The Hands That Feed You
This section of our website will profile Three Stone Hearth worker-owners and staff, farmers and ranchers who provide our ingredients, artisans and vendors whose products we sell, and other members of our local food community who make it possible for us to do what we do.
Let's start with our current worker-owners.
Mary Dee has worn many hats here over the years. Her legendary perseverance and attention to detail help keep us on track every day, and her insight, dedication and gentle strength help guide us and remind us why we do what we do. While tracking online sales through the week (“I watch those numbers like a hawk!”) and working production numbers with the kitchen, Mary also helps plan our upcoming menus, assists customers in our store, on emails and over the phone, and takes gorgeous product photos for our website (and or front windows). Broth may be beautiful, but it’s not very easy to photograph! Her degree in film production has become our secret weapon.
When co-founder Jessica Prentice announced her departure in 2018, the worker-owners chose Mary to take the helm as the Lead Link of the General Company Circle. It's the closest thing we have to a CEO, except instead of telling others what to do she supports and empowers everyone to fulfill their roles here and keep us all aligned with our purpose.
Mary grew up in a large, boisterous family in upstate New York (one of ten siblings), which probably helps ker keep a cool head amid the chaos of TSH. “We’d talk about nothing but food,” she says before erupting in laughter. She enjoyed the ethnic cuisines in her neighborhood, including Russian, German and Italian. At one point, five of her brothers and sisters worked at the same French restaurant! While spending time with her Scandinavian grandmother in Montana, Mary gained a deeper appreciation for traditional food and sense of community. She often helped her grandmother throw dinner parties, and learned not to waste a thing in the kitchen. "She always had a traditional pot au feu ('pot on the fire') going on her stove."
Mary is our resident authority on the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet, and helped us tailor our foods to those with dealing with food sensitivities and chronic illness. Her brothers and sisters have a number of dietary restrictions, which led her to explore and appreciate the connections between food and healing. Mary studies acupressure and Medical Qigong, as well as herbalism, and is interested in learning more about Chinese medicine.
Mary became a worker-owner in 2014 after volunteering and working at Three Stone Hearth almost from the beginning. Her passion for health, nutrition, and the environment has kept her motivated to positively impact the business and our community. Say hello if you see her in the store -- if you can keep up!
It took a lot of adventure to bring Danielle Deibert to our doorstep, generations of it! Her grandparents, artists who lived in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, each married three times. Her grandmother was the model for a nude statue still in the lobby of Radio City Music Hall, then she fell in love and married an Italian man, while her grandfather, a professional diver, ended up finding happiness with his third wife in Hawaii. Danielle’s mom, also a painter, came through Treasure Island as a child in an evacuation after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and eventually met her dad back in Oahu.
Danielle has many treasured memories of food, community and nature. Growing up in Seattle, the family would drive to the asparagus fields in the east after harvest time, and glean enough asparagus to last a year. Strawberry and blueberry picking, crabbing and clamming along the shore, followed by backyard productions to process and freeze these bounties, were a regular part of her childhood. Family dinners could be all-day productions, like an eight-course Chinese meal from scratch, including homemade wonton skins. Her staff lunches are the bomb!
While she studied art at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Danny always loved exploring the world of food and cooking. She was drawn to exotic tastes, fascinated to figure out the ingredients of a new dish as she watched classic cooking shows, and even went around to a few of the more renowned restaurants in Berkeley, offering to cook for free just for the immersive experience. She’s also drawn to the family feel of a workplace like ours. Before Three Stone, she worked for an Italian family company that designed and built lighting that was as much art as functional object.
When that company broke up, Danny thought she’d never find that kind of experience again. It took a few years of searching, but she did find us. Working in many roles that involve order fulfillment, delivery and customer service, she is probably most jazzed running our samples table, being able to introduce our customers to the TSH experience, as well as preparing extraordinary staff lunches. Danny joined the ranks of worker-owners in 2015.
If you’ve visited Three Stone Hearth, you’ve probably noticed Mud Hut. He’s hard to miss. Big and blustery, skirt-wearing and ebullient — sometimes actually dancing in the aisles — Mud has been here since 2007, drawn to volunteer at TSH in his quest for “shame-free mayonnaise and assertive women.”
In his native New York, Mud served as editor of EAR Magazine, dedicated to creating community around avant-garde music. In Berkeley, while working for a small record label and DJing a free-form music show on KPFA, he lived on the streets as part of a philosophical practice known as Oppositionality, developed by the esteemed street philosopher known as The Hate Man. “Oppies” committed to radical openness and the idea of “negative caring,” through assertiveness, expressing negativity (say, “I hate You!”), and fullhearted conflict resolution.
