From left to right Jessie Coyle, Katie Mollica, Jacob Firman, and Rebekah Kosier build new garden gates in an afternoon activity led by Greg Basralian.
Our Better Farm Sustainability Education and betterArts Residency summer program season has begun! To kick things off, there's a brand-new cast and crew we are happy to introduce. 

  • Vivian Hyelim Kim is a visual artist from Elmhurst, N.Y., who makes installations, paintings, photographs and art books. She is joining us through the betterArts Residency Program. Vivian has her MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and her BFA from Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. Her work has been shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions throughout the country; and Vivian has been part of many other artist residencies, community outreach projects, and received multiple awards for her amazing work. She is a writer and teacher who has made it her mission to educate people of all ages. While at Better Farm, Vivian is keeping a visual diary that will take its form of a wall installation. She takes walks in outdoor surroundings, picks one element of nature every day, and brings it into the studio. Vivian tapes or pins the element and writes down the dates below to record the passing of time. Another form of the visual diary is the form of photographs. She is taking pictures every day to record the passing of time, which will eventually be turned into a book. "Through the process of finding materials from nature and finding sources to photograph," Vivian told us, "I am finding the beauties in our everyday lives that we easily overlook. The works encourage us to carefully observe the shapes and forms of the elements of nature, and thereby see and appreciate the diversity in nature. I wish to continue this series of work during the residency and this is the reason I wish to work at the betterArts residency." To see samples of Vivian's work, visit
  • Rebekah Kosier is a student at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. Growing up in a rural area in Alabama, she had the opportunity to witness the process of farming and to know many farmers; but she is interested in connecting sustainable farming practices to her interest in food sovereignty. "As a political science major at Wells College," she told us, "I want to work to transform the ways people can interact with political institutions. For me, that transformative interaction is through the use of food and farming. As major corporations gain more control over the process of food production, people lose their right to determine the sort of products that they consume, especially people who lack financial or physical access to fresh and locally produced food. I want to learn more about sustainable food production practices so I will be better equipped to encourage and help people begin to grow at least some of their own food."  Rebekah's central thesis? That if people can take back the production of food, then the political institutions prioritizing corporations like Monsanto at the expense of consumers will eventually be forced to change their practices. 
  • Jacob Firman is an environmental studies major at Oberlin College in Ohio. Passionate about food justice, addressing climate change, and working to create a more sustainable and just world, he was an obvious fit for Better Farm's sustainability education program. "I have found that there is something very satisfying about doing things for yourself," he told us.  "Self-sufficiency is a more practical, empowering, and sustainable way of life. I want to move beyond my role as a consumer and be able to produce food for myself and teach others to do the same. What interests me the most is getting a grasp on organic small scale farming and gardening, and learning ways to grow in the offseason through things like aquaponics or greenhouses. I want to start backyard gardens, community gardens, green roofs, green walls, etc., because I believe everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy, tasty food.
  • Kathryn Mollica is a Jersey Girl going to school at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. She's always had an interest in farming and gardening; but it was with her recent employment at Whole Foods in Madison, N.J., that opened her eyes to the benefits of organic farming and changed her world. "Last summer I planted my own garden at home," she told us, "and grew tomatoes, peppers, basil, and other herbs, with successful results. This year I plan to expand by adding peas, cucumbers, celery, dill, and more. This garden will, of course, be only organic."The more I've read and learned about the dangers of pesticides and genetically modified foods, the more concerned I have grown about the food I ingest. My dream is to one day own an organic farm that can produce and sell wholesome, organic food for a reasonable price and benefit countless consumers."  
  • Jessica Coyle is a student at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry working on a bachelors of science in conservation. She hails from Syracuse, and was raised on a small cattle farm in Central New York. She chose Better Farm because she wants to broaden her knowledge of alternative building, green gardening, and wilderness survival. She's already off to a great start: As part of her field-study work for school, Jessica spent three weeks learning plant, invertebrate, mammal, and aquatic species of the area and conducting a research project; while the next two were spent learning about the mammals and birds of New York along with field techniques such as small mammal trapping, scat/track identification, mist netting, and a day at a gun range learning the basics of using firearms and blow darts. Her goal is to pair these new skillsets—along with all the things she will learn at Better Farm—with her career goals.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.