Our Mission

Recirculating Farms is a 501c3 non-profit collaborative of farmers, educators, and activists committed to building an equitable food system from farm to fork. We run ecologically and socially responsible programs, that grow local, affordable food through innovative, eco-efficient methods, based on historic practices. Through training, outreach and advocacy, we advance sustainable farming and create stable jobs in green businesses, in diverse communities, to foster physical, mental, and financial wellness.

Our Challenge

Our primary food production systems in the United States are overly industrialized — for example, concentrated animal feed lots, factory fishing boats, and massive fruit and vegetable farms. Reliance on imported foods, with minimal safety inspections and a huge carbon footprint to transport products around the globe, hurts us and our environment, providing fewer jobs, increasing pollution and delivering consumers lower quality food. The U.S. government, in response to the public’s growing complaints about our troubled food system, continues to explore various ways to boost domestic food production. Unfortunately, it mostly does so in a manner that encourages further industrialization and poor food quality. Our challenge is to promote an alternative to this model, one that establishes healthy, natural, and community-based food production.

Our Vision

We envision a movement toward community-based food production. This can provide safer, fresher, better quality, accessible food and local green job opportunities. A different way of growing, “recirculating farming,” is emerging nationwide and can meet these goals.

Recirculating farms use constantly cleaned, recycled water as the basis to grow food. They can grow plants (recirculating hydroponics), fish (recirculating aquaculture), or plants and fish together in one system (aquaponics). Recirculating farms come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles, but they all have one main theme – recycled water. These farms are almost entirely closed loop, and can operate without chemicals or antibiotics, efficiently use water and energy, and be located virtually anywhere — importantly, near the people they serve. This cuts down on use of fuel for shipping and refrigeration and lowers costs of the farm; savings that can be passed on to the consumer, making good food more affordable. These farms can provide a wide range of products, including finfish, shellfish, herbs, fruits, vegetables, other plants and flowers.

Our vision is for communities across the country to have recirculating farms as a source of local, healthy fresh food and stable jobs in green businesses.

Our History

Recirculating Farms grew out of a program initiated at Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy organization. In 2009, staff with the Fish and Oceans Program at Food & Water Watch coordinated a meeting of leading recirculating aquaculturists, hydroponic and aquaponic farmers, other scientists and government agencies involved in agriculture and fisheries fields. The outcome of this meeting was a unanimous call for a coordinating collaborative entity that could help raise the profile of recirculating farms in the United States and push for policy, legislative and educational initiatives. Thus, Recirculating Farms was born.

In its infancy we were a group of professionals, entrepreneurs and others interested in exploring a better, more local way to provide sustainably-produced, accessible food. Since that time, Recirculating Farms has grown in membership and programs, developing strategic plans to promote policy, legislative, and educational activities throughout the U.S.

We are headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana where we have a dedicated local team and several urban farms in cooperation with veterans, musicians, senior housing and community health and wellness organizations, managed under “Growing Local NOLA”. We run a mobile fresh food delivery and holistic health program “Growing Local On the Geaux”, that brings various health-supportive services into New Orleans neighborhoods with low-access to such resources.

