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Speakers and Contributors

This year, we are once again welcoming 50 outstanding speakers and global changemakers to Kirchberg Castle.

Mayor Rommel Arnaldo, Arms to Farms, Philippines

Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Philippines, will present his lighthouse project "Arms to Farms" Program, utilizing organic agriculture to pacify his region amid severe poverty and conflict. His initiatives earned him the prestigious Galing Pook Award for local governance and presidency of ALGOA, an international organic farming organization.

Helmy Abouleish, SEKEM, Egypt 

Helmy Abouleish is the CEO of SEKEM Initiative in Egypt. SEKEM promotes Sustainable Development in a holistic approach; Ecological (biodynamic agriculture and its promotion, sustainable water management, renewable energies), Economic, Economy of Love (sustainable production of phytopharmaceuticals, organic textiles and food), Societal (sustainable community development) and Cultural (individual potential unfolding in Schools and university, integrative health, holistic research). Helmy Abouleish is the Chair of Ecotec and Sekem Development Foundation (SDF). 

Charlotte Dufour, Conscious Food Systems Alliance Secretariat (UNDP), France

Charlotte Dufour has been working on food systems and nutrition for over two decades, with NGOs (Action Contre la Faim, Groupe URD), with the UN FAO for 12 years, and with various organisations as a consultant since 2017 (SUN Secretariat; 4SD/Food Systems Summit Dialogue Support Team). She worked primarily in Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa, before working at global level. She is also an instructor of Ananda Yoga and meditation and co-founded the NGO Listening Inspires. She presently lives in Burgundy, France, where she and her husband are creating a retreat center.

Jean-Martin Fortier, Market Gardener Institute, Canada

Jean-Martin (JM) Fortier is a farmer, an educator, and an eco-entrepreneur. For more than two decades, he has been a leading figure in the small-scale organic farming movement. As the author of the groundbreaking book "The Market Gardener," which has sold over 250,000 copies worldwide, JM has reshaped the organic agricultural landscape by inspiring readers to reimagine ecological, human-scale food systems. Through his involvement with The Market Gardener Institute, he and his team empower the next generation of organic growers to establish thriving small ecological farms globally.

Laura Santucci, Future Economy Forum, USA
Paulo Carvalho, VIVID Foods | VIVID Farms, CEO, Founder

Paulo has made his career in the meat industry. He has held various executive positions in some of the largest companies in Portugal. In 2014, he started the Vivid Foods project with a clear statement, “ENJOY LIFE,” aiming to offer consumers safe, healthy, and convenient food solutions. By 2024, the company has become a reference in packaged meat in Portugal, present in most supermarkets with both its own brand and private labels. In 2022, he initiated the Vivid Farms project with the statement “Seeding the future.” The goal is to gradually and consistently replace conventional foods processed by Vivid Foods with foods that have a positive impact on public health, animal welfare and ecosystems. 

Sheila Darmos, The Southern Lights / EARA, Greece

Sheila Darmos is a third generation farmer and a social entrepreneur in the agri-food sector and civic engagement field in Greece. Her key focuses lie within her lived physical and social environment, namely the farming and rural communities, and thus a systemic approach to enable transitions towards regeneration in a holistic way.

Felix Riecken, Rieckens Eichhof / EARA, Germany

Felix Riecken is a pioneering farmer from northern Germany who set up different agroforestry systems on the dairy farm his parents made resilient through a direct sales and food delivery system. Researching about future agricultural practices and through his deep passion about land stewardship he found his way to regenerative agriculture, which he promotes beyond the farm on national scale with different networks and internationally with the European Alliance for Regenerative Agriculture (EARA).

Ann-Sophie Christmann, Regenerate Forum

Since May 2023, Anne-Sophie Christmann has served as the General Manager at Regenerate Forum, leading efforts to transform the Lake Constance region into a regenerative climate landscape focused on diversity and connectivity. She coordinates projects on regenerative agriculture and ecosystem service financing, fostering collaborations among various sectors such as agriculture, forestry, water management, (family) businesses, politics and the public. Her academic and professional background, including research at the University of Hohenheim and internships on farms across Europe, has deepened her understanding of regenerative agriculture and (business) transformation.

