Our Instructors

We’ve brought together several experts in the fields of nutrition, herbs, cooking, and gardening to make sure you have a comprehensive, well-rounded experience.

Joan Palmer

Joan Palmer

Joan Palmer, Founder and Director of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition

Joan Palmer is the Founder and Director of The Institute of Sustainable Nutrition and owner of Real Food Matters, LLC. Joan has a MS in Human Nutrition, a BS in Education and received her certification as a Family/Community Herbalist. She has been planting the seeds of real food matters for decades through educational programs presented to schools, businesses, organizations, families and individuals. Joan presents the Art and Science of Eating as part of an accredited Masters Degree program in Ct. She has been growing and using herbs and kitchen medicine since the 90s. She raises plants, chickens, bees and boys in the beautiful hills of West Granby, CT

Alison Birks, MS, AHG, CNS

Alison Birks

One of Connecticut’s most highly recognized Nutritionists and experts in the field of Herbal Medicine, Alison’s breadth of knowledge has ushered in her success as a holistic health counselor, nutritionist, and clinical herbalist for more than thirteen years. Alison received a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and has five certifications in Herbal Medicine including Chinese Herbology and Aromatherapy & Western Clinical Herbalism. Alison is an esteemed member of The American Herbalists Guild, one of the most prestigious organizations in her field.


Nigel Palmer

Nigel Palmer,

Nigel Palmer, BS, MS Outside Consultant

Nigel has a BS & MS in Engineering with concentrations in modern physics. He has been an aerospace engineer for 30 years sorting, organizing and resolving complex technical issues, and 35 years as an organic New England gardener.

Nigel is a Bionutrient Food and Soil Consultant practicing sustainable, regenerative mineralization programs. He develops plant and soil improvement products by fermenting local plants, extracting minerals, and capturing then cultivating indigenous microorganisms. He uses the refractive index of plant saps and crops as a way of monitoring long and short term plant health trends and the efficacy of the products developed.

Nigel is the Outside Consultant for TIOSN. He teaches sustainable regenerative gardening techniques, the keeping of bees, and discusses monthly, the night sky and many subtle nuances of the world out of doors.

Nigel enjoys climbing and skiing mountains, paddling with bears, and watching the garlic grow.


Jimi Taylor

Inspired daily by the healing powers of food and practicing a style rooted in California-Cuisine, Jimi’s kitchen is one where purpose and pleasure come together.
After attending culinary school in New York City and followed by many years spent in professional kitchens from sea to shining sea, a path of sustainability both in cooking and living began to unfold. The delights of eating and cooking organic, local produce was immediate and helped form the foundation of Jimi’s kitchen. Dietary restrictions have been a part of Jimi’s life ever since gluten intolerance was recognized as a problem for his oldest child. Observing firsthand the many benefits of a gluten-free and whole foods diet has transformed and motivated his approach to cooking both in his home and professionally. It is this motivation that has continued to drive Jimi to help others find good health through good food!

Sue Crawford

Sue is a graduate of TIOSN’s Sustainable Health and Nutrition program as well as the Herbal Intensive program; she also served as an intern for TIOSN for the past two years. Sue’s background and passion is education; she has worked extensively with children of all ages and abilities in a variety of settings. Sue has a PhD in Education though her methods and mannerisms are not what you might expect of a typical college professor; she endeavors to include everyone in the learning process and to make that process a fun and memorable experience.

Sue came to TIOSN while on a journey to improve the health and wellness of herself and her family. One of the precipitating factors for this was the discovery of several food sensitivities and intolerances that were causing health concerns – some of which were life-altering! Not one to let a challenge get the best of her, Sue directed some of her creative energy toward the kitchen and developed several of her own unique recipes and included homemade fermented foods as an integral part of the healing process. Be sure to ask her about those carob brownie bites!!

Sue loves to spend time being creative with food, paper or clay, as well as knitting or crocheting; she enjoys reading, writing, gardening and being active – and of course, a good laugh is always in the works!


Past Speakers

Sandor Ellix Katz

Sandor graced us with an evening of fermentation ferver our first year of operation. His stories and demonstrations entertained and educated a sold out crowd. He has been credited for the fermentation revival in this country with his two fabulous books, Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, which won the James Beard award in 2012.

You can find out more about Sandor by visiting his website, www.wildfermentation.com