Jamie Stark (Executive Director, Co-founder) worked with farmers and church workers in El Salvador from 2013-15, where he was first inspired by the model of transitional employment through farming and cooking. During graduate school in journalism at Stanford University, Jamie began researching similar programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Farming Hope grew out of this research and partnership with neighbors experiencing homelessness and service providers. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Jamie was raised next to the dairy air of big farms. He began as the gardener for Farming Hope, alongside co-founder and Bay Area native Kevin Madrigal, who was the nonprofit's first chef. Early program Apprentices described growing and cooking food as therapeutic, as tools that helped them give back and belong. This universal "need to be needed" continues to be Farming Hope's central theory of change.