Sheelah Bearfoot, Poetry for Planet, USA

Sheelah Bearfoot (Chiricahua Apache) is an Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager at Poetry for Planet, among her many hats. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Genetics and Plant Biology, she worked at the Native American Health Center in San Francisco for two years as a diabetes-focused health educator before earning a Master of Environmental Health at Johns Hopkins, where she continued her focus on Indigenous health disparities.
Simon Krämer, European Alliance for Regenerative Agriculture, Germany

Simon Krämer is policy steward at the European Alliance for Regenerative Agriculture. EARA is a grassroots network of land stewards farming for systemic and holistic regeneration. Lately he co-started a small farm in Sicily. Has been working with a diverse array of stakeholders in the civil, public and private realms to support the growth of incremental and radical paths towards resilient and regenerative agri-food ecosystems. His focus lies on transforming dissipative value chains into more regional and regenerative food value cycles i.e. through participatory action research, novel accounting methods and personal as well as organisational capacity building. 

Ivo Degn, Climate Farmers, Spain

Ivo is the co-founder and Managing Director of Climate Farmers. During the last 10 years, he has contributed to the development of a robust European social entrepreneurship ecosystem. In 2019, he decided to return to his roots in agriculture and build a company that would serve as a facilitator of systemic change in the agrifood sector. He's deeply committed to effective systemic change beginning from within and from the collective. Climate Farmers has since its founding facilitated the emergence of the European farmer community and pioneered regeneration-aligned legal, funding and leadership systems.

Professor Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald, Akademie Schloß Kirchberg, Germany

Professor Dr. Franz-Theo Gottwald is an honorary professor at Humboldt University Berlin, specializing in agricultural, nutritional, and environmental ethics. He served on the board of the Schweisfurth Foundation for Sustainable Agricultural and Food Sciences from 1988 to 2020. Since December 2021, he has been leading the Akademie Schloss Kirchberg, focusing on sustainable development and corporate responsibility.

Kish Johnson, Advancing Eco Agriculture / IntegrityGrown™, USA

Originally from the UK, Kish Johnson serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships & International Business for Advancing Eco Agriculture (AEA), a leading U.S. Regenerative agronomy company founded by John Kempf in 2006. Through its industry-leading use of Plant Sap Analysis, advanced agronomy and a portfolio of crop nutritional products, AEA has been at the forefront of regenerating agricultural soils as well as on-farm financial profitability.
Steffen Reese, Naturland e.V., Germany

Steffen Reese has held various leadership roles in the field of organic agriculture and fair trade. Since 2006, he has been the Executive Director of Naturland e.V., and has served on the boards of several organizations including the Forum Fairer Handel and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) Germany. His extensive experience and commitment to sustainable practices are reflected in his work with the Pestizid Aktions Netzwerk Deutschland (PAN), the Leading Organic Alliance (LOA), and IFOAM Organics International.

Dr. Mercy Asamoah, Bunso Cocoa College, Ghana

Dr. Mercy Asamoah, a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Ghana, has dedicated her career to rural sociology, working with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana and later as Deputy Director at the Cocoa Health and Extension Division. Currently, she serves as the Rector of Bunso Cocoa College, leading practical trainings and an academic diploma course focused on cocoa and coffee agronomy and extension. Passionate about empowering women and youth, she collaborates on research and skill development initiatives, including a partnership with Ecoland Ghana for organic agriculture training.

Sundeep Kamath, Convenor of the Biodynamic Silk Road, India

Sundeep Kamath is the former Secretary of the Biodynamic Association of India & a former Board Member of IFOAM Asia. Currently he is a recognised Demeter Advisor, advising multiple projects in Azerbaijan, Bhutan, China, India, Iran, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Türkiye. He is supporting the journey of the Municipality of Kauswagan in the Philippines to go beyond organic to Biodynamic as well as a couple of districts in Croatia & Iran to become Bio Districts.

