Guåhan Sustainable Culture
Educate. Cultivate. Nourish.
Meet Michelle (familian Gualafon/Beyong) a dedicated second-generation farmer with a bona-fide connection to the land. Her roots run deep in farming, raising chickens, cultivating bountiful fruit and vegetable crops, and specializing in the art of microgreen production.
As the driving force behind Tiny Greens Guam, Michelle has established herself as a trailblazer in the microgreens industry. Her dedication has led her to supply numerous island restaurants and hotels with these vibrant greens while guiding countless adults and children in the art of microgreen cultivation, fruit and vegetable farming, and backyard poultry raising, nurturing a generation of eco-conscious individuals.
Her community impact isn’t limited to farming. Michelle’s leadership role as a former Board member, and finance and education chair of the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, along with her current position as County Committee Vice Chair for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), reflects her holistic approach to advocacy. In this role, she oversees FSA programs, ensuring effective outreach and support to the farming community.
Michelle’s dedication to fostering household food security and empowering women resonates deeply. These aspirations led to the inception of Guåhan Sustainable Culture, sowing the seeds for a more self-reliant and self-sustaining farming community.
Michelle holds a degree in Business Management from Webster University. Beyond farming, she revels in learning new culinary techniques, embracing her CHamoru heritage, cherishing time with her hens, keeping her mind and body healthy, and basking in the natural splendor of her island with loved ones.
For Marlyn, the love for gardening is woven into her family’s fabric, a heritage passed down through generations. Her roots trace back to her family’s farming legacy in the Philippines, which carried forward to Guam. Memories of her mom’s ornamental plants and her dad’s bountiful backyard vegetables paint a colorful picture of her upbringing. Growing up, she fondly recalls joining her dad in harvesting tomatoes and vibrant donne’ (red hot peppers), a cherished tradition that still brings a smile to her face.
With a rich career at Ernst and Young spanning 25 years, Marlyn’s dedication to community shines through her involvement in numerous nonprofit organizations. She played a pivotal role in securing nonprofit status for various organizations, including the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation and the Internal Revenue Service. Her contributions extended to the boards of 501(c)(3) entities like KPRG Public Radio, the Guam Basketball Confederation, and the Guam National Golf Federation. For more than 20 years, Marlyn has stood steadfastly by the Guam Junior Golf League.
Her journey in the nonprofit sector inspired the establishment of Oceanic Ascent Education, a 501(c)(3) organization. This dormant endeavor came alive with a conversation with her kindred spirit and gardening enthusiast, Michelle. Their shared passion laid the foundation for Guahan Sustainable Culture.
When not tending to her garden, Marlyn finds solace in the pages of books and podcasts. Personal finance, philosophy, and self-help genres, along with gardening literature, captivate her. A quote by the Roman philosopher Cicero resonates deeply: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
Marlyn’s story is one of nurturing a familial bond with nature, fostering community through nonprofit dedication, and finding solace and wisdom through both the garden and the world of words.
Kristin Oberiano is a board member of Guåhan Sustainable Culture. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristin helped to create and facilitate GSC’s Supporting Farmers, Sustaining Families initiative, which has supported dozens of farmers and donated thousands of pounds of fresh local produce to the island’s families. In 2020 and 2021, Kristin was a Humanities Scholar for GSC’s online public history project “Ginen I Gualo’: Histories of Farming and Agriculture on Guam.” Since then, Kristin has volunteered at the community gardens, written grants, and helped with strategic planning of the organization.
When not on Guam, Kristin currently serves as an assistant professor of history at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She is a historian of U.S. empire in the Pacific, specifically Guam. Her first book project, Territorial Discontent, explores the amicable and contentious relationships between Indigenous Chamorro people, Filipino migrants, and the US military over the twentieth century. She is also embarking on a new research project on environmental history that explores ecological transformations, climate change, and environmental disasters on Guam.
Kristin earned her PhD in history from Harvard University in 2021 and received a Fulbright Award to conduct research in the Philippines. She graduated with a BA in history and American Studies from Occidental College in 2016 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. She is an alum of St. John’s School in Guam in 2012.
Denise’s journey has been a tapestry woven with diverse experiences and an unassuming dedication to meaningful causes, guided by a genuine commitment to her roots and community. Born and raised on the island of Guam, she embarked on a 12-year adventure in the entertainment industry in the U.S. before returning home with a renewed purpose.
Currently serving as a modest but dedicated officer on the Board of Directors for Guahan Sustainable Culture, Denise has contributed her hand to the organization’s early steps. Her involvement spanned from shaping its public face through its online presence; to crafting a digital presence with the Ginen i Gualo’ – Histories of Farming and Agriculture on Guahan website.
Denise’s impact extended to the pilot year of the AmeriCorps Guahan Sustainable Culture program in 2021, where she shouldered the role of Program Director. Her work included both member training and substantial contributions to program growth.
Presently contracted with Smart Trees Pacific in Hawaii, Denise is a Program Coordinator at the Guam Department of Agriculture Forestry and Soil Resources Division within the Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) Program. Her fingerprints are found in the successful launch of the program’s pilot competitive grant, Fina’maolek.
Her upcoming venture sees her utilizing previous career experience to spearhead a YouTube channel for the Urban and Community Forestry Program. This channel aims to spotlight native tree profiles and offer enriching educational content, a reflection of her genuine dedication to sharing knowledge and fostering sustainable practices.
Denise’s approach to life and her dedication to creating positive change are woven seamlessly into her journey, painting a portrait of someone making a lasting impact in the most unassuming yet profound ways.