Our Governance

Healing Soils Foundation is governed by a four-person board.  The board members have significant experience in non-profit organizations, farming, business and investing. Our board is committed to changing the food system to be accessible and healthy for all.

Joseph Mantoan

Board Chairman

Mr. Mantoan was raised on his immigrate grandparents large scale vegetable farm in Kankakee County Illinois. There he developed a lifelong love and connection to the natural world and an appreciation and joy for family farmers and healthy communities.

Mr. Mantoan joined the multinational consulting firm Accenture in 1976 and served almost 30 years in various North American and International leadership roles. In 2004, he returned to his roots and began to work in farmland preservation and became an advocate for eco-logical farming. He received his BA and MA in Accounting from the University of Illinois.

Mr. Mantoan serves in various leadership roles at non-profit organizations including Wellspring Organic Farms, Riveredge Nature Center, and Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT since 2019.

Mr. Mantoan and his wife also own 200 acres of certified organic farmland in Washington County, Wisconsin. Since 2010, the farm has been managed by his son, based on rotational grazing and a permaculture keyline water system design. Several conservation and educational workshops have been conducted at the farm over the years. Mr. Mantoan resides in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

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Julia Ristau

Ms. Ristau grew up on a small, diversified farm in Southern Minnesota and has years of professional experience in the agriculture arena. She founded Principle of Regeneration LLC and co-founded Homegrown Minneapolis, the city’s local Urban Agriculture and Food initiative. She was also on the Board of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture for six years and is currently on the Board of Shared Capital Cooperative. Ms. Ristau joined Sharing Our Roots in 2015 to help acquire and establish the 100-acre farm. She served as Executive Director from 2018-2020 and now works with the Sharing Our Roots' team as a Senior Fellow, a Climate Land Leader and as the spark for the new Southeast Minnesota Agrarian Commons. As a Senior Fellow, Ms. Ristau helps advise Sharing Our Roots' leadership team around communications, finance, and development.

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Wesley Jarrell

Mr. Jarrell and his wife, Leslie Cooperband, are the proud owners of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery LLC. Both PhD Soil Scientists, in 2003 they moved from an urban and academic life at UW-Madison to rural Champaign-Urbana Illinois and positions at UI Urbana-Champaign. That first season, they began to transform their land from cash grain agriculture to perennial trees and pasture. In 2004, they planted a small organic fruit orchard AND purchased their first four Nubian dairy goats (three does and one buck).

In August of 2005, they were licensed as a Grade A farmstead creamery, the first in Illinois. Since then, they have expanded their goat herd to over 100 milkers, Nubian, LaMancha, and hybrids. They now manage close to 80 acres of perennial crops, from pasture to prairie to silvopasture to forest. They have transformed their landscape to diversified perennial crops and livestock. Their herd is certified ``Animal Welfare Approved`` (since 2010) by ``A Greener World.`` From 2008 to 2020 they hosted fourteen four-hour Slow Food Dinners on the Farm each year, highlighting their own products as well as those of neighbor farmers and guiding tours to educate their guests. Their cheeses have won numerous national awards and appear in stores and restaurants locally and especially in Chicago.

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David Miller

After a 30-year career in corporate finance and real estate, Mr. Miller returned to his native Illinois landscape in 2005 by purchasing a 10-acre farm from a family estate of his relatives. Keeping the farm in the family, he reconnected with local relatives and friends farming organically. In 2007, he co-founded Iroquois Valley Farms LLC to enable a new generation of farmers and investors to support healthy food production.

Prior to developing sustainable farmland ventures, Mr. Miller held executive positions at Bank of America, Santa Fe Southern Pacific and First Chicago Corporation, which involved the management and oversight of real estate and capital equipment leasing portfolios. In 2008 he formed Working Farms Capital, an entity seeding new ventures in sustainable agriculture while providing transitional farm management services.

Mr. Miller is a 1975 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and a 1978 graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Mr. Miller views education as the primary key to changing the health and economics of current food production systems. In that capacity, Mr. Miller is a founding member and Co-Chair of the advisory board for Loyola University’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability and is a recipient of the Institute’s first Damen Award, recognizing his services related to positive environmental change. Mr. Miller resides in Winnetka, Illinois with his wife and family. He continues to restore his small organic farm in Iroquois County, a family heritage since 1875, now being transitioned to native prairie and permaculture production.

Mr. Miller is a co-founder of Iroquois Valley and served as its Chief Executive Officer since its founding in 2007 until September 2021.

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