Introducing our Summer Blog Series: Root Down, Rise Up with MENV

Hello! Welcome to the first post in a new summer bi-weekly blog series created in partnership with graduate students from CU Boulder’s Masters of the Environment (MENV) program. These students are focusing their studies on Sustainable Food Systems and are dedicated to finding ways to improve our food system for the benefit of all. 


Over the next couple months, we will be sharing a series of blog posts written by the MENV students. The series will focus on topics related to food and justice, such as on-farm food security concerns, agricultural labor rights, and Indigenous foodways. With each topic, the MENV students will provide a digestible update on recent research, context surrounding the importance of each issue, and different opportunities for you to take action, so we can all contribute to creating more sustainable food systems together! We hope that you will learn something new with each post, as we are on this continuous learning journey alongside you.


In addition to our blog series, the graduate students will be working with us to coordinate events in the near future—stay tuned for more information! 


For now, we would like to introduce these awesome students. They have shared a bit about their history, current interests, and a fun fact or two. Some students have listed contact information, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions for them! 


Liz Holland: Liz intended to use her geography and communication degree to become an environmental educator, but soon into her post-undergraduate career she realized how many systemic issues exist within our community and food structures and she changed her focus. She came to the MENV program to learn how to work at the intersection of community, environment, food, justice, and education in order to dismantle harmful systems and better support people. Her journey right now is centered on finding ways to come into reciprocity with communities she is not part of but appreciates learning from—especially Native communities whose wisdom strengthens our food system and nutrition security. Liz’s favorite food is pasta, thanks to her Italian roots, but her favorite meal to cook is an Afgan stewed eggplant dish called Borani Banjan. (



Elias Berbari: Originally on the medical track to become a doctor, Elias’ studies in ecology and evolutionary biology ignited a curiosity about the effects of ecosystem health on human health. Now, he views those spheres of health as the same, and is interested in using food as a leverage point to improve human relationships with each other and the earth. He wants to apply systems thinking to connect sectors like food, housing, and energy in ways that center equity and reciprocity to build resilience and address problems simultaneously. His areas of focus include improving food worker labor rights and eliminating both hunger and food waste. Elias loves his mom’s homemade hummus, as well as anything with rice, beans, veggies, and hot sauce.



Lindsey Beatrice: With a diverse undergraduate education focused on botany, global health, and entrepreneurship, Lindsey is passionate about using plants and food to solve complex global problems. She lived in Detroit for the past 3 years where she was confronted with the realities of inequity in our social and food systems. This led her to MENV to explore the intersection of agriculture, food access, policy, and urban planning with the hopes of creating better systems. Her primary focus is on developing community-centered equitable food systems that improve health and resilience, but she is now also interested in shifting to better agricultural practices that can help reverse climate change and feed more people while using fewer resources. She is an ovo-vegan and loves making beautiful breakfasts, like avocado toast with thin-sliced radishes, an egg, microgreens, and edible flowers. (


Sarah Thorson: Sarah grew up hugging trees in Northern California, and has been a nature lover and passionate environmentalist since childhood. In undergrad she earned degrees in Environmental Science & Policy and Dance while also studying interdisciplinarity through the University Honors Program. Spending a semester in Costa Rica conducting research on permaculture farms and living in small coastal towns sparked new curiosities around methods of food production and global equity concerns (as well as an undying love of rice and beans). Sarah worked in nonprofit environmental education prior to joining MENV. She is now interested in working at the intersection of local food systems and social justice, where she sees endless potential for positive change. During quarantine, Sarah perfected the art of baking sourdough bread – and then eating the whole loaf. (


Cole Dickerson: Cole’s upbringing exploring the outdoors in the mountains of central Virginia led to a keen interest in environmental science. His desire to be involved as part of his community brought him to a leadership role in a food access organization in undergrad where he became curious about the intersection of environment, human well-being, community, culture, and the ability of food to bring people together. He believes that building community around food can bridge political, racial, economic, and cultural boundaries and create a better collective understanding of our society that can lead to social and environmental progress. Aside from not liking fruits that begin with the letter ‘p’, he’s an adventurous eater whose all-time favorite food is smoked salmon. (



Hannah Wallace: Born and raised in northern Colorado, Hannah spent her childhood outside in the Foothills. It took a move to Dallas for her to recognize how important nature is, which led her to study climate change and sustainability in college and become involved in urban agriculture and food waste diversion. She spent a year doing environmental education with Americorps in the San Luis Valley before starting in the MENV program. Her interests are centered in youth education and awareness of community-based food systems, specifically how they can serve as the intersection of justice, food sovereignty, soil health, regeneration, and nutrition. Hannah considers herself a part-time vegan and loves the Boulder Farmers’ Market. You can find her shopping for arugula, tomatoes, and basil for her summer staple—bruschetta! (




Olivia Brown: A week after she stumbled across The Environmental Coalition at a club fair, Olivia found herself on a bus to NYC where she was one of the 300,000 activists at the People’s Climate March. This spurred her to explore environmental issues within the food system, and what she learned created stress, paralysis, restriction, judgement, and guilt. But she was curious to see how all of the many sides to the food system played out in reality, so worked in restaurants, groceries, community food access organizations, and on farms, eventually finding her way to MENV. She is passionate about cultivating individual, community, and environmental health through food in ways that are equitable and values-driven. Her goal is to inspire people to change paradigms without causing all of the negative emotions she felt at the beginning of her journey. Olivia loves artichokes with garlic butter, stews and soups, and chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. (


We are so excited about this collaboration and we’re looking forward to sharing ideas and opening conversations with all of you! Until next time!


-MENV and Nourish Colorado


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