his jump shot is only slightly worse than it was 10 years ago.
Steve Miles, Farm Manager
Steve Miles is the Farm Manager for Shalom Farms. He has over ten years of horticultural experience with his primary focus being on sustainable methods of farming both in greenhouses and in the field. With a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School, he is especially passionate about the theological connections between food and faith, and he cannot imagine a job that more fully encompasses his interests. Steve and his wife Amanda have two boys, Eden and Asher, who love to dig in the dirt as much as he does. When he’s not on the farm, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, playing music that Amanda doesn’t really like, reading “good” books, and surfing the fickle waves of his beloved Outer Banks.
Sara Schmatz, Volunteer and Education Coordinator
Sara is thrilled to join the Shalom Farms community as Volunteer and Education Coordinator. She comes to Shalom after two seasons with Broadfork Farm, a small-scale, diversified, certified naturally grown farm just outside of Chesterfield’s sprawling suburbia. Sara holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre performance from VCU and once attended circus school in Vermont with hopes of becoming a trapeze artist. Her passions now lie in the rich soils of biologically managed food production, and in sharing the beauty of growing food with anyone who will listen. When she’s not on the farm, Sara can probably be found doing yoga, dreaming up new recipes to cook, and reading too many books at once.
Chad was raised in a family of farmers and gardeners and comes from a community of people deeply committed to their place on the plains of western Minnesota. He spent two seasons (2012 and 2013) at the Easy Bean CSA near Milan, MN and couldn’t be happier to find himself in a place with equally committed people at Shalom Farms. Chad has been a member of the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) since 2003, completed the Farm Beginnings Program in 2004, and has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2012. Through LSP Chad has advocated for beginning farmers in Washington D.C., spoken to members and state legislators about the importance of high quality affordable healthcare for beginning farmers, and works for the renewed viability of rural communities as places that support a high quality of life. Chad served five years in elected office, in his family’s longtime home, as a member of the Sacred Heart city council as well as county level involvement with economic development and agriculture. Chad recently finished his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Southwest Minnesota State University and is looking forward to getting to know, in all seasons, the wind in the trees, sunset painted landscape, movement of stars, and how the Virginia soil feels in his hands.
Laura Skove, Farmer in Residence 2015
Laura is a recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer who spent the last twenty-seven months in Cameroon, central Africa. She worked on programs to address malnutrition and food security, targeting women farmers and encouraging the agricultural and nutritional use of soy and a tree called moringa. Before that, she worked as a river guide for the James River Association, and for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. A Richmond native, she is thrilled to be back in her home town, and doubly thrilled to be working in close partnership with a flush toilet for the first time in over two years. Laura graduated with honors from New York University with bachelor’s degrees in history and French. In her free time, she enjoys hammocks, Shaun T fitness, pickled anything, and canoe trips.