Meet Our Team
Laura Schwartz – Executive Director and Farmer?
I freely admit I am not a farmer. I do have over 30 years of experience in business, quality systems, wellness, and customer experience. I am not afraid of hard work and getting dirty. I have always loved planting things and watching them grow. I have not always been successful but have been gardening with my parents since I was young. What brought me to this point is seeing a need and brainstorming a way to meet that need. There are many brilliant minds that have come before me that I will use as mentors – Eliot Coleman, Lynn Bycznski, Jean-Martin Fortier and Russ Finch. They have done all the heavy lifting and it is up to me to read and practice the knowledge they have shared. There are many experts right here in our own back yard all I must do is listen to them and follow their methods. That is what I plan to do with the Papillion Urban Garden – it is truly “grassroots” literally from the dirt up operation. But it is a labor of love and need for my community. Soon you will find me in my “Mr. Green Jeans” (those of you who were born back in the 60s will understand) outfit, straw hat and covered from head to toe in dirt and compost growing food for those in need. Stop on by and lend a hand if you want.
Joe Hunter- Assistant Director
I never thought I would be a farmer. As a kid growing up, I always enjoyed the concept of tractors and playing in the dirt (what kid doesn’t?), but I never thought of it as a career. Yet now that the Papillion Urban Garden project is becoming a reality, it has become something that I am passionate about. Coming from an Italian family, you learn quickly that food is the best way to show you care. This project is no different. There is no better way to give back to those in need, provide an opportunity to bring the community together, and open avenues for all age groups to get involved than with this market farm.
Olivia Watson- Marketing Specialist
I am currently a senior at UNO working towards a degree in Journalism and Media Communications with a emphasis in advertising and public relations. I was fascinated by this idea of an Urban Garden and am glad I could be a part of it! I am excited to watch this Urban Garden grow and maybe learn a little bit about farming too!
From left to right: Andrea Walker(PayPal), Sam Neal(Sampson Construction), Tyler Albers(Cornhusker Bank), David Ciavarella(DLR Group), Philip Green (City of Papillion).
Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2021
The Leadership Sarpy program is designed to develop business leaders and get them engaged within Sarpy County. Each class is made up of small groups tasked with creating a Legacy Project. Our team of five realized that during this global pandemic, poverty is rising and food pantries are overwhelmed and unable to keep up with fresh produce requests. Our original idea was to address the issues of food insecurity and nutrition awareness by establishing a community garden. By aligning our Legacy Project with the Papillion Urban Garden we hope to help shape the vision and get into operation a sustainable program Sarpy County residents will benefit from long after our time as a Leadership Sarpy group has passed.
Papillion Community Foundation Board of Directors
The Board of Directors at the Papillion Community Foundation is a dynamic group of leaders in the community. The group is incredibly diverse. The one thing that they all agree on is that meeting the mission of the Papillion Urban Garden is their top priority.