Meet the Team
President - Friends of Whittemore
Director - Whittemore CCC
Dr. Ellen Ganek, MD
Director of Wellness & Nature
"Val Sivilli is an artist and renaissance woman. She is a painter, printmaker, writer, musician and activist who serves as a liaison between artists and their community.
Originally, from Brooklyn, Long Island and then Brooklyn again, Val now lives in Hunterdon County, NJ. She did her graduate work at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, her undergrad at SUNY Purchase and Alfred University. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at both Bucks and Raritan Valley Community Colleges. Civilian Art has been her identity as a T-shirt designer since 1996. In 2016, Val worked to create The Hunterdon Art Tour, a self-guided tour of artist studios throughout Hunterdon County, NJ. Quite often, she can be found playing her accordion somewhere.
Her work reveals the untamed feral nature living just beneath the surface of the human animal. She uses narrative elements and the power of color and composition to express deep truths about humanity’s relationship to the planet, other living beings and ultimately, to each other. "
From her family’s backyard garden to helping research season extension with high tunnels and mulches at the University of Tennessee to chasing chickens and pigs as a farm intern, Emily has learned a great deal about agriculture in many of its wonderful forms. For the last six years she has run her own farm as a produce and flower CSA.
Now that her farm is solely focused on cut- flower production she is excited for the opportunity to come share her little bit of vegetable growing know-how at the Whittemore Community Garden and learn some new things from the other members! She most loves cultivating any and all unusual or heirloom varieties she can get her hands on. She hates cucumber beetles, Colorado potato beetle larvae, and spiny amaranth.
Jasmine Bloch-Krempels, a performer and music educator, is thrilled to be joining the Whittemore family! She is currently the Director of 5th Grade Bands for the School District of South Orange and Maplewood, a position she has held for the past 10 years. Jasmine also serves on the Executive Board of Maplewood Community Music and is the Manager of the Maplewood Concert Band, for which she also plays tenor saxophone. Jasmine received a BM in Music Education from The College of New Jersey and also completed an MA in Music Business from New York University.
Jasmine is an ardent performer, and she can be seen playing multiple genres and instruments throughout NJ and NYC. She currently plays bass guitar with the Morristown-based band Mama D & The Vexations (www.mamadmusic.com), supplying soultry backbeats and backing vocals at bars, weddings, and private events. Jasmine also plays reeds, percussion, and bass guitar for various theater productions in the area. She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, and frequently works as a stand-in and background actor on various film and television projects. If you look closely, you might even see her walking through the background of your favorite TV shows! Jasmine lives in Orange, NJ with her husband Craig and their two Siamese cats, Hamlet and Alister.
I describe my work as “Modern Nativism”. I use primitive hand tools and natural materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces of environmental sculpture and furniture.s
My sculptures and furniture are made from trees, not dimensional milled lumber. The trees I use are much too twisted and distorted for furniture makers. None of the trees in my work are harvested for my work. I source the trees I carve by collaborating with local arborists, who contact me when they’ve removed a tree that I may be able to use for my artwork.
The disfigured trees speak to me. My finished carvings are as unique as the trees themselves.
I work with hand tools for 95% of my carving process (these include axes, adzes, chisels, and rasps). I carve the basic form / shape with a chainsaw, which I limit myself to using for only one day. After that one day, I turn strictly to carving with hand tools.
My relationship with the tree is based on the trust and personal dialogue I develop with the tree through the act of hand carving. At first I trust the tree itself to guide me. As I begin to carve, I follow the direction the tree wishes me to follow. This establishes trust with the tree. After the tree trusts me, it allows me to exert my own will and vision upon it, in order to create the final piece. I spend long hard hours physically removing the wood that I feel should not be there. It is during this process that the form, balance, and beauty of the piece emerge and reveal what I saw in the original tree.
The life of the tree must be celebrated. The scars of a tree’s long life give each piece their unique beauty and character… exactly as do the scars of humans. I am continually honored and humbled each time I experience the transformation of a piece through this in-depth process and approach.
My focus of my work and life is upon Balance: visual, physical, and emotional. It is a never-ending pursuit. Balance, in its most literal sense, can be experienced in each piece of my “Modern Nativism” sculpture.
Dawn will be leading her team, coordinating the restoration and preservation of the natural habitat throughout Whittemore's 180 acres.
She is the Co-Leader of the Hunterdon Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, a member of the Tewksbury Township Parks Committee, and the College District Conservation Chairman for the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Dawn will help to create a sustainable conservation plan for Whittemore and implement programs to help maintain the park through conservational activities. Through her volunteerism, she hopes to share the importance of the removal of invasive species and restoration of native plant habitats that create sustainable environments for our wildlife that will inspire visitors for years to come.
Carl has studied, practiced and taught meditation and mindfulness to individuals and groups for over 30 years. Since completing a 500-hour yoga training program at the renowned Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Carl has taught yoga professionally throughout New York and New Jersey. In 2009, Carl and his wife, Erin Klemme, founded PS108, a unique 501(c)(3) yoga studio serving numerous non-profit organizations and schools. Together, they also own and operate Glow Yoga, a full-service Yoga, Health & Wellness facility in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Dan is founder and chief forager of The Foraged Feast. His culinary journey to find the best quality ingredients with the most flavor and highest nutritional value led him to start foraging for mushrooms and other wild edibles almost 20 years ago. Over those years, inspired by the many flavors, textures, and colors of those wild ingredients, Dan created countless delicious and nourishing meals for his friends and family. He established The Foraged Feast in 2016 to bring the nutrient-rich and delightful flavors of local, wild, and sustainably grown and foraged foods to the broader northern New Jersey community.
The Foraged Feast is a wholesale and retail food business owned and operated by Maplewood, NJ resident and expert forager Dan Lipow.
We offer the highest quality, locally and sustainably sourced mushrooms, greens, herbs, nuts, berries, roots, and more.
Originally from Orrtanna PA, architect and chef, Ben Walmer, comes from a family of five generations of Adams County fruit growers. It is from this agrarian background that he traces his connection to food and the motivation to launch Highlands Dinner Club (HDC) in New York City in 2009. Ben currently lives in central New Jersey and is founding architect and creative director of the NJ/NYC-based multidisciplinary design practice, Broadloom, whose specialties include restaurant design, food system design and agricultural master planning. HDC is a mobile social and culinary laboratory produced by Broadloom and collaboratively executed by a rotating cast of chefs, farmers, designers and artists. Wielding spontaneous spirit and exceptional local ingredients, HDC has created farm-to-table experiences across three continents and seen time and again the connections and joy that come when people gather at the table to share a meal.
The Highlands Dinner Club (HDC) is a social and culinary laboratory produced and executed by a rotating cast of creative partners, chefs, farmers, designers, artists and food provocateurs. HDC has created experiences across the US and internationally in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and central Asia. Join us for the second in our series of Farm to Table Dinners and delight in a delicious five course meal prepared by Chef Ben Walmer from the Highlands Dinner Club located in New Jersey.