February 26, 2019 – After an extensive search, the environmental education program MEarth has named a local man, Benjamin Eichorn, as its new executive director. Eichorn, whose family runs Country Flat Farm in Palo Colorado, formerly worked at Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley and for the past nine years has run a consultancy called Grow Your Lunch, promoting garden-based education around the United States.
“It’s really a perfect fit,” says Eichorn. “I’m delighted to be back in the Monterey Bay area and living on the family farm. I got to milk the goats before I left for work today.”
But the new position is a homecoming in more ways than one. “I had an epiphany there when I first came to visit and MEarth was just getting started in 2003,” Eichorn says. “I was a junior in college and looking for a subject for my senior thesis, it was so impressive I decided that edible education was it. MEarth was extremely influential in defining my professional direction.”
Located on the 10-acre Hilton Bialek Habitat, MEarth provides hands-on experiential learning for kids at Carmel Middle School next door and students throughout the area.
“MEarth is in a wonderful phase right now,” he adds. “It has really matured and I feel that I’m inheriting something that has a clear path forward. The legacy that Tanja (Roos) left is very clear and apparent to me.”
The new director has two areas he intends to focus on as he takes the reins: the “Community Connection,” strengthening ties between what is happening at MEarth with the local culinary world and the general public through monthly Sustainable Chef Dinners, the annual MEarth Day and other projects; and recruitment of individual and corporate sponsors to help finance on-going programs.
Grow Your Lunch, the consultancy that Eichorn is winding down, helped bring edible education to schools, summer camps and youth clubs like the Girl Scouts and the YMCA. Since founding it in 2010, Eichorn has helped design gardens and train teachers all over California, as well as in Colorado, Illinois and Hawaii. He’s the author of the handbook “Edible Gardening: Ten Essential Lessons for Growing Your Own Food.”
Country Flat Farm, run by his father Peter Eichorn, specializes in producing honey, Meyer lemons and cut flowers.