Duke Campus Farm Staff
Program Director, Duke Campus Farm
Assistant Professor of the Practice at the Duke Franklin Humanities Institute
Dr. Saskia Cornes took the helm at the Duke Campus Farm in June of 2014. She received her formal farm training on the 30-acre farm at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (known as the Farm & Garden), where she started as an apprentice and ended as an instructor. But most of her farming knowledge comes from farming alongside others – mainly with small-scale organic growers, but also with college students, chefs, and at-risk youth, including stints at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Added Value/Red Hook Community Farm, and smallholdings in India, Scotland and Spain. She has been working in and around the campus farm movement for five years, designing experiential curricula in critical food studies for Columbia University, the University of San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz and Hostos Commmunity College. Saskia recently completed a doctoral dissertation in English literature, on the culture of agriculture, at Columbia University, where she was a Mellon INCITE Fellow. When she’s not out in the field, she’s bringing the field to campus, working with departments and programs across Duke to rethink our relationship to food and to the land and people that grow it.
Assistant Program Manager
Emily supports DCF’s food production and educational programming by building connections across student, faculty and community spheres. She has been with the farm since its inception in 2010 and enjoys connecting with other campus farms to strengthen the broader movement toward developing interdisciplinary, experiential food systems spaces. When Emily isn’t busy working alongside the student farm crew or scheming DCF’s next co-curricular program, she’s probably chatting with a neighbor.
Field Education Manager
A Southern native, Leslie has built and managed farms in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, prior to moving to the Piedmont. At the DCF, she facilitates interdisciplinary studies with the farm serving as a learning lab. Each semester she educates a revolving student crew on the mechanics of small-scale, sustainable agriculture. A degree in Agronomy with a concentration of Environment Soil Science from Mississippi State University affirms her right as a self-professed, dirt nerd. A lifelong love of flowers and the natural world has propelled her towards a career she believes to be the perfect alchemy of her passions: food, plants, and people.
Meet The Student Crew
Julia Myhre, Class of 2018
Julia Myhre, is a senior working on an interdepartmental major in Environmental Policy and Cultural Anthropology at Duke. She enjoys working with people and seeing how history and culture affect how people relate to the land and the way they grow crops. Coming from a summer working in the Middle East with the herbarium in the Royal Botanic Garden in Jordan, she is excited to continue working at Duke Campus Farm to learn the practical skills of farming alongside her academics.
Emma Stein, Class of 2020
Emma Stein is a sophomore pursuing her academic goals in food studies, global health, social justice and environmental policy through a Duke University Program II. When she moved to Durham she searched for an outlet that would provide hands-on experience and recreate what she felt in her own garden this past summer. She's in love with the raw nature of the work on the farm and is now pursuing agriculture in an academic school setting and through travel.
Alex Sanchez Bressler, Class of 2018
Alex Sanchez Bressler has been working at DCF since his sophomore year. He loves sungold tomatoes and compost. He is a senior majoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University and is on the leadership team of the Duke Men's Project, a student organization advocating for gender equality and accountability on campus. Alex hopes to go to grad school for an MFA in fiction writing. In the meantime, he's glad to be a part of the wonderfully supportive community at the Duke Campus Farm.
Bhargavi Karumuri, Class of 2019
Bhargavi Karumuri is a first year Master of Environmental Management student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. She grew up in the Bay Area and graduated with her bachelor's degree in Biology/Ecology from Baylor University. She spent the year after college graduation as an environmental educator for the Youth Stewardship Program at different San Francisco parks includingAlemany Farm, a community farm in southern San Francisco. She’s excited to see what this year brings for the farm.
May Benben, Class of 2018
May Benben is a senior at Duke University, studying psychology, global health and English. She first became interested in farming growing up on a ranch in the Texas Hill country, experiencing first hand the joys of food straight from the source and the ways in which food not only stirs the imagination, but cuts across all lines to bring people together. Having joined Duke Campus Farm last summer as a student intern, May is excited to be part of the farm through its different seasons and to foster a sense of well being, health and community through the farm.
Harrison Branner, Class of 2020
Harrison Branner comes from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he spent his childhood raising bees and chickens among forested mountains and rolling cow fields. He’s studying Public Policy and Environmental Science as a Duke University 2020 undergrad. He first got involved with the Duke Campus Farm through beekeeping, and stuck around for the great community, the insight into food sustainability, and naturally the staff cut of veggies. If you see Harrison around, ask him about duck hunting, composting, or bees.
Nathalie Kauz, Class of 2018
As co-founder of Duke SWIRL, a multiracial student group, and advisor to Duke Food For Thought student organization, Nathalie emphasizes work around equity and access. Beginning Summer 2017, she has worked on collaborative projects between DCF as a community workday manager and the World Food Policy Center as a research assistant. She'll graduate this year and plans to continue learning about food’s role in creating more resilient communities—hopefully doing some cooking, growing, working for equitable policy and supporting campaigns for people she believes in.
Rachel Wall, Class of 2019
Rachel Wall is a first year Master of Public Policy student at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policywith interests in environmental policy and development, specifically regenerative agriculture and community-based development. She first started farming in 2017 while abroad in Guatemala, where she worked as a business consultant for social entrepreneurs. Through her work at Duke Campus Farm, Rachel intends to internalize best practices pertaining to small scale farming and to engage with the greater Durham community around food issues.
Sara Snyder, Class of 2018
Sara Snyder has been a stalwart of DCF's farm crew since her freshman year, joining after participating in DCF’s alternative spring break program. Now a senior, Sara has studied food security abroad with SIT Study Abroad, completed research on prison agricultural labor with the Union of Concerned Scientists and helps run Duke Food For Thought. She enjoys connecting with new people at the farm and learning skills that can’t be taught in the classroom. You can find Sara at Sunday and Thursday volunteer workdays.
Emma Bilecky, Class of 2019
Emma Lietz Bilecky is a dual degree student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke and Duke Divinity School (Master of Environmental Management, Master of Theological Studies), exploring the connections between religious belief and practice, food production, and environmentalpolicy. She's interested in how the stories we tell and the practices we adopt determine our beliefs about and capacity to care for our environment. She says that working at the Duke Campus Farm helps her to love the place where she lives, practice restoration, and connect with the human and non-human members of the community.