2023 Aspiring Farmer Fellows – Cohort Seven
Offering a truthful, empathetic, and genuinely thoughtful experience will always be my top priority,” says Amarah Wright, a Black Trans woman and advocate for the elevation of Black, and queer communities in Omaha, NE. Amarah joins Cohort 7 of “Big Muddy Urban Farms” as a Resident Farmer. With roots established in the heart of North East Omaha within the quaint neighborhood of Gifford Park, Amarah must be synonymous with having an open and collaborative heart. Inspired and motivated by the trailblazing developments being established within the North Omaha area; Amarah has branched out and established a past in freelance writing, jewelry making and within the field of holistic health and wellness. As she currently studies clinical herbalism at the Four Winds Natural Healing Center, Amarah also works as a Barista and Plant Care Specialist at the Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse. Moving forward, with the intention of creating a nursery based apothecary, Amarah is extremely excited to learn about greenhouse etiquette, the experience of seasonal shifting within the world of agriculture, and stepping into the role of Black Trans Female Farmer that also happens to be a holistic health specialist. Amarah’s vision revolves around empowering others to live lives worthy of living. “This is the season to create conscientious habits and to actualize potential that will make our future selves proud. With communication, thoughtful contribution and diligence we can MAKE AN IMPACT, one even more powerful than our intentions.”
James Keeley joins Big Muddy Urban Farm as a 2023 resident farmer. Born and raised in Omaha, he has recently returned after a few years traveling. James graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in English Literature– afterwards he spent two seasons in California working on an organic market garden. Following that he was able to spend some time working on sustenance farms in Ireland and France. As a fellow with the Center for Rural Affairs he is currently planning conservation projects to implement in different urban gardens in Omaha. James is stoked on the hodgepodge of interesting people he will meet this year and all of the skills and experience that he will gain over the term of the season. He loves books and walks in the woods.
Joseph Benson joins the Big Muddy Urban Farm in 2023 as an Aspiring Farmer in the 7th Resident Cohort. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Joe has worked in many fields including automotive repair, videography, music promotion, and vinyl record sales. Joe worked at an Omaha based non-profit that focuses on land stewardship. There, Joe tended to the birds, worked the landscape repairing structures such as cold frame greenhouses, chicken coops, building raised beds, terracing projects, water capture structures, and many more. From 2016-2018, Joe led Tibetan Monks on a tour across the United States, starting from Long Beach to New York City and back. This tour raised funds for the operation of the Monastery in Mundgod, India. Currently, Joe works part time as a teacher assistant for special education at Loveland Elementary. On February 18th and 19th, 2023, Joe will be hosted at Rappcats for a Record Collection Pop-up in Los Angeles, California. Joe hopes to gain knowledge on new concepts of regenerative agricultural practices as well as conservation techniques during his season at Big Muddy Urban Farm. These skills will shape Joe’s future adventures across the US and beyond, as Joe plans to nurture his love for travel, learning about other cultures, and sharing music with others. In his free time, you will find Joe skimming through record shops, hosting record sales at local and national pop-ups, DJ-ing at his residency at the Cottonwood Hotel, and the Crescent Moon, as well as mentoring others that tour Big Muddy Urban Farm. This year at Big Muddy Urban farm will assist Joe in becoming a solid contributor to the Urban Farming community here in Omaha.
2022 Aspiring Farmer Fellows – Cohort Six
Kelly Alsup was born in California’s Bay Area and then attended K-12 in Millard, Omaha. She visited her grandparents in the Bay throughout childhood and spent most of the last decade and a half in Marin County, where she worked as a gardener and garden educator. Previously, she received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon and Master of Fine Arts in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She began gardening and farming long ago and here highlights some soils she’s dug: Shadow Brook, Horton Road, and Green Gulch Farms along with Slide and Walker Creek Ranches. As well as gardening, Kelly started a small business, Flower Type Poetry, for which she types poems on her 1950s typewriter. You can find other poems of Kelly’s in her chapbook, when if ever alive. Kelly returns to Omaha to be near family and joins Big Muddy as Lead Farm Fellow. She’s enjoying the diverse local music scene, and she’d love to dance, sing, or collaborate with you and otherwise tromp, paddle, ride, or swim throughout Omaha’s hidden wild queendoms.
A 2018 graduate of Benson High School, Peter David currently attends the University of Nebraska at Omaha, double-majoring in Geography and International Studies, with a minor in English. He intends to complete a TESOL Certification, which he hopes to use as an ESL teacher when he graduates. At Big Muddy, Peter plans to learn how to manage a farm, expand his technical skills, and help provide for the community. In the future, Peter hopes to earn a PhD in Geography, specializing in urban planning. His interests (among many) include: gaming, photography, cooking, and meteorology.
Growing up in the country, Sydney Simpson fell in love with nature and found pleasure in exploring the vast, uninhabited land within rural Kansas. Due to limited access to grocery stores, she also learned how to grow a significant amount of produce using organic, chemical-free practices.
After moving to the city, she began to see how there is a tremendous need for the integration of agriculture in urban areas. While learning more about food scarcity in cities and living in a food desert herself, she found the desire to pursue an education in farming. Sydney is looking forward to the growing season ahead and is excited to get to know the local community. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling to new places.