Meet The Team
GWCARC Board Chair
Becky Gartner served as the team leader for establishing the Carver Food Enterprise Center (CFCE). She now serves as an advisor to CFEC and works in Rockingham County as an Extension Agent, Family, and Consumer Sciences, for Virginia Cooperative Extension.
Her work experiences have allowed her to focus on her specialties of food safety, nutrition, and food preservation. Her manufacturing experience includes working as a quality assurance manager in juice/beverage processing, flour milling, frozen dough products, and retail /wholesale seafood processing. Becky moved to the regulatory field by working for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation as an Environmental Health Officer in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Responsibilities included the enforcement of state and federal food regulations for seafood processing facilities and vessels, restaurants, and retail food establishments.
Becky also designed the Stone Soup Job Skills Training Program for the Carver Food Enterprise Center. She earned a BS – Housing, Interior Design and Resource Management, Home Economics Education/ Extension, and an MS – Human Nutrition and Foods from Virginia Tech.
GWCARC Board Secretary
In 2011 an invitation was sent to Virginia Tech and Virginia State agricultural leadership, county government and local Greens Industry producers inviting them to participation in a discussion and tour of what is today, The Carver Center. Organizational structure and charity status of the George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Center followed in 2014, with a facility feasibility study following shortly thereafter. Carl joins Jim Hoy and Janet Bearden as the three original founders.
Hired as the Culpeper County Agriculture Agent in 1985, Carl continues in his Extension Agent role serving clientele locally, in planning district 9 and across a number of Virginia counties with a focus on Livestock Forages. A signature program, Graze 300 VA, initiated in 2005 with a producer meeting at the Rapidan Firehall and later fully developed with Senior Extension Agent, Bobby Clark. The program continues to expand livestock producer adoption of intensive grazing management practices in VA with programming buy in by at least 30 agents and specialists.
Carl and Paula have two grown children and reside on their small farm in Madison County.
GWCARC Board Member
Patty Johnson has thirty years of engineering experience, coupled with 25 years of profit-oriented small-scale beef production.
While she and her husband raised their six children, she direct-marketed grass-fed beef through farmers' markets, online sales, on-farm sales, and through local food hubs.
She has a strong understanding of regional farming practices and a solid working knowledge of government agriculture and conservation programs. Patty is a past president of the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and was a member of a working group determining the feasibility of building a processing facility in central Virginia.
An occasional writer, she maintains a blog for beginning farmers. When not working on endless home improvement projects, she can be found running the trails in Orange and Fredericksburg.
Ruth Ann Welch, M.S., R.D.
Ruth Ann Welch has been a Registered Dietitian for nearly 50 years. She received her B.S. in Home Economics from the University of Illinois and her M.S. in Nutrition & Institution Management from Iowa State University. She has worked as a hospital dietitian, public health nutritionist, USDA nutritionist, FDA press officer, and Homeland Security communications manager. She served in the US Army Reserve in the Army Medical Specialist Corps as a Dietitian and Public Affairs Specialist for 25 years, retiring as a Colonel.
Upon retiring from the Federal Government and the military, Ruth has devoted her time to volunteering in the local and regional community. In addition to serving on several nonprofit organizations’ boards, she serves on the regional Aging Advisory Council and the Food Policy Council which works to ensure food and nutrition security through organizations such as the Rappahannock Food Pantry, Mid Atlantic Food Resilience Coalition, and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
In 2022, she joined the board of the George Washington Carver Agricultural Research Center. (GWCARC). Like George Washington Carver, Ruth graduated from Iowa State University in her hometown of Ames, Iowa. In working with the GWCARC she supports food rescue efforts in the Virginia Piedmont region.
When not volunteering Ruth’s hobbies are genetic genealogy & historical research, native plant restoration, gardening, knitting, and travel. Governor Glenn Youngkin recently appointed her to the State Historical Records Advisory Board.
She and Bryant live in rural Rappahannock County, Virginia. in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have four grown children and a “baker’s dozen” grandchildren of whom they are very proud.
David M. Jones, Managing Partner and Auditing & Accounting Partner, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Bridgewater College in 1985. David began his career in a staff accounting position with Young, Nicholas, Mills & Co. of Culpeper, Virginia, now known as The Jones Group.
David has over 30 years of accounting experience. Throughout his career he has provided accounting and financial services to individuals, commercial, non-profits, and government organizations. David is an active volunteer in the Culpeper community.
CFEC Program Director
Growing up on a small family farm in Greene, Gretchen first learned about the food industry through her father's restaurant. She moved to Asheville, NC in 2010, where she was the chief operating officer at a small business with over 90 employees. She oversaw the expansion of the business into four retail locations, a large production facility, and a new business venture over the course of a dozen years. During this time, she also earned her degree in communication from UNC Asheville, and worked in community radio.
Having recently moved back to the area, Gretchen is excited to apply her skills to a venture she is deeply passionate about- helping local folks thrive, creating more sustainable food sources, and deepening community connections.
CFEC Advisory Board
Stacey Brown has worked her entire career in the food service industry from server to management and various positions for nearly forty years. She is an instructor/proctor for ServSafe® food protection training, holds a teaching license in the Commonwealth of Virginia for Food Occupations, and has been a registered apprenticeship coordinator for cooks and bakers with the Dept. of Labor and Industry. Stacey taught Culinary Arts I &II to incarcerated youth for seventeen years.
