Maureen McNamara Best is the Executive Director of Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), a 501c3 non-profit based in Roanoke, VA. LEAP’s mission is to nurture healthy communities and resilient local food systems. They work closely with their community partners, farmers, and the broader community to meet this mission. LEAP programs include LEAP Community Markets (West End and Grandin Village), LEAP Mobile Market, Healthy Food Incentives, The Kitchen and regional food system development.

Maureen has over fourteen years of experience working with food, agriculture and community. Her work and professional experience is wide-ranging and includes teaching high school agriculture in Raleigh, NC, working with migrant farmworkers in eastern NC and in the Colorado plains, doing food safety inspections in Boulder CO, and studying the economic viability of the local food system in Northern Colorado.

Maureen has a MA in Anthropology from Colorado State University and undergraduate degrees in Agriculture Education, Spanish, and Anthropology from North Carolina State University. You can contact Maureen at

Conference Session

Diversity Model of Production: Growing Food Systems and Farmers Together

Diversity is central to any sustainable system whether farming, food or business. This session will explore the diversity model as applied to farm-based models of production, food system development, and organizational program design. Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), as many small-scale farmers do, started with a farmers market and has diversified our work in line with and in response to the farming community.

This session will be based on Best’s research with small scale farmers in Northern Colorado and her experience with LEAP helping develop a more resilient local food system.

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