Mike Biltonen has spent nearly four decades in agriculture working mostly with orchards, vineyards, and other specialty crops. He has a BS in Horticulture from Virginia Tech (’86) and a MS from Cornell University in Fruit and Vegetable Science (’92). He started a PhD project but left it behind for the wilds of southeastern Minnesota apple country where he worked at Pepin Heights orchard for eight seasons before moving back to New York. Since then, he has been engaged in aggressively pushing sustainable orcharding at his own farms as well as with his cohorts and clients. A dedicated passion for sustainable agriculture evolved into a profound dedication to the principles and practices of ecologically-focused, biodynamically-driven farming. Mike has been with JPI since 2016 and is now serving his second term as President of the Board. Professionally he consults with holistic, organic and biodynamic growers through Know Your Roots LLC – an orchards to herbs holistic business he co-owns with his wife Debbie. Mike lives with Debbie, their son Mathew, and Cayde, the dog, in Trumansburg, NY.
Barbara has embraced biodynamics for decades. While growing 20 acres of wine grapes on the North Fork of Long Island, NY she witnessed the power and beauty biodynamic practices bring to farmed land. Shortly after planting the vines, the land transformed from a silent, closed entity to a place of evolving complexity, welcoming wildlife, insects, and volunteer vegetation to coexist harmoniously. Barbara now resides in coastal Maine on 14 acres of field and woods with a rushing brook where she stewards the land biodynamically. She marvels at the fields of wild valerian and the thick veins of quartz that travel with the granite into the sea. She organizes the Nor’easter Maine biodynamic chapter, is a member of the Fellowship of Preparation Makers and continues to make the preparations at home.
Sean is a Managing Director in EY’s Government and Public Sector practice where he provides insights and guidance to leaders in state and local governments, higher education, and healthcare. He is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with expertise in business and technology strategy, operational transformation, innovation, and continuous improvement.
An avid gardener and farmer for nearly half a century, Sean is a self-confessed "compost nerd." He and his wife Marianne have homesteaded for decades and are now partners in the development of Monticiano Farms, located in Floyd County, Virginia. Marianne and Sean have incorporated biodynamic practices into their regenerative farm with the goal of realizing their vision of flavor forward farming and how it can help heal the world.
Virginia is an artist, energy worker, and wine professional, living in Seattle, Washington with her cat, Steve. She grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and attended Virginia Commonwealth University, earning a degree in Painting and Printmaking, and Sculpture (‘04)
Working in hospitality, she found her way to Biodynamics through winemakers. Her personal exploration meandered through Anthropophosy, the stewardship of biodynamic wines, and the incorporation of biodynamic philosophy into daily life. She has regularly worked to educate the public about biodynamics via wine tastings, classes, and social media.
In 2019 Virginia began exploring Reiki and energy work as a support to developing Cosmic connection within a biodynamic practice. Her current offerings through VAVA LLC (vavadynamica.com) bring Reiki and other energetic methods to growers looking to deepen their connection with their land and develop intuitive methods of “listening”.
Will is the Director of Procurement at Traditional Medicinals where he is responsible for acquiring over 1,500 tons of Organic, Pharmacopeial, Fair for Life, Wildlife Friendly, and Demeter Certified Botanicals from approximately 50 countries annually. Over the past decade he has worked with hundreds of different medicinal botanical species at production scale. Will grew up homeschooled on a large intergenerational cattle and goat ranch in the geographic center of Texas. With the on-site assistance and guidance of Allan Savory, working with Will’s grandfather, the property has been operating in a modified Savory system since the mid- to late-70s.
Will is the Founder and President of the International Biodynamic Guild and has also recently joined the Anthroposophical Society in America’s Section for Agriculture. He is a Certified Master Herbalist, and well-practiced Spagyric Alchemist, modernizing the method to 21st century pharmaceutical processing technologies. Will has been featured in Le Monde’s Science & Technology section for inventing open-source organic/biodynamic food production hardware platforms and has served as Project Manager at Open Source Ecology. Will was recently featured in the new edition of the Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer highlighting his work while with Gaia Herbs, where among other things he promoted Biodynamics and medicinal botanical production in North America.