Tompkins Food Future Podcast
Food is one of the most crucial components of our lives, and concerns related to farm viability, food security, public health and climate change are some of the most pressing issues facing Tompkins County. From erratic weather and aging farmers, to supply chain disruptions and increasing food insecurity, the need for a food system plan grounded in community engagement has never been greater.
We're taking a closer look at how these issues can be addressed in our region, and how people are shaping the future of our local food system. Listen to the series on Ithaca Community Radio (WRFI), or wherever you get your podcasts.
Ashley Cake was born and raised in Ithaca, and her first job was as a cashier at the Hancock St. P&C during high school. Returning to Ithaca after earning degrees in philosophy and comparative religion, she worked at a handful of local food establishments — including Gimme! Coffee, Madeline’s Restaurant, The Shop Cafe, Coltivare, Mercato Bar & Kitchen, and Bar Argos. In 2016, she opened The Watershed with her business partners; followed by The Downstairs meeting hall and venue in 2021.
Ashley currently serves on the Board of Ithaca Underground, in addition to being the President of the Board of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. She also chairs the DIA's Night Economy Committee. Ashley holds a commitment to Ithaca nightlife — and to creating thriving-wage jobs — but above all, she strives to meet ambitious service, environmental, and social justice goals every day.
Episode 2 guest Ashley Cake
Episode 1 guest Christa Núñez
Christa Núñez is the founder and Director of CAN Cooperative Media, the Learning Farm, and its non-profit sister organization Khuba International. To-date, Christa has 12 years of experience in nature and garden-based, equity-focused education. For the past 5 years, she has operated the STEAM In Nature summer camp and after school program, both located at the Learning Farm in Ithaca, NY.
Christa currently spearheads a literacy initiative called Ubuntu Library, which centers narratives of people of color and directs Quarter Acre for the People, a food justice-focused program for youth and family farming education and land governance. She also leads the implementation of the Equitable and Edible Farm School curriculum at the Ithaca City School district.
Her work centers around equity, particularly for BIPOC youth and families. Through both her for and non-profit organizations — as well as with community organizations such as Black Farmers United — Christa prioritizes increasing equitable access to food, land and nature for displaced youth and families.
6pm, January 25th and 27th on WRFI
Katie Hallas has worked in sustainable community development and food systems for 15 years as an educator, planner, grant-maker and program designer. In addition to working on farms throughout the Northeast, Katie has developed programs and curriculum as a board member of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, led the Park Foundation’s Sustainable Ithaca grant-making program, and helped launch a food co-op in New Hampshire. She's also taught in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Program at Tompkins Cortland Community College and led long-term community planning initiatives throughout Tompkins County. Katie currently serves as the coordinator for Tompkins Food Future.
Pilot episode guest Katie Hallas
Hosts and Producers:
Alexandra Ackert-Smith — Producer and Host
Alex got her start working in public media at Capital Public Radio, a California-based NPR member station. She moved to Ithaca to pursue a Master of Public Health at Cornell University, with a concentration in sustainable food systems. Alex serves on the Board of Directors for Ithaca Community Radio (WRFI), in addition to the Food Policy Council.
Max has been a food lover for his entire life, and has been studying and working in food systems and activism for over a decade in a variety of roles. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ithaca Farmers' Market, and runs sales for a regenerative hemp company called Head & Heal. When he's not nerding out over agricultural systems, Max is usually found chilling in the waterfalls, forests and meadows in and around Ithaca, playing music with his friends, or getting lost in deep research rabbit holes on the internet.
Max Buckner — Host
Support and acknowledgements: We’re grateful for the funding we receive from the Tompkins County Legislature and the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. We’d also like to thank the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County for its organizational support, and Ithaca Community Radio for helping to make this podcast possible. Our theme music is produced by Blue Dot Sessions.