Eli Redfern was born in Dayton and grew up in Athens, Ohio. Starting in Athens County he became involved in sustainable agriculture and is passionate about rural life. He brought the gardening skills he developed at Good Earth Farm (an Episcopal friary and farm in Athens) to college and was a founding member of the Kenyon Farm in Gambier, a collaborative student-run 13-acre ecological agriculture project.
In 2016 he graduated from Kenyon College with a double major in Economics and Spanish Literature. After college, Eli moved to rural coastal Maine to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the community organization Mano en Mano (Hand in Hand). There he worked to expand access to essential services within a vibrant immigrant and migrant/seasonal farmworker community, while also supporting local leaders through community organizing efforts. After his national service term, he worked for the Maine Migrant Education Program teaching English in farmworker camps during Maine’s wreath-making season.
Since moving to Columbus in early 2018, he has worked in bilingual education, immigration law, and grassroots politics. He spent summer 2018 growing food on vacant city lots in Columbus’s Franklinton neighborhood as part of a community urban farming project. Eli has most recently taken his interest in social change and advocacy to the state level and will be working as a 2019 legislative fellow through the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.