• 11:00-11:45 Registration, Networking, and Exploring Community Table
  •  11:45-12:00 Welcome & Overview of the Event
  • 12:00-1:00 Keynote Speakers
    • 12:00-12:15 Lindsey Scalera - Michigan Good Food Charter
    • 12:15-12:30 Carlos Calderon - USDA Urban Agriculture Initiative 
    • 12:30-12:45 Zyra Castillo - Kultura Education Center
    • 12:45-1:00 Q&A (Combined)
  • 1:00-2:00 Soup & Salad Lunch and Roundtable Discussions
  •  2:00-3:00 Panel Discussion on Restorative Justice and Food
    • Moderator:  Christina Mpilo (Senior Managing Director, Soul Fire Farm)
    • Panelists:  Eric Freeman (President, Mindset Meals), Rev. Nurya Love Parish (Executive Director, Plainsong Farm), Myriah Williams (Member of Pokagon Band of Potawatomi)
  • 3:00-3:30 Closing and Additional Time for Exploring Community Tables


Christina Mpilo (She/They) will be the moderator for the panel. Christina is a third-generation farmer, naturalist, and community activist. She has worked with local non-profits and grassroots organizations including the Grand Rapids Urban League and Grand Rapids Food Systems Council to advocate for more equitable food systems in West Michigan. Recently, Christina accepted a new Senior Managing Director position at Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. 

Eric Freeman is an entrepreneur and thought leader focused on justice, nutrition, and well-being. He is working diligently to provide flavorful, nourishing meal choices and peace of mind for people in underserved communities through his social enterprise start-up Mindset Meals. He believes people should have the ability to thrive, not just survive. 

Rev. Nurya Love Parish (She/Her) will be on the panel. Rev. Nurya is an Episcopal priest in West Michigan and Founding Executive Director of Plainsong Farm in Rockford. Plainsong Farm is a Christian faith-based, living laboratory farm that uses regenerative farming practices to nourish neighbors experiencing food insecurity and to provide environmental education to people of all ages and backgrounds. Rev. Nurya also co-created the first FaithLands gathering, a national interfaith movement trying to inspire houses of worship to use their land to grow food for their local communities and repair historical wrongs to BIPOC communities. 

Myriah Williams (She/Her) will be on the panel. Myriah is an active member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and she currently works as a youth specialist for the tribe. Myriah is vessel of traditional Indigenous wisdom, and she has experience in teaching the next generation of youth traditional food preservation methods, such as the harvesting and preserving of manoomin or wild rice. Myriah has a deep connection to the land, having grown and prepared organic food for her family on her homestead farm.

Keynote Speakers

Lindsey Scalera is a Community Food Systems Collaboration Specialist at the MSU Center for Regional Food Services, collaborating with partners throughout Michigan to ensure the future of the Michigan Good Food movement is sustainable, inclusive and democratic.  Lindsey got her start in food systems as co-founder of the Giving Garden and the Michigan Young Farmer Coalition while earning her Master's Degree in Social Foundations of Education, specializing in EcoJustice Education from Eastern Michigan University.

Carlos Calderon is the Director of Sustainable Community Development at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. He has worked on a variety of green infrastructure and watershed management projects that protect the integrity of the Grand River and Lake Michigan. During his Graduate Assistantship with the Grand Valley Metro Council, he worked to support the LGROW Environmental Program, providing watershed education to the community. While studying the Indian Mill Creek, he led the Friends of Indian Mill Creek in stream cleanups, storm drain adoption and water quality monitoring. Water and community have been central components of Carlos’ life. 

Zyra Castillo is a Filipino-born educator, curator, and organizer based in Grand Rapids. As an art teacher and cultural advocate, she channels her experiences growing up in the Upper Peninsula and her college years at Grand Valley State University into fostering creative thinking. Despite facing challenges related to identity, Zyra remains committed to her principles. As a woman of color, she addresses issues like the mistreatment of women professionals and the need for diversity in positions of power. She was an organizer for the first Grand Rapids Asian Festival, reflecting her dedication to cultural enrichment. She served on the West Michigan Asian American Association board of directors for about several years before leaving to start Kultura. She strives to support communities, provide resources, and promote understanding in Grand Rapids.

Page last modified February 2, 2024