2018 Conference Speakers 

Every year the TOFGA annual conference features speakers on a variety of topics in the organic farming, gardening, and ranching world, as well as the marketing, management, and policy realms.  We hope you will join us February 1-3, 2018 in Georgetown, Texas for this exciting opportunity to learn, network, and build community around organic practices in Texas!  List last updated: 1/16/18  Register now!

Banquet Keynote Speaker: Michael Ableman

Michael Ableman, the cofounder and director of Sole Food Street Farms, is one of the early visionaries of the urban agriculture movement. He has created high-profile urban farms in Watts, California; Goleta, California; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Ableman has also worked on and advised dozens of similar projects throughout North America and the Caribbean, and he is the founder of the nonprofit Center for Urban Agriculture. He is the subject of the award-winning PBS film Beyond Organic narrated by Meryl Streep. His previous books include From the Good Earth, On Good Land, and Fields of Plenty. Ableman lives and farms at the 120-acre Foxglove Farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia

Sara Albert holds an advanced degree in Agricultural and Food Law. Her expertise covers a broad range including policy related to hunger and food security; healthy food access; urban agriculture; food waste and recovery; and food’s role in community and economic development. Sara enjoys gardening in her spare time.

Sari Albornoz holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology and anthropology from Reed College and a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Austin Permaculture Guild. She is inspired by the ways food gardening positively and powerfully impacts individuals, communities, and the environment, and she is passionate about making these benefits available to the people of her native Austin. Since 2008, Sari has worked with Sustainable Food Center’s Grow Local program to promote the proliferation and success of community, school, and home food gardens through education, advocacy, and assistance accessing resources. Sari co-leads the Coalition of Austin Community Gardens, a community garden advocacy group whose work has led to city policy changes that increase support for community gardens.

Frankie Bayne is the Board President and Crop Coordinator for the Central Texas Farmers Co-op (CTFC), a farmer-owned and controlled business that operates a multi-farm CSA in San Marcos, Texas. She has worked with small-scale growers in her community as a farm-hand and nursery(wo)man for the past six years. This work inspired her to organize and facilitate the creation of the CTFC whose mission is to improve the lives of small and beginning farmers who produce food in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

Glenda Beasley is the Director of Marketing at Plateau Land & Wildlife Management. Before joining Plateau, Glenda worked in government and conservation marketing at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and ran her own advertising and public relations firm.

Sue Beckwith is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food, a non-profit organization and member of the USDA FoodLINC cohort dedicated to rural business development based on local food and agriculture. Sue is a former farmer, past president of TOFGA, and was the start-up project manager for Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill, the first certified organic commercial feed mill in Texas. Sue lives in Elgin.

David Braun is the principal and founder of Braun & Gresham, PLLC, where he helps landowners create and protect sustainable value in their land in part by providing legal counsel, practical advice, and innovative solutions in various areas including: purchase and sale of rural land, sale of development rights, and conservation development. David is also co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Plateau Land & Wildlife Management, which provides ecological services and property tax consulting. David served as the Texas State Director and International Vice President of the Nature Conservancy, and his earlier work includes work as a field biologist for several universities and museums and nature tour guide.

Ada Broussard is Marketing and CSA Manager at Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

James Buratti is TOFGA secretary and has been developing and managing websites for over 20 years. He is completing a PhD in Geography at Texas State University. His research interests include organic and sustainable agriculture, local food networks, the resurgent US cider industry and our connection to place. He and his wife Jennifer raise registered miniature cheviot and dorper sheep on the family farm in Granger, Texas.

Ava Cameron is the Project Assistant & Business Manager for the Texas Center for Local Food. In 2010, Ava returned to Central Texas after 22 years in corporate jobs on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and in DFW. A native Austinite and graduate of The University of Texas, she's now happy to call Elgin home and stays busy with local food projects and supporting sustainable initiatives - mostly leafy green ones. Ava lives with her husband, Jeff, in a 5-star certified green home south of town.

Alex Canepa directs the Sustainable Food Center's farmers markets in Austin and advocates on behalf of direct-marketing farmers and ranchers at the state and federal levels. Before arriving at SFC, Alex served as the Research and Education Director of the National Farmers Market Coalition and led research on agriculture and food policy for the non-partisan Texas Senate Research Center. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College Dublin. Alex lives in Austin, Texas.

