POINT REYES STATION, Calif. — To help propel its bold vision for the future, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering farmland trust in California’s Marin County, has named four new members to its board of directors and promoted seasoned board member Robert McGee, the previous vice chair, to board chair. The board additions reinforce MALT’s new direction as outlined by its recently hired CEO, Thane Kreiner, Ph.D.—and they tip the board makeup towards a female majority, with 12 women and eight men.
“MALT is at an important inflection point, ready to build on the innovative, collaborative vision of our two founders, Ellen Straus and Phyllis Faber, so we can address today’s complex issues around food production, land use, social justice and resilience in the face of climate change,” said Kreiner. “Each new board member adds expertise, a fresh perspective, and lived experience that will be important for guiding MALT to its next stage of development.”
The new board members are:
- Caitlin Landesberg, previously founder and CEO of Sufferfest Beer Company and currently co-founder and angel investor at This Is Water, a fund focused on mission-driven consumer brands.
- Molly Myerson, an independent farmer and owner of Little Wing Farm, who leases three acres on MALT-protected Black Mountain Ranch in Point Reyes Station to farm vegetables and flowers.
- Iris Shim, currently a product leader at tech startup Collective, who has spent the last decade on the application of technology to improve agricultural organizations and supply chains.
- Vivien Straus, daughter of MALT co-founder Ellen Straus and co-owner and manager of Straus Home Ranch, her family’s 166-acre homestead in Marshall.
New Board Members Bring Diverse Skills and Backgrounds to MALT
Each new member plans to contribute to MALT in unique ways:
“I’m passionate about access to delicious, nutritious food and the land that produces it,” said Caitlin Landesberg, co-founder and angel investor at This Is Water. “I fully recognize the privilege in being adjacent to Marin’s world-renowned food and supply chain, with its incredible land and water sources. I want to help with last-mile accessibility and equity of food resources—making affordable, beautiful and healthy food products available to all families in the area, and then using storytelling to capture and share where new practices and ideas are working so that others can replicate them.”
“As a young farmer, and as a leaseholder rather than landowner, I have a slightly different relationship to the land than most MALT board members,” said Molly Myerson, owner of Little Wing Farm. “It’s important that MALT’s work considers all aspects of agriculture in Marin, including the distinctive challenges of farming leased land. I want to help raise issues such as, what does agricultural preservation forever actually mean? Who are the members of the next generation who will steward the land? And how do we support them, especially with the challenges caused by climate change?”
“I’d like to apply my past experience in agricultural supply chains and technology,” said Iris Shim, senior product leader at Collective. “From international specialty crops to US corn/soy – to helping address the economic and business challenges facing farmers around the world. I feel fortunate that MALT provides an opportunity to do so in the community I live in.”
“I see my board role as a continuation of what my mother started, building on her initial vision to protect farms from development and keep them viable,” said Vivien Straus, daughter of MALT co-founder Ellen Straus and co-owner and manager of Straus Home Ranch. “With economic pressures, climate change, drought and other challenges, it’s going to take new minds and new ideas to help agriculture thrive. And farmers tend to work alone, rarely visiting other farms or sharing practices with one another. MALT is a core resource that can be shared, able to help everyone from a place that doesn’t have any agenda except to help.”
New Board Chair
Assuming the position of board chair is Robert McGee, president of Straus Family Creamery and a long-time executive for various food, retail and manufacturing companies.
“As board chair, my role is to lead and set the direction of the board to support Thane and his team—to make sure that the governance practices, resources and support are in place to allow MALT staff to carry out their work,” McGee said. “MALT, at its heart, is a highly innovative organization, and the new additions to the board reflect this innovative spirit.”
Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a nonprofit organization created in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County farmland and establish Marin County as a thriving agricultural community in a healthy and diverse natural environment. Some of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed dairy and meat products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT, which totals more than 54,000 acres. To learn more about MALT, visit malt.org.
–Marin Agricultural Land Trust