Meet The Board

Julie Rappaport


In 2013, Julie obtained certification in Permaculture Urban Farming, Permaculture Design, Community Garden Leadership, Caring Economy Leadership, as well as Food Safety Management and as an Emergency Responder. Julie is also a parent, author, yoga teacher and bodyworker, business woman, and creative director for film and stage.

Dr. Nina Bacaner

Dr. Bacaner is a board certified internal medicine physician. She graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine and has a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. She has worked for many years at community clinics treating mainly low income patients and immigrants. She is on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School, and has been published in major medical journals.

She speaks conversational and medical Spanish.  She has had a long interest in nutritional and lifestyle medicine, focused on the underserved and immigrant communities. She has also worked in domestic violence, and received several grants from the Minneapolis Foundation, as well as UCare. She raised money to start a very large high intensity, biodiverse, organic garden onsite at a clinic she is affiliated with in Nicaragua. The produce is sold inexpensively to patients in order to help prevent obesity and diabetes, and the local gardener teaches people in the community how to maximize produce and fruit yields despite the very dry and unforgiving growing conditions.

Sharon Lehrman

Sharon Lehrman, MPH, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist with over 35 years of experience working with individuals, companies, and institutions to improve their health and longevity through optimal nutrition. She owns a private practice and food consulting business in St. Louis Park and is the past President of the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sharon loves to help people make small changes over time that add up to big gains in their health. She loves spending time playing in the dirt in her vegetable garden, cooking (especially plant based meals), playing with her grandkids, snowshoeing, and walking the beautiful chain of lakes in Minneapolis. View more about her on her website at


Sharon joined SLP SEEDS as an Advisory Board Member to work as Co-Coordinator of the Cooking Matters program. This was a perfect fit since Sharon is passionate about cooking and food justice and Cooking Matters cooking classes were developed to  empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy, delicious and affordable meals. And in 2020 she became a Board Member at Large.

Zan Tomko

Zan is education assistant who helps design, develop and deliver program activities for SLP Seeds. She joined the SLP SEEDS after working at the University of MN Arboretum the past four years. 

Zan retired from teaching computer graphic design at Illinois Central College, Peoria High School and American Indian OIC. Previously, she was a program manager in horticulture and conservation for Fon du lac Park district in East Peoria, IL, where she promoted U of I Master Gardener & Junior Master Gardener programs. Before that she was a staff photographer & editor at State Farm Insurance, Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Audubon Magazine.

She has degree in K-12 Art Education from Eastern Illinois University and a Masters in Fine Arts Photography from Illinois State; she has MN teaching license, Master Gardener’s designations from Purdue and University of Illinois and is currently a horticulture student at Hennepin Technical College. 

Zan has two daughters and five grandchildren and lives in St. Louis Park.  

Melanie Shibley

Melanie is a licensed 9-12 Life Science educator who recently moved to St. Louis Park after living in Minneapolis for a few years, with the hope of getting a yard to garden in (and because the rent was too dang high). She obtained a love of gardening early in life from her grandparents, gained an appetite for addressing inequality and environmental justice during her time at UW Madison studying Zoology, and fostered a sense of stewardship for the environment during her time as a member of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. She later went back to school to become a biology teacher and share her love of the natural world to high school students.


Frustrated with her own experiences trying to find healthy food for her family on a low income, she decided to use her gardening skills to grow produce not only for her own family, but for others in her friend group who struggled with living in the same food and financial situations. She initially tried to make an unofficial free CSA for friends and family, but then happened upon a SLP SEEDS flyer during National Night Out and realized that by joining the program, she could extend the help beyond her own peers to the community as a whole.


She joined SLP SEEDS as a Board Member and Apprentice in 2019, and is elated to be able to put her teaching background, passion for food/environmental justice, and love of gardening together.

Ariel Steinman

Ariel Steinman started as an apprentice with SLP SEEDS in 2015 after spending 2 years landscaping. She then spent 2 years in Senegal, West Africa as an agroforestry extension agent with the Peace Corps. After returning she spent 6 weeks on a permaculture biodynamic farm in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. She worked at a garden center and farm in 2018 and is now the Operations Director for SLP SEEDS. In 2019 she participated in the 7-month Camp Beez Kneez, and hopes to bring this new passion to SLP SEEDS in the near future.

 She is fluent in Spanish and Wolof, and has volunteered with other non-profits in Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a double major in Global Studies and Spanish Studies, and a minor in Sustainability Studies. Ariel has always been passionate about gardening, cooking and the environment. She believes that we can give more than we take from mother earth, and that we are never done learning.

Caleb Mesick

Caleb is a graduate from St Louis Park High School. Currently, he is at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Still undecided for his degree. 

Caleb joined SLP SEEDS because he is interested in sustainability and food equity. He is passionate about helping the community be more educated on where food comes from and advocating for more sustainable practices. For fun, Caleb enjoys being outdoors, thrifting clothes and is a lover of food and cooking.

Owen Geier

Owen Geier graduated from St. Louis Park High School. He is currently a student at the University of Minnesota studying plant pathology with a mycology focus. He did an internship with SEEDS while in high school which inspired him to pursue mycology after SEEDS sponsored him to take mushroom cultivation classes. Owen believes that SEEDS can help high schoolers find their passions like it did for him which is why he wants to help SEEDS in its future endeavors. 

Owen has taught the interns and the community two classes on growing Edible Mushrooms and is excited to offer even more in the coming year. 

Kristy Burgeson

Coming Soon...

Junior Board Members

Victoria Martinez

Victoria is a senior at St Louis Park High school. As a Junior, she managed the high school's Birdfeeder food shelf program. She also runs track and plays in the schools orchestra. 

She joined SLP SEEDS because she believes in promoting healthy eating and creating changes in communities that are suffering from inequalities of nutritious food distribution. 

PLEASE WATCH Victoria's Personal Story with Hunger by clicking HERE

Zoe Frank

 Zoe is a Junior at the St Louis Park High School. She is a leader in their environmental club, Roots N Shoots, and is also on the Environmental and Sustainability Commission with the city. She loves being outside, drawing, writing and working with the environment. 

Zoe started interning with SLP SEEDS in spring of 2019, she has since said that she has learned more about sustainability in the time she has spent with us than she had in the rest of her education. She is excited to continue to learn more about food equity, sustainable agriculture, and event planning. 

Thorwald Anderson

Thor is in 11th grade at St. Louis Park High School. He plays Oboe in the school's band, and is interested in science, especially environmental science. He is also very interested in languages, and is learning German and Norwegian. He is a leader of his school's environmental club, Roots N' Shoots. And a Jr. member of the City's Environment & Sustainability commission

Thor has been interested in gardening for years, and became an intern with SLP SEEDS in spring 2019 to learn more about gardening and growing food in an urban environment. He was interested in the connections between urban agriculture and environmental, as well as community sustainability and prosperity. 

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