Board of Directors

Carrie Keller—President

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?

A: Depending on the season, working in the garden or apiary with my honeybees, walking the trails with my husband and dogs, and volunteering with organizations to better our communities. I love to curl up with a good book and travel to visit family. I work out, do yoga, and occasionally paddle a river or two with friends. I am officially retired as a Speech Language Pathologist, bit I remain insatiably curious about far too many things.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: ASAP represents the ideal for individuals, families, and communities. By educating ourselves and others about local food sources (even growing some of our own) we are standing up for values that run deep in our human existence. I am excited about ASAP’s focus on how quality local foods contribute to our health—not only for plant-based nutrition, but also for the amazing variety, quality, and taste. Teaching school kids to appreciate gardens and foods grown before their eyes is invaluable, helping them see grocery store produce sections with a new perspective. Farm to table restaurants contribute to awareness in the community. And I value the work being done with the farming community to support that lifestyle and help them move in sustainable directions.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: This is a tough one for me, because I love local foods! If I am cooking, it would be a meal with Sunburst Trout and a stir fry of homegrown kale and zucchini. If it is from a restaurant, it would be the honey drizzled fried eggplant from Cúrate…or maybe Tupelo Honey‘s veggie melt. We are fortunate to have so many options! I love living here in WNC and am SO grateful for all the farms, markets, herbalists, crafters and restaurants.


Craig Mauney—Vice President

Area Specialized Extension Agent

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?  

A:  I have a small forest farm where I raise pawpaws, woodland botanicals, and shiitake mushrooms. When not working on my farm in Zirconia I am usually enjoying some outdoor activities like hiking and hunting wild plants. I enjoy weekend getaways to rural small towns and traveling in SE Asia.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A:  I was raised on a farm near Brasstown, NC, in a community called Martin’s Creek, on a beef cattle farm. My family are multi-generational from the Brasstown and Peachtree areas, and were closely aligned with the John C. Campbell Folk School. My grandfather had a store in Brasstown and was one of the first to haul vegetables to Murphy and back to help local farmers. I say this to make a point that local is of great importance to me and ASAP is the leader in promoting and understanding the local food systems to help our Appalachian farmers. I am proud to be affiliated with this fine organization helping all our local farmers.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: Cornbread and collard greens.


Julie Jensen—Secretary

Echoview Farm & Echoview Fiber Mill

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?

A: I co-own and operate Echoview Farm and Echoview Fiber Mill where we make yarn. I love waking up at the farm and going to visit my animals. We have chickens, two cows, and mules as well as a variety of fiber animals. I just love being outdoors here in our mountains, so I am outside often walking around the farm with one of my dogs.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: I was attracted to WNC because of its long association of farming, craft, and innovation. I bought a farm and learned of ASAP’s Farm Tour and went on it. ASAP and that Farm Tour jump-started my journey through the local food world. ASAP embodies so many of the things that are important to me such preserving our rural past and innovating along the way to ensure that our past is relevant. It brings together very diverse groups to create a cohesive community supporting economic development through farming, health, and education. And, last but not least, it is fun to participate in ASAP’s activities.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: My favorite dish is greasy beans fixed any and all ways, We raise them on the farm, eat as many fresh as we possibly can, and then dry them just like in the olds as leather britches. We eat them all winter long.


Amy Ager—Treasurer

Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Q: What are you up to when you are not at our board meetings?

A: I co-own and operate Hickory Nut Gap Farm and Hickory Nut Gap Meats. We raise grassfed beef and pasture-raised pork and chicken, host guests at our farm store and for agritourism activities, as well as operate an on-farm event and catering business. HNGM purchases meat from other local farmers who grow to our protocol and distributes it regionally to both restaurants and health food stores. My husband, Jamie, and I also have three wonderful children who enrich our lives every day. We enjoy taking our kids to practices and games and hiking and traveling when we aren’t at the farm.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: ASAP brings all of us farmers together with buyers both on the individual and wholesale level by putting the meaning behind the term local food. They do a great job in strengthening the connections of all aspects of the food chain and promoting farming. As a farmer, I have been a part of ASAP’s initiatives since the very beginning of their efforts and have seen the inner workings and creation of Asheville City Market, been a part of the first Local Food Guide as well a host farm for the Farm Tour for many years. This organization is a staple to our food community and their staff a bright shining light behind the mission.

Q: Whats your favorite local food dish?

Today for lunch I am having Asheville Pretzel Company siracha spice pretzel rods with Three Graces Dairy cranberry and orange farmstead cheese and it’s really good!


Duane Adams

A-B Tech, Small Business Center

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?  

