The Seed Was Planted…

From Humble Beginnings

In 2002, after seeing a plea from the Flemington Area FoodPantry requesting that local gardeners donate surplus produce, Chip Paillex and his daughter Kyra, who was four years old at the time, happily gave the excess vegetables they cultivated from their family garden to the food pantry. That year Chip donated 120 pounds of fresh produce from his home garden to the food pantry.

When Chip saw the need for fresh fruits and vegetables at local food pantries, he became inspired to grow more produce to feed the hungry. Today, Grow-a-Row is a thriving 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 423 acres over four farm locations that donates farm fresh produce to feeding organizations across the nation and educates people facing food insecurity by teaching them how to eat healthy. In addition, we are a Volunteer Destination Center with more than 10,000 volunteers harvesting on the farm each year.

Chip Kyra 2002
Sun Art
10 2 11 PVO green beans rotated e1718121493304
Young Learner on the Farm
Cloud Art

We believe EVERYONE should have access
to fresh food for healthy living.


Meet the Team.

Board of Trustees

Juliana Drinane LI

Juliana Drinane

Greg Johnson

Gregory Johnson

Vice Chair
Melody Culton LI

Melody Culton

Ron Kazel

Ron Kazel


Chip Paillex

Kristin Berlew Final Headshot

Kristin Berlew

Fabian Rojas Valley

Fabian Rojas

Michael Beneduce

Mike Beneduce

Philippe Beekman

Phil Beekman

Jerry Walker

Jerry Walker

Paige Meade Gonzalez

Paige Meade-Gonzales

Crystal Rose LI

Crystal Rose

tractor with farm scene

Meet our Staff.


President & Founder
Chief Financial Officer
VP of Programming & Operations
Sr. Director of Development & Marketing
Director of Farm Management Operations
Director of Facilities, Crop Production & Distribution

Sr. Manager of Development & Marketing

Manager of CSR Relations
Field Team & Special Projects Manager
Volunteer & Database Manager
Executive Chef & Programming Manager
Corporate Relations Manager
Fruit and Vegetable Technician
Finance & Administrative Manager
Social Media Specialist & Programming Associate

Programming Associate –  Education and Volunteers

Fruit & Vegetable Technician
Fruit & Vegetable Technician
Equipment Operator & Fruit and Vegetable Technician
Equipment Operator & Fruit & Vegetable Technician
Farmer with Produce Over Farm Sketch
Equipment Operator & Fruit & Vegetable Technician
Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Programming Associate – Volunteers

Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Programming Associate –  Education and Volunteers

Trust & Transparency

America’s Grow-a-Row Awards.

Don’t take our word for it…see the many organizations who have recognized our work.
Farm Landscape
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Chip Paillex

President & Founder

Chip Paillex, President and Founder, started America’s Grow-a-Row as a private garden project in 2002. He formally converted his efforts into a fully operational, farming non-profit program in 2008.  As a result of his personal accomplishments with America’s Grow-a-Row, Chip has received numerous volunteer and community service awards.  In 2010, he was publicly recognized as a New Jersey Hero at the New Jersey Governor Inaugural Swearing In Ceremony for Governor Chris Christie.  In 2011, Chip was appointed by Governor Christie to the New Jersey Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee.  In 2014, he was nationally recognized with both the CNN Hero and the Ford Motor Company Go Further Everyday Hero awards. In 2015, Chip was invited to be a TEDx Morristown Presenter and in 2016 he was a Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honoree.

Prior to making America’s Grow-a-Row his full-time endeavor, Chip spent 17 years in Sales and Marketing and Customer Development for North American Unilever Foods Corporation.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Kutztown University and studied abroad at Buckinghamshire College in the United Kingdom. Chip is an Eagle Scout and an ordained Deacon of the Presbyterian Church, and he enjoys hiking, camping, running, surf casting at the Jersey shore, and spending time with his family.

Dan Dietz

Chief Financial Officer

Dan joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff as Chief Financial Officer in June 2019. He was thrilled at the opportunity to utilize his professional background and give back in a volunteer capacity. Dan gained extensive finance experience while working with Chemtrade as Group Vice President and at General Chemical in several other leadership positions. Prior to spending 21 years working for Chemtrade and General Chemical, Dan began his career at Mobil Chemical as a Process Engineer. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Corporate Accounting from the University of Rochester. Dan is an Eagle Scout, and he enjoys traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with his family.   

