Current Board of Directors
Jim Barngrover has 40 years of organic gardening and farming experience in Montana. Jim has gardened at the one-acre Waukesha Community Garden for 26 years and has seen the garden evolve from a minimally managed laisse-a-fare garden into a well-managed one with many accomplished gardeners. Barngrover is a founding member of Helena Community Gardens. Amongst his contributions to HCG is conducting annual composting workshops.
As one of four founding farmers with Timeless Seeds/Foods, Jim works with two dozen growers who produce organic lentils, garbanzo beans, and several ancient grains. He recruits growers, organizes educational forums, develops cultural practice recommendations for each crop, organizes a summer farm tour and picnic, and most importantly visits each grower three to four times during the season to assist them in best practices and estimate yield and quality of their Timeless crops.
A long time AERO member Barngrover has held various positions serving as the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Program Manager, Board Chair, Ag Task Force Co-Chair and Lobbyist. Jim remains passionate about empowering others by sharing the art and science of growing one’s own food.
Helen M. Beausoleil, LCSW
Helen is a retired Social Worker who has lived in Helena for 44 years. A native of Butte she has an undergraduate degree in Biology and Master Degree in Social Work. For twenty years Helen was a Youth Minister and director of education for her parish community. As a social worker she was a pregnancy counselor; worked with adoptive families and bereavement groups. She currently volunteers at a women’s clinic, Food Share and facilitates grief groups. Recently she and her husband Joe were asked to coordinate the building of a community garden for their parish. Through this project she was introduced to Helena Community Gardens and is honored to be part of the board. She loves to garden. Her fondest memory as a child was gardening with her dad and enjoying fresh lettuce and mayo sandwiches. She and Joe have two grown daughters living in Helena. She loves the fact that her grandchildren are living in a community that provides opportunity for growing fresh produce and sharing it with others.
Pat is in her first year as a board member, and second as a Helena resident. She moved here from Buffalo NY when her husband joined the Carroll College history faculty, and she teaches sociology courses at Carroll on an adjunct basis. Her Ph.D. training in sociology, especially in demography and urban studies, an undergraduate degree in anthropology, and community involvement in Buffalo led her to start volunteering at Helena Food Share, United Way, and the Helena Citizens Council. She is also an active member of Plymouth Congregation Church, where she first became aware of HCG and decided to find out more. She brings board experience and data analysis expertise to Helena Community Gardens. While she only grows flowers in her yard due to summer travel, she appreciates fresh produce and the benefits of gardening on individuals and community.
Gerald moved to Helena in 2013 to join the Health Sciences Department at Carroll College, where he teaches students aspiring to careers in a broad range of clinical and public or community health fields. He is convinced that most chronic diseases can be prevented or treated through a healthy lifestyle, and that diet and nutrition are integral to that approach. His dissertation research was in community diabetes prevention, an area he remains interested in.
Along with his wife Tanya, Gerald has developed Rising Moon Gardens, a member of the North Valley Co-Op Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and has confirmed that although it’s challenging, it is possible to grow great veggies in the Helena Valley. When he’s not pulling bindweed, Gerald enjoys Scrabble and preparing delicious plant-based meals.
Gerald joined the HCG Board in 2015, and hopes to help make connections between HCG and other groups that support local agricultural in the Valley.
After growing up in the Midwest and graduating from the University of Michigan, Kim travelled west for adventures as a wilderness ranger, whitewater raft guide, and trail crew leader. She then headed to the kitchen as a professional chef, baker, and food truck owner/operator. (before they were trendy!) For fun, she likes hiking, camping, and skiing with her husband and two boys, and dreams of being an urban farmer. For 6 years, she has been involved with Helena Community Gardens as a gardener, Garden Manager, committee member, and is currently Co-Chair of the Board. She is passionate about bringing people together to grow and share food.
Kim works for Montana State University Extension – Lewis and Clark County as a Nutrition Educator and Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. She has more than 12 years of experience in supporting local food systems from living on a community seed-saving farm in Northern India, to working as a lunch chef at a local foods restaurant, to a two-year stint as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Program for Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS) farm in Missoula. Kim enjoys experimenting with fresh, local food in the kitchen; pulling the never-ending weeds in her backyard garden in Helena; and hiking with her pups and husband in the bountiful backcountry around Montana. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Urban Studies and Geography from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana.