Dr. Nitika Negi, Bio-Kontroll Institute, India/Germany

Dr. Nitika Negi, an Agriculture Entomology Ph.D. from India, is renowned for her work in Agricultural Extension activities and Organic Farming. Her research, supported by the National Fellowship (Rajiv Gandhi), spans honeybee pest management, Integrated Pest Management, organic farming, insect toxicology, and insecticide residue, with numerous publications in international and national journals. Currently, she volunteers internationally at Academy Schloss Kirchberg and works with the Certification Body, Bio-Kontroll Institut in Kirchberg, Germany.

Stephen Ashia, ABOCFA, Ghana

Stephen Ashia has worked as Manager for ABOCFA since 2011. He is vice president of Ecoland Ghana as well as the CEO of AWENCOFA, AYOCOFA, Golden Bean Organic Cooperatives and also CEO of Go Green Environmental and Sustainability Consult.

Julius Palm, followfood, Germany

Julius Palm is Deputy Managing Director at the sustainable food brand followfood and is head of Strategy & Brand. He is responsible for the brand development and reorganisation of the last five years.

Dr. Isaac Adodoadji, Ecoland, Ghana

Before his MSc in Organic Agriculture at the University of Hohenheim, Dr. Isaac Adodoadji worked with the UN-FAO in Ghana. His PhD focused on improving farmers’ livelihoods and connecting them to high-value markets through agricultural innovations. Currently, he works with Ecoland International, advising farmers on sustainable practices, and serves as the President of Ecoland e.V. in Ghana.


Prof. Dr. Bernhard Freyer, University of Continuous Education, Germany

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Freyer, formerly Head of the Institute of Organic Farming at BOKU in Vienna, has over 25 years of experience in organic farming and agroecology across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central America. Currently, he advises on biochar research in Ethiopia, develops agroecology curricula in various African universities, and conducts studies on organic and biofertilizers for the EU Commission. His research focuses on integrating agriculture within societal processes and facilitating transitions to sustainable, low-input farming systems.

Nora Taleb, Good Food Collective, Germany

For the past 12 years, Nora has been working with farmer cooperatives, individual farms, processors, and CPG brands in South America, Asia, Europe, and the United States. She’s a self-employed sustainability expert, focusing on corporate sustainability strategy and supplier networks from field to market. She's building a community around a collaborative journey for regeneration as a developmental process and is a board member of the Good Food Collective, a network of 80 food impact brands in Germany

Antonio Andrioli, UFFS, Brasil

Antônio Inácio Andrioli, born in 1974, is a Brazilian agricultural expert with a focus on sustainable agriculture and agroecology. He served as the Vice President of the state university UFFS from 2011 to 2017 and was a member of the Brazilian Biosafety Commission CTNBio. Since 2022, he leads an observatory on the impact of soya production and advises the Federal Ministry of Agricultural Development and Family Agriculture on topics including genetic engineering and biodiversity.

Sanoussi Ibrahim Oumarou, WASCAL, Sénégal

Sanoussi Ibrahim Oumarou holds a postgraduate diploma (DEA) in Applied Economics, specializing in the Economics of the Environment and Natural Resources. He is currently working on Climate Change Economics, with a particular focus on his doctoral thesis, titled "Investigating Agricultural Management Practices in Relation to Climate Change in Niger." Simultaneously, he has conducted and participated in several studies of national interest, notably serving as an Economist of Education at the Permanent Secretariat of the Prime Ministry. 

Bobby Issac, Bio-Kontroll Institut, India

Bobby Issac oversees BKI & LACON’s operations. He is responsible for the inspection and certification activities of the company as well as exploring new market opportunities in the region. He ensures that BKI remains a trusted partner by delivering credible sustainability certification services to its clients with ethics and integrity. He has worked in various capacities in the sustainability industry including consulting, academics, product development, and quality assurance. He has wide international experience, having worked in Asia, Africa, and Europe. He is involved in the implantation of many sustainability and skill development projects by GIZ in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia & Africa.

