Nicci Cagan is a founding member of From the Ground Up, a school garden-based wellness initiative committed to nutrition, environmental awareness, sustainability, and facilitating the serving of fresh local produce in school cafeterias. A healthy food advocate, chef, and community organizer, Nicci worked previously with Dr. Deepak Chopra on his “Path to Wellness” program, co-founded a CSA, and founded and directed a cultural arts center.
Nicci has served on Slow Food Hudson Valley’s steering committee; coordinated the Farm to School wing of the Rondout Valley Growers Association; and developed farm to school curriculum.
Nicci teaches the program Girls for Real Food through Girls Inc., an organization that inspires girls to be strong smart and bold. Girls for Real Food teaches girls about promoting wellness in schools and the importance of incorporating local, delicious, scratch-cooked food in the public cafeteria system. The program explores ingredients that are local, fresh and delicious, and ways to turn those ingredients into nourishing foods for school cafeterias. The girls also look at effective channels for change by meeting with school boards, making presentations and launching campaigns for change.
Along with co-founders Noah Sheetz and Rebecca Joyner, Nicci helped start Chefs’ Consortium in 2009.
Currently, Nicci works as the Director of Sales for Red Barn Produce in Highland, NY. She enjoys promoting the top quality, local produce that Red Barn offers.
“I sell local, conventional and organic produce and value-added products to everyone. I am responsible for listening to what my costumers’ needs are. Then I go to farmers markets and farms to explore ways to fill those needs. A customer may have a special variety of vegetable in mind like salsify, cardoons, or Heirloom squash. We contract with farmers to grow for our customers’ needs. Overall, we purchase as much as we can from local farmers. In addition to sourcing produce, I am always looking for new value-added products. I do cooking demos on school campuses and in retail stores to promote local food.”