Brandon A. Sickbert
Brandon grew up in rural southern Indiana, building hay bale forts and playing ultimate frisbee in cow pastures. After going to college for Neuroscience, he alternated between traveling and working seasonal jobs on Alaskan fishing boats, shoveling snow at a Colorado ski resort, bar-tending in Scotland, and so on. He found that one can travel longer in a place if you do work-trade on local farms. Over time, working on these farms became not just a means to having a longer vacation, but an end goal in itself.
For seven years, Brandon worked seasonally at the Omega Institute of Holistic studies, attending every ecological design class offered. It was actually during a "Farming in the Woods" workshop that he found out about Prana Farms, planting the seed of an idea. Now settling into the role of Farm Manager, Brandon is excited to take root in this land and integrate the variety of experience that has carried him to this point.
As Farm Manager, Brandon applies a design approach that seeks to integrate all elements of a system, focusing on the relationships between the parts and working with nature to accomplish goals. Drawing on his experience as a crew chief, Brandon happily employs micro-organims to build soil, deep rooted radishes to break it up, earthworms to plow it, and fava beans to enrich and hold it in place. Through cultivating the soul of the soil, Prana Farms creates not just produce, but an experience of fundamental connection.
Samantha Z. Halitzer
Samantha grew up in Long Island near Queens, quite at a distance from farming. By the time she was in college in upstate New York, Samantha was itching to see a new life perspective. She spent a summer working at a farm and in the midst of a self-determined major in Progressive Education, she spent a semester studying at the Findhorn Foundation and Ecovillage, an environmentally sustainable and spiritually-focused community in Northern Scotland. This was her first introduction to Permaculture and her deep love of gardening. At Findhorn, she worked in the Cluny Gardens and realized how much more fulfilling life seemed when she felt connected to plant life.
After college, Samantha spent time cultivating her love of flowers, in particular. After a marvelous, though short stint at an orchid shop in Manhattan’s Flower District, she made her way to the Hudson Valley’s Omega Institute where she took a workshop on meditative floral design. After this brief Omega introduction, she relocated from Brooklynto work seasonally at Omega for the next five years, most recently as a Faculty Support Coordinator with the Event Services team. She’s spent the winter months in Brooklyn and at Sirius Eco-village in Amherst, MA, continuing to learn about Permaculture and ecological design.
Samantha is incredibly excited to be a part of the Prana Farms team. She will be bringing her deep love of flowers and soft connection with the world. Tending to animals is a new experience, though so far has been particularly rewarding. Milking a goat can certainly be listed as one of her new loves. Shout-out to Maiden and Pantera, love you ladies even when you’re acting like stubborn goats!