Working in that position she found her passion for helping others using her skills in food service. Having a student being released to the area she sought out a program that could assist that individual in pursuing their interest in food preparation. This led her to the Carver Food Enterprise Center and volunteering to assist with seeing it come to fruition.
CFEC Advisory Board
Lenah is a Senior Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent serving Culpeper, Fauquier, and Rappahannock Counties. Her work focuses on food safety, food entrepreneurship, and nutrition.
From 2008 – 2022, Lenah served as a 4-H Extension agent in Fairfax and Fauquier Counties.
Prior to her work with Virginia Cooperative Extension, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru and worked as a farm hand on vegetable farms across the United States. She got her undergraduate degree from William and Mary and her Masters from Virginia Tech.
CFEC Advisory Board
Michelle Edwards is the Environmental Programs Manager for the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission, where she has worked for the past 12 years. She initiated the Commission’s efforts to promote sustainable agriculture, including the development of the region's food system plan, which is now being implemented. She also launched the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Food Policy Council (chairing it the first year) and the region’s Purely Piedmont locally-grown food marketing program.
Michelle previously worked as an Environmental Planner with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Leadership Workgroup.
CFEC Advisory Board
Joseph C. Wilkinson
Joe Wilkinson is a Managing Director at Westbourne Investment Advisors – a Registered Investment Advisory (Wealth Management) firm. Before joining Westbourne, Joe spent over 25 years in corporate finance roles, including as the head of investor relations at several prominent public companies including CSX Corporation, Nextel Communications, XM Satellite Radio, Iridium, Deltek, and Millennial Media. In these roles, Joe was the main liaison between Wall Street investors, analysts, and company management.
Joe earned a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.B.A. from the Sellinger School of Management at Loyola University Maryland. Joe and his wife, Jennifer, have 7 children and live on a farm in the Hebron Valley of Madison County, Virginia.
CFEC Advisory Board
Charles Jameson born and raised in Culpeper attended GWCRHS graduating in 1965. Graduated from VCU in May 1970 with a B.S. in Education. Drafted into the U.S. Army the same month. Vietnam Oct. 1970 - Nov.1971 Fire Direction Control ( computing data for correct Artillery Fire ). Leaving the service I returned to work with my Father in Highway Construction and remained in that field as a Project Superintendent on Federal and State Projects in Md. and Va. till retirement in 2010.
But after retirement, Charles felt boredom settling in and took the opportunity to use his free time getting involved with the Culpeper community. Along with the Carver alumni work with scholarships and the Carver 4 County Museum Charles has served with the NAACP 7058 where he was the recipient of their 2022 Activism Award. Other achievements include the 2016 Culpeper Colonel Award by the Culpeper Board of Supervisors (for citizens who have gone above and beyond the call of citizenship in service to the county) and a Who’s Who Executives designation in the Professionals National Register 2005- 2006. He was the recipient of the 2020 Scrabble School Foundation MLK Dreamkeeper Award. He is a member of the Culpeper Minutemen Chapter VASSAR and was president for the years 2020 and 2021. He is a past member of the Culpeper History Museum Board, the Carver 4-County Museum Board, Member of the George Washington Carver Agriculture Research Board, the Culpeper 4th of July Festivities Committee, a lifetime member of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), a lifetime member of the 11th Armored Cavalry, and a lifetime member of the VCU Alumni.
Charles has also been honored as Culpeper’s recipient for Aging Together’s 5 Over 50 Awardees in 2022 And the Culpeper Police Department’s Chief Jenkins Neighborhood Watch 2023 Amazing Citizen Award.
Charles is deeply fascinated by his own ancestry and also by the heritage of African Americans and their participation in the area’s military as well as in the Culpeper region. He has made it his mission to research and teach regarding African American participation in the Revolutionary Wars. He loves to go to area schools and speak to students as well as participating in Culpeper Museum of History events.
You may well have spotted Charles around the area wearing his tri-corner hat!
CFEC Advisory Board
Miriam Boateng is a dynamic Agricultural Economist and Business Development and Management Specialist, currently serving as the Promotion and Marketing Coordinator for the Agricultural Development Department in Fauquier County. Miriam blends academic expertise with practical experience to drive sustainable agricultural practices and rural development.
Her diverse background encompasses a range of specializations, including rural development, agribusiness, agritourism, marketing for small businesses, and policy advocacy dedicated to driving growth and sustainability in the agricultural sector. Her commitment to promoting sustainable practices is evident in her role as the Promotion and Marketing Coordinator, where she spearheads initiatives to enhance the local agricultural ecosystem.
Miriam's wealth of experience is evident in her significant contributions to community education and engagement, proficiency in research and grant management and assistance, and projects advancing agricultural practices.
Miriam's passion for agribusiness development and her advocacy for policy frameworks that support local farmers align seamlessly with her academic background. Her passion for fostering agribusiness development has led to the successful implementation of strategic initiatives to enhance the financial viability of farms and businesses within the agricultural supply chain. She has a solid foundation in market dynamics, economic trends, and risk management strategies.
Miriam's commitment to sustainable agriculture shines through in her strategic vision for creating thriving communities. As the Promotion and Marketing Coordinator, she endeavors to bridge the gap between local farmers and consumers, fostering a resilient and prosperous agricultural sector.
Miriam Boateng's multifaceted career reflects her dedication to advancing agricultural economics, business development, and the overall well-being of rural communities.