Grace Oedel, Director
Grace Oedel has worked for years at the intersection of permaculture, farming, and education. She first got her taste of food justice while farm managing at the Yale Sustainable Food Project during college. She fell in love with the work of farming, about both social and environmental justice, intellectual and intensely physical. She lived and worked for several years at the Woolman Semester, a residential high school focused on peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability. There she taught a Peace Studies Course and built a new Farm-to-Table program. She was certified as a Permaculture Designer at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and later obtained a Permaculture Teaching Certificate at the Esalen Institute. After moving back to the East Coast, she did advocacy and education work for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and began to miss working with inspiring high school students. In the Pioneer Valley she ran sustainable living skill-building programs for high schoolers, facilitated girls' empowerment groups, and cultivated a permaculture farmstead with her husband Jacob Holzberg-Pill. She now serves as the Executive Director of a progressive, inclusive synagogue called Ohavi Zedek, which means 'lovers of justice.'
Juna Rosales Muller, Assistant Director
Juna Rosales Muller is an experiential educator, social practice artist, and farmer. She first became interested in agriculture when she helped create a farm on campus while an undergraduate at Colorado College. She studied Political Ecology, built on the premise that all ecological management decisions are inherently political ones. Juna worked at both Farm and Wilderness and Camp Unalayee, where she fell in love with camp, community building, and outdoor adventure. She then went to work at the Woolman Semester, where she met Grace and Jacob! After teaching at Woolman for a year, Juna spent two years farming and homesteading on the Umpqua River in the Oregon woods, which thoroughly cemented her lifelong obsession with DIY skills. After this, she had the opportunity to work on the documentary and social action campaign Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields, which tells the story of the growing number of veterans transitioning out of the military into organic farming. For the last few years she has focused her work on the social aspects of permaculture through her work as a social practice artist and her project Mending Patriotism. Through quilting with clothing cast off by migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, Mending Patriotism explores themes of inclusion, identity, nationalism, "women's work", and community. Leading collaborative workshops in the tradition of American quilting bees (one of which will happen during the Spiral program!), Juna helps people engage on a human scale with the issue of migration. In addition to her art, Juna works as a garden-based educator and wilderness leader in public elementary schools, teaches yoga, and staffs an organic citrus orchard.
Jacob Holzberg-Pill, Permaculture Director
Jacob has taught agroecology for the last fourteen years. He holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard School of Education and an M.F. in Forest Ecosystem Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He taught wilderness awareness at the Vermont Wilderness School, led agroecology and service learning experiences in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Israel, and taught Environmental Science and Permaculture at the Woolman Semester in Northern California for several years. During that time he received a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship to lead a major forest management project with high school students. After deciding he wanted to return home to the East Coast, Jacob served as the first faculty hired to begin a new Sustainable Agriculture program at Kennebec Valley Community College in Maine. After moving back to the Pioneer Valley, Jacob taught Environmental Science at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School. Lately he has been enjoying working to perfect his flourless chocolate cake recipe and tracking porcupines in the snow.
We all need mentors in the life-stage ahead of us to help inspire us to become our best selves. Spiral connects high school women with mentors recently graduated from college. All the participants will be in a small group (3-5 girls) that are mentored by one in-or just-out-of-college aged woman. These groups will work on the farm together, do chores together, cook meals together, and generally take care of each other. We find these mentor relationships offer some of the most meaningful connection and growth in the whole learning experience.