Tristan Wallack

Vice President of Programming and Operations

Tristan joined America’s Grow-a-Row as Senior Director of Programming and Operations in February 2020. His responsibilities include overseeing all education programs; all produce distribution locally, regionally, and nationally; and the volunteer program.  

Tristan earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the University of New Hampshire, where he also gained his appreciation for the outdoors. Prior to joining America’s Grow-a-Row, Tristan spent nearly 11 years at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the state’s largest hunger relief organization, where he served as Director of Food Sourcing and Distribution. Before that, he worked in various managerial roles in the for-profit industry, including in sales, inside sales, and marketing. 

In his free time, Tristan enjoys playing volleyball, hiking, skiing, jogging, biking, fishing, reading, and spending time with his wife and three cats. In addition, Tristan has been an active member of the Board of Trustees for the Franklin Food Bank and currently serves as the Board Vice President. 

Karla Wallack

Senior Director of Development and Marketing

Karla joined America’s Grow-a-Row as Sr. Director of Development and Marketing in October of 2023. As a long-time volunteer, she was thrilled to become part of the team. Karla has worked in the nonprofit sector for over ten years, during which time she served as Senior Director of Development and Marketing for Crossroads4Hope (formerly Cancer Support Community Central NJ), then as the Senior Director of International Development for Rutgers University Foundation, and most recently as the Executive Director of the Affinity Foundation. Prior to her time in nonprofit, she worked in senior level sales and marketing positions in the packaging and solar industries. She made the transition to nonprofit work to make a difference in her community. 

Karla spent many years in the sport of Tae Kwon Do, achieving her second degree blackbelt and teaching the sport to young children. In her spare time Karla enjoys spending time with her husband and three cats, hiking, biking, running, cooking, and reading. 

“I am passionate about what I do because everyone deserves access to the basic essentials, especially fresh produce, in order to maintain a healthy and happy life.” 

Jeremy Compton

Director of Farm Management Operations

Jeremy joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in November 2014 as Director of Farm Management Operations. Jeremy was born in Flemington, NJ and at the age of 7 moved with his family to Wisconsin, where they became dairy farmers. After 7 years of dairy farming, the Comptons moved back to Flemington, and at the age of 17 Jeremy started working part-time at the Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown. After graduating from high school, Jeremy began working at Snyder Farm full-time. He was responsible for maintaining all of the tree fruit research at the farm. In addition to collecting and analyzing all of the data, Jeremy planted, pruned, and trained all of the tree fruit. He also helped train and educate other commercial New Jersey farmers about different tree fruit techniques and methods. In January 2003, after 10 years of service, Jeremy left Snyder Farm to dedicate his full attention to Peaceful Valley Orchards. 

Marc Wirasnik

Director of Facilities, Crop Production & Distribution

Marc joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in March 2015 as Farm Equipment Operator and Grounds Manager. Marc studied Agriculture Business Development and Equine Science at Morrisville State College and has had over 10 years of farming experience. He began spending time on our Pittstown farm at the age of 12. Marc has traveled throughout North America showing draft horses. 

Erin Witherspoon

Senior Manager of Development and Marketing

Erin joined America’s Grow-a-Row as Sr. Manager of Development and Marketing in November of 2023. Her journey with Grow-a-Row began as a volunteer in 2018. Now on the development team, she’s excited to leverage her experience and passion for our mission to support fundraising, marketing, and development efforts for our growing farm.  Prior to joining Grow-a-Row, Erin’s nonprofit career started at the Affinity Foundation, philanthropic arm of Affinity Federal Credit Union. During her eight years at the Foundation, she focused on fundraising, community engagement, marketing, and programming for underserved communities and people struggling with financial hardship.  

“The first time I volunteered at America’s Grow-a-Row, I learned about what it meant to live in a ‘food desert’. That term stuck with me over the years, and now I have the chance to get produce into the hands of more families to support their mental and physical health.”   

When Erin’s not out cultivating support or developing new marketing campaigns, you can find her snowboarding, camping, or hiking with her dog, Tillie. 

