March 26, 2019
Growing Places Names Ayn Yeagle as Its Executive Director

Ayn Yeagle
February 23, 2018 — Growing Places, a Leominster nonprofit that works to create equitable access to sustainable and healthy food for people living in north central Massachusetts, recently announced that it has named Ayn Yeagle as its new executive director.

Yeagle succeeds Joanne Foster, executive director of Growing Places since 2011, who last September announced she would step down from the post after relocating out of state.

Board Chair Mary Giannetti said, “Ayn has a demonstrated track record of innovation and collaboration to advance food access in our region. She is a dynamic and passionate leader with the management and development acumen necessary to lead Growing Places.”

“In light of Ayn’s involvement in our region over many years, her contributions to advance food access, and her deep knowledge of our field, I am delighted to pass the torch to such a bright and energetic colleague and to support her leadership," Foster said.

Yeagle will assume her new job on Feb. 26, and will conduct a listening tour of the local food system.

Yeagle has served with the Montachusett Opportunity Council since 2005, ultimately leading programs including Meals on Wheels, which served 180,000 meals to seniors annually, the youth health initiative Fun 'n FITchburg, and a collaborative effort with Growing Places and First Parish Housing of Fitchburg to build accessible garden beds for seniors/

In 2015, Yeagle joined Compass Group as the Northeast regional dietitian for Chartwells K-12, supporting more than 100 school districts in New England and New York. She transitioned to business development in 2017, bringing a public health focus to corporate sales strategy in the school nutrition market.

Among her accomplishments was including resource development for partner districts to secure grant funding and offer after-school meals, increased support for local food access in school through programs such as school gardens, Farm to School, and dedicating crops grown exclusively for school meals.

“As a strong advocate for nutrition and food justice, I can’t wait to collaborate with the full Growing Places community to build on the organization’s positive momentum,” said Yeagle.

Yeagle earned a Bachelor of Science degree in human nutrition from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Master of Science degree in human nutrition from Boston University.

Founded in 2001 as a private nonprofit organization to donate raised-bed vegetable gardens to low-income people in central Massachusetts, Growing Places has expanded its focus beyond donating garden materials to creating long-term, sustainable changes in the lives of participants.

To date, Growing Places has created more than 450 gardens and provided education and technical support to more than 1,500 low-to-moderate income people.

For the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, Growing Places reported $209,000 in revenue, of which $200,000 came from contributions and grants, and $226,000 in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.

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