Saara Nafici, Executive Director
Saara Nafici joined the Added Value team in May 2015, bringing over a decade of experience in inquiry-based, experiential environmental education with youth. She worked in garden and bicycle-based programs in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Boston before taking over the Garden Apprentice Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which she ran for seven years. Saara holds a Bachelors of Science in Conservation and Resources Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a longtime activist, feminist, bicyclist, naturalist, and youth educator.
Corey Blant, Education and Farmer’s Market Manager
Corey Blant has been working in the fields of Youth Development and Food Sovereignty for much of his adult life. In 2007, as a student at the University of Michigan, he became involved in the Prison Creative Arts project and began facilitating theater workshops at a juvenile detention facility in Detroit. There, Corey earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Brain Behavior & Cognitive Science and Latin American Studies. Corey went on to work in elementary education, teaching English to speakers of other languages and Spanish for a number of years. After graduating college, Corey moved to Managua, Nicaragua, where he managed the service-learning program for ATRAVES from 2012-2013. During his two years in Managua, he helped to create ‘El Vivero’—a community garden in Barrio William Galeano, one of the most underserved neighborhoods in the city. During this time he also became involved with Food First—The Institute for Food and Development Policy, facilitating their Oaxaca Food Sovereignty Tour as the educational liaison. He continues to travel to Oaxaca regularly with Food First and loves a good mole. Corey was born and raised in Manhattan, but now happily lives on the other side of the bridge, in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
John Ameroso, Founding Board Member and Acting Farm Manager
John Ameroso has been working in the fields of horticulture and agricultural production since 1964. He received a degree in Agronomy from the University of Georgia in 1968. From there he volunteered with the International Voluntary Services and went on to study tropical agriculture at the University of the Philippines. He then spent 4 years in South Vietnam working with agricultural projects in small scale vegetable and animal production, and established farmers buying cooperatives. In 1976, he piloted the Urban Gardening Program with Cornell Cooperative Extension, and through his efforts successfully set the ground for Extension education in urban agriculture and food production in New York City.
John served as President of the New York State Association of County Agricultural Agents (1977) and serves on the Board of Directors of three organizations – one concerned with environmental ‘greening’ issues (Neighborhood Open Space Coalition), one concerned with local food security issues (Just Food), and the other with youth development utilizing agriculture and food accessibility programs (Added Value). Two of his programs have received national recognition: Rikers Island Farm Project and The Gericke Organic Farm Education Project at Clay Pit Pond State Park in Staten Island. He is currently working with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New Farmers New Markets Program which received the “Community and Rural Development Innovator Award” from Cornell University, and the Northeast Extension Director’s Award, Honorable Mention, for the Northeast States.