About Us

Sprout Farms creates environments for students in New York City schools to experience growing and eating their own food. By increasing students’ proximity to fresh, healthy foods and giving students agency throughout the growing process, we aim for the students to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for their growing plants and to become ambassadors of the central components of the slow food movement: to care, cultivate and connect. Sprout Farms formed in January 2011 in Brooklyn, New York by Katie Hope and Heather McKinstry.

Sprout Farms is fiscally sponsored by the Open Space Institute, Inc., as part of its Citizen Action Program.


Katie Hope
Executive Director
Katie is a teacher and community gardener with seven seasons of gardening experience in Brooklyn. She is one of the founding members of Sprout Farms.  Katie completed a Master’s of Science degree in Early Childhood Education at Brooklyn College in 2012. She has also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She has spent time working on a handful of small, organic farms in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Zealand. Katie has worked for a New Jersey vegetable farmer, helping him sell his produce at New York City Greenmarkets. During her free time Katie enjoys preserving and canning fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Katie relishes creating farm spaces that can be educational for all ages and speaks to the cycle of food and waste production.

Marisa Prefer
Program Manager
Marisa is a multi-disciplinary educator, amateur herbalist and designer who explores relationships between land, food & power by building regenerative systems for well being. Marisa has collaborated with artists, farmers, healers and big-thinkers of all ages from coast to coast at the Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California, Local Roots Farm in Duvall, Washington, the Sage Mountain Herbal Education Center in East Barre, Vermont, and more recently in New York as the resident Landscape Steward at Pioneer Works, the Assistant Coordinator of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden, a Curriculum Developer for SwaleNY, a NYC Master Composter, and as part of the artist group non/studio.


Heather McKinstry
Board President & Treasurer
Heather is a practicing architect and co-founder of Sprout Farms. She is dedicated to creating a more sustainable world and passionate about the role of urban agriculture is that world. A LEED Accredited Professional, Heather developed her knowledge of green roofs and urban sustainability on projects for Kiss+Cathcart, Architects, in New York City, including Bushwick Inlet Park for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Heather holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree as well as a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Rhode Island School of Design where she developed her thesis on sustainable disaster relief housing which focused on creating an on site potable water source.

Jörg Thöne
Board Vice Presdident
Jörg is an architect at Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects and specializes in Passive House and low energy design. His education has been closely tied to the idea of sustainability and he was able to put that into practice as a student leader with his work on the 2007 Solar Decathlon house of the Technische Universität Darmstadt, where he also received his degree as Diplom Ingenieur in Architecture. Later as a teacher at Parsons the New School for Design he was involved in their entry to the 2011 Decathlon, with a close focus on affordability and community involvement, including urban gardening. In his practice as consultant and designer he is part of a  group of committed professionals implementing the low energy passive house building standard in New York City. Jörg is a passionate cook and “foodie” which combined with his professional knowledge triggered his interest in local food production as part of a new thinking in urban development.

Liz Kauff
Board Secretary
Liz works as an Art Director at Deep Focus, and joined Sprout Farms’ Board in autumn 2015. She is a skilled designer and manager, specializing in digital design and social media. She earned her master’s in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design and her bachelor’s in Communication from Boston University. Liz is an experienced gardener with three seasons of growing with Southside Community garden. Born a nature lover, she has a deep-rooted passion for environmental sustainability and sustainable practices like gardening, composting and recycling. In her free time, Liz enjoys cooking new recipes, exploring NYC by bike and DIY projects.

Suzanne Puntillo
Board Member
Suzanne is a nonprofit professional with more than 17 years of fundraising experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. Since moving to New York in 2013, Suzanne has been active volunteering with local community organizations and raising her daughter, who is a budding gardener. As a mom and strong believer in the slow food movement, Suzanne is motivated to increase opportunities for other children to experience growing and eating their own food.

Robin F. Williams
Board Member
Robin is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and is represented by PPOW Gallery. She teaches painting at School of Visual Arts and has worked as an art tutor for high school students. As a member of her Brooklyn community she has donated her work to support the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as Sprout Farms. Volunteering with Sprout has been a meaningful way to connect with her community and support education in the slow food movement.