While running a landscaping business in the East Bay, Mud became drawn to edible gardening and permaculture. Yearning for more community than this work provided, he started volunteering at TSH in 2007, became an employee in 2011 and a worker-owner in 2014. Today, Mud lends his energy to ingredient buying and sourcing, menu planning, coordinating our communications and outreach efforts, and helping to shepherd our organizational evolution.
At Three Stone, Mud often plays the role of the gadfly (he likes to call it “visionary hysteric”), asking difficult questions, pressing us to address an emerging need or pushing to launch a new project. He’s also always there to dash out for that last-minute case of parsley (“or was it cilantro...they look alike!”), or make sure the broth comes to a boil after-hours when the kitchen staff heads home. Ask him about the cost of pastured chickens, and you might spark his “visionary hysteria” about integrated, localized food systems and his vision for “Farm City.”
While volunteering at TSH was originally part of his retirement plan, he has shifted to a goal of hanging out on an urban homestead, quietly combing angora rabbits.
Linda Kallenberger is without a doubt, one of our secret weapons, our Wonder Woman -- world-travelling, ice hockey-badass, baker/cook/cheese and prosciutto-maker extraordinaire! She’s in the Warm-and-Fuzzy Role here at Three Stone, which she fulfills with extravagant hats and mind-blowing staff birthday cakes.
Linda helped found the Arizmendi Bakery and Pizzeria in Emeryville, where she enjoyed immersing in the community and cooperative environment. A former board member for the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, she often serves as a link to the greater cooperative community. While on a sabbatical from Arizmendi, Linda did temp work in the hospitality industry, where she quickly saw the differences in quality and work culture when workers don’t have ownership and autonomy over what they’re doing. So she returned to a co-op environment at Three Stone in 2011, first as an apprentice, then an employee, and became a worker-owner in 2015.
Linda may be our most frequent flier and far-flung traveller, visiting family in Brazil, attending the Slow Food conference in Italy and playing in hockey tournaments all over the U.S. and beyond. When she was 19, Linda’s first trip was to Spain, followed by a long stay in South America a few years later. These experiences of food, people and culture were a far cry from the Standard American diet and industrial food systems she grew up with. She studied nutrition at Bauman college in Berkeley, but learned just as much in her travels.
Linda's low-waste approach to the precious resource of food is heavily influenced by her grandmother Estella, who grew up in a large family during the Great Depression. As our Perishable Ingredient Monitor and Rescue Recipe Midwife, she finds purpose in almost every scrap of leftover food and forgotten ingredient in the kitchen. You may find unexpected delights like homemade paneer or banana peel cake on the staff lunch table, and sometimes small-batch specials in our store made with any ingredients looking for a home. Linda has also spearheaded and grown our food donations program, connecting with organizations that serve those in need, both as a representative of Three Stone Hearth and as an independent volunteer.
Hanna Towers was born in Davis while her father was in graduate school, and then spent most of her youth in the small town of Palo Cedro in Shasta County. Her parents were busy with school, then careers and children, and she remembers them being challenged to find the time to cook at home, often resorting to fast food or other convenience foods to put dinner on the table.
(Ed. note: after re-reading this in a quiet moment during our renovation closure, Hanna said: "Wow I really did my parents dirty when I gave info for this! My parents did have busy periods when I was little — clearly I was remembering the Thai and pizza takeout from childhood more than some homecooked meals. They did feed us good food as well — raw milk, my mom preserved food, hunted meat they got from friends, my dad took us fishing, mushroom hunting, both parents knew a lot about plants and always had a garden with compost bin and would forage, we shopped at farmers markets, farm stands and natural grocery stores -- we rarely were allowed to get any snack foods unless they were from the natural food aisle -- always had pet chickens for eggs, etc. There wasn’t a shortage of good food in Davis/Sacramento or Redding area — most of it is surrounded by farmland!")
In middle school, Hanna became interested in both wine and cooking, and began learning about viticulture, winemaking, baking and cooking, taking classes throughout high school, and then community college. At UC Davis, she got a degree in Food Science, taking classes like Distilled Beverage Technology; Food Preservation, Food Sensory Sciences; and Food, Folklore, and Health.
Her interest in food science deepened to a specific interest in brewing, and she was able to study under professor Charles Bamforth, who literally wrote the (text)book on brewing. She took all three of his acclaimed undergraduate classes: Brewing and Beer, Malting and Brewing Science, and Malting and Brewing Practical.
When Hanna discovered Three Stone Hearth, she was impressed that busy families had a way to get healthy, local, sustainable food. She joined our staff as a Brewer, a role she still enjoys, sharing her expertise with the crew of the Fermentation & Preservation Circle which she now leads. She became a worker-owner in 2015.
There is a moment every week when Hanna steals the spotlight: around midday on Wednesday, you can catch her calling out loudly ("BEHIND!") as she carefully steers a massive cart filled with brightly colored bottles of Kombucha, Kvass and Kefir from the Fermentation area down to the order packers and store shelves as we get set to open for the week.