Calypso Farm and Ecology Center is an educational farm in Ester, Alaska, offering hands-on education programs for people of all ages.
Our Mission is to encourage local food production and environmental awareness through hands-on education in natural and farming ecosystems.
Calypso was established in 2000 and has grown to host an array of educational programs from farming and homesteading to blacksmithing and fiber arts. The farm itself is a diversified 3 acres of vegetables, herbs and cut flowers, nestled in the boreal forest. Shetland sheep, dairy goats, bees and chickens are integrated into the farm ecosystem.
Susan Willsrud is a Co-Director and the Farm Manager. She co-founded Calypso with her husband, Tom in 2000. Her responsibilities include implementation of the Farmer Training Program, farm planning, wool product production and teaching.
Susan has a BA degree in Zoology from University of California, Davis and a MS degree in Plant Ecology from the University of Alaska. Susan is an enthusiastic advocate for local food and has worked extensively with other organizations and community leaders to forward sustainable agriculture in Alaska.
Christie Shell is a Co-Director and the Operations Manager. Having been involved in every aspect of Calypso programs and operation since 2001, she is uniquely qualified to oversee operations. Her responsibilities include book keeping, farm production, human resources and educational programs oversight.
Christie has a BS degree in Natural Resources with a focus in Environmental Education from Ohio State University. Christie also has extensive experience in environmental education, and farming in Fairbanks.
Tom Zimmer is a Co-Director and the Infrastructure Manager. Tom co-founded Calypso with his wife Susan in 2000. Tom’s responsibilities include building, teaching, soil fertility management, consultation, and community outreach. He is also a sheep shearer and blacksmith.
Tom has a BS degree in Geological Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a MS degree in Soil Science from Utah State University. Tom has wide-ranging experience working with diverse agricultural systems, including working as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa where he designed and developed a Sub Saharan fruit orchard and nursery and worked to develop home gardens.
Abby Hatfield is the Community Outreach and Fundraising Assistant. Her responsibilities include keeping the community abreast of all of Calypso’s programs and events, and interacting with donors and sponsors. Abby is passionate about all things local and believes in the power of community. She is experienced in working cooperatively with the public and establishing relationships to build a stronger, healthier community.
Abby holds a BA in Art History from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Leila Pyle is the Lead Educator for farm field trips and summer camps. Her responsibilities include outreach, planning, and teaching with the farm’s hands-on environmental education programs. Leila has many years of experience working with youth of all ages and teaching experiential outdoor education. She is a life-long Alaskan and is passionate about helping people learn about and appreciate the interconnectedness of our local communities and the natural world.
Leila is also a local artist and community organizer, and holds a BA in Art from Reed College.
Daisy Edwards is the Manager of the Southside Community Farmers Market. During the market season, Daisy runs the information booth at the market, handles food benefit transactions, and makes sure that all vendors and customers feel welcome. Daisy also leads the Southside Market Steering Committee, which is made up of neighborhood residents who guide the on-going development of the market.
Daisy is a retired social worker and teacher's aide, as well as a beacon in the Southside Community and her community church. She loves working with people and is passionate about creating a farmers market that is an inclusive, healthy hub for the community.
Addie is an artist, illustrator and author of educational materials on the farm. She is passionate about the natural world and loves documenting it and sharing with others. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Additionally, she works in the field and greenhouse and assists with the harvest.
Elsa is actively involved in all aspects of the farm. She often leads children in exploring the farm via field trips and summer camps. More recently, in addition to working in the field and working at the weekly Southside Market, she focuses on the cut flower business at Calypso. She loves working with flowers and is currently the main floral designer.
George is the Building Assistant at Calypso. He helps with building maintenance and building new structures on the farm. In addition to being a competent builder, George is a local artist and musician.
Kendalyn Mckisick is developing and leading Calypso's new program - Community Roots: a garden training program for young adults. Community Roots, initiated in 2021 is based in the school garden at Hunter Elementary School.
Southside Market Steering Committee
Racial Justice Advisory Committee
Board of Directors
Are you interested in getting involved with Calypso’s Board or Advisory Committees?