Bob Gee (Executive Director of The Meadow Creek Learning and Retreat Center)
Bob Gee is a native of Arkansas with a BSBA in Marketing from the U of A and a BSBA in Accounting from UALR. After college he joined Arkansas based Frank Lyon Company, one of America’s leading wholesale distributors of consumer electronics, home appliances and heating and air conditioning. In 1992 he formed his own consulting business. Over the last 25 years he has provided sales and management training and consulting to the Carrier Division of United Technologies, The John Deere Company and over 15,000 small businesses. His interest in rural enterprise grew from supporting start up farmers on rural and local urban farmland.
Gary Valen (President)
I have been involved with Meadowcreek in a variety of roles since 1984. I was elected Chair of the Board of the Meadowcreek Project in 1990. I later served as the Executive Director when Meadowcreek was operated by The Humane Society of the U.S. and have been the President of the Board since 2005. I worked with Meadowcreek when I was the dean of students at Hendrix College. I was the co-founder of the Meadowcreek Hendrix Local Food Project that was the first farm to college food project in the United States.
When Meadowcreek became a part of The HSUS family of organizations in 1995, I moved to Washington D.C. to be the Director of Sustainable Agriculture. While in this position, I helped The HSUS promote small farms that raised livestock in pastures and adopted organic practices. I also encouraged environmental groups to include the humane treatment of farm animals in their various national initiatives. When The HSUS offered the Meadowcreek farm grounds and facilities to a new non-profit organization in 2005, I invited a board of local and national leaders to create an organization that invited people to live and work at Meadowcreek following the principles of environmental sensitivity, sustainable farming practices, the humane treatment of farm animals and the protection of wildlife.
I see Meadowcreek as an incubator that allows residents to experiment with enterprises that will provide enough income to live in a beautiful and yet remote location without destroying the environmental qualities of the place. What is learned is shared with others who want the same lifestyle. The desired outcome is to cherish both the people and land in the rural regions of Arkansas in ways that will stand for years to come.
Beverly Dunaway (Vice President)
Beverly Dunaway graduated from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. She is a professionally certified integral coach with a background in corporate sales, marketing, project management and small business ownership/management. In 2009, she was instrumental in starting a farmers market in Stone County, AR and found ”her niche.” In 2011, she received a USDA grant to “help improve access to healthy, nutritious foods for people living in a low-income, rural food desert,” and in 2013, became President of the Arkansas Farmers Market Association (AFMA). In her current position with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, she works with growers and producers throughout the state helping them find and expand into new markets.
Bo Bennett (Treasurer)
Bo Bennett currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas and is a native of Magnet Cove in the Ouachita Mountains. His interest in resilient agriculture was first cultivated at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway while working with the CAAH (Conserving Arkansas’ Agricultural History) project in the Anthropology Dept. After that Bo went on to work in produce retail at Whole Foods Market. In 2013 the time was ripe for Bo to leave corporate retail and start his own local produce businesses. Bo created Garden Press, a fresh-pressed juice operation, and was also hired as Market Coordinator for Bernice Garden Farmer’s Market in the SoMa district of Little Rock. While living and cultivating markets and communities in Little Rock, Bennett is a founding member of the “Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society”, (CANAS) a sustainable agriculture working group and network. Bo joined the board of Meadowcreek in 2015 and is optimistic about resilient farm and food systems which we strive to create and model in the pristine Meadowcreek Valley of Stone County.
I was drawn to Meadowcreek through the work I did with Gary Valen locally and globally to build sustainable food systems. As international coordinator for WhyHunger – formerly World Hunger Year (WHY) – I attended in the 1990s global UN conferences on food, women’s empowerment, sustainable development and human rights. The emergence of social movements around these issues created outstanding grassroots initiatives on agroecology, land reform and sustainable agriculture on which I reported in Why.Magazine (1989-99.)
Gary and I met again on the board of the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) between 1998 and 2012. My focus was on urban agriculture in the US and its international links. I was part of an international caucus which developed a growing US Food Sovereignty Alliance. On a local level I was a founding member of Just Food in NYC in 1995 and joined a CSA, which thanks to Just Food grew from one to more than 100 CSAs.
Gary invited me on the board of Meadowcreek and I am very happy to have contributed to this wonderful project.