Rick Burnette is the co-founder and Technical Director of Cultivate Abundance, a nonprofit that addresses the ironic food insecurity of farmworkers in the agricultural community of Immokalee, Florida. Additionally, the organization provides assistance (e.g. technical resources and plant materials) in support of small-scale, community-based food production in the US and beyond.
Having earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Plant and Soil Science at the University of Tennessee, Rick has spent the last four decades in international community-based development work, as well as nonprofit efforts in the US. Rick and his wife, Ellen, founded two agencies in Thailand that continue to serve smallholder farmers in that region.
Since 2017, Cultivate Abundance has focused its efforts on the food desert of Immokalee, Florida, where most of America’s wintertime tomatoes and other produce are grown. In cooperation with local partners, including Immokalee residents, Misión Peniel – a food pantry and social service provider – as well as other agencies, Cultivate Abundance is growing, collecting, and sharing dozens of varieties of locally-grown produce of cultural preference among the Haitian, Guatemalan, and Mexican farmworker community.
In 2020, Cultivate Abundance handled 14 tons of food amounting to 74,000 food servings shared among approximately 400 Misión Peniel clients each week.
In addition to his Cultivate Abundance duties, Rick manages domestic disaster response for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.