Stephen Carpenter is Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney at Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG).  FLAG is a nonprofit law firm that works on behalf of family farmers.  Stephen’s work has centered on discrimination in agricultural lending, debtor-creditor issues, disaster assistance and crop insurance, federal farm programs, sustainable agriculture and direct marketing, and the problems of farmers contracting for livestock production.  Stephen has conducted frequent FLAG trainings for farmers, advocates, and attorneys and has spoken to farmers and their advocates in more than thirty-five states. He has authored and edited several FLAG materials and publications and has written a number of articles on agricultural law. Stephen is a graduate of Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, and of Stanford Law School. He was a Stanford Law Review Executive Editor, and received a Skadden Foundation Fellowship that brought him to FLAG in 1993.

Clarice Criss is owner of Nella Roots Gardening, an urban farming consultation group in Dallas. She is a Dallas native raised in the Oak Cliff area with deep ties to South Dallas. After graduating from the University of North Texas, Clarice began working with local community gardens, developing curriculum for school gardens, and advocating for policy changes on a local and state level. When she isn’t designing and installing landscapes for others, she’s revitalizing a community garden in South Dallas, and selling and giving away fresh food with the desire to make an impact in the food choices of the community.


Nelson Daniels is a Extension Program Specialist with the Cooperative Extension Program at Prairie View A&M University and serves as the state co-coordinator for the Texas SARE program. His focus in on Sustainable Agriculture and Business Planning for Small Farms.

Steve Diver is the Farm Superintendent at the Horticulture Research Farm, University of Kentucky. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in horticulture. He has worked as Extension Horticulturist, County Agriculture Agent, farm manager, agriculture specialist with NCAT-ATTRA, and soil & crop consultant with Sustainable Growth Texas, LLC. Previous to Kentucky, he founded Agri-Horticultural Consulting in Austin, TX, which provided soil analysis and consultancy services in eco-agriculture, organic fruit and vegetable production, and revegetation and prairie restoration.

Rebekka Dudensing is an Associate Professor and Extension Economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station. She works on economic and fiscal impact analysis and data-based decision making.

Joshua Eilers, prior to launching Ranger Cattle LLC, graduated the world famous U.S. Army Ranger course, one of the toughest leadership focused training courses in the world and the premier leadership course in the U.S. military. As the founder of Ranger Cattle, Joshua has specialized in producing some of the highest-quality Full Blood Wagyu genetics in the world, coupling a cutting-edge vision of modern science with innovation, and making a positive impact on the beef livestock industry. He is passionate about the progress of modern livestock operations and dedicated to further improving the quality of the Wagyu herd one animal at a time. Customers appreciate Joshua’s insight into traditional cow calf operational techniques coupled with the latest in science to produce high-quality seed stock and direct farm-to-table beef production.

Todd Eittreim, through travels and experiences over the past decade, has been pursuing his interest in the sustainable movement. Todd is from Iowa where agriculture has been a constant presence for him, but not always a focus. Life as a journeyman carpenter lended itself to travel, and exposed him to many different communities. Realizing the growing need for local food systems, Todd started a quest for involvement. Using his "Handyman" skills as leverage into Farm Life, he landed at Global Growers in 2014, and joined a team of passionate individuals to help grow Farmers.

Kevin Ellis is a sustainable agriculture specialist for the National Center for Appropriate Technology who has written and revised publications covering a variety of topics concerning sustainable and organic poultry production. His focus is on the ATTRA program which provides free technical assistance to farmers across the U.S. He has given presentations and worked on projects to directly support the needs of farmers in Iowa and Texas. Kevin holds a bachelor of science degree in Poultry Science from Texas A&M University and has successfully completed the organic livestock inspector training through the International Organic Inspectors Association.

