The Farm Crew
Cookie Till is the owner of Steve & Cookie’s, co-owner of Ventnor No. 7311, pioneer of the Margate Community Farmer’s Market, and founder of A Work in Progress Foundation. Across her varied interests, the one common denominator is caring about the people in the Atlantic County community. Many of her philanthropic efforts are fueled by the desire to reach segments of our population who are unhealthy in part by the lack of opportunity or education to choose a healthier lifestyle. She has been giving back to the community through her association and tireless work on many boards and local charities in the area. Some of Steve & Cookie’s annual events include a Dog Show which benefits both Ocean City Humane Society and New Jersey Aid for Animals, an Art Show showcasing local artist with the proceeds going to ACSSSD and an Annual Wine Tasting with proceeds going toward scholarships for local children. The Margate Community Farmer’s Market- in its 11th year, is held in the parking lot at Steve & Cookie’s during the summer. The market introduces local, fresh ingredients to the community while providing additional revenue for local farmers and vendors. Her work has partnered with AtlantiCare to create numerous gardens throughout Atlantic County. Seeing children open their minds and begin to embrace a variety of foods which they help prepare at a cooking program established at The Boys & Girls Club and also through the Harvest of the Month program established at Tighe School in Margate is confirmation that community-based outreach programs are beneficial. Cookie is a graduate of Stockton College and Drexel University.
Chairman of the Board
Lenny Varvaro started in the Casino industry in 1978, following his graduation from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He worked in many executive-level positions across this industry, ultimately as a Vice-President of Finance and General Manager. From 1982 until 1994, he also served as the President of a family-owned construction company until he sold his interests in 1994. In 1999, Mr. Varvaro left the Casino industry and returned to New Jersey and expanded into the Food & Beverage industry. He is owner of Canals of Berlin, Managing Partner of Renaissance Beverages II, LLC and is also the Chairman of the buying committee for Canal’s and Joe Canal’s Liquor stores. As a young adult, Lenny lived on a farm in New Jersey and raised farm animals. He understands, firsthand, the therapeutic benefits of experiencing a rural environment that sustains fresh food and healthy animals. He has a passion for creating a meaningful community-based experience that elevates the importance of an organic farming environment and the therapeutic benefits of animals.
Beth Senay is a graduate from John Carroll University in English Literature and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She has utilized her healthcare background to serve in various leadership roles in Managed Care and the Life Sciences industries, including healthcare Business Analytics, Program Management and Data Governance for companies such as Aetna, Inc., Quest Diagnostics, and Merck Pharmaceuticals. She has successfully architected and run large crossfunctional governing boards and has driven multi-faceted projects within the commercial operations space of the Life Sciences. She excels at developing strategic roadmaps, organizational design, change management and leading teams of people from disparate backgrounds to execute against organizational missions and goals. Her passion is measuring and understanding the drivers of population health trends and ultimately identifying innovative approaches to drive population health and wellness. Beth is an advocate for underserved urban populations and animal rights.
Kacie Buczynski has been involved in the sustainable agriculture industry for a decade now with experience in many different areas. She gained her roots at an organic vegetable farm in New Hampshire working her way up through multiple seasons to the Field and Distribution Manager position. She then transitioned to managing an organic food truck in Florida where she was responsible for local food sourcing and menu creation as well as designing and hosting community wellness events. She next travelled across the country to Oregon where she was the Farm Manager at an organic flower and vegetable farm that provided locally sourced produce to the top restaurants in Portland. Her educational background is from Plymouth State University where she studied nutrition and wellness and worked as a sustainability coordinator for the university. Kacie’s passion is producing and growing organic food for communities to ensure healthy lifestyles and creating a locally sourced food model. She whole-heartedly believes in the power and importance of organic and locally sourced produce in creating healthy communities.
Melanie Reed relocated to Atlantic County from her native New York City to serve as the Programming Director, continuing her career goals of connecting social services with sustainability. She earned a BS in Environmental Science and Sustainability from Cornell University, where she worked in the Botanic Gardens and served as the Sustainability Coordinator for Dining. After graduating and moving back to her native NYC, Melanie became involved in Edgemere Farm in Rockaway Beach, where she rose to serve as Farm Manager. Her interest in farming with a social impact led her to work for The Horticultural Society of New York’s therapeutic horticulture program on Rikers Island Correctional Facility. Her new role of Programming Director is the culmination of her interests in sustainable agriculture, food security, and therapeutic horticulture.