Walter Link, NOW Partners / Future Economy Forum, USA
Bernward Geier, former director IFOAM Organics International, Germany

Bernward Geier studied Latin American cultural history in Mexico City and agricultural science at the University of Kassel. After 5 years as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Kassel, he was director of the global umbrella organisation IFOAM Organics International for 18 years, for which he is still active as an ambassador today. Since 2015, he has been working freelance with COLABORA-international in the context of organic agriculture and food culture, as well as sustainability issues. As a journalist, book author and filmmaker, his work focuses on communication.

Felix Hübner, Campo Verde, Germany

Felix Hübner grew up on a Demeter farm and developed a strong bond with organic farming early on. At Demeter International, he drove international market development and helped to establish the Demeter banana value chain as an example of good practice for other value chains. He is currently working with the Demeter-certified company Campo Verde in strategic purchasing and sales. To set a good example, he runs his own company that produces wooden children's toys made in Germany. His extensive involvement demonstrates his passion for ecological and ethical business practices.

Janet Maro, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), Tanzania

Janet Maro is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer responsible for Programme at Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) a local Non-Governmental Organisation that works at a national level with the goal that small-scale farmers are able to feed their families and earn an income from practicing agriculture in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Dr. Benard Oppong-Kusi, University College for Agriculture and Environmental Studies, Ghana

Hail from Dormaa Ahenkro in the Bono Region of Ghana, Dr Benard Kwame Oppong-Kusi had his education at universities in four jurisdictions in Japan: first, at the Meikai University, Urayasu, Japan leading to a BSc in Economics; further, at the University of Nagoya, Japan for Masters in Socio-Economics, MBA in International Management at ENPC Business School, Paris, (Tokyo Campus) and later at the University of Tsukuba, where he earned PhD in Sustainable Environmental Studies (UCAES). He has vast academic leadership and management experience as Head of the Environmental Science Department and the Dean of Students at the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies (UCAES), Bunso in Ghana. He is also the founder of the Human Capital Development Institute Ghana. He has served on various Academic, Agriculture and environmental-related Boards. He is a Board Member and Coordinator on the Ecoland Ghana project for UCAES. 

Dr. André Leu, Regeneration International, Australia

Professor Dr. André Leu, D.Sc., is the International Director of Regeneration International, overseeing 570 partners in 75 countries and working with diverse agricultural systems like agroecology, organic, permaculture, and agroforestry. With over 50 years as a regenerative organic farmer and extensive experience across six continents, he has published three books and numerous articles on sustainable agriculture. André lectures globally and engages with governments, UN bodies, and various organizations to advocate for the benefits of regenerative agriculture, while residing on his organic tropical fruit farm in Daintree, Australia.

Roman Hinz, University of Kassel, Germany

Roman Hinz, an agricultural economist and PhD candidate at the University of Kassel, specializes in sustainable agriculture and forestry in West Africa. His research combines land use modeling with participatory approaches to explore future scenarios in a policy-relevant way. Starting from August 2024, he will extend his work to Mexico, investigating the impact of policies and technologies on landscape resilience, rural populations, and the environment. His approach emphasizes the social dimension of land management, considering equity and justice in land use transformations. 

Dr. Reginald Tang Guuroh, CSIR- Forestry Research Institute, Ghana

Dr. Reginald Tang Guuroh, a Senior Research Scientist at CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana and Lecturer at CSIR-College of Science and Technology, specializes in climate change, land use, and biodiversity conservation. He holds a Ph.D. in Plant Ecology and Ecosystem Functioning from the University of Bonn, and Master's degrees in Tropical Forestry and Management from TU Dresden, and Environmental Forestry from Bangor University. With over seven years of experience in landscape restoration and more than 25 scientific publications, he has participated in numerous multidisciplinary research projects and consultancies.

Julian Stock, Good Food Collective, Germany

Julian Stock is a sustainability and brand strategist at the Hamburg-based agency blood and a board member of the Good Food Collective network. Prior to this, he spent over seven years at Germany's leading organic brand Alnatura in various roles. He is passionate about transforming the food system. His focus: collaboration, innovation, and transformation.