Our Team

Sascha Bollag
Operations Manager

As Operations Manager for Recirculating Farms, Sascha handles financial information and other organization documentation, and engages on legislation, policy, and other legal work. He also enjoys assisting with farm maintenance and building projects. Previously, Sascha was “Of Counsel”. He received his J.D. from New York University and is a member of the Louisiana and Washington DC Bar Associations. He worked extensively on human rights, labor and housing issues, with a range of groups and organizations, including the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Center for Constitutional Rights and the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center. Sascha also is an affiliate attorney for Green Justice. Prior to attending law school, Sascha was an Organizer, and then a Legislative and Policy Coordinator for the Fish and Oceans Program at Food & Water Watch in Washington, DC. He has a B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dimitri Celis
Programs Manager
Dimitri Celis was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He moved to New Orleans in 2011, and graduated from Loyola University earning a B.A in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in the Social Sciences. He focused his studies on the urban environment, industrial agriculture, and the human interactions between them. Following the Jesuit teachings of living a life of service for others, he enrolled with Serve Louisiana, the state’s longest running AmeriCorps program. In addition to his AmeriCorps term, Dimitri has a decade of experience in the city’s restaurant industry as a line cook, server, and manager. His time in restaurants made apparent to him the fragility of our current food system and the disconnects between the consumer, worker, and the environment. He thinks urban agriculture, in all its different forms, is a great way to reconnect people with the environment, healthy food, and their community. Off the farm, you can catch Dimitri biking around the city, cooking in his kitchen, or watching sports with friends. Although he was raised a 49ers fan, he has since adopted the Saints as his home team.
Marianne Cufone
Executive Director
Ms. Marianne Cufone is founder and Executive Director of Recirculating Farms. She is an environmental attorney, and long time healthy, affordable food advocate. She is also a professional chef, trained by the Natural Gourmet Institute, a leading facility on health supportive culinary arts and theory. Marianne comes from a long line of farmers and fishermen and is both herself. Applying her personal and family interests to her work – she has been involved with natural resources management, focused on oceans, fisheries, seafood and agriculture for the past 15 years. Marianne directed the fish and oceans program at Food and Water Watch (2007-2011), managed the Gulf, South Atlantic and Caribbean fisheries program for the Center for Marine Conservation (1999-2003), runs Environment Matters, a consulting firm that provides legal, policy and communications support to non-profit organizations (2003-present) on environmental issues and founded Green Justice Legal, a non-profit public interest firm focused on protecting the natural and human environment. She also maintains positions on advisory committees for local, state and the federal government and various other non-profits and businesses. Marianne currently heads an environmental policy clinical class at University of Loyola New Orleans School of Law, and has taught law and various college courses and given many guest lectures at assorted academic institutions. She appears in print, television, radio, and other media, is published in various magazines and professional works and testified before U.S. Congress. Marianne is a member of: the Florida Bar; the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida; the Louisiana Bar; the United States District Court, Eastern and Middle Districts of Louisiana; the U.S. Supreme Court; the American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; and the American Fisheries Society.
Cameron Haddad
Cameron Haddad is from Mandeville, LA. After high School he pursued a career in filmmaking by getting a Bachelor’s degree in film theory and production. From there he earned an MBA with a focus in entertainment business, and story development for films and television. Following his MBA, Cam decided to go to law school and is currently enrolled at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, focusing on environmental law and policy. Cam is an intern at Recirculating Farms, providing support on video production and editing, and in other programs.
Julianne Lamy
Farm Manager
Julianne was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. She received a degree in Ecological Restoration through the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University. Following graduation, Julianne worked for AmeriCorps at the Center for Rural Livelihoods in Oregon, where she helped with their sustainable forestry production and volunteered with several indigenous communities. Julianne joined Recirculating Farms as a Farm Intern in 2022, and is now one of the Farm Managers, helping out with the day-to-day farm activities, as well as the volunteer and educational outreach programs.
Vally O'Conner
Education Programs Manager
Vally O’Conner, a Louisiana native, currently studies at The New School University in New York. With a core focus on her mission to shift power to the public alongside storytelling at the intersection of community engagement, Vally has served as Program Coordinator at Daughters Beyond Incarceration, Creative Intersectionalist at Joy Channel, and Teaching Artist at Epic Assemblies. Currently, as a Mentoring Educator at Redefine, she develops youth-based mental health and wellness curriculum through a trauma-informed lens. Additionally, upon the successful completion and certification through seven weeks of Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Strategic Management training, Vally is now DEIB certified. She continues to inform her advocacy efforts in the community through a business strategic- creative model.
Julia Ramsey
Design & Web Manager
Julia Ramsey is a nonprofit communications professional and freelance web developer. Throughout her career she’s helped organizations spanning the gamut from education to ecology clarify their message, connect with their audience, and build fundraising solutions that work. When not maintaining the Recirculating Farms website, branding, and digital outreach efforts, she can usually be found in the company of a small feral Muppet named Millie. More information and portfolio available at juliaramsey.me.
Michael Richard II
Farms Director
A native New Orleanian, Michael runs Recirculating Farms sites in Central City, New Orleans, and oversees other partner farms. He has long time experience in training, hands-on learning, and farm management, particularly in aquaponic and regenerative urban growing practices. He leads programs for children to young adults and Veterans, focused on inspiring connections to fresh food and healthy lifestyles. Michael’s passions come from growing up in a family that was constantly giving back to the community and always in the garden. He feels strongly about acknowledging indigenous peoples and their growing methods, and works to incorporate these with new approaches. Michael focuses on connecting people to agriculture through their own cultural histories. He has more than 10 years experience working with diverse populations in local food and wellness, and has been on the leadership team of the Greater New Orleans Growers Alliance and a Food Policy Action Council member. Michael holds a B.A in Sociology from Southeastern University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
Manoor Siddique
Mahnoor is a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan and is pursuing Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Tulane University. Her background is diverse with a bachelors in Dietetic & Nutritional Sciences, clinical internships and her nutrition blog @pardonmycarbs.

She plans to get her RDN and work as a clinical dietitian & work with different communities, and is conducting a series of community classes with us on Nutrition. She’s also working on a food access survey for the Veterans in New Orleans along with conducting a report of food accessibility.

