The Team

The Team

The New Garden Society is run by horticulturists, landscapers and farmers who seek to expand green industry opportunities for our incarcerated and formerly incarcerated neighbors in Greater-Boston. 

Renee Portanova, Co-Founder and Director

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Renée Portanova is a horticulturist and environmental educator. Currently, she serves as the Horticulture Manager at The Esplanade Association. There, in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, she helps to manage the Charles River Esplanade, Boston’s premiere park located in the lower basin of the Charles River.  She holds degrees in Psychology, Conservation Biology and Environmental Education from Manhattan College, Columbia University and Lesley University, respectively.  Renee received her Organic Land Care Professional accreditation through the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) and UMASS Green School Landscaping Management certification in 2010. Renée's teaching experience includes a breadth of horticultural topics, to various communities. Her pedagogical approach is both political and scientific, emphasizing the importance of horticulture in our society and personal lives.  She brings proficiency, through extensive field work, and her passion for teaching/learning to every "classroom" setting. Renee's field experience includes best practices in land management in the following settings: specialty cut flower farm, fine gardening, orcharding and ecological restoration.  Co-founding and directing The New Garden Society is an ideal synthesis of her passion, education and expertise.  Originally from Long Island, NY, Renée currently resides in Jamaica Plain, MA with her family.


Erika Rumbley, Co-Founder and Director

Erika Rumbley is a grower specializing in greenhouse production, organic land care and cut flowers. Erika leads TNGS' Development and Program Evaluation work, and gardens alongside students in a prison yard south of Boston on Monday afternoons. Beyond TNGS, Erika serves as the Greenhouse Manager at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Erika is a graduate of Vassar College, with an Honors BA in Environmental Studies and is the recipient of numerous fellowships including the Helen Dwight Reid Fellowship for service on The Crow Indian Reservation. Since her first farm apprenticeship in 2005, Erika has grown cut flowers, fruit and vegetables on farms in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. She honed her skills as a grower as the Greenhouse Manager at Langwater Farm from 2014-2017. In a parallel vein, Erika has served a range of land-based non-profits as a facilitator and adult educator, including Southside Community Land Trust, Boston Natural Areas Network and The Trustees of Reservations. 

 Photo Credit: Mario D'Amato

Photo Credit: Mario D'Amato


Lisa Lee, Administrator

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Lisa Lee provides administrative, fundraising and programming support to TNGS. She has a background in plant biology, organic farming and organizing in solidarity with vibrant movements for self-determination in Central America. She got her first taste of people organizing to create a better society in the temperate rainforests of Oregon and that seed blossomed into a full-fledged passion in the complex political environment of tropical El Salvador. She is thrilled to channel her love for the plant world in service of the incarcerated community of her home state of Massachusetts.


Erin Espinosa, Development Associate

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Erin Espinosa is an organic vegetable farmer with experience in garden education and non-profit administration. As the Development Associate, she works to build resources and funds that sustain the transformative work of The New Garden Society. Erin also currently serves as the Assistant Manager at Upswing Farm in Ashland, Ma. Recently, Erin moved from North Carolina where she earned a B.S in Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There, she developed a strong belief in rebuilding local food systems. This belief has translated through previously held positions in the non-profit sector that focused on topics such as food access, community organizing, sustainable agriculture, and consumer education. Now residing back in her home state of Massachusetts, Erin looks forward to demonstrating her passion for growing wholesome food and horticultural therapy with The New Garden Society.


Board of Directors

The New Garden Society's strategic vision and activities are guided by professionals from the fields of vocational training, horticulture, social work, public health and higher education.  These generous individuals lead our work in collaboration with the team, with ongoing feedback from our students.

KRISTINA MARCUS

Kristina earned her graduate degree in Clinical and Community Psychology in Germany. She currently works at the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health, where she provides case management and care coordination to people with multiple chronic health conditions as well as psychiatric diagnoses. She completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2015 and has volunteered at Hands To Heart Center, a local non-profit organization, offering free yoga classes to people living with poverty and trauma in Boston.

