Meet Our Board of Directors & Staff

Debbie Hight

Chair

Following a career in the paper business and education, Debbie joined MGA in 2011, inspired by the Kneading Conference.  While she has organized the Kneading Conference Work Study program since 2012, been a member of the Budget Committee, and then the Executive Committee, her true passion is in helping local grain economies thrive.  She believes that Maine is a wonderful place to live, Skowhegan is truly “a place to watch”, and a return to being the “bread basket of New England” and a thriving economy are the exciting goals of this amazing team of people

Richard Roberts

Vice Chair

A gardener, mechanic/ fabricator, tinkerer, and high school teacher, Richard became intrigued with the idea of a gristmill in Skowhegan and volunteered there and became a part time employee.  He attended the Kneading Conference and worked as one of the original farmers in the MGA’s Heritage Seed Restoration Project and now leads that program. He continues to research and grow out varieties of cereal grains that are adapted to Maine’s climate. He works to create a network of gardeners, growers and seed savers in a larger grain community, throughout the world.

Ann Mefford

Treasurer

When Ann moved her farm to central Maine in 2008, her interest in vibrant agricultural communities led her to attend the Kneading Conference. MGA’s commitment to viable farms, human health and soil health through grains inspired her to become a board member that year. Ann has watched MGA‘s programs and partnerships lead to more acres in sustainable grain production and grain-based businesses thriving while sourcing Maine-grown grains.  As a board member; owner/operator of One Drop Farm/Seedlings by Annie; and  chair of the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District, Ann is committed to keeping her community a place that values and seeks out its agricultural assets and local businesses featuring them.  

Amber Lambke

Secretary

A move to Skowhegan after marrying opened Amber’s eyes to the joys and challenges of rural living. Rich with outdoor recreation, u-pick orchards, contra dances and affordable farmland, rural towns like Skowhegan have also been hurt by the loss of natural resource-based jobs. Motivated to help, Amber volunteered with the Main Street program and later co-founded the first conversation about revitalizing regional grain economies at the 2007 Kneading Conference. The Conference motivated Amber to find solutions and in 2012 she launched Maine Grains, Inc., a gristmill and local food hub in a renovated jailhouse, which has inspired positive ripple effects worldwide.

Ellie Markovitch

Board of Directors

Ellie applies her passion for innovative and sustainable food practices and her unique skill set that includes visual storytelling and community engagement.  Ellie has a professional background in photojournalism and an MFA degree in Electronic Arts. Her work revolves around media and food literacy. She uses food as a starting point for conversations and community building. Ellie was born in Brazil and spent most of her childhood weekends at her grandparents’ small farm. “There was a story behind everything we did with our food – from how it was grown, harvested, cooked, and shared.”  She is excited to add her passion for building bridges between people and food to the MGA board.

Susan Cochran

Board of Directors

Susan’s love of growing food deepened when she and her husband moved to Maine in 1972 and joined the back to the land movement and MOFGA, in addition to pursuing their own academic work. Susan’s conviction about the connection between food and health and a passion for prevention of disease led her to medical school where she convinced the faculty to teach a course in nutrition. As a supporter of Amber and Albie’s initial vision of the Kneading Conference, Susan became an awed observer of the extraordinary expansion of the local grain and food economy with the multifaceted social, economic and health benefits it brings to our town and state. Susan works to connect with others through MGA’s various venues, helping to explain some of the science behind grain, nutrition and health issues.

Patti Dowse

Board of Directors

After being recruited by her husband and board member, Dusty Dowse, to help organize the annual Bread Fair, she was asked to serve as a Maine Grain Alliance Board member as well. While Patti neither bakes nor farms, she enjoys the results of both, and likes to share her enthusiasm with the rest of the eaters out there. After a lengthy career in small business as a handbag designer and manufacturer, Patti brings marketing and promotion skills to the work of the Maine Grain Alliance.

Nancy Baxter

Board of Directors

Nancy, a native of Skowhegan, believes in acting locally and globally. Volunteering in state and local events is critical to the well-being of the area and its people.  Nancy is inspired by the growth and renewed enthusiasm of the farmers and millers in the central Maine area. They bring passion and knowledge to the table along with their outstanding products!  Nancy brings a sense of community, consistency, and is a reliable and active participant in a variety of events that celebrate Maine and rural living. 

Albie Barden

Board of Directors

Albie is one of the founders of the Maine Grain Alliance and helped initiate the first Kneading Conference in 2006
Professionally, Albie is a 40 year veteran oven, cooker, and masonry heater designer, including the Tiny House
heater; and builder and the co-founder of Maine Wood Heat Company, Inc. He is also the co-founder of the
Common Ground Country Fair, the Masonry Heater Association of North America, and of Flint Corn in Maine.
Albie has been a lifetime organic gardener and is passionate about growing and preserving heirloom varieties of flint
corn.

