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.
Kara hails from “the great state of Oregon,” as she refers to her home state. When she’s not working as Program Manager at Helena Food Share, Kara enjoys biking, camping and basically “doin’ stuff outside.” She has been on the HCG Board as our link to Food Share and our overlapping programs. Kara also loves hanging out with her massive Newfoundland dog Goose.
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.
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.
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.