Rob fettig

Rob Fettig is a licensed social worker who previously worked for the Department of Mental Health. For the past 2 years he worked as a Horticulturist and Volunteer Assistant with the Rose Kennedy Greenway and is currently working as a horticulturist with a Jamaica Plain based business. This is his second season volunteering as a Horticultural Educator with TNGS.

brandy henry

Brandy has a background as a clinical social worker, working with patients with severe mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system. She is currently a PhD candidate studying Social Policy, focusing on the intersection of criminal justice and mental health policy. 

Jonna Iacono

Jonna serves as the Director of the Scholars Program and Office of Undergraduate Research and Education at Northeastern University. She earned her PhD in Early American Literature and Cultures at Brown University and graduated with honors from Princeton University. Iacono guides students through the process of conceptualizing, designing, and realizing undergraduate research projects, experiential learning opportunities, and fellowship applications. Her students have applied for and earned a number of nationally competitive fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright Scholarships.

angela phinney

Angela is a labor and employment attorney who represented a death-row inmate in Alabama for 18 years. She currently works as the Director of Development for Bikes Not Bombs. Angela co-owned Yew and I, a small organic garden design company, for several years.


Past Collaborators

Sarah Cadorette

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Sarah Cadorette is a teacher and organizer with over 10 years of experience in adult education, and over 15 years of experience in nonprofit management and administration. She has lived on sustainable communities and permaculture farms in India, Haiti and Costa Rica, which confirmed for her the transformative power of nature and meaningful work. Sarah has also worked on issues of food access for low-income and immigrant residents of Boston. She currently develops garden-based and leadership development curriculum for high school students, while helping to run a nonprofit that supplies reading and writing materials to people who are currently incarcerated.

Hadas Yanay

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With a certificate in Permaculture Design and Yoga Teacher Training, Hadas is interested in the role of horticulture as a rehabilitative tool, which led her to become a volunteer horticulture educator with TNGS.  In previous roles, she has apprenticed and facilitated educational programming related to sustainable agriculture on farms in Israel, India, New York, and Cuba, and most recently, worked towards converting municipal and commercial spaces into urban farms in the Boston metro area. As an educator, she is committed to sustainable agriculture, food justice advocacy, and health and social equity issues, and is excited by TNGS's efforts to reach those incarcerated through horticultural vocational training. Today, Hadas is dedicated to finding ways to support and empower individuals through sustainable agriculture and food access.

Sara Riegler

Sara Riegler is an organic vegetable farmer and agriculture educator, with a passion for the intersection of social justice, mental health, and local food production and access. She started farming as an apprentice on farms in Vermont and Massachusetts for three seasons.  On Long Island in Boston, she became an assistant manager at Serving Ourselves Farm, a production farm that provided vocational training and rehabilitation programs for homeless adults and court-involved teens.  Following the closure of Long Island in 2014, she went on to become the farm manager at Littleton Community Farm.  During her two years at Serving Ourselves Farm, she discovered her deep passion for cultivating therapeutic working environments for at-risk populations and the joy that can be found in working as a team to improve health for others.  Farming and horticulture proves continuously to be a source of therapy and connection for her, and she is passionate about introducing others to this work. 

Laura Quincy Jones

Laura Quincy Jones is a Somerville-based teacher, artist, writer, community organizer, and gardener.  She has spent most of her professional career teaching literacy in inner-city high schools in Boston, MA and Oakland, CA, where her passion and commitment is to helping students open doors for themselves.  Her students have been her greatest teachers, and energetic inspiration.  In 2011, Laura decided to follow her curiosity to learn more about the real origins of good food as a gateway to broader social issues.  She lived and worked on organic farms and rural and urban homesteads throughout Australia and Japan, learning and sharing from expert farmers.  She taught environmental education at a community environment park in Melbourne for seven months.  Further international travels have taken her to Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Siberia and Russia, and Berlin. Laura holds degrees from Brown University (BA), Cambridge University (MPhil), and Tufts University (MAT).