Michelle, a second-generation Iranian-American raised in Massachusetts, is an M.A. graduate of the University of Oregon’s (UO) International Studies and Food Studies Programs, a UO Promising Scholar and a David L. Boren Fellow. She comes to the Emerson Fellowship having recently returned from Rajasthan, India where she conducted research on the role grassroots movements and civil society organizations play in addressing barriers to organic production and farmer sovereignty among small, marginal and tribal producers. While in India, she worked as an economic justice and sustainable agriculture intern with the Centre for Community Economics & Development Consultants Society addressing issues related to hunger and poverty reduction, peoples’ participation in government and decision making, and the protection of human rights in the process of development. Prior to attending the University of Oregon, Michelle received her B.S. in Sustainable Food and Farming with honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she focused on diversified organic vegetable production and food system education. She was the co-founder of the UMass Food Forest Garden, ¾ acre edible forest landscape dedicated to teaching students and community members about regenerative and climate-resilient agriculture. Michelle’s work has been inspired by firsthand experience embedded within the food system as an organic farmer for three full seasons. Her commitment to food justice and food sovereignty was solidified during her undergraduate through her work with Food for All Program, an initiative that produces and recovers vegetables, herbs and flowers for local relief organizations in Amherst and through her service on the Grow Food Amherst Steering Committee.
Field placement: Project Bread