John Ferguson founded and owns Natural Waste Solutions, Inc., dba Nature's Way Resources, a Houston-based company that specializes in high-quality compost, mulch, and soil mixes. He holds an MS in Physics and Geology and is a licensed Soil Scientist. He has represented the composting/recycling industry on the Houston-Galveston Area Council for solid waste for over 19 years. His personal garden has been featured in several gardening books and "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine, and his business was recognized in the Wall Street Journal for the quality and value of the products. His company won the Houston Chronicle’s Ultimate Award for the finest quality compost in the region, and he won a Keep Houston Beautiful - Mayor’s Proud Partner Award for Environmental Education. He has written many papers and co-authored the book, “Organics Management for Professionals,” on modern sustainable methods in horticulture, agriculture, landscaping, and turf management by the University of Texas Press.

Blair Fitzsimons is the CEO of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. A native Texan, Blair began her love of the land while growing up and spending time on her grandfather’s ranch in Frio County. Before joining TALT, Blair consulted with the American Farmland Trust (AFT) and facilitated the start-up of the Ag Land Trust. She worked on legislation establishing the Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program and commissioned the 2009 Texas A&M/American Farmland Trust Texas Land Trends study. Blair serves on the board of the national Land Trust Alliance and as an agricultural representative on the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group which addresses regional water planning needs for inclusion in the state water plan.

Kirby Fry graduated from Texas A&M in 1989 with a degree in Forestry Sciences, and then served in the U.S. Peace Corps’ Agroforestry Program in Sibila, Guatemala. Kirby attended the United Nations Earth Summit and Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and then returned to the U.S. to spend two winters working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a marine biologist / observer on crab fishing boats on the Bering Sea. Seeking to be closer to home and family, Kirby returned to Texas where he participated in five courses with Bill Mollison at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glenn Rose, Texas over a 3 year period learning about permaculture and sustainable design. At that time Kirby also attended a 2-year class with Allan Savory about holistic management and intensive cell grazing. Kirby moved to McDade, Texas in 1996 where he owns and operates Southern Exposure, and has worked for over 20 years teaching and implementing sustainable design. Earth Repair Corps, a 501(c)3, was created by Kirby in order to help create perennial food gardens, reduce soil erosion, implement ecological restoration, and promote natural building and sustainable architecture.

Jamey Gage is the owner of B5 Farm in Lockhart, TX where he produces a variety of heirloom and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables. He lives by the philosophy of growing the best tasting varieties that can be grown in our area by searching the world for similar climate and soil conditions. Jamey specializes in season extension and growing unique products for farmers markets and restaurants.

Kyle Garmany is a hydrologist with the Nature Conservancy where he works closely with Texas farmers and ranchers to implement and promote agricultural practices that support healthy lands and waters. After graduating from Humboldt State University, he went on to work at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks & Wildlife before joining TNC.

Adrienne Elise Haschke received a Master of Science from Tufts University and became a Registered Dietitian before working at the Texas Department of Agriculture for 4 years. She is now the Farm Direct Projects Manager at the Sustainable Food Center, where she manages Farm to School, Farm to Work, and Farm to Institution. She has 4 years of on-farm experience as a weekly workshare CSA member at Green Gate Farms and currently serves as a Mayoral Appointee to the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Board and a City Council Appointee to the Joint Sustainability Committee. Adrienne is committed to building a food system that conserves natural resources, strengthens family farms, and encourages healthy consumer choices.

Jonathan Hogan is an urban farmer in South Texas with a focus on growing vegetables in raised beds, as well as a variety of fruit trees including citrus, plum, peach, pomegranate, and fig. He also produces Wicked Good jams and marmalade, products that are made with real fruit. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Pan American with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and he has an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science from South Texas College.

Scott Howard is the President of the Board of Urban Harvest, Inc. in Houston and has volunteered with the organization for many years. Urban Harvest promotes organic growing practices in community and school gardens, offers gardening classes including permaculture, and operates two successful producer-only farmers markets. Scott is also active in the Houston Food System Collaborative and the Mayor’s Go Healthy Houston Taskforce. He started and managed the North Montrose Community Garden in 2004 which donated the produce to a local soup kitchen. Scott is interested in policy matters at the municipal, state, and federal level that increase access to healthy food for all and that encourage the entry of new farmers especially on the small and diversified farm level.

