Becky Gartner, Co-Founder

Becky’s work experiences have allowed her to focus on her specialties of food safety, nutrition, and food preservation. Her manufacturing experience includes working as a quality assurance manager in juice/beverage processing, flour milling, frozen dough products and retail /wholesale seafood processing. Becky moved to the regulatory field by working for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation as an Environmental Health Officer in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Responsibilities included the enforcement of state and federal food regulations for seafood processing facilities and vessels, restaurants and retail food establishments. Currently, she provides educational programs in the counties of Culpeper, Rappahannock and Fauquier in home food preservation, ServSafe Manager Certification, food safety and healthy living. Becky also designed, organized and leads the Stone Soup Project for the Carver Food Enterprise Program.

Becky is an Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension with a BS – Housing, Interior Design and Resource Management, Home Economics Education/ Extension, Virginia Tech and an MS – Human Nutrition and Foods, Virginia Tech.


Janet Bearden, Co-Founder

Janet brings to the team thirty years of management experience in environmental programs and project development.  After retiring in 2008 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she began working to expand local food production in the Virginia Piedmont Region. Having grown up in a canning culture, her goal was to provide locally-grown and processed food to Virginia’s community food banks and other social service organizations.

Janet launched the all-volunteer Virginia Food Enterprise Center in 2011.  With support from the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, VAFEC was successful in helping the Prince Edward/Farmville community cannery successfully introduce value-added processing.  In 2014, VAFEC received private foundation funding, which was used to assess and confirm the need for a similar project in the Culpeper/Madison region.  The Culpeper County Government provided space for an educational, non-profit facility in the former George Washington Carver Regional High School.  This facility is now known as the George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center.


Becky Ramsey

Becky is Branch Manager with Farm Credit of the Virginias in Culpeper, VA.  As an agricultural lender, she works closely with local farmers to help meet their personal and operation’s financial needs.  She enjoys helping her customers work though a business plan to help determine those financial needs.  Early in her career, she spent 5 years working in non-profit and fundraising and then spent several years direct marketing freezer beef to restaurants in Northern Virginia.  Becky has a B.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics and a M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education, both from Virginia Tech.


Clyde Firman

Clyde served as the Food Service Director at Woodberry Forest School in Madison County. His other work experience has included serving as the Director of Catering and Special Events at Old Dominion University and a Chef Instructor at Johnson and Wales University in Norfolk, VA.  Clyde attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde, Park, NY and earned an AAS degree in Occupational Studies.


Megan Clark-Weakly

Megan works with her family to operate Thornton River Orchard and Market in Sperryville, VA.  She is part of the third generation to work in the fruit industry. Their fruit and vegetables are sold to local school systems, various farmer markets in the Northern Virginia area and at their on-site market.


Vy Goddard

Experienced food safety professional with a demonstrated history of working with food regulations and laws, food package and nutrition labeling, and food compliance auditing. Vy is a Certified PCQI and HACCP manager that is enthusiastic about playing with food, but also keeping it safe. She has a strong foundation with a Master of Science in Food Science and Technology focused in Food Microbiology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Stacey Brown

Has over 30 years of experience in commercial and non-commercial food service operations. Stacey has spent 15 years teaching incarcerated youth of various ages and abilities in culinary arts and commercial foods program with an emphasis on workplace readiness skills. She is an instructor/proctor for the ServSafe and ManageFirst Certification, Certified Dietary Manager and Certified Food Protection Professional (CDM, CFPP). Stacey serves as a mentor for students in the Cook’s Apprenticeship  program through the Department of Labor and Industry.  She lives in Culpeper where her family operate a beef and grain farm.


Bill Gartner

Bill has worked in the fire alarm industry for 30 years as a business owner, installation technician and project manager.  He brings a wealth of knowledge of building code and regulations along with a practical approach to managing a construction project.


Ren LeVally

Currently serving as Vice President of partner organization Rural Madison, Ren spent the first half of his career as a trained professional chef in the Chicago and Dallas/Austin metropolitan areas, where he developed a keen interest in human health and nutrition along with 20 years of commercial food service management experience. A member of Slow Food USA, the Southern Foodways Alliance and an award-winning food blogger focusing on healthy eating  (and still cooking privately), Ren now operates an IT consulting service, serving grassroots, nonprofit and small business organizations throughout GWCFEC’s 5-county service area.


Carl Stafford

Carl is the Senior Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Virginia Extension Service, in Culpeper, Virginia. With more than 30 years Extension experience, Carl is certified as a Forage Grassland Professional and a Commercial and Private Pesticide Applicator. Importantly, Carl is the founder and Vice President of the George Washington Carver Agricultural Research Center (GWCARC). It was Carl’s vision and tenacity that led to formation of the Carver-Piedmont Agricultural Institute, home of the GWCARC and the partner George Washington Carver Food Enterprise Center (GWCFEC). Carl’s role on the Food Enterprise Center Advisory team will be to ensure continued collaboration and synergy between the two Centers.

Carl holds a B.S. from Berea College and a M.S. from Virginia Tech.


Don Hearl

Don retired as Vice President of Environmental Systems Service, an environmental services company specializing in water and wastewater treatment and laboratory services located in Culpeper, VA.  Don has more than forty-two years’ experience working in the environmental services field, with broad expertise in industrial water and wastewater analyses, treatment, and process control. Specific experience includes waste stream characterization, equipment evaluation, and recommendations for treatment of wastewater generated by food processing, metals removal, plastics, and printing facilities.  Don also provides technical consulting and interface with State and Federal regulatory agencies in matters relating to permitting and environmental compliance, as well as conducting water and wastewater training classes, including teaching at the Wastewater Operators Short School at Virginia Tech.  As a member of the Carver advisory team, Don contributes his significant knowledge and experience to help us address the many environmental issues we will face in developing the Carver site.


Roger Williams

Roger came to Culpeper in the fall of 2015 to join the Carver Piedmont team. Coming from a career in IT and design engineering, he has integrated his systematic process thinking with a deep interest in both education and the study of the soil interrelationships required for sustainable farming. Handing off his three-year stint as President of the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association to make the move south, he brings his focus to creating the structure for the New Farmers Training program at the Carver Piedmont center.

Mr. Williams has a BA in Philosophy & Religion from Boston University and a M.Eng from Dalhousie University