About Us

Jiff Martin
Jiff Martin - Extension Educator - Food Systems

Jiff has worked for years to strengthen agriculture and promote local agriculture and food systems in Connecticut. Her current work includes:

  • Leading the development of new training and resources for beginning farmers
  • Creating new tools and programming to help farmers sell to schools and early childhood centers
  • Helping consumers discover local food and farms through outreach and marketing campaigns
Prior to joining UConn Extension, Jiff led farmland preservation advocacy efforts in Connecticut on behalf of American Farmland Trust, Working Lands Alliance, and Hartford Food System.  In 2015 Jiff received the White House Champion of Change Award in Sustainable Agriculture.
a silhouette of Robert Chang
Robert Chang - Program Co-Director Robert Farms at Echo Farm in occupied Nipmuc Territory, now known as Woodstock CT, where he grows organic vegetables and cut flowers.  He is a founding member of the New CT Farmer Alliance and works in policy and advocacy at the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust.  He is a proud alum of past Solid Ground training programs and is grateful for the opportunity to serve the beginning farmer community in CT at UConn Extension.
Nancy Barrett

Nancy Barrett - Program Coordinator

Nancy owns Scantic Valley Farm with her family out in Somers, CT. Passed down from her family, they continue the using the land to specializes in all-natural grass-fed beef with heritage Belted Galloway cattle, heritage Tamworth hogs, and fresh local eggs.

They also run a successful pick your own blueberries and strawberries operation in the summer that brings the public onto the farm and makes point of sale very important to them! Nancy also started working on growing the cut flowers side of her business and is bringing even more of a customer base to her farm as they continue to diversify and grow their business.

Nancy works with the Solid Ground program in helping to organize some of the trainings that are run for farmers throughout the region and coordinating informational videos that inspire at home learning for the farming community as well!

Brittany Hall

Brittany Hall - Program Coordinator

Brittany came to farming following a career in nonprofits where she wore many hats over the years, including: case manager, donations coordinator, volunteer coordinator, and wellness programs manager. Unbeknownst to her, the skills she learned in nonprofits would be valuable when she began farming in 2018. Since then she has been fortunate to learn from several farmers who have passed on their indispensable knowledge. She is passionate about food justice, providing healthy and organic produce to local consumers, and queering the food system. Brittany and her partner recently established Beets & Blooms Farm, an organic cut flower and vegetable farm in East Hampton, CT.

Using her background in farming and program management, Brittany comes to the Solid Ground team as Project Co-Coordinator, helping with farmer trainings; creating online programs that farmers can access from anywhere; and sharing the ingenious farm hacks she learns from local Connecticut farmers.

Saquana Seltzer

Saquana Seltzer - Program Coordinator
Saquana studied and received her BA in Political Science and is an ABA Certified Paralegal through Long Island University.  Saquana worked with in-house counsel in the highly regulated Alcohol Beverage industry as a Corporate Compliance Paralegal, where she reviewed contracts, established corporate insurance policies, managed an Innovation Team for Product Development and completed Business Regulation, Licensing, Registration and Certifications for a U.S. subsidiary of a global entity.

Saquana is also the Founder and Owner of High Silo Farm, a Certified Organic Market Garden and Purveyor of heritage breed livestock.  Saquana will utilize her discipline in the business compliance field to assist with our UCONN Extension Solid Ground training programs, in particular, the Business of Farming course.  This course will focus on educating Beginning Farmers with the fundamental keys of success for a farm business and provide additional one-on-one technical assistance advice.

Image of Melanie Desch

Melanie Desch - Program Coordinator

Melanie comes to the Solid Ground team with a passion for food systems and farming. She recently worked at Mesa Comunitaria, a program focused on removing barriers to food access and redistributing existing food resources to the Windham community. Melanie became involved in CT agriculture by working on several diversified organic farms in Eastern CT, which inspired her to start her own. Nestled into Mansfield Center, Foliota Farm produces cut flowers and herbs with a focus on regenerative practices and the intent to convert as much turfgrass into ag production as possible.

At Solid Ground, Melanie will help coordinate the Ag Mechanic workshops and is helping to develop our Skill Shares, which will connect beginning farmers with key production skills through a series of immersive workshops. She is excited to give back to the program that was so instrumental in helping develop her own business and can't wait to meet more farmers across the state!

Becca holding a crate of broccoli

Becca Toms - Communications Coordinator

Becca has worked primarily with non-profits in the sustainable food and agriculture sector for almost 10 years and has been managing social media and communications for over 5 years. She helps this project by making sure the word gets out about the different programs that are available to farmers throughout the state and creating content that is user friendly and easily accessible to the many hard workers that are producing our food. When she's not at the computer, you can find her helping out at Off Center Farm in Woodbridge where she assists with growing flowers, herbs, and veggies.