Maeve McInnis

Board of Directors

Maeve McInnis earned a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a specialization in Food Systems from The New School in New York.  She is the Maine Course Director for Sodexo heading up the statewide initiative to increase the Maine food purchased at all Sodexo accounts in the state. She sits on the board of the Portland Food Council as a representative of business. She believes in a food system that thrives ecologically & economically and that re-integrating grains into Maine’s food system will bring balance to the farming ecosystem. She brings passion for social justice, local food systems, and the environment to the board.  The energy of the board members who are extraordinarily passionate about this work inspire her to want to achieve more, do more.

Jada Wensman

Board of Directors

Originally from Minnesota, Jada grew up in a family of cooks who inspired her to see
food as a way to connect people. From farm camps to food trucks to classrooms, she
has investigated the ways we nourish our communities and ourselves. Baking is
both a professional endeavor and a personal joy that keeps her learning every day.
Jada finds inspiration in the diversity and vitality of Maine’s food economy, not least
of all the amazing growers, millers, and bakers who make up the Maine Grain
Alliance.

She first volunteered with MGA as a work-study participant at the 2017 Kneading
Conference. Awed by the incredible talent and big hearts of everyone involved, she
has returned each year, and looks forward to supporting MGA as a member of the
board.

Caleb Buck

Board of Directors

Caleb is a 3rd generation potato farmer in Aroostook County. In 2015, he and his three brothers started The Maine Malthouse when they realized breweries and distilleries could not buy local malt. In 2019, Caleb joined the Maine Grain Alliance with a goal of further developing the local grain industry in Maine. With his background in farming and knowledge of the industry in Maine, Caleb hopes to encourage farming practices that are more sustainable for the farmers, and better for the environment.

Miles Lambke

Board of Directors

Born and raised in Skowhegan, Miles has been immersed in an environment of grain since he was only a kid, growing up around Maine Grains and the Kneading Conference. Having first experienced the MGA by slinging pizzas at the Skowhegan State Fair, he now is a lead pizza maker at the Miller’s Table. Miles is passionate about using improved grain quality to raise the bar for food quality everywhere. As a high school student, he is also interested to learn more about how grain studies can aid soil restoration as it relates to the climate crisis.

Dusty Dowse

Board of Directors

Dusty has been a lifelong advocate for Real Bread.  He presented at the first Kneading Conference and then subsequently helped found the Maine Grain Alliance.  Dusty is a recently retired professor from UMO where he earned the College Distinguished Teacher award. As a scientist, he keeps up with and shares research underlying baking and grain agriculture.  He opened a bakery out of his home and he shares what he learns as MGA’s Grain Education Director. Dusty is also the director of the Artisan Bread Fair and the Big Bake at the Common Ground Country Fair, where he is on the board of MOFGA.  As MGA continues to evolve, Dusty finds the talent and devotion of the Board members inspiring.

Ellen Mallory

Board of Directors

Ellen Mallory,  Professor and Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist with the University of Maine, conducts research and outreach on issues related to grain production, soil health, soil fertility, and climate adaptation. Since 2009, she’s been working to help Maine farmers successfully grow and sell grains for higher-value food and beverage markets, including organic. She provides one-on-one assistance, informational resources, educational events, and networking opportunities for farmers, as well as conducts research on production practices that will help them succeed. Ellen is thrilled to be part of Maine Grain Alliance’s efforts to expand Maine’s grain economy.

Jeff Dec

Board of Directors

Connecting earth to table, Jeff wears many hats- a production bread maker, cook, chef, food service director, farmer, baking instructor, and bakery owner. He serendipitously met his wife Lisa at the KC. Their Rockport based business, Brazen Baking, uses almost all Maine and regionally grown grains. With a focus on whole grain nutrition and natural leavening, their hope is to get real bread into kitchens throughout their community. Jeff brings the perspective of a small family run bakery and views every bake as an exploration of what is possible using the locally grown bounty in Maine.

Tristan Noyes

Executive Director

Raised by a farming family in northern Maine, Tristan developed an early passion for supporting agricultural communities. While a student, Tristan’s interest in organic practices led to him co-founding the Bowdoin Organic Garden. After a short spell hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, he settled in Boston and built a career in global education. Tristan’s love for education took him around the world and ultimately back to Maine, where he and his brother started Gromaine Organic Farm.  Tristan soon sought knowledge about growing local grains. Inspired by meeting the incredible members of the Maine Grain Alliance, Tristan joined the organization as its Executive Director in 2016.

Joelle Wightman

Bookkeeper

Joelle is originally from Wisconsin, and moved to Maine in 2015. With her degree in accounting, she became a public accountant and earned her CPA. She has always felt inspired by the nonprofits she worked with and was excited when the opportunity to work with Maine Grain Alliance came up. Joelle always wanted to work with an organization that would help benefit local communities, and feels like she has found that at Maine Grain Alliance.