Rebecca Hume completed her first farm apprenticeship at the age of 16 and never looked back. She graduated with a degree in Agriculture from Cornell University in 2011 and has worked in various sectors of agricultural production ever since. In addition to managing several vegetable and cut flower operations, she has also been a garden educator with FoodCorps and has worked in the commercial greenhouse industry. She is currently the Farm Manager at Johnson’s Backyard Garden, a 200 acre certified organic diversified vegetable operation in Austin, TX.

Travis Krause is a 7th generation rancher and co-owner of Parker Creek Ranch near D'Hanis, Texas. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M  in 2008, he worked abroad as a field biologist. While working in India, Travis' love for books led him to Joel Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profits. Travis always knew he wanted to spend his life on the ranch his family has lived on for generations as traditional cattle ranchers. He believed pasture-raised poultry would be well-suited for the land and was inspired enough by this book to embark on a new farming journey. By the end of 2010 Travis had moved move back to the ranch and began raising their first group of broilers. Mandy joined him in 2011, and the couple married in 2012 on the Frio River. They were blessed in 2015 with their son, Jack, and are so grateful to raise him on the land they love so much.

Carlos Lago works as Director of Rural Programs for the Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Advancement (SARA) in the Division of Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Mr. Lago has more than ten years of experience writing federal sponsored grants and providing agricultural producers with technical assistance in business, marketing, record keeping, and financial planning. Mr. Lago previously worked as an Associate Professor of Economics and International Business, and as researcher for over ten years in Mexico.

Patrick Lillard is the Farm Operations Director and Chief Operating Officer for World Hunger Relief, a 40-acre training farm in Waco. He is an Aggie cubed, earning a B.A. in English, M.S. in Horticulture, and Ph.D. in International Agricultural Development. Between his stints in academia he worked on farms in Massachusetts, Australia, and New Zealand. Prior to working at World Hunger Relief, Patrick was an educational program specialist at Purdue University working on an international organic weed management project. He currently serves as the vice president of TOFGA and is a NGO representative on Southern SARE’s administrative council.

Annelies Lottmann is the Central Texas Program Coordinator for the Texas Rural Cooperative Center, a project of the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. In that role, she assists groups seeking to form or strengthen cooperative businesses all around Texas. Before joining TRCC in 2015, Annelies co-founded Yard to Market Co-op, a producers’ cooperative that develops sales and marketing opportunities for small-scale food producers in the Austin area. She has also served on the Boards of Black Star Co-op and the Austin Cooperative Business Association. Annelies has a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. When she’s not working with TRCC clients or tending her garden, she practices Brazilian rhythms with the Austin Samba School.

Michael Marchand owns and runs Whitehurst Farms in Brenham, Texas. Michael is an entrepreneur turned farmer, supplying pastured pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, and produce to the Houston and Austin markets.

Scott Marlow is Senior Policy Specialist at the Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, a non-profit based in Pittsboro, NC. Previously RAFI’s Executive Director, Scott also directed RAFI's Farm Sustainability program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of farmers who are transitioning to higher-value specialty markets. Scott's specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management, and how that infrastructure addresses food security and global climate change. He has served on the steering committee of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, the Organization Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Board of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Board of the NC Farm Transition Network, and the NC Agricultural Advancement Consortium and serves on the Advisory Committee of the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. He has a Masters Degree in Crop Science from NC State University, and a BA in Political Science from Duke University.

Jarred Maxwell was born and raised in Williamson County, on a small property where his family raised livestock and birds. After a short career in the tech industry, he was drawn back to the ag space, becoming a farm and ranch broker where he worked with property owners across the Hill Country. After getting deeply involved in and leading the Texas network of Slow Money, he and his business partner founded Austin Foodshed Investors to help small food and ag companies prepare for and receive the capital they needed to start up, grow, or expand their enterprises.

Judith McGeary is an attorney, activist, sustainable farmer, and founder and Executive Director of the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA).  After earning her Bachelors of Science from Stanford University and her law degree with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin, she clerked for a Federal Appeals Court and went on to private law practice.  During that time, she became a passionate advocate of sustainable agriculture, and she and her husband established their own livestock farm. After seeing how government regulations benefit industrial agriculture at the expense of family farms, she founded FARFA to promote common-sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems. Judith has served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health and is also active with TOFGA, the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Tim Miller is the Owner/Operator of Millberg Farm in Kyle, TX.  Millberg Farm is a 28 year old five acre Certified Organic farm that utilizes dry farming techniques for production of a highly diversified landscape including 140 fruit trees and vegetables. Tim has many years of experiences growing specialty crops for market, as well as seed saving and water conservation techniques.

