Meet the Newest CKC Team Members

Posted on June 24, 2021 by Alicia Alferman

We are proud to introduce our three newest employees, (left to right) Eli O’Sullivan Kurtz, Daniel Robinson, and Paul Cesare! We love that our team members bring varied experiences and interesting perspectives to their work, and we’re so pleased they have all joined Cultivate KC.

Eli O’Sullivan Kurtz joined us as our Food Access Program Associate. Eli grew up in the Missouri Ozarks area, eventually attending Drury University. Afterward he performed in Chicago theatre for 8 years, and settled in KC in 2019 with his wife, Keely. They lived just up the street from Westport Commons Farm, and the project sparked his interest in Cultivate KC.

Eli says one of the reasons he finds Cultivate’s mission meaningful is because as a SNAP recipient for a year in Chicago, he used Double Up Food Bucks at his local farmers market. “I have personal experience with the program I’m helping to grow and it doesn’t get much more meaningful than that.” He sees how Cultivate KC can work with some of the groups he volunteers with and is excited to help build those relationships.

What is Eli’s favorite veggie? He loves pumpkins so much that he’s requested a pumpkin pie instead of a birthday cake since he was a kid. He says, “They’re delicious, native to North America, and they’re a perfect symbol for fall (the perfect season). What’s not to love??”

Welcome, Eli!

Daniel Robinson is our new Site Manager at Westport Commons Farm, and we’re thrilled he’s joined Cultivate KC! Daniel grew up in South Kansas City, attended Center High School, and graduated from UMKC with a BA in Communications. He spent a decade in the radio business, taught children to read with Literacy Lab, worked for Family Tree Nursery and a landscaping company.

Daniel is plant enthusiast and a guerrilla gardener, which he defines as “utilizing and beautifying spaces that otherwise might just be blighted.” His passions have led him into opportunities to see leadership defined and redefine it himself. He’s the local chapter president of the Young Farmers Coalition. He says his brand of leadership is straightforward- lead by example, and empower people by getting their hands in the dirt! “Hard work, open ears and heart, and the ability to problem solve are all qualities of a good leader. These are things that I know, and I’m still working on.”

Mango is Daniel’s favorite fruit, and peppers are his favorite veggie.

We’re pleased Paul Cesare has joined us as a Seasonal Crew Member at Westport Commons Farm. Glad you’re here, Paul!

After working in public health non-profit administration, Paul has traded in his suits for his boots. He’s been gardening for years and is certified in permaculture design. Recently, most of his hobbies revolve around his quest for farming knowledge. He is currently in the Growing Growers program and is an apprentice at Powell Garden’s Heartland Harvest Garden

Paul was drawn to Cultivate through participation in events and connections with colleagues. He served on the Beans & Greens (has now become Double Up Food Bucks) Advisory Board. As the Coalition Coordinator for Mother & Child Health Coalition (now Nurture KC), he often connected health-related organizations to Cultivate KC in conversations about health and food.

Our focus on a sustainable and a healthy food system for all is important to Paul. He thinks that without the recognition of this as the backbone of a healthy society, we could crumble under the weight of malnourishment and myriad other health concerns. “It is from within this public health lens that I meet the mission of Cultivate KC squarely in the headland of the field…with draft animals, Cinderella pumpkins, and hopefully a piece of chocolate beet cake.”

Paul’s favorite veggie… wait for it… is chocolate beet cake (yes, he stands by it as a veggie!)