Rachel Buxbaum

Manager of CSR Relations

Rachel joined America’s Grow-a-Row as the Manager of CSR Relations in February of 2024. She fell in love with the organization after visiting the farm as a volunteer. Rachel is enthusiastic about fostering relationships with our corporate partners through our volunteer program, Pennies for Produce, and other cause marketing efforts. Prior to her role at America’s Grow-a-Row, she worked in marketing and development, finding her purpose in partnering with nonprofits.

“When I came to volunteer, I was inspired by how the actions of one person can affect so many. I hope to leave a similar impact on the world.” 

Rachel is on a mission to visit as many national parks as possible and in addition to food insecurity, is passionate about animals with two rescue dogs of her own.

Jacqui Witte

Field Team and Special Projects Manager

After volunteering with America’s Grow-a-Row’s Farm to Fork event in 2015, Jacqui continued to volunteer in the fields before joining the staff in September 2015 as a Program Associate. Jacqui is now the Field Team and Special Projects Manager, and her responsibilities include managing the field team, organizing and running volunteer events, attending networking events, and assisting with operations. 

Jacqui has always had a desire to help others and she is passionate about health and wellness. In her free time, Jacqui enjoys spending time with her kids, walking, house projects, and exploring new places.

Connie Miller

Volunteer and Database Manager

Connie has been active with America’s Grow-a-Row as a volunteer and supporter since 2003 and joined the staff in 2016. Her responsibilities include scheduling volunteer groups, leading volunteer groups, and serving as system administrator.  

Connie graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in Business Administration, had a career in information technology, raised a family, and went back to school to become a registered nurse. She thoroughly enjoys working at America’s Grow-a-Row and for the people we serve. She also enjoys spending time with her family, raising sheep on their farm, traveling, and hiking. 

Shauna Alvarez

Executive Chef and Program Manager

Shauna joined America’s Grow-a-Row in February 2020 as Executive Chef and Programming Lead. Shauna graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and from The Culinary School at the Art Institute of Philadelphia with a Baking and Pastry Certificate. Prior to joining America’s Grow-a-Row, Shauna was a Nutrition Educator at Maine SNAP-Ed, teaching people at all ages and stages of their lives how to shop, cook, and eat well on a budget. Before shifting her focus to public health, Shauna worked as a pastry chef in Philadelphia for 10 years.

Shauna loves to read, garden, and spends a lot of time exploring the outdoors with her three kids and husband.

Tim Vogel

Corporate Relations Manager

Tim joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in the spring of 2021 as Corporate Relations Manager. Previously he spent 12 years at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey as the Director of Food Sourcing. Prior to that, Tim spent 30 years at Wakefern Food Corp. in a variety of management positions, retiring in 2008. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration from William Paterson University and is a US Army veteran. Tim enjoys birding, hiking, and traveling. He and his wife Sandy live in Denville, New Jersey and enjoy being grandparents.

Marietta Avila

Fruit and Vegetable Technician

Marietta is a seasonal member of our farm team in the role of Fruit and Vegetable Technician. She is happy to be a part of America’s Grow-a-Row knowing that all of the produce that she nurtures will be going to families who are need of fresh, healthy produce. 

Sue daCosta

Finance and Administration Manager

Sue began as a volunteer at America’s Grow-a-Row in 2010 prior to joining the team in 2015. Her Finance and Administration experience comes from 20+ years in various positions at EDS, Microsoft and Acorn Montessori School.

“After almost 10 years, I’m still thrilled to be part of this team!”

When Sue isn’t at AGAR, she loves spending time with her family and enjoys travel and cooking/baking.

Erica Stevenson

Social Media Specialist & PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATE

Erica has been with America’s Grow-a-Row since 2022 as a Social Media Specialist and Programming Associate. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2017 with a degree in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior and started with the organization as a seasonal Programming Associate in 2020. In her current role, Erica is responsible for creating engaging content and fostering meaningful connections with supporters across various social media channels to support the organization’s mission of increasing access to fresh produce for people struggling with food insecurity. She also enjoys working alongside volunteers in the fields during harvest events and answering questions about the organization’s mission, farming operations, and education programs.

In her free time, Erica coaches gymnastics, surfs, and practices hot yoga.