Billy Mitchell is a former farmhand, market manager, manger of a 4-acre farm site in downtown Atlanta, and GAP consultant, who now works for Global Growers in Stone Mountain, GA. Their mission is to increase the number of food producers who create access to healthy nutritious food that is sustainably grown and also prepare farmers to be competitive in their local marketplace. Global Growers manages a 7.5 acre diversified vegetable farm and does educational work around the state of Georgia. Mitchell's focus is food safety and cost effective food safe infrastructure.

Dr. Ken Mix is a former vegetable producer from central Indiana, where he operated a 15-acre commercial produce farm outside of Indianapolis in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He is currently an Associate Professor at Texas State University in the Department of Agriculture where he teaches and researches soils, range management, entomology, and crop production courses. He oversees undergraduate and graduate projects covering topics such as multispecies intercropping, sweet potato weevil, variety trials, soil water relationships, climate change and fruit crops, novel crops. With colleagues, he oversees grants including: Soil For Water project in the Hill Country in collaboration with NCAT and HMI, a soil health and grazing interaction study; Rural-V (USDA) webinars, website, and conference for small producers; The Small Producer Initiative (USDA), with the TX State Dept of Ag; Boots to Roots (USDA), a veteran, women, and minority scholarship program; EverGreen (USDA), a shipping container hydroponic project; and more. He also oversees TX State’s Students’ Sustainable Farm and the departmental soil laboratory, and recently he developed the department’s proposal for a Master’s of Science in Integrated Agricultural Sciences.   

Mike Morris is director of NCAT's Southwest Regional Office in San Antonio. His current projects include Is Organic Farming Risky?, Soil for Water, the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative, and Beyond Fresh: Expanding Markets for Sustainable Value-Added Food Products in Texas.

Jake Mowrer was raised on a farm in north Georgia where his family produced broiler chickens and beef cattle, which was a good way to gain an appreciation for the connectivity of food production in our daily lives. He now works with farmers as an assistant professor and extension specialist in Texas A&M’s Soil & Crop Science department. His research focuses on the way that crop roots behave in their soil environment to better understand the best practices for keeping soils continuously functional & productive, both for people and the ecosystems we inhabit.

Carolina Mueller is the Food Access Manager at Farmshare Austin. Mueller received her BS in Nutritional Sciences from Rutgers University and worked for the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, a program run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agency.  In 2014, she moved to Austin to join the Sustainable Food Center, where she enjoyed connecting community members, organizations, and schools with classes and programs offered by SFC. She became a farming apprentice with Urban Roots in September 2015 followed by a position with Joe’s Microgreens. She is currently one of the organizers of the Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition. Carolina believes that good food is a basic human right, and she continues to work to make our food system more equitable.

Diana Padilla is one of the small minority farmers trying to solve problems and create opportunities on their 35 acres farm in Harlingen, Texas. She is co-founder of Yahwey’s All Natural Farm & Garden, a Certified Organic. Diana and her husband, Saul, have been operating their farm for approximately 10 years. Saul and Diana Padilla have a diversified urban farming business and have grown their farm from the bottom up using organic practices since 2004. In 2014, they became a certified organic farm. Their main crops are vegetables and subtropical fruits.

Andrew Puglia is the National Procurement Director at The Common Market, a distributor of local foods with distribution centers in Philadelphia, PA and Atlanta, GA. The Common Market is planning to launch it's newest operation in Houston in 2018. Andrew's background in agriculture stems from gardening and cooking as a child, studying agroecology and community development at Penn State University, and managing a diversified vegetable farm in Pennsylvania. As the procurement director, he supervises the purchasing teams and works with food producers to provide The Common Market customers with local, sustainably produced foods.

