About Us

Sprout Farms formed in January 2011 in Brooklyn, New York.  The brainchild of Katie Hope and Heather McKinstry, Sprout Farms has worked at four locations, teaching over 400 students about urban farming.

Executive Director: Katie Hope 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.

Programs Manager: Marisa Prefer 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.

Board Members

Board President & Treasurer: Heather McKinstry 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.

Board Vice Presdident: Jörg Thöne 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.

Board Secretary: Liz Kauff 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.

Board Member: Suzanne Puntillo 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.

Board Member: Robin F. Williams 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.

Sprout Farms Ambassadors work with their networks to assist Sprout Farms’ fundraising, social media, and events committees. If you’re interested in becoming an ambassador for Sprout Farms, please contact us.