Jess Huber

Programming Associate

Jess joined America’s Grow-a-Row in April 2020 as a Programming Associate. Some of her responsibilities include leading volunteer groups in the fields, on- and off-the-field education, and leading Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days. Prior to joining the America’s Grow-a-Row staff, she worked at Valley Crest Farm and Preserve, where she was the Office Manager, oversaw the CSA, and frequently assisted the farmers. Jess was a teacher at a local preschool for 8 years. She graduated from Raritan Valley Community College in 2019 with an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Environment Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers University in 2022She has a strong foundation in understanding the complex dynamics between environmental issues and societal behaviors and solutions to environmental, health, and food issues.

In her free time, Jess enjoys hiking, taking her dogs for walks, and reading.

Thelma Enriquez

Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Thelma is a seasonal member of our farm team in the role of Fruit and Vegetable Technician. Her joy for working with the crops here truly shows as she is always seen with the biggest smile on her face! Thelma enjoys helping package produce for our Free Farm Market program knowing the produce is getting sent out to families in our community. 

Zach Johnson

Fruit and Vegetable Technician

Zach joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in July 2020 as a member of the programming team and in October 2021 joined the farm team as a Fruit and Vegetable Technician. Zach graduated from St. John’s University in New York City in 2017 with a degree in Philosophy and spent time at Texas Tech University pursuing a Master of Arts in Philosophy before leaving school to begin a career closer to nature.

Zach enjoys running, weightlifting, and reading across a variety of academic subjects. 

Kyle Tomkins

Equipment Operator and Fruit and Vegetable Technician

Kyle joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in January 2022 as an Equipment Operator and Fruit and Vegetable Technician. Kyle grew up in Hope, New Jersey and has worked in agriculture for over 10 years. At the farm, Kyle enjoys operating the tractor and keeping the fields mowed. 

Kyle is a nature enthusiast and hopes to retire to a cabin in the woods someday.

Chad Miller

Equipment Operator & Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Chad joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in March 2023 as an Equipment Operator and Fruit and Vegetable Technician. Chad grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, where he gained many years of experience growing hay and operating equipment. Chad maintains the fields and equipment at our farm. 

Mark Cantarella

Equipment Operator & Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Mark Cantarella joined the America’s Grow-a-Row team in January of 2024. Mark specializes in fruit production and has many years of experience in agriculture where his responsibilities included growing, harvesting, packaging, and shipping fruits and vegetables, and maintaining fruit and nut trees. Mark earned a B.S. in Horticulture from Delaware Valley College and after, spent 32 years as a supervisor at Rutgers Fruit Research Center. 

Mark admires the purpose and function of the farm at America’s Grow-a-Row and is pleased to be growing produce for people who are in need of fresh, nutritious food. 

In his free time, Mark enjoys gardening, doing maintenance work on his historic home, and spending time with his family.

Francisco Enriquez

Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Francisco (Paco) is a member of our farm team as a Fruit and Vegetable Technician. His favorite place to be at our farm is in the orchard. Paco takes great pride in helping our team to produce high quality produce and growing what we consider to be some of the biggest peaches around!

Craig Smith

Programming Associate – Volunteers

Craig joined the America’s Grow-a-Row staff in the summer of 2019 as a Seasonal Programming Associate. Prior to joining the staff, Craig was a volunteer for our Free Farm Market program. In his free time, Craig coordinates a free community breakfast at The Liberty Bell Church in Allentown, PA. Craig also enjoys biking, hiking, and going to Phillies baseball games with his wife Sharon.

Jose Enriquez

Fruit & Vegetable Technician

Jose joined the America’s Grow-a-Row farm team in the summer of 2020 as a Fruit and Vegetable Technician. He grew up working on his father’s farm in Guatemala, where he gained many years of experience growing and harvesting produce. Jose’s favorite task on the farm is planting, because he knows what is grown will end up on the tables of people who need it most. He is proud to serve his community and make a difference.

Babou Diallo


Babou takes great pride in his work here at America’s Grow-a-Row! He helps to keep things clean and tidy so the organization can run smoothly day to day.

Kristen Senuto

Programming Associate

Kristen joined America’s Grow-a-Row in May 2023 as a Programming Associate. Some of her responsibilities include leading volunteer groups in the fields and assisting with Grow-a-Row Kids Farm Days. She has previously worked as a camp counselor and student teacher, where she gained experience being a positive role-model to children and teaching students about food systems. She enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She recently graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Food Systems.