Grow Dat Fellows
Head Crew Leader & Farm Fellow
T. 504 228 7982
Mike grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley. Since moving to New Orleans in 2008, he has been involved in youth development, urban agriculture, and food security projects at the local, state, and national level. At Grow Dat, Mike works with a diverse team of staff and youth to offer land-based education and youth leadership development, while envisioning and helping to build a more just and sustainable food system.
Prior to his present role, Mike worked as the Communications and Public Affairs Director for Second Harvest Food Bank, as a project manager for an urban agriculture and youth education program at Covenant House New Orleans, and as a political organizer for Environment America. He earned a Master’s degree in Geography from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College.
T. 504 616 1777
Leo Gorman earned his BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies from Tulane University in 2000. He worked for three years in Mexico and Colombia with Witness for Peace, working with partners to educate U.S. citizens about the impacts of free trade policy on civil society and the environment. He earned his MA in History at the University of New Orleans in 2009 and has co-authored several published articles and book chapters on indigenous rights, popular education and immigration. Leo taught social studies at Warren Easton High School and ran market gardens near Xavier University in New Orleans. He has interned multiple seasons on three organic vegetable farms and is thrilled to be part of a project that merges his passions for experiential education, social justice and sustainable agriculture.
T. 504 307 1200
Glenn Caston is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied mathematics at Tulane University and secondary education at Our Lady of Holy Cross College. Glenn's desire is to provide space that promotes equitable learning experiences to the young people of New Orleans. His professional roots are in the public education sector where he served as a teacher, instructional coach, data coordinator, and curriculum specialist. Working as a high school math teacher, Glenn noticed a lack of advanced opportunities for the students he served. As a result, Glenn teamed up with members of the Cowen Institute in an effort to provide advanced placement courses for the students of Algiers. Glenn has also served in the capacity of a learning team leader at Greater New Orleans Teach For America, where he provided professional development opportunities for first-year corp members. He continues his work at Grow Dat Youth Farm in the capacity of program manager.
Social Enterprise Manager
T. 917 846 7418
Clara Lyle is a native New Yorker with experience in kitchens, in classrooms, and on farms. She came to New Orleans in 2013 to teach first grade, and in her classroom, she saw firsthand the food and nutrition barriers affecting her students' success. Ready to dive into food systems, Clara spent a year working as a line cook at Cochon Restaurant while also volunteering as an Ag Apprentice at Grow Dat. In early 2015, she took off across the country with roving-restaurant Outstanding in the Field, where as the social media manager, photographer, and expeditor, she met dozens of farmers and chefs across the country. She returned home in 2016 and is thrilled to be working with Grow Dat at the intersection of her passions for local, sustainable agriculture, food justice, and education. Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a degree in Religious History and Global Health. She is an avid bicyclist and fan of groovy tunes.
Assistant Farm Manager
T. 504 913 8261
Jocine Velasco has been growing sustainably in New Orleans for five years. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Literature and decided to venture off in Montana to do conservation work shortly after. While in college and throughout her adult life, she has always volunteered at different farms and gardens because she is a firm believer that growers working side by side have the capacity for making tangible change. She is currently a founding member and organizer of a growers' alliance here in the metro area.
T. 601 260 0509
Jabari Brown is an avid outdoorsman interested in the relationship between people, the land, and other living beings. Growing up in rural Mississippi, he believes that nature, if listened to, can be our greatest teacher. Upon graduating from Jackson State University, he sought work that would unite his passions: enjoying nature and sharing his life's experiences with others. Shortly thereafter, he was selected as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Grow Dat via the Center for Public Service at Tulane University. He is a founding staff member and is an integral voice in shaping the culture of the organization. His life's motto is, "What good am I if I can't teach others what I have learned?" As Hive Coordinator, Jabari trains others in Grow Dat's models of youth leadership development and creating successful multicultural teams.
T. 850 240 3048
Kevin Connell is a teacher, farmer, and musician from Valparaiso, Florida. Starting out in education as a paraprofessional, he has taught bilingual social studies to new immigrants, ESL in Indonesia and Tanzania, special education science in New York, and adult education in New Orleans. As a novice urban farmer trying to grow vegetables with teenagers in Battery Park, Kevin discovered the power of farming as a tool for social justice education. He is happy to be back among live oaks and pelicans and to be teaching outdoors, helping the young folks of Grow Dat to question our food system and envision more just and sustainable alternatives. He holds a master’s degree from Teachers College and is a certified special education and social studies teacher.
Public Programs Coordinator
T. 504 758 2101
Asia-Vinae was born in San Jose, California, and grew up in Eunice, Louisiana. She began her career in education co-facilitating summer art classes in 2007. In 2010 she moved to New Orleans and worked with Young Audiences of Louisiana, where she taught Spoken Word to high school students and Visual Arts to Pre-K - 8th Grade students. As an artist, she worked on many murals across the city, most notably at Martin Behrman Charter School, Blackstar Books & Cafe, and Grow Dat Youth Farm. Asia-Vinae is passionate about encouraging youth to use their voices, challenging them to think critically about the world they live in, and reminding them that imagination is the step before change. Before coming to Grow Dat, Asia-Vinae interned with American Friends Service Committee and Ashé Cultural Arts Center. These organizations have served as meaningful guides to the way Asia-Vinae understands and approaches community engagement and encourages her to envision and act on a better tomorrow.
Grow Dat Fellows
Head Crew Leader & Farm Fellow
Sean Winford is 19 years old and has lived in Louisiana most of his life. Coming from a military family, Sean was born in Kreuznach, Germany, and moved to New Orleans at the age of 3. Sean was introduced to Grow Dat by his school counselor during his junior year at Carver Collegiate Academy. Sean took the opportunity to pursue a job at Grow Dat as a way to learn more about sustainable farming, better his skills in public speaking, and to become a better leader. After his first year as a crew member, Sean became an Assistant Crew Leader during the 2015-2016 program year. Now in his third year at Grow Dat, Sean is a Crew Leader and Farm Fellow. In this role, Sean helps lead young people through the fall and spring leadership programs. In the future, Sean plans to travel overseas to Europe to study naturopathic medicine.