Shae Thomas
Keeper of Bees
Shae Thomas is a local New Orleans beekeeper, for the past several years. She started with backyard beekeeping, maintaining her own hives. During the pandemic she launched a host-a-hive program through her biz, What It Bees Like, in the greater New Orleans area. Program hives span across the northshore, southshore, and both the east and west banks in New Orleans. The program offers hive management in community gardens, backyard gardens, and vacant properties around the city. Hive hosts and their community are able to learn about beekeeping with as much “live-action” or from-a-distance as they want–all the while helping a few more bees have a home.
Elaine Washington Vigne
Outreach Coordinator
Elaine Washington Vigne was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana in government public row housing. She is a “Baby Boomer”, the daughter of a World War ll Veteran. She began earning awards for art in elementary school. She worked in corporate America for twenty plus years, and took an early retirement to continue her education. Elaine earned a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in art, and a M.A. in Museum Studies shortly thereafter. As a result, her Masters thesis, which reviews her family experiences, is in the reference section of the Southeast Libraries, and the Library of Congress. Her newest passion is raising awareness through recycled, repurpose, reused plastics that would end up in the landfills, and oceans. She transforms plastic into local pride eco-friendly fashion accessory statement pieces to reflect devastating effects of climate change, how it perpetuates environmental collapse, and impacts food access, homelessness, poverty and other social justice issues.

Our Board

Anthony 'Tony' Griffith
Anthony “Tony” Griffith is a native and resident New Orleanian. He was raised in the Seabrook neighborhood, near the Lakefront area. Tony spent much of his childhood with his mother and grandmother, in the kitchen. His oldest memories are of cooking red beans and rice and file gumbo. Tony remembers sneaking out and going down to the French Quarter with his friends to “tourist watch” and walk Bourbon Street. He was an altar boy and tour guide at the famous St. Louis Cathedral, and now is a parishioner there. Tony enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18. He was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas and then served in Operation Desert Storm. While in the infantry, Tony traveled to Kuwait, France, Greece, and spent more than two years in Germany. Being in Europe expanded his palate and interest in what is now considered “farm to table” – growing, preparing and eating local food. He likes to have a connection with where his food came from and especially enjoys fresh butter, eggs and cream – and German beer! Following his Army service, Tony returned to New Orleans for college, and he quickly became more interested and involved in the expanding food movement and culture. Tony worked for a local spice company, Cajun Kettle, where he helped prepare proprietary spice and sauce mixes for many of the city’s most popular dishes and restaurants, including the famed Crawfish Monica, which is today still one of his favorites. Tony currently works for the U.S. Postal Service, enjoys eating out – from fish shacks to fine dining – every chance he gets and loves trying new foods. True to the New Orleans tradition, his favorite meal is brunch. Tony is the President of the Recirculating Farms Board.
Kacey LaBonte
Kacey LaBonte grew up in Colchester, VT and is currently a Ph.D. student in Food Systems and a Graduate Fellow of the Food Systems Research Center and the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. She holds a BA in Global Studies from Colby College and recently graduated from Tulane University with a master’s degree in Public Health Nutrition. After living in both rural Vermont and New Orleans and working on farms and in communities in both locations through COVID-19 and climate crises, Kacey developed a strong passion for working alongside farmers to address future public health and climate related shocks to our food system. These experiences led Kacey back home to Vermont, where she will investigate how crisis and change impact farmer behavior. She loves to do all activities with her sweet pups Finn and Bear, read, and hang out with her grandparents.
Martin P. Schreibman, PhD (Emeritus)
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, Dr. Schreibman helped perfect a model for sustainable urban farming using cutting edge technology, recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), to grow fish. Professor Schreibman is the founder and Director Emeritus of Brooklyn College’s Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center (AREAC), a research facility devoted to the study of aquatic organisms — how they grow, adapt, reproduce, and live in all temperatures and environments. He and a multidisciplinary team of researchers seek to answer questions about medicine, nutrition, pollution, aquaculture, fisheries, and marine ecology. AREAC’s projects include bivalve and fish aquaculture, breeding horseshoe crabs, educational outreach, and product commercialization. Dr. Schreibman has devoted many years to developing urban aquaponics — growing both fish and plants together in a symbiotic water re-use system. Over the past 25 plus years, his recirculating farming techniques have been used for assorted projects — even in outer space. In 1998, on the space shuttle Endeavor, he worked with Dr. Volker Bluem of Germany to develop a small system to test whether growing fresh food in space could be an option for lengthy trips. Dr. Schreibman is a Founding Board Member (Emeritus) for Recirculating Farms.