Farm Programs Director
Ayn moved to NC in elementary school and grew up around Wake County. She began farming in 2010 with her first sustainable agriculture internship, growing produce through the winter for a small CSA. For the next six years she hopped from farm to farm cultivating her skills for organic fruit and vegetable production. During this time she also worked as an outdoor educator and a baker, dreaming of a way to join together her passions for growing, teaching, and food. In 2017 she completed a year of service with FoodCorps in Rocky Mount NC, where she taught garden-based education with food-insecure elementary students. She spent the next five years managing community-based agriculture education programs in the Raleigh-Durham area before joining the TTCF team in April 2022. When she’s not tending her garden, you can find Ayn baking vegan treats, roller skating, or curled up on the couch with her dogs.
Farm and Educational Programs Manager
Betsy discovered her passion for growing plants when she began gardening in 2012. Previous to this discovery, she earned a masters degree in social work and worked in the mental health field. Betsy began working on an organic farm on the California coast in 2014. She learned to grow vegetables, fruit, and, eventually, cut flowers. She earned a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz, then farmed for several years in the northeast, first on a CSA farm in New York and then on a cut flower farm in northwestern Connecticut, where she also managed a small vegetable and berry operation. Betsy has lived in many parts of the U.S. throughout her life and moved to NC to join the team at TTCF in 2019. When she is not at the farm, Betsy’s passion is rock climbing, and she spends her weekends outside, climbing and hiking.
Business Development Coordinator
Ellen was born in South Korea and was adopted into a New England family where she grew to love the mountains of Vermont and the coasts of Maine. She attended Old Dominion University to earn her BA in International Studies and established her career in marketing and communications for start-up technology companies in northern Virginia. Ellen switched to the nonprofit sector where she found her passion in global health and then went on to earn her Master of Public Health (2018) from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Ellen is thrilled to volunteer at TTCF. Her motivation is driven by the desire to help develop dependable livelihoods for the refugee population and explore new social enterprise opportunities to support the long-term sustainability of TTCF. Ellen enjoys traveling with her partner, Buzz, spending time with her family and friends, volunteering with local nonprofits, hiking, and eating delicious farm-to-table food.
Elly, a North Carolina native, has a BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado, and a MA in Regional Planning from Pratt Institute. Elly began working with agricultural communities in Latin America. As the Executive Director of Un Mundo, a grassroots organization based in rural Honduras, for 8 years Elly led the organization from incubation to a robust regional initiative offering educational, health and economic development programs. In 2015, she relocated back to NC and stepped into the role of Executive Director at Benevolence Farm, guiding the organization to successfully launch as a residential and agricultural social enterprise program serving formerly incarcerated women. Elly has been involved with TTCF since 2015, initially as a member of the advisory board and later serving on the first TTCF Board of Directors. Outside of work, Elly spends most of her time hiking, biking and dancing with her husband Elias and her daughter, Micaela.
Haeku was born in a small village near the border of Thailand and Burma. She and her family moved back to Burma when she was four due to the attack on the border. In 2000, she and her family fled home to Mae La refugee camp in Thailand. She came to the US in 2008 and lived in Denver, Colorado before moving to North Carolina in 2010. In 2020, she graduated from the University of Mount Olive with a business administration accounting degree. She joined the Transplanting Traditions team in October of 2020 as Executive Assistant and also works as a phlebotomist at UNC Rex Hospital. Her hobbies are cooking and baking, exploring different styles of food, sewing, and hiking.
Fundraising and Communications Coordinator
Hagan grew up in a small, rural town in South Carolina and studied Sustainability Science at Furman University. After graduating in 2017, she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to begin her master’s program at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS). There she worked in an agroecology lab and completed a thesis on Michigan tart cherry growers’ responses to an invasive fruit fly. Before joining TTCF, she worked as a research assistant at SEAS and served as a museum technician at the Research Museums Center. With a background in conservation ecology and environmental justice, Hagan is devoted to furthering the work of ecologically sustainable and socially just food systems and is excited to continue this work as an AmeriCorps VISTA at TTCF. Outside of TTCF, she enjoys teaching, singing, getting creative in the kitchen, and exploring local parks with her dog Boots.
Ree Ree was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and resettled to the USA in 2006 with her family. Ree Ree studied Community and Justice Studies and Forced Migration and Resettlement Studies at Guilford College. She is passionate about immigration justice, cultural food access, uplifting community voice, and community service. Her passion was born out of her lived experiences and desire to keep the Karen traditions alive along with ethnic minority groups in Burma. She has been involved with TTCF alongside her parents Zar Ree and Lion Wei, who are CSA farmers, since 2012 and became the Youth Program Coordinator after graduating from high school. Ree Ree now serves as the incoming Executive Director to lead the organization. In her free time, Ree Ree makes pottery, paints, spends time with her niece and nephews, and watches crime shows.
Julia was born in NohPoe Refugee Camp at the border of Burma and Thailand and lived there for 12 years before moving to the United State and settling in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2009. Julia started working with the Karen Community in 2021 at RCP and she started working with TTCF in March 2022. She loves engaging with nature and loves the feeling of being out and enjoying the sunlight. During her free time she loves to go on a hike, to go fishing just to play with water and she also likes to watch comedy shows.
