Art Friedrich, President
A dedicated food activist on many fronts, Art believes food unites us across all cultures and backgrounds. He sees his passion for healthy food as a spiritual matter as well as a basic human right and need. He builds coalitions with diverse groups that show dedication to improving our health landscape.
Art is also the President of Shawnee's Greenthumb Popcorn, and has helped run sustainable farms with his mother in New Hampshire and his sisters in Massachusetts, although now he spends most of his time in Miami.
Jeannie Necessary, Market Manager
After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in Communications, Jeannie set forth to change the world. She worked in the legal technology world for 7 years utilizing skills she'd learned in college but not making the impact she desired. She started working in the non-profit world and managed a school garden initiative with The Education Fund that changed her world. From there she worked in managerial roles in various local and national non-profits where she developed a passion for gardening, cooking, and educating students and families about proper nutrition and cooking skills. Her passion led her to be nominated to become part of an international organization, Les Dames d'Escoffier, where she is the current Community Outreach Chair. You can normally find her at the Upper Eastside Farmers Market where she is slinging local fruits and vegetables.
Danny Neira, Market Manager
Having always had an interest in and years of experience with non-profits, Danny has always had a passion for working to make a difference in peoples lives. Starting in the mid-late 2000's with cultural organizations like the Miami City Ballet and Miami Theater Center, to health and wellness organizations like Feeding America and Smile Train. Although he enjoyed work in a technical capacity for all these great organizations, he always felt somewhat removed from the people being helped. With a growing hunger for local and sustainable foods he would enjoy growing up, a focus toward a greater feeling of connectedness and the well-being of the communities being served, so began the search for new opportunities that led him to UOP. He'd be happy to share some knowledge about growing & cooking good food, or maybe a yoga pose or two, at our Tropical Park and Arsht Center market.
Jessica Zendell, Market Assistant
In December of 2017, this star of our team passed away unexpectedly. We miss her dearly.
Jessica ate vegan and loved exploring new foods and amazing tastes from our diverse south florida produce! She always was smiling and happy, no matter what the situation was that she was facing- rain up to her knees, sleepless nights or super long hot days of working.
Lisa Palley, Superstar volunteer market assistant
Lisa has been a volunteer for over five years with UOP, and helped build a local food movement long before as a member of Bee Heaven Farms CSA and others. She loves to see people come and shop, and always has cooking tips to share on what to do with fun vegetables.
Ms. Shirley, dedicated volunteer fruit pusher
Your name here ___________ Sign up to volunteer!
Board of Directors- listed by length of service
YOU can join us! Send us an email introduction!
Melissa Contreras, Founder
Melissa's life has had many twists and turns, and the one constant has always been gardening. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida International University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations, Geography minor. The relationships between people, land, and food have been a major interest. She is author of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, along with Ginny Stibolt, published by University Press of Florida in 2013. Contreras Served as a USAID volunteer on an organic farm in the cool, coffee-growing mountains of northern Nicaragua, where she was a consultant for its foray into eco-agritourism while in graduate school working toward a Master's degree in Sustainable Tourism Planning and Development.
She has attended "Community Food Systems from the Ground Up" workshops at Growing Power Inc. Contreras is also an alumnus of The Center for Whole Communities. She studied organic gardening at Miami Dade College with organic farmer Andres Mejides, Miami's most experienced organic farmer (50 years in our tropical climate). Melissa is a former employee of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where she continues to teach teaches gardening classes in the Adult Education Dept. She is a Master Gardener volunteer, certified through University of Florida/Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service. She takes care of her own beautiful and productive little urban homestead, with 6 vegetable beds, fruit trees, and lots of edible landscaping.
Past members of the Board of Directors:
Stephen D. Pearson, Esq.
Ron Mossman, Ph.D.
Nancy Maidique. M.P.H.
Yuhfen Lin, Ph.D.
Clay Naughton, Esq.
Interested in joining the Board of Directors? We'd love to have you!
Contact Art Friedrich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.