Gorge Grown Staff

Gorge Grown Food Network is operated and supported by our dedicated team.

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Yvette Blanchette

Mobile Farmers Market Assistant

A native Hood River resident, Yvette is deeply attached to the natural beauty and bounty of our valley. She is passionate about the eating local movement, and believes food is medicine. Yvette spent the past 12 years working with NGO’s in the international humanitarian sector. As a certified midwife, she served vulnerable refugee populations displaced by natural and man-made disasters in Africa and SE Asia. Where she witnessed the tragic health consequences of extreme food insecurity and malnutrition. Happy to be home, she is thrilled to re-engage with her local community, and to collaborate with GGFN’s mission and ensure access to good food for everyone. In her personal time, you are likely to cross paths with her on one of the spectacular hiking trails in the Gorge.


Yeli Boots

Mercado del Valle Ambassador 

Yelitza (Yeli) Boots, plays two roles in our community one as the Bilingual Outreach Specialist for the Hood River County Library and has now joined our team to help support Mercado del Valle. Yeli has a great love for her culture and ethnic background as her mother migrated from Mexico and began working in the cherry orchards in Yakima, WA.  Yeli has built her career working with and supporting children and families from diverse backgrounds for over 12 years in the Oregon region. She believes in the process of building communities and community partnerships. Yeli loves spending her free time with her 3 children, husband, family & friends.

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Hannah Brzozowski

Veggie Rx Program Support

Hannah Brzozowski has been a registered dietitian-nutritionist for 10 years. She is currently working with Gorge Grown to deliver nutrition curriculum and Veggie Rx support. She provides 1:1 nutrition counseling through her private practice and sees patients both adult and pediatric, with Mosaic Medical FQHC. Hannah has worked with a variety of patients with focus on diabetes, disordered eating, gut sensitivities, and general healthful eating. Hannah developed and directed the VeggieRx program in Bend Oregon for 4 years with High Desert Food & Farm Alliance. Outside of work, she spends most of her free time mountain biking, skiing, growing flowers, preserving and fermenting food and having dinner parties.

Lodi Castillo

Hood River Farmers Market Assistant

Lodi joins the Gorge Grown Food Network team to support operations at the Hood River Farmers Market. In his free time, he hones his craft as a videographer and producer. 

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Melissa DeCook

Hood River Farmers Market Assistant Manager

Melissa is a Master Food Preserver with a passion for good food and good community. Her interest for local food systems was sparked during her food preservation education. Witnessing collaboration between elder food preservers and local farmers to teach people about food sovereignty had a big impact on how she viewed her own connection to food. Melissa enjoys canning and toddling around the woods with her son. 

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Hannah Ladwig

Farmers Market Operations Director

Communications & Outreach Director

WSFMA Regional Lead- Columbia Gorge

Hannah joined Gorge Grown as the 2014-2015 a JVC Northwest AmeriCorps Volunteer and became part of the year round staff after her year of service. She was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she attended Marquette University and studied International Affairs, Peace Studies and Spanish. Her work with Gorge Grown is fueled by her passion for local agriculture, food systems, entrepreneurship, community, politics and social justice. Hannah is happiest when cooking for others, hiking, swimming and woodworking.

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Maya Lux

White Salmon Farmers Market Manager

Maya joins Gorge Grown as the White Salmon Farmers Market manager for the 2023 season. She is an aspiring flower farmer, avid gardener, local food enthusiast, and community- centered gal. She is driven by her desire to increase access to local food, bring communities together, teach and learn new practices, and leave a better world for the next generation. In her free time, Maya likes to learn to cook new things from scratch, hike, walk around her neighborhood, and garden with her husband and 2 daughters. 

Gary McFarlen

Hood River Farmers Market Assistant

Gary has been a longtime supporter and volunteer of Gorge Grown Food Network. His professional career touched many different business facets and was an independent, self-employed IT professional for over 20 years. Originally from Texas, he sold flavored pecans for a local producer at the Downtown Waco Farmers Market in 2012. He and his wife, Sandy, began visiting Hood River in 2001 and frequented the Hood River Farmers Market during their trips. The two moved to Hood River in 2013. “I am very excited to support our local farmers and ranchers. Their hard work allows us to experience some of the best, healthiest bounty available anywhere. It is my privilege to be a part of GGFN to support its efforts and those of other worthwhile organizations in this area,” says Gary. 

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Joel Pelayo

Latino Outreach

Joel helps engage the Latino community in Gorge Grown programs including the Mercado del Valle (Odell Farmers Market). He serves of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Food Security Coalition. Joel has been a Community Health Worker for more than 20 years. He is co-founder of Raíces Cooperative Farm, and co-chair of the Community Advisory Committee of the regional Columbia Gorge Health Council. Joel co-facilitates trainings in diversity, equity and inclusion through The Next Door Inc.  

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Juan Reyes

Community Outreach Consultant

Juan has lived in the Gorge his whole life and has passion for serving the community he grew up in. Recently Juan has joined Gorge Grown to help grow the LatinX Community Outreach efforts. For the past 11 years Juan has served in various roles for many non-profit organizations and projects throughout the Gorge and is currently working for Hood River Valley High School as their Prevention/Graduation Specialist. In his free time Juan enjoys spending time with his 3 beautiful daughters, working on DIY projects, his art and learning new skills.


Sarah Sullivan

Executive Director

As former Executive Director of both Hawaii SEED and The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Sarah has extensive experience in movement-building, organizational management and agricultural policy. She directed the award‐winning school-garden program at Abernethy Elementary in Portland, and trains teachers in garden-based education as an adjunct Professor at Lewis & Clark College. She is a trained Permaculture designer and has dabbled in plant breeding and seed saving. Sarah believes in the power and practice of collaborative leadership.

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Alexa Wilhelm

Food Access & Systems Coordinator

Alexa has been working, researching, and learning in the food and farming realm for almost a decade. She joins the Gorge Grown team to coordinate mobile farmers markets and expand food access efforts. After getting plenty of dirt under her fingernails growing up on a farm in southern Pennsylvania, she studied food systems at Penn State and the University of New Hampshire. Her published research works focus on food value chains, small farm viability, and strategies for connecting eaters and growers. Alexa’s greatest joys include skiing, rafting, meandering bike rides, romps in the mountains, good music, and cooking and sharing food with the people she loves.