About Us

Meet the Spikenard team and Board of Directors, and learn about our organizational history and mission

Our Mission

Our consciously cultivated honeybee sanctuary promotes sustainable and biodynamic beekeeping to help restore the health and vitality of the honeybee worldwide.

Our Values

Letter From Executive Director Alex Tuchman | July 20, 2021

Dear friends of the honeybee and community members,

The Spikenard Farm team is currently in transition, as we grow from the firm foundation that has been laid by our Founders, Gunther Hauk and Vivian Struve-Hauk. This new period of organizational development calls for a fresh look at who we are and who we want to become in the years ahead as we strive to consciously cultivate a heart-based community of social healing.  While we intend to dive more deeply into this work once the growing season turns towards winter, it feels appropriate at this time to share a sample of the questions that we are currently carrying:

  • How can we continue to develop principles of hospitality and invite others into a consciously cultivated sanctuary—a safe place to heal, connect, learn, and grow?
  • How can we remove barriers and invite diversity into our staff, board, and community?
  • What is the human and ecological history of this land and how can we assist in healing?

How we answer these and other questions will help our team to clarify and communicate our shared values in a unified way. We envision facilitated meetings, trainings, and plenty of time and space for self-development as we move forward together. 

 Thank you in advance for your patience and encouragement in this important work!

 Yours,

Alex Tuchman

Our Team

Here is a brief introduction to our organizational structure and team members.  Like worker bees, we do not simply carry one task, but each of us strives to do all that we can in honor of the whole, within our unique and varied strengths.  Our staff is called upon by the needs of our times to strive forth; to grow, learn, adapt, and change with the seasons and organizational needs.  We endeavor to build a team that works closely together with commitment, respect, and dignity.  Flexible cross-pollination between the office and the farm is the ‘propolis’ that holds us together, and we are so thankful to have gifted individuals on both sides—the blessing that makes our organization thrive!

Alex is a beekeeper, educator, farmer, author, and student of nature.  As the Director of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, Alex carries a wide variety of responsibilities on the farm, with the bees, in the classroom, and in administration.   Alex arrived at Spikenard Farm in March of 2014 after three years as the Farm Manager of Loyola University Chicago’s Student Farm in Woodstock, Illinois, his home-state.  Alex is an active contributor to the biodynamic agriculture and natural beekeeping movements and regularly teaches at conferences in the U.S., around the world, and online.  Alex’s book, A Lively Hive, was published in 2021, outlining the basic biodynamic beekeeping methods that we practice and teach at Spikenard Farm.

As Farm Manager, Anthea cares for the Farm by attending to the life in the soil, plant and animal realms, to create an abundant landscape for the honeybees. She guides the daily work of the apprentices which includes tending the bees, the pollinator gardens, herb and vegetable gardens, fields and forest, orchard, greenhouses, and general care of the grounds. She began working at the Sanctuary in 2019, arriving with years of experience on small scale diversified farms and with a degree in Environmental Biology.

Jody came to Spikenard with a background in programming and software training. She is an avid gardener, herbalist and basket weaver with an abiding love of nature. After taking classes at Spikenard, she and her husband are joyfully incorporating honeybees on their small farm.  Jody carries responsibility for many aspects of running the administration, products, programs, website, and social media.

Susan came to us with over 30 years of accounting and business management experience having worked in both large and small local businesses.  She has also lived and worked on her family farm in Floyd all her life and has a deep appreciation for the land and all the creatures on it.  In her role as office assistant, Susan is attending to the important tasks in the office, including the administrative, accounting, and bookkeeping needs of the organization.

Courtney has deep roots in the natural world, finding solace and inspiration within nature’s diversity, abundance, and resilience.  She is passionate about helping humans reconnect to their true nature and realize their integral role as part of earth’s ecosystem.  Through somatic studies of the human body coupled with deep explorations of the psyche, she has found valuable insights which she shares through movement, meditation, mindfulness, breathing inquiries, and more.  She enjoys creating spaces for personal transformation and engages participants with great care, compassion, and empathy.  Courtney holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Environmental Science from Virginia Tech, is Nationally Board Certified as a Massage Therapist, and is further trained as a practitioner of Medical Therapeutic Yoga.

Julie Paynotta is a Virginia native, born in Roanoke and educated at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Spending time on her great Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Craig County was a favorite pastime of childhood with many hours spent trying to befriend wild Appaloosas and watching her aunt prepare food from what they grew and raised on site. 

 Many summers spent walking dirt roads, swimming and fishing in SW Virginia creeks and rivers, and hiking in the Blue Ridge were foundational experiences that led to earning a degree in Environmental Science (UVA, 1988). Julie is a published author in the field environmental science research, working on atmospheric transport of pollutants and precipitation chemistry. 

 Fast forward to today, Julie seeks grants for nonprofit organizations as they pursue their missions for social impact through her consulting practice Piñon Grant Solutions. She is slowly pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a nonprofit focus from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and has a Certificate in Grant Writing and Program Evaluation from the School of Public Affairs. 