Alex Racelis is Associate Dean for Community Engagement in the college of Sciences at UT Rio Grande Valley, and Assistant Professor of Agroecology and Resilient Food Systems at UTRGV’s School for Earth, Environmental, and Marine Science. He also helps direct the Subtropical Organic Agriculture Research (SOAR) Partnership, dedicated to sustainable agriculture in South Texas. Under Alex’s guidance, UTRGV has recently launched both graduate and undergraduate degrees related to sustainable food systems, and is building on it designation as one of the premier Hispanic Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities in the US.

Sabrina Santos Joplin holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the Vice Chair (former founding Chair) of Adelphi Acre Community Garden in Austin, TX. Adelphi Acre is a grass-roots initiated project formed through the collaboration between active neighbors, local businesses, scouting organizations, the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Partnering Program, the Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Program, and its sponsor the Sustainable Food Center. She is a GIS Analyst at Freese and Nichols in the Environmental Resources Group and serves as a City of Austin, Council Appointee to the Joint Sustainability Committee. She is passionate about local access to sustainable food, the added benefit that hyper-local projects, such as community gardens, bring to their respective communities, as well as advocating for city policies that help make sustainable choices more readily accessible and mainstream.

Dr. Ronnie Schnell is an Assistant Professor and Cropping Systems Extension Specialist at Texas A&M University. His program provides statewide leadership for sorghum, corn, and bioenergy cropping systems. He conducts dozens of applied research trials statewide and disseminates information to growers through numerous producer meetings, crops tours, and Extension publications. His research focuses on organic cropping systems, precision agriculture, nutrient management, management of emerging pests, and crop rotations.

Errol Schweizer was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and has nearly 25 years of experience in the Natural and Organic food movement. He led the grocery division at Whole Foods for close to a decade and was responsible for the merchandising and product assortment for over 80 categories. His team launched dozens of food brands and helped popularize trends such as Non-GMO, Grass-fed dairy, Biodynamics, and Fair Trade. Errol was recently named one of the top 25 retail game changers in the USA. He is currently an advisor and board member for several food and E-Commerce companies, and is on the Board of Directors of Demeter USA, The Non-GMO Project, and until recently, Farmshare Austin and the Austin Travis Food Policy Board. He lives with his family, a bunch of chickens, and his Great Pyrenees on a couple acres near Austin.

Margaret Smith has been at The Common Market since 2015 growing sales and enhancing operational systems with a network of local farms in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Common Market is expanding to Houston in 2018 with plans to build a nation of vibrant regional food systems. Her experience partnering with K-12 schools, colleges and universities, restaurants, and early childcare providers grounds her approach to increasing access to local foods. She coordinates The Common Market Food Access Fund, an initiative to increase food access to community organizations led by and serving low income people and with Get HYPE Philly!, a citywide initiative promoting positive youth development in Philadelphia. Margaret is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and earned a Masters degree in Crop and Soil Environmental Science from Virginia Tech, where her thesis research focused on mapping and modeling the capacity of local agriculture to enhance community food security in Appalachia.

JoAnn Smotherman began raising hogs on her Central Texas farm, Eden’s Cove, in 2009. She and her wife, Vivian, not only breed, furrow, and raise pigs to market weight; they also butcher, process, cure, and package their pork products in the Eden’s Cove Kitchen. Additionally, JoAnn teaches “Business Planning for Small Farms” for the Austin Community College Sustainable Food Program. She incorporates a substantial unit on laws and regulations in her curriculum. As with many farmers, JoAnn maintains a career off-farm. As a compliance coordinator for a continuing education organization, she researches state laws and regulations and implements procedures that ensure compliance. Finally, in 2015, JoAnn and Vivian started a non-profit organization called Farm-1-1 that strives to assist beginning farmers with advice, labor, and equipment.

Charles “Butch” Tindell has over 35 years of experience gardening, farming, and ranching, and has worked extensively teaching and researching agricultural issues. He has participated and managed projects and project design ranging in size and scale from small backyard gardens and farms of less than one acre to ranches of over 10,000 acres in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Idaho. His research and work experience involves bio-intensive food production, permaculture, and holistic management. In addition, he has either started or helped to start several successful small-scale food enterprises that produce and market farm products, as well as several other businesses in real estate, construction, and insurance. Butch regularly speaks to groups across the US and has published several books, manuals, and journal articles on agrarian life. With his wife Diane and their children and grandchildren, they raise cattle, sheep, and pecans at Aquilla Valley Farm, their small-scale, diversified family farm in Central Texas.

