The most important part of our team is our volunteer force.  Without these amazing, generous people who give their time and energy to our cause, we could not continue our mission, maintain our amazing farms throughout DC or grow to help more of the DC community.  Words cannot express our gratitude for their hard work and passion.  Come join this amazing team and see what a great feeling it is, to help those in need. 

OUR STAFF

Niraj Ray - Founder & CEO - nray@cultivatethecity.com

Niraj is an international pioneer of urban and rural vertical agriculture. From his first backyard garden in Daytona Beach, Florida to vertical gardens for underserved school in Washington, DC and strawberry farms in Maharastra, India, Niraj is intent on finding innovative and sustainable ways to bring fresh produce to communities that need it. He is an educator and agricultural expert with a mission to transform urban food deserts into thriving local food systems. Niraj holds a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology from the Ohio State University and a M.S. in Integrated Environmental Science from Bethune-Cookman University, and is a former National Wildlife Federation Emerging Leader Fellow and used to work with the US EPA - Office of Water.

Victoria Mirowski - Education Coordinator & School Garden Manager - vmirowski@cultivatethecity.com

Victoria started her urban farming journey with an internship at Aquaponics Colorado in Denver, CO. She later spearheaded the design and creation of an aquaponics system at the University of Connecticut, where she received a BS in Environmental science with a concentration in Natural Resources. Upon graduating in 2015, she worked for MetroCrops, a Urban High Density Indoor Farm, in Bridgeport, CT. She coordinated logistics of harvesting, packing, delivering, and selling produce all while conducted research for a Small Business Innovation Research grant. In her current position at CTC, her responsibilities range from coordinating events and crop planning, to grant writing and developing educational curriculum. In her free time, she is outside whenever possible—yoga, kayaking, camping and hiking are some of her favorite things. She is also looking to pursue a Master's degree in the near future.

Katherine Donnelly - Nationals Stadium Farm Manager - kdonnelly@cultivatethecity.com


Kate found her way to urban food production through her graduate studies in Nutrition Education at American University.  Many years in the bar and restaurant industry led Kate to further her education in the field of nutrition because she believes access to real food is an essential element of building a thriving community. Nutrition education work for CTC is a vehicle to inspire community participation in urban agriculture in order to create a direct bond with growing affordable, nutritious food. Kate has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, international exchanges and served with the Peace Corps in Cameroon.  Kate also holds a BA in history from SUNY Geneseo and has studied abroad in Ireland and Egypt. In addition to her work at CTC, Kate volunteers at Food & Friends, Horace Mann Elementary School, the Habitat for Humanity Global Village. She is currently working toward her Masters Degree in Nutrition and is the National Stadium's Rooftop Garden and Barracks Grow Site Lead. She has developed curriculum for a 10-week/90 hour horticulture training program for at-risk youth, through CCDC. 

Daniel Weisshaar - H. St. Farms Manager - hstfarms@cultivatethecity.com

Dan Weisshaar comes to Cultivate the City with years of experience in the local food movement. Dan grew up helping his Grandparent’s in the greenhouses at J&J Nursery in Eastern Colorado. Dan has also worked for apiaries and sold local produce in small markets, where he taught customers about, heirloom and exotic vegetables, seasonal cooking, and local food production.  Dan also has experience working in public health education including working with people with development issues and public housing.In 2016 Dan was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a Top Young Sustainability Professional in the United States for his work in local food and community engagement. Dan brings his experience in local food, and community education, and retail to our H Street Farms as the Farm Manager.When not working Dan can be found tending his balcony garden, cooking, hiking, attending concerts, and playing music.

Julian Banister- Garden Site Leaderjbanister@cultivatethecity.com

A native Texan who considers himself a Global Citizen, Julian has been living in Washington DC for the past three years while finishing his undergraduate degree at American University.  By trade, Julian is a business consultant of many fields with intentions of adding urban farming to the list. By furthering his knowledge with Cultivate the City, Julian plans to become a better nutritionist for his personal-training clients and has the dream to manage his own edible gardens someday.

Dan Gomes- Garden Site Leader- dgomes@cultivatethecity.com

A native New Yorker, Dan has lived in Washington D.C. for the past three years. After graduating from Penn State with a minor in plant biology, his love for all things botanical led him to urban farming. Growing up in Manhattan he realized that access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a challenge most city dwellers are unable to address. With his skill set and desire to change the world around him, Dan realized that if he wanted to really change the world he had to start with the people around him first. In his free time you can find Dan at the US Botanical Garden, watching soccer at a local pub or maintaining one of the many gardens for Cultivate The City.