A:  I’m a native of Asheville, NC. I have been with A-B Tech since 2010. I have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in various industries who look to conceptualize their business models. I am also charged with providing no cost, business-related programs for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our center offers over 100 of these programs annually. In my spare time I enjoy exercising, nutrition, and all of the things that come with being a natural bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast. I am also a certified personal fitness trainer. I also enjoy cooking and learning news ways to prepare delicious and healthy meals (yes, delicious and healthy can coexist within the same entree). I always look forward to spring and summer because there’s more time for cookouts with family (my niece and nephew) and friends, home renovations, and cultivating the lawn.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: ASAP is important to me for a number of reasons. One of the things that I neglected early in my fitness journey was educating myself on the importance of quality food, along with exercise, as part of a comprehensive wellness program. You are only as good as the fuel that you put into your body when it comes to nutrition. The ASAP mission helps to ensure that everyone has access to local food sources, meaning less processing, less chemicals, and greater affordability. I am particularly interested in the Growing Minds Farm to School Program because young people are at the mercy of their parents and guardians when it comes to their ability to select healthy food options. I feel that the sooner we discover what it means to be healthy, the sooner we can start improving our quality of life.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: I really don’t have a favorite dish. I will say that I enjoy cooking. One of my favorite places to visit would be the farmers market. Whether I’m looking for hibiscus for my planters in early spring or shopping for sweet potatoes and collard greens for the holidays, I like knowing that I am supporting our region’s food producers. Besides, everyone knows that in order to prepare a great dish, one must start with a quality product.


Francisco Castelblanco

Mountain Area Health Education Center

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?

A: I have three kids, a wife who is getting her doctorate in psych, and two dogs. I have a workshop in which I build (a lot). My current project is a pizza oven (my second).

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: I joined the ASAP board because as a cardiovascular nurse I cared for a number of individuals with heart disease. This is preventable in many instances through diet and exercise. I also witnessed some major disparities such as the incidence of heart disease is much higher for African Americans and diabetes is quickly becoming the number one health issue for Hispanics. ASAP promotes local sustainable farms and healthy eating and, through Growing Minds, has educational programming for youth.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: I love the setas (mushrooms at Cúrate) and picking blackberries in the wild.


Nilofer Couture

Cherokee Indian Hospital

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?

A: When I’m not at our board meetings, I work full time as a Clinical Nutrition Manager at Cherokee Hospital.

When I’m not at work, I’m involved with a group I helped found in Sylva called IndivisibleCommonGroundWNC. A group of us started this in 2017 to address concerns about the actions of local, state, and federal government. Our goal is to promote progressive solutions to the problems we face as a nation. We are involved with voter registration and voter outreach, especially during election time.

I’m also involved with a nonprofit in Sylva called Uncomplicated Kitchen that teaches people of any age and income to plan and prepare quick and easy nutritious meals for themselves and their family. As a dietitian I always promote home-cooked healthy meals and this organization helps me do that in my community.  I help out whenever I can and enjoy the time spent helping with a cooking class or being a sounding board for the organization. It’s grown tremendously in the last two years and I hope to see it continue to grow.

I’m an elected member of the Forest Hills town council in Cullowhee and enjoy cooking, yoga, walking my dog, and travel. I’m originally from India and have family in France, so I enjoy traveling to visit friends and family.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: ASAP aligns so well with my work professionally. I have admired ASAP for many years because of the work with schools, in particular. I believe that nutrition education should start early and be incorporated into elementary curriculum due to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in this country. I commend ASAP for working with the schools as I realize it’s not easy to bring about change.

Promoting local foods and sustainable agriculture is so important for local communities and I love how ASAP does this with their vast network of farmers, vendors, shoppers, and supporters. As a dietitian, I recognize the importance of fresh, local food and the role it plays to keep us healthy. I love how ASAP helps farmers access market opportunities and promote their farms. Close to home, Darnell Farms in Swain County is an example of how ASAP has helped farmers diversify their business using agritourism. I recently attended their strawberry festival, which was wonderful!

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: I enjoy dining at Plant which I find so unique in Asheville, but also enjoy food trucks like El Kimchi and the Indian food at Chai Pani.


Lisa C. Payne

Buncombe County Schools Nutrition Director

Q: What are you up to when you’re not at our board meetings?  

A: I work for Buncombe County Schools Nutrition Department and am proud that I lead a team of culinary professionals who work hard to ensure that we advance children through good nutrition. I currently serve as co-chair for our School Health Advisory Council, serve as adviser to our Buncombe County Schools Nutrition Association, and serve as a Guardian Ad Litem. I love spending time with my fiance, Jim, our three yorkies, and our family. I have three adult children, two whom are married to great people. I have three grandchildren, whom I adore. I have recently taken up yoga to balance work/life.

Q: Why is ASAP important to you?

A: ASAP is a wonderful organization serving Western North Carolina. I have watched this organization evolve and always been impressed by its efforts. As the administrator of BCS Nutrition Department I honor our ability to work together to offer local foods provided by local folks. Our partnership is a win-win for all. As Federal Procurement laws change I hope to work with ASAP to expand our farm to school programs. I grew up on a farm in South Carolina and this opportunity is allowing me to go home in my heart. I love the farming community and appreciate their hard work.

Q: What’s your favorite local food dish?

A: Where do I start? All of them—fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meat, honey and the list goes on. Jim and I have always been in the food business and love that Western North Carolina offers so many options. We love to cook at home and we love to eat at local restaurants supporting our talented culinary professionals and eating the local foods they serve. 

photo courtesy of BCS Communications Dept.

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