Dana Tomlin grew up on a grapefruit farm in South Texas, and started her career at Wheatsville 14 years ago as a cook. She was quickly promoted to Kitchen Manager then Deli Manager, and now manages all of Wheatsville’s Fresh Departments including fresh produce, meat & seafood, and the co-op’s Bakehouse. In her capacity as Fresh Manager she has developed programs, structure, talent, and relationships in order to bring shoppers the food they want while maintaining profitability for the co-op. She is a strong supporter of locally grown food and has worked with vendors and growers to maintain both quality and prices for shoppers. In her spare time Dana likes to powerlift, cross-stitch, read, and cook.

Tim Traister has been with Capital Farm Credit for 4 years as a loan officer, where he specializes in land financing, small producer, and niche farming loans. Capital Farm Credit is a lending Co-op and is the largest rural lender in Texas with over $7 billion in assets and over 20,000 members. Prior to joining CFC, Tim worked in the commercial banking and real estate sectors, where he was involved in over $1 billion in real estate transactions across the United States from single family homes to large ranches to high-rise office towers. Tim grew up in Austin and attended Texas A&M where he received his Bachelors in Accounting and Masters in Land Economics Real Estate Finance. He currently resides in Austin with his wife and two children.

Joseph Van Dyck grew up on a homestead southeast of Oklahoma City. He was a competitive swimmer for 12 years, and after graduating high school he volunteered to serve in the US Navy and trained at Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School. After his service with the Navy he has relentlessly pursued a lifestyle of land restoration. Using the GI Bill he attended a heavy equipment operator and construction course, and he has studied land and farm design with world-renowned designers including Darren Doherty, Geoff Lawton, and Mark Shepard. He has volunteered with Earth Repair Corps to help farmers and homesteaders in Central Texas. With his small business that specializes in soil and water conservation, he has consulted on over 60 sites in 3 years. He lives in Blanco, Texas where he is building a farm that will demonstrate regenerative land management. Joseph loves to read, swim, play guitar, and dream about healing landscapes on a broad scale.

Amanda Vanhoozier most recently served as director of market operations at the Dallas Farmers Market. She led the market’s transition to return it to the original 1941 intent - to be a producer-only venue for farmers to sell directly to customers. Amanda also founded other local food markets and gardens with the belief that following nature’s systems that sustain life would also cultivate healthy communities: the Coppell Farmers Market located between Dallas and Ft. Worth; Coppell Community Gardens, where a community of gardeners grows and donates just-picked produce to food pantries year-round; and Stringfellow School Outdoor Learning Environment, where children are introduced to growing food at a young age.

Bertha T. Venegas serves as State Outreach Specialist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas. She coordinates outreach efforts with organizations that work closely with socially disadvantaged and limited resources farmers and ranchers with program information and planning and application of conservation work. She is in charge of managing the state outreach operations and coordinates with colleges and universities for the recruitment of new employees. A native Texan, Bertha was born and raised in Eagle Pass. She attended Southwest Texas State University (Texas State University) in San Marcos where she received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. In her spare time, she likes to work on her family ranch managing native wildlife. She enjoys spending time with her family, hunting and fishing.

Russ Wallace is a graduate of California State University at Fresno and Cornell University. He is currently a Professor and Extension Horticulturist at Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Lubbock. He works with growers, industry, and university collaborators to provide research and educational programs on production of vegetables and strawberries in Texas.

Ty Wolosin runs Windy Hill Foods, a small family run distribution company located in Boerne, Texas. Ty started Windy Hill at his parents’ working farm and ranch in Comanche, TX. Literally starting from scratch, he developed a sustainable model for vegetable, fruit, meat, and egg production on the 100-acre farm. With wholesale business came the reality of needing to join forces with like-minded farmers and ranchers. Windy Hill Foods sources from sustainable Texas ranchers and farmers, only using the best products available. Their proteins are always pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and humanely treated. Their vegetables and fruits are raised in a beyond organic mentality. They are always committed to 100% customer satisfaction and do their best to accommodate all needs.

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