Gerald Herrman, Organic Services GmbH / IFOAM, Germany

Gerald A. Herrmann is a pioneer of the organic sector. He is a worldwide renowned organic industry expert. Since the 1980s, he has been engaged in developing the organic sector. He spent two decades shaping Naturland, an international farmers’ association and private organic certifier, as a farm consultant, its President and Executive Director. For about 20 years, he served at IFOAM Organics International, as its ED and President. Today he is a partner and director of Organic Services GmbH, an international strategy- and management consultancy, specializing in the organic (food) sector and software-based audit, supply chain and integrity systems, i.e. mass balancing for fraud prevention.

Fabio Volkmann, Climate Farmers, Germany

Fabio co-coordinates the Horizon Europe projects Soil Health BENCHMARKS and Lila4Soils for Climate Farmers. As the EU Partnership Manager for these projects, he is responsible for designing and enabling multi-stakeholder collaborations. Fabio is a certified experience designer with extensive experience in facilitating change within the agri-food system. He collaborates with partners across the agri-food sector to develop and promote solutions that empower farmers and other marginalized groups.

Thomas Wehinger, Bio-Kontroll Institut, Germany

Thomas is a trained farmer and holds a master degree in agriculture (Dipl. Ing. agr.) from the University of Hohenheim. For almost thirty years he's been working as a freelance consultant and in various assignment in research projects at the University of Hohenheim, the University of Freiburg and Rottenburg a.N. on sustainable land management and rural development. He was contracted by private businesses, public authorities, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, UNFAO and Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt. More recently Thomas has focussed on soil health, carbon sequestration and validation and verification of green claims and carbon credits working for the Bio-Kontroll Institut and supporting the team of the Academy Schloss Kirchberg.

Chelsea Hill, Regenerate Forum

Chelsea is dedicated to fostering a circular economy, an equitable society, and a balanced planet. She has a background in inspiring, leading, and managing stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and cultural sensitivities. With strong skills in project management, organizational change management, and leadership development, she brings a well-rounded approach to her work. Her international experience and multilingual abilities enhance her communication effectiveness. Additionally, her work in philanthropy has helped her build an active network in social giving, supporting her commitment to creating positive, sustainable change.

André Antunes, Vivid Foods, Portugal

After a professional career as a production animal veterinarian and commercially growing organic vegetables, André Antunes expanded horizons with advanced studies in regenerative agriculture. He is an advisor on regenerative agriculture and agroecology for the Climate Farmers and Vivid Foods and freelance Agriculture consultant for private clients. With Climate Farmers he designs supply transition journeys for coops, agriculture associations and corporate clients such as agricultural credit banks. He is a Savory Institute accredited professional since 2023. 

Lauren Tucker, reNourish Studio, USA

Lauren is an entrepreneur and leader focused on evolving our food system. She recently founded reNourish Studio, an innovation hub for food business leaders, activists, and investors evolving business strategy in service to the living world. Through her consultancy, she works on crop-specific regenerative agricultural projects in collaboration with White Buffalo Land Trust. These projects include the Heal Mond Project, C 4 Cotton and The Elderberry Project. She is a Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Kiss the Ground.

Jasmin Hundorf, GIZ, Germany

Jasmin Hundorf is an international economist with more than 12 years of experience in international cooperation for sustainable development. She worked with several international organizations in Germany, Latin America and the United States at the interface of climate change, biodiversity conservation and inclusive rural development. Jasmin is currently Senior Advisor on Agroecology to the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Famoussa Dembele, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Famoussa Dembele is a trainer in biogas technology (gas production and use of bio-slurry) and a PhD candidate specializing in Climate Change and Adapted Land Use at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. His research focuses on understanding how future changes in land systems, driven by population growth and deforestation due to increasing demand for food and fiber, will impact soil greenhouse gas emissions in Ghana. He holds a Master of Philosophy in Climate Change and Integrated Natural Resource Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics. 

Michael Obour Opoku-Agyemang, Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, Ghana