Founder and Former Executive Director
Kelly began working in sustainable agriculture in 2005 after graduating from UNC-CH with a degree in cultural studies. She worked on eight vegetable and flower farms in N.C. before shifting her work towards community development and founding Transplanting Traditions Community Farm in 2010. She is particularly interested in how Transplanting Traditions is a platform to generate income, uplift and share cultural traditions around farming and food, foster community and provide a space for the refugee community from Burma to recreate home after the upheaval of re-settlement. Kelly was raised in western N.C. and has lived in N.C. her entire life. Outside of Transplanting Traditions, she studies herbalism, gardens and loves building, cooking and creating.
Business Development Coordinator
Kree Paw Sain was born in Burma and moved to a Thailand refugee camp where she lived for 10 years before moving to Raleigh, NC in 2007. She started working at TTCF as a business development coordinator in 2021 and will be working with other farmers to help them to build their businesses. Kree lives in Knightdale, NC and she is also one of the growers at Oaky Grove Community Farm in Wendell. In her free time, Kree likes to spend time with her son Eli and garden.
Food Distribution Coordinator
Lay Lay Paw was born in Burma and remembers helping her family with their farm there from a young age. They fled to a refugee camp in Thailand when she was around 4 or 5 years old, and lived there for 11 years before moving to the US. Today Lay Lay farms on an acre of land with her family where she grows a variety of traditional Asian crops, like chilies, Asian cucumbers and pennywort. She supports TTCF farmers’ small businesses by delivering farmer produce for the food access program and to CSA pickup sites. She loves reading outside in the sunshine, and when she isn’t at the farm, she enjoys working outside and going hiking with friends.
Assistant Farm Manager
As Assistant Farm Manager, Mookho Paw helps with all aspects of the farm operation, manages the Share a Share distributions, and assists in managing the CSA and the greenhouse. She is also TTCF's interpreter, and thanks to her skills in English, Karen, and Burmese, she facilitates meetings and other communications with farmers.
Mookho is farmer Tri Sa’s eldest daughter, and in 2018, she began growing flowers in her mother’s plot. She now manages a successful flower CSA operation. When she’s not growing flowers or working as a farm manager, Mookho is helping her mother harvest for CSA shares and for market. In her free time she likes to cook and hike, and especially enjoys camping and rafting in the mountains.
Educational Programs Coordinator
Natalie grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended The Ohio State University where she studied Environmental Policy with a focus on environmental and social justice. Following graduation, she participated in the Allegheny Mountain Institute Farm and Food fellowship as a 2019-2020 fellow in Virginia. Through this program, she was introduced to sustainable farming practices, homesteading skills, and community development work. Afterward, she worked at Project GROWS where she served as the Food Access Coordinator, managing several local farmer’s markets and coordinating youth educational programs. She is thrilled to work as an AmeriCorps ACCESS member and Educational Programs Coordinator at TTCF and to get to know the refugee community and the broader Chapel Hill community as well. In her free time, Natalie enjoys cooking, making art, and spending time outdoors.
Youth Education Coordinator
Paw Law La was born in Mae La refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. She is a Davis scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a plan to major in Public Health Policy and Management. She grew up in the Carrboro/ Chapel Hill Area but spent the last two years of High School attending the United World College of the American West in New Mexico. She is passionate about health equity, literature, and her Karen identity. She is excited to work with the AmeriCorps ACCESS project as a youth coordinator at TTCF. During her free time, you can find her on a hike, boxing, or rock climbing.
Paw Moo grew up in Burma, and moved to the U.S. in 2006. She loves being Greenhouse Manager because she gets to help TTCF staff and other farmers by getting seeds and plants ready for them. She enjoys watering and taking care of the seedlings. She gets to work outside on beautiful days, and inside the greenhouse when it’s not so nice out. Sometimes her father, mother, husband, and niece come to the farm to visit and to help. She did not grow up farming, so she has learned all her farming skills at TTCF. In addition to working full-time at UNC and being greenhouse manager, she grows traditional Asian crops for the Share a Share program. Her favorite thing to grow is spicy peppers. She loves them most when they're very hot! Her friend gave her some special seeds and they are the best that she has found.
Tah Htu grew up as a child of farmers in a village in Burma and then became a farmer himself. He and his family lived in Thailand for nine years before coming to the U.S. in 2006. At TTCF, Tah Htu manages the farm landscape, mowing and trimming the farm common areas and outside field edges. He also helps his wife, CSA farmer Ha Na, with all aspects of their farm business, including prepping beds and transplanting as well as harvesting, washing and packing vegetables for the CSA. Tah Htu loves farming and says it is a part of who he is. In addition to working at the farm, Tah Htu works full time on the housekeeping staff at UNC. In his free time he loves to cook using the vegetables he grows, especially in curries and soups. He also enjoys spending time with his children and his five grandchildren.
Thadah Wah has always been inspired by her mom, CSA farmer Tri Sa, and her farming. Growing up in a refugee camp in Thailand, there was not a lot for Thadah to do besides going to school. She helped her family with watering the plants, weeding, and harvesting vegetables in their small garden there. Thadah moved to the U.S. with her family in 2007. Despite being a full-time student, Thadah helps her mom at the farm with harvesting vegetables, packing CSA shares, and selling at the farmers' markets. She has been taking pictures of her mom’s vegetables since TTCF began. Being able to share pictures of the farm with her friends and family that live far away makes her happy. She became the Program Photographer in 2020. Thadah loves to hike, travel, and take pictures.