Founder, Designer & Chief Visionary: Janell Kapoor is the founding director of the Ashevillage Institute and Kleiwerks International. She is an avid mud mama, international activist, designer, teacher, and community organizer who’s work has generated natural building movements of hundreds of thousands of people from over 52 countries. Janell led the first earthen building trainings in Thailand, Argentina and Turkey. Many of her students have established natural building and permaculture education centers, businesses and collectives, programs and projects, as well as regional legislation reform and documentary films, including El barro Las manos La Casa. Janell has been featured in numerous articles, radio shows, and in the documentary, First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture. In 1998, she built the first modern earthen building in the Southeastern United States. Janell has been enjoying her home in the oldest mountains on the planet since 1996. She currently lives at the Ashevillage Sanctuary.
Email: janell @ ashevillage dot org
Urban Farm School Manager & Site Coordinator: Sunil Patel is the lead instructor and Ashevillage site manager for the Urban Farm School. He also developed the whole-systems curriculum for the school. Sunil has been farming biodynamically for eight years in various locales across the United States. For four years, he facilitated farming internships and managed a CSA that produced 100 shares a season at Greenmoore Gardens. In addition, Sunil is a skilled cook, baker, and cheese maker. So far, Sunil is loving his life at Ashevillage and eagerly awaits the kick-off of the Urban Farm School!
Email: sunil @ ashevillage dot org
Natural Building Instructor, Lead Builder, Site Manager, Volunteer Coordinator: Steve O Brodmerkel is a lifelong builder and general contractor with over 32 years of hands on building experience and consulting in conventional construction and natural building systems. As a teacher of construction and natural building Steveo has taught with The Natural Building School and Kleiwerks International and has been involved with the Ashevillage institute since it’s inception. Steveo brings extraordinary experience and knowledge about materials, design and applications as well as an ability as a teacher to help students to individually understand and engage their building experience easily. Steveo’s very first natural building project is one of the nation’s finest examples of how to build beautifully with mud.
Email: steveo @ ashevillage dot org
Urban Farm School Learning Catalyst: Keri Evjy is co-founder of Herban Farmacy, an herbal CSA, as well as Healing Roots Design, a triple bottom line enterprise that promotes healthy human communities through education, demonstration, and collaboration on ecological design. Keri worked with the National Gardening Association, and graduated from Yestermorrow Design/Build School, and Kleiwerks International Permaculture Program. She is a Certified Clinical Herbalist from the Appalachian School of Holistic Herbalism and a graduate of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.
Email: keri at ashevillage dot org
Operations Manager & Program Development: Jennifer Flynn sensed the natural environment as the grounding for all of life’s activities at an early age. Discovering the sacred in nature, in the self and all that one connects to during their time on this planet underlies her work. As an ecopsychologist she has designed and instructed school programs for inner city and disadvantaged youth in Michigan and North Carolina, in addition to conducting ecotherapy and developing recovery and personal retreat programs in the Asheville area. While serving as a community government and very small business liaison she has created collaborative permaculture and place-based training projects where the community gets the rich benefits of digging in the dirt. These projects include a demonstration propagation garden for forest food species, pollinator gardens, and elder home container gardens within the small town. Jennifer is also an artist connecting people with the natural and personal worlds through the creation of mixed media and garden sculptures and wearable art. She currently serves as an advisor and consultant to organizations, businesses, and individuals on the intersection of business, natural and personal worlds.
Email: jennifer @ ashevillage dot org
Program Manager, Community Immersions: Kristin Peppel brings to the Ashevillage Institute over 13 years of experience of community building and engagement embedded within the broader goal of sustaining natural systems. As an ecopsychologist and coach, she is committed to helping people to embrace their true nature and to deepen their relationships with the full community of life. Over the past six years, Kristin has worked with Land-of-Sky Regional Council as a conservation planning consultant to develop a regional green infrastructure network for the broader WNC region and raise awareness of the need for conservation planning within municipal and regional planning and design processes. During this time, she also worked closely with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to design and pilot their AT Community program, which serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T. corridor. Prior to her work as a consultant, she served as Program Manager for The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network for seven years where she designed and facilitated team-based training programs for communities around the country via two national programs: the Green Infrastructure and Gateway Community Leadership Programs. Kristin’s formal education includes a M.A. in Ecopsychology/Transpersonal Psychology from Naropa University; and a M.S. in Environmental Education and B.S. degrees in Ecology and Marine Biology from Florida Tech. On the personal side, Kristin loves to have her hands in the dirt – creating living spaces of beauty and abundance, and spending time in the woods with her husband, Andrew and her two beautiful twin boys, Austin and Lucas.
Email: kristin @ ashevillage dot org
Program Outreach & Administration: Kathryn Blau is a native North Carolinian, having migrated from the Piedmont to Asheville after earning a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Her first two years in the Blue Ridge Mountains were spent coordinating volunteers and educating the public about the French Broad River with RiverLink and AmeriCorps. During that time she participated in a workshop at Ashevillage and fell in love with their work, vowing to one day be more deeply involved. A three-year stint on the West Coast got her hooked on all things gardening, homesteading, herbalism, and permaculture. While in Portland she was an AmeriCorps Team Leader, coordinating workshops and environmental service for the Northwest Service Academy’s Ecological Restoration Team. Kathryn thrives on the intersections between nature, culture, and spirituality and loves bringing these together as a part of the Ashevillage team.
Email: kathryn @ ashevillage dot org
Natural Building Outreach & Communications Coordinator: Amanda Garratt grew up in rural Maryland, where she took for granted the idea of having a safe and healthy environment. However, once on her own, she realized that not everyone has this luxury, and has since dedicated her life to environmental justice issues. She is a Fulbright scholar and has a joint Masters degree in Community Organizing and Natural Resources & the Environment from the University of Michigan. Amanda is currently the Director of Fundraising & Communications for a non-profit in the Peruvian Amazon, where she has been working with indigenous people for the past four years on environmental justice issues, permaculture and waste management. She is delighted to be a part of WASI, Ashevillage Institute, and Kleiwerks International and to have the opportunity to strengthen the natural building movement across the Americas.
Email: amanda @ ashevillage dot org
Interns & Volunteers