We all have at least one moment in time when an idea can change the course of our life forever. My life changing idea was to go back to school in my thirties. I had been working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the world of science fascinated me for the first time in my life. Health and nutrition had been an interest of mine for many years so health sciences became my pursuit.
I moved to the state of Washington and received a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore. Subsequent to graduating in 2000 I worked as a licensed healthcare practitioner for 12 years in Great Falls Montana helping my patients find balance in their health and in their lives.
Concern about food quality and diminished access to healthy, nutrient-dense food put me on a quest to learn more for myself and for others. As co-creator of River City Harvest, Inc., a non-profit community garden organization, I developed a passion for growing food and teaching people the benefits of knowing where your food comes from.
In 2013, to better understand the global food system and the challenges people have in getting the best quality food, I received a Masters Degree in Food Culture and Communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenza, Italy.
Knowledge can be passed on in many ways and I have experience in a wide range of these communication methods. I have been a columnist for the Great Falls Tribune; I have given lectures to professionals and the general public; I have conducted workshops on various topics and, as a clinician, I have worked one-on-one with many people.
The health of people depends on a healthy sustainable environment. Understanding this link between the human health system and the health system of our environment is my passion and expertise. We are all parts of a whole and need to work together to accomplish sustainable long-term good health for our bodies and our planet.
Deb Oleynik is an amazing individual when it comes to understanding the relationship between what we eat and our health, and what it requires to raise healthy, sustainable food. Rooted in this passion, she helped found River City Harvest, our local community gardens. Deb, Wade Crouch (our Extension agent) and I spent several years starting a series of gardens where Great Falls’ individuals and families could grow their own food even if they didn’t have the space or the knowledge to do so at their own homes.
Working with Deb was a pleasure from the beginning. With her organizational skills and diplomatic qualities, we made an excellent team managing gardens and gardeners. She possesses attention to details and can think steps ahead of what needs to be accomplished at the given time. But with her efforts we now have well-established gardens that provide a lot of food to families. She’s been sorely missed since moving on to a bigger and better adventure in her life.