Ryan has been a Helena Community Gardens board member since 2012, and has managed Bausch Community Garden since 2011. He enjoys working with both new and experienced gardeners.
Ryan attended the University of Montana, where he majored in History/Geography/Native American Studies and received a Secondary Education certificate. He is currently employed as an Energy Efficiency Consultant for several regional utilities in the Northwest. He also volunteers with several other organizations including the 6th Ward Garden Park and the Lewis & Clark Humane Society.
When he isn’t working, gardening or volunteering, Ryan enjoys hiking, fishing, long-distance bicycling, reading, and compiling collections of short stories based on his family lineages.
Amie was raised on a ranch in Northwest Colorado. Animals became her first love, and she followed her dream of becoming a veterinarian, graduating from Veterinary School at Colorado State University in 1977. As she puts it, “she did large animal veterinary stuff for 20 plus years, before accepting a job with U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Veterinary Services, her current employer. Somewhere along the way, gardening became her second love. As a hobbyist and experimentalist, she has gardened in Colorado (both sides of the divide), Eastern Washington, East Tennessee, and now Montana. In 2011- 2012, she completed the Master Gardener classes offered through Montana State University Extension. She is also a member of Growing Friends of Helena. She fully supports the mission and goals of Helena Community Gardens, and sees continued participation in all community gardening projects as a possible second career.
Libby has a PhD in Forestry from the University of Montana and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the University of Pretoria. She is currently an independent project management consultant. Libby has participated in community gardening for eight years and loves to exchange ideas with gardeners and share produce. This is her first year serving on the HCG board. Last year she served as Garden Manager at Selma Held Park Garden.
Libby is passionate about engaging people of all ages in environmental and social justice education. She has worked with teens in an urban gardening program in Poughkeepsie, New York and has taught community-based conservation and environment and development classes at the University of Montana. Libby has now lived in Montana for nine years. Libby is an avid hiker and brings her young daughter into the woods and their community garden regularly.
Marie has been an HCG board member since 2015. She is one of eight children from a farm family in Wisconsin, and developed a love of gardening at an early age. She holds MS degrees in Civil Engineering and Biomimicry and is able to bring her knowledge of water systems and nature’s best ideas to the Helena Community Gardens. After retiring from a career with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Marie moved to Helena, Montana. She currently teaches biomimicry classes for Arizona State University on-line. She continues to serve her community in various endeavors, including as the cook for a 5,000-acre organic grain farm outside of Havre, Montana, during its planting and harvesting season. When not digging in the soil, Marie enjoys spending time with her three children and one granddaughter, and sharing her love of all things in nature.
Mary DuVernay has been an HCG board member since 2014 and served as Board Treasurer since 2015. She has worked as a staff supervisor in the non-profit sector and holds a Master’s degree in Special Education. Currently, she spends her time taking care of her two young children, exploring Helena’s trail system, and practicing French.
Nick has been an HCG board member since July 2016. He is an AmeriCorps Vista member serving with the Helena Food Share as the Garden and Nutrition Program Coordinator. In this role, he started a garden program at Helena Food Share that is growing a large variety of vegetables for the pantry. Nick is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He graduated in December 2013 with a BS in Natural Resources Conservation and a minor In Environmental Science. At UMASS he enrolled in various plant classes like Botany 101, Botany for Gardeners, Garden Share, and Medicinal Herbs. He also taught a student-run sustainability class that led to a fellowship with Sustainable UMASS. He has worked at a large garden center in Western Massachusetts and an urban garden center in Brooklyn, New York. He completed the Level 1 Master Gardner with the Montana State University/Lewis & Clark County Extension Office in Spring, 2016.
Les has worked with non-profit organizations for nearly forty years, including Growing Friends of Helena, Montana Independent Living Project, RMDC, and the Center for Mental Health. He is a founding board member of Helena Community Gardens. He is particularly drawn to the vision of having a community garden within walking distance of every neighborhood in Helena so that people can learn to grow their own healthy food. He also enjoys connecting children with gardens.
Fascinated by the miracle of life he sees in plants, Les has been a Master Gardener for six years and gardened for more than fifty. He is currently the Head Gardener at St Paul’s Methodist Church where he helped create the landscaping. He especially loves trees and the many gifts they provide us.
Les has worked with people with severe disabilities for over 35 years. He has volunteered with Family Promise of Helena for five years. In his free time, Les loves to swim, hike in the mountains, and ride his bicycle. His greatest passion is nurturing trees and gardening.