Friends of SFHC

Dr. Rachel Bezner Kerr – Professor at Cornell University, Advisor Board Member, Friends of SFHC

Professor, Department of Global Development, Cornell University and Adjunct Professor, University of Western Ontario. Website:

DSC01717 - Version 2Rachel is a long-term collaborator and research partner of SFHC and a member of Friends of SFHC. She is committed to the participatory, interdisciplinary and social justice focus of the SFHC organization. Rachel helps to design, conduct and analyse SFHC research, and conducts her own related research on varied topics, from seed access, to AIDS-affected agriculture, to agricultural history. Now based in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University, Rachel has a PhD in Development Sociology, a MSc in soil science and international development and a BSc in International Development. Rachel is married to Wayne and they have three children, Carmen, Miriam and Isaiah. She loves reading, gardening, hiking and practicing her Tumbuka!

Dr. Isaac Luginaah – SFHC Collaborator and Advisory Board Member of Friends of SFHC

Professor of Geography at Western University, Canada and member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. (

Isaac has been a long-time collaborator with SFHC. The main focus in his work with SFHC has been on the evaluation of the impact of project interventions on food security, household income, and dietary diversity, but he has also been involved in project design and implementation. Isaac’s other research interests include environment and health, population health, and GIS applications in health. In his free time, Isaac enjoys spending time with his family and cheering on Arsenal!

Catherine Hickey – Advisory Board Member, Friends of SFHC

hickeyCatherine began working with SFHC in 2013. Initially she worked on project reporting, monitoring and evaluation. She is now an Advisory Board Member. Aside from working with the exceptional staff, Catherine’s favorite part about collaborating with SFHC is talking to farmers and learning from their experiences within and outside the project. Catherine has a Masters degree in Geography and in addition to her work with SFHC has worked on projects in South America, West Africa, and East Africa. She is now based in Ottawa, Canada. In her free time, Catherine prefers to be in the mountains – hiking, snowshoeing, and camping!

Other Supporters and Collaborating Organizations

Dr. Martin Entz– SFHC Collaborator

Professor of Cropping Systems and Natural Systems Agriculture, Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba.

Martin Entz is a professor of Cropping Systems and Natural Systems Agriculture at the University of Manitoba. His long-term interest is incorporating ecological principles into modern farming systems, including conservation agriculture, organic production and crop-livestock integration. Entz is the founder and research leader of the Glenlea study, Canada’s oldest organic-conventional comparison study (Watch Here). Dr. Entz is committed to farmer-directed research approaches and has conducted farmer participatory work in Central America, Zimbabwe as well as in Canada. He leads a national USC Canada “Agriculture and AgriFood Canada funded Farmer participatory plant breeding” project that tests the role of farmer-breeders in genetic improvement of wheat, oat and potato.

Dr. Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong – SFHC Collaborator

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & the Environment, University of Denver, USA. Website:

Hanson is a human-environment geographer with research at the intersection of two main subfields: (1) the human dimensions of global environmental change, and (2) sustainable agriculture and food systems. His empirical work draws heavily upon innovative qualitative research methods and critical perspectives in political ecology. Originally from Ghana, he got interested in SFHC’s work in Malawi through extended discussions with Rachel Bezner Kerr. He has been a collaborator since 2012, and has been deeply involved in the participatory climate change adaptation research. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado. Outside of teaching and research, he enjoys listening to music with a solid beat, attending concerts, and traveling and photographing everything along the way. Two of his most favorite places are Ekwendeni and Livingstonia (both in rural Malawi), where he loves the climate, tranquility, organic chombe tea, and chambo fish.

Dr. Aaron Iverson – SFHC Collaborator

Assistant Professor, St. Lawrence University, New York, USA and advisory board member of Friends of SFHC

Aaron is a collaborating researcher with the FARMS for Biodiversity project. He is an agroecologist interested in the intersection of biodiversity conservation and human livelihood in agricultural landscapes. In particular, his research addresses the question of how wild biodiversity can benefit farmers through pest control and pollination services. He has conducted this research in temperate and tropical regions, and is excited to work with farmers and collaborators in Malawi. Aaron believes that farmers are natural experimenters and naturalists and that their knowledge is integral for developing sustainable agricultural systems. He received his PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan. Aaron and his wife, Emily, have two young children, Andre and Virginia. He enjoys doing just about anything outside—camping, hiking, gardening, and running are some favorites. 

The Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI)

SKI is a collaborative project undertaken by Biowatch South Africa, EarthLore Foundation and the Bio-economy Research Chair at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Its primary objective is to help smallholder farmers revive and enhance traditional seed and knowledge systems, while remaining responsive to a their unique agricultural, social and ecological contexts. SKI seeks to engage with decision-makers to support local control over seed, and to promote gender equity in seed and knowledge networks. The project began in South Africa, but hopes to engage with NGOs, researchers, and national/regional partners across Southern Africa–much as they have engaged with SFHC. We look forward to an ongoing collaboration.

Read more about SKI here and here.

Ekwendeni Hospital AIDS Program (EHAP)

The SFHC project has had a collaborative relationship with EHAP for many years. We have provided legume seeds and training to the community-based child care committees for orphan care. We have also provided legume seeds and training for home-based care patients, distributed through EHAP’s Home Based Care volunteers. This past year we have carried out research in conjunction with EHAP on the agricultural needs of AIDS-affected families, and hope to develop a comprehensive approach to issues of HIV and food security with EHAP. They can be reached at or their website:

Dr. Sieglinde Snapp

Professor of Soils and Cropping Systems, Crop and Soil Sciences and Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University.

Sieg Snapp is a Soils and Cropping Systems Ecologist with long-term interests in supporting farmer innovation around soil fertility management and sustainable production. She has collaborated with the SFHC Project since 2000, focusing on legume diversification and residue management to improve nitrogen and phosphorus nutrition, and soil health. Doubled up legume systems that provide nutritious grain and soil improvement is an area of on-going research. Dr. Snapp is committed to multidisciplinary partnerships and participatory strategies that involve small-scale African farmers in the research process, and enhance relevance of technologies. Her participatory action research approaches such as the mother and baby trial design are now used by researchers and educators in more than thirty countries. Check out her website for more information:

Verna Li – SFHC Community Assistant, Cornell University ’24

Verna is a third year hospitality student with an interest in the arts. She joined SFHC because she wants to spend her time in a meaningful organization that makes a positive impact in the world. She currently serves in SFHC as a community assistant with a focus on social media and digital marketing for the non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and experiencing new things. 

Nicole A. Velecela- SFHC Community Assistant, Cornell University ’24

Nicole is a third year Human Biology, Health, and Society student with a minor in Health Policy in the College of Human Ecology. She is interested in learning about community health and in promoting health equity. She joined SFHC because she greatly values its efforts in community leadership, sustainability, and health. She is currently working as a community assistant providing administrative support.

Noah Choe- SFHC Community Assistant, Cornell University ’24

Noah is studying International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University and expects to graduate in May 2024. He is currently working as a community assistant and also interned in Malawi with SFHC as a part of the CALS Global Fellows Program in the summer of 2022. Through global practice, he is interested in better understanding food insecurity and environmental conservation. During his free time, Noah likes to play soccer and spend time with his family.  

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