Brian grew up in Cape May County NJ. Growing up he worked for Various landscaping masonry companies. His father was a mason by trade so Brian was taught, as a youth, how to use power tools, pour concrete and lay block.
After receiving a B.A. in fine arts from Stockton University, Brian went on to further his education and graduated from the Nature Lyceum Of organic horticulture under the founding father the late Jeff Frank. Shortly after Brian established his own landscape and masonry company called Tiopia Landscape and Design where he practiced only organic/eco-friendly cultural methods for lawn and garden maintenance for 13 years.
Currently BRIAN serves as our farm manager/compost specialist.
Santina Renzi grew up in Moorestown, NJ, and first became interested in sustainable agriculture in 2016 while working on a small organic coffee farm in Costa Rica. It was this experience working so closely with the land for the first time that led her to explore where our food comes from, how it’s grown, and the many ways that our food systems impact human and environmental wellbeing. In 2019, she graduated with a BA in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Green Mountain College in southern Vermont. It was here that she was introduced to the practices and philosophies of Permaculture, and completed two Advanced Permaculture Design Certification courses and an internship with Root to Rise, a non-profit focused on urban permaculture and continued education in permaculture. In 2017, Santina attended Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference as a youth delegate, where she worked to document the rich relationships between native foods and cultural identity. Her most recent project in 2020 has been co-founding and managing The Local Market, an online farmers market in the Rancocas Woods area of Mt. Laurel, NJ. She believes strongly that organic farming and land stewardship is a radical solution - with deep roots - to many of our current societal and global challenges, and is dedicated to working towards supporting and promoting local agriculture and community resilience.
Brandon Abercrombie is a dedicated proponent of creativity and the holistic lifestyle. He earned a Degree in Photography from The New York Institute of Photography, and has earned Career Certificates in Content and Copywriting, along with Digital Marketing, and Lay Counseling. Additionally, he is a registered Yoga Instructor, Meditation Coach, and Life Coach. Brandon continues his education by currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a concentration in TV and Film Production, and a double minor in Addictions Counseling and Human Services.
Brandon is well rounded, having spent the younger years of his life participating in the performing arts as an actor, drummer, photographer, and in recent years, Stand Up Comedy. He began working as a drum teacher as his first job out of High School in an effort to share his passion for the arts. He would go on to create Abercrombie Photo LLC where he has spent 10 years as Owner and Photographer.
Brandon, along with his dog Marla, were hired at Reed’s Organic Farm as the Night Watchman and Watchdog, respectively. Together, they moved onto the grounds to ensure the safety and security of the animals and property, with whom they are happy to share their space. Marla has quickly captured the heart of the community and is the official Farm Dog.
Brandon is an asset to the farm given his broad work experience with Direct Sales and Marketing, to Construction and Carpentry, Freelance Photography and Writing. He also has philanthropic experience from his time as a Freemason, which is a fraternal brotherhood dedicated to serving their community.
Brandon is happy to be fully participating in an organization that emphasizes the balance of sustainability and wellness in bringing a community together.
Marilyn joined the team at Reed’s Organic Farm in June 2020 as the coordinator of volunteers. A career registered nurse, she retired from a desk job earlier last year to pursue a more healthy and active lifestyle. Her years of experience with care-giving, management and teaching are now being put to use in a new way, that she hopes will have a positive impact in her community. A native of South Jersey, she grew up in Collingswood and also lived in Mount Laurel NJ for 30 years, where she raised a son and daughter with her late husband Ed. She recently moved to Marmora NJ to realize a lifelong goal to be near the beach, while still being close to her family. Marilyn graduated from Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing in 1974 and practiced nephrology nursing for several years. Later in her career, she became a certified case manager, working for managed care organizations providing support services to members with catastrophic illnesses. Most recently, she worked for a hospital system, writing clinical appeals to recover denied patient care claims, and she also served as a specialized instructor to her peers. In her personal life, Marilyn loves to spend time doting on her grandkids. Her favorite activities have always revolved around family, friends, sports, art, and music. Marilyn’s recent affiliation at Reed’s Organic Farm, has opened up new areas of interest in healthy daily living practices, organic nutrition and soil replenishment. Marilyn is most excited about her participation and personal contribution in coordinating volunteer activities that provide support to the development of programs that benefit underserved populations in the surrounding area.