 Julie lives in Colorado with her husband and two cats, quickly losing teenagers to adulthood. She enjoys live music, hiking the Rockies, and spending time on dirt roads. 

Our Board Of Directors

Kenneth is an attorney representing consumers and serving on the boards of non-profit organizations. His experience in organizational governance helps guide Spikenard Farm in its mission to improve the health of the honeybee and the human community.

Jack has worked in the mental health and disabilities support field since 1971. He has a B.S. degree in Business Management from Babson College and a Masters in Education degree from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Kamala Bauers, started the company Wall Residences in 1995 to provide intensive supports for people with long-term disabilities in professional family homes. Jack and Kamala are highly involved in the Floyd, Virginia business community. They opened Hotel Floyd in 2007 and are developing Floyd Eco Village to demonstrate sustainable land use practices and zero energy building design. They are also involved in nonprofit work in Floyd through the starting of Partnership for Floyd in 2005 and through support of many other nonprofit organizations in the area. Spikenard Farm is a new passion for him due to the importance and meaning of bees to our local and world ecology.

Gigi is a retired veterinary pharmacologist with a special interest in honey bee pharmacology. She is a long time supporter and student of Spikenard Farm HoneyBee Sanctuary having attended all available workshops since 2015. Gigi is a graduate of the Spikenard Sustainable Biodynamic Beekeeping Training and manages her 70 acre farm and honey bee colonies using Biodynamic methods learned at Spikenard. Her vision for her farm is to establish a Honey Bee Sanctuary and Educational Center in Central North Carolina where persons of all ages can encounter honey bees in a healthy landscape, experience the magic of swarms, and cultivate a deep sense of love and personal responsibility for the honey bee through bee-centered land and pollinator stewardship.

Jaime is an engineer and a devoted urban beekeeper in New York City. He has served as advisor and board member to many non-profit organizations. As the volunteer beekeeper of the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, he enjoys bringing the children closer to the bees and fostering in them a disposition of love, admiration and respect.

Monica is a clinical nutritionist practicing with her husband, Michael, in Roanoke since 1998. She is an organic gardener and has been growing vegetables and herbs for over 30 years.

Michael is a doctor of chiropractic practicing in Roanoke, VA since 1998. He is a beekeeper and is currently Vice President of the Blue Ridge Beekeeper’s Club. He has been gardening organically for over 30 years.

Alex works with the Board and staff to uphold Spikenard’s mission in service of the honeybees.  As the Director of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, Alex carries a wide variety of responsibilities on the farm, with the bees, in the classroom, and in administration.

Bonnie is a Virginia native, business owner, and fourth generation guardian of a c.1897 family farm located in the Shenandoah Valley. A devoted student, supporter, and Sustainable Biodynamic Beekeeping Training graduate, she folds biodynamic and permaculture principles into her daily life and farm practice, is a philanthropist of the sustainability movement, and embraces educational opportunities throughout North and Central America to further her skills in land stewardship and do-it-yourself living. Bonnie’s interests range from beekeeping, fiber arts, and herbalism to fermentation, gardening, and soil regeneration. Through her work and experiences at Spikenard Farm, she has become an advocate for educating and supporting others in an effort to protect and restore the health and vitality of the honeybee.

Our Founders

The vision for Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary first came through Gunther, who had the beekeeping and gardening knowledge and skills to help contribute towards addressing the honeybee crisis, and the gift as a teacher to be able to communicate and share these methods with the world.  However, Gunther could not have shared these gifts without an organizational platform, which was created by the talented support of Vivian, who co-founded Spikenard Farm with him and helped the vision of a safe place for the honeybees to manifest on Earth.  From when Spikenard Farm was first incorporated in 2006 until they moved up to New York in 2020, Gunther and Vivian gave selflessly in service of the honeybees and were the pioneer visionaries who made all of this possible.  May their teachings and creation continue to bloom and grow forevermore!

After nearly 20 years as a Waldorf gardening teacher in Germany, Gunther moved to the U.S. in 1996 to co-found the Pfeiffer Center – one of the first biodynamic training programs in the states.  His book Toward Saving the Honeybee was first published in 2002.  His work with the bees and as the co-Founder of Spikenard Farm was featured in two full-length documentary films about the honeybee crisis – “Queen of the Sun” (2010) and “Vanishing of the Bees” (2009), and he also produced his own educational film “Hour of Decision” (2015).  Gunther is fully retired and now lives at Camphill Ghent in upstate New York, where he gardens, keeps bees, and continues to be active in the anthroposophical community.

Vivian co-founded Spikenard Farm with Gunther in 2006, and served in a variety of roles, including building up the administration, beekeeping, teaching, and infusing the whole of Spikenard Farm with beauty and order.  Born in Chile, Vivian brought strong organizational talent and a broad range of experience as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, anthroposophical therapist, photographer, gardener, and beekeeper.  Vivian passed away in July 2021.

Get Involved

Learn about apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities, and how to help us make an impact in service of the honeybee

Our Local Community

Learn about open days at our Sanctuary, tours, wellness programs, and our local partnerships

The Honeybee

Learn about the life and wisdom of the honeybee colony and how we can best serve their needs as beekeepers