2020 TOFGA Board of Directors
Patience Blythe, President
Patience Blythe and her husband, Cody Creech, own a farm in Elgin, TX. They farm medicinal herbs, flowers and organic chickens. When not farming, Patience teaches Career & Technical Education classes at Elgin Middle School and fabricates custom jewelry in silver and gold. Originally from an island in Maine, Patience appreciates the importance of access to organic food for all people and of organic farming's role in maintaining the health of the environment.
Andrew Smiley, Immediate Past President (2018-19) Andrew has 25 years of experience working in sustainable agriculture and food systems. Earliest professional efforts focused on advocacy for organic agriculture in Louisiana. Later, as Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance, he oversaw program planning and operations of the organization's multi-location farmers' markets and the development of a public market as part of a downtown revitalization effort. Andrew went on to manage an electronic communications and marketing training program for farmers through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. With the completion of that project, Andrew relocated to Austin, TX and worked with Sustainable Food Center starting in 2005, initially as Farm Direct Projects Manager, then Program Director, and ultimately as SFC's Deputy Director through 2017. Andrew's next mission was management of the Texas Organic Farmers' and Gardeners Association Farm Aid Disaster Relief fund after Hurricane Harvey. This was followed by a year as Policy Director for the Kim Olson Campaign for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, solidifying the candidate's reputation for a focus on real food and ag issues. Andrew continues to dedicate his experience to equitable and sustainable food systems to the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, while occasionally taking on other roles, in Central Texas and beyond, as a researcher, writer, presenter, program manager and organizational leader.
Patrick Lillard, Vice President
Patrick is a Communications Specialist at Texas A&M University. Patrick grew up in Central Texas, and after finishing a B.A. in English from Texas A&M, he spent a few years traveling and working on farms in Massachusetts, Australia and New Zealand. He returned to Texas A&M to pursue his M.S. in Horticulture and a Ph.D. in International Agricultural Development. After graduate school Patrick worked at Purdue University on an international project studying organic weed management. He is currently a member of Southern SARE’s administrative council.
Leslie Provence, Secretary
Leslie, a retired data analyst, is VP/Treasurer of the Food Policy Council of San Antonio, and was a founding member of that organization in 2010. She has been a TOFGA member since 2008. In San Antonio, she led zoning code changes in 2015 and 2020 for FPCSA, to allow urban farms and the home sales of cottage foods and produce from residential market gardens, and to streamline the process for starting an urban farm. She also led changes to the local livestock code to increase the number of chickens allowed from three to eight, and she organizes an annual coop tour as an educational and community-building event. Leslie earned the Master of Public Administration degree from UTSA in 2007, with a thesis titled “Community Gardening on Public Housing Properties: Where, Who, How, Why and Why Not?” She remains active in community food policy work at the local, state, and national levels. As a gardener, she has the most luck with herbs, greens, and native pollinator plants, including propagation of native milkweed in her backyard greenhouse.
Evan Driscoll, Treasurer
Evan is the interim Executive Director of the Texas Farmers' Market. Before which he served as Director of Operations at the Foodshed Investors and Farmers’ Market Coordinator at Sustainable Food Center where he managed the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown and at the Triangle. He farmed for many years at Green Gate Farms in Austin, TX and on his own small farm – Sasquatch Acre – in Portland, OR. Evan co-founded the Texas Young Farmer Coalition, which helps connect farmers from around the state. And, he serves on the board of the Common Market and served as the New and Beginning Farmer Board Position for the TOFGA before becoming Treasurer. He, his wife, and two kids live in Austin.
Colin Mitchell, Regional Director Statewide At-large:
Colin has a bachelor's in Government and a minor in Geography and the Environment from the University of Texas in Austin. He is a former Permaculture Research Institute of Australia Project Management Intern, and a PRI certified Permaculture Designer. Colin spent the years after his internship working on and managing sustainable agriculture and development projects across central Texas and the U.S. As a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for the National Center for Technology (NCAT) Colin works on projects related to soil health, payments for ecosystem services, local food, regenerative ranching and farming, and much more. email@example.com
Diana Padilla-Garcia, New and Beginning Farmer Statewide Director
Diana 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 farm. 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. firstname.lastname@example.org
James Fairchild, Region 1 Director
James grew up in Houston, Texas. He attended Baylor University and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in Speech Communication. He began his agricultural career coordinating recreational horse activities at a local children’s home, where he saw the beneficial effects youth experienced working with animals. James went to graduate school at Texas A&M University studying Agricultural (youth) Development. He graduated in 2013 with M. Ag in Agricultural Development. James was an ag teacher at a residential children’s home, Farm Manager at World Hunger Relief in Waco, Texas and is currently a part representative at United Ag and Turf. In his free time he enjoys gardening, bee-keeping, and caring for his chickens. email@example.com
Krissy Voutas, Region 2 Director
Krissy Voutas lives in Elgin on a farm she shares with her husband, Austin Moline. Their plan is to grow a biodiverse array of produce to share with their community while practicing stewardship of the land by increasing fertility with the use of truly free range chickens, cover crops and deep mulch. Being a part of the development in creating an equitable more regenerative food system is embedded deeply in Krissy's heart on a personal level. She is looking forward to serve the TOFGA organization and all its members.
Lacey Proffitt, Region 3 Director
From the time she was born, Lacey Proffitt had an affinity for the outdoors. Before she could walk she was adventuring on horseback with her father and her best memories involve working cattle on horses. Her grandmother shared a love for growing things through summers sitting in bushel boxes at the peach stand and nature walks exploring the native plants on the family ranch in Marble Falls. Lacey has been a high school science teacher, earned her stripes in Corporate America, and now lives out her passions of helping people and stewarding the planet. She owns Full Tank Coaching in which she assists her clients in finding their direction in life and taking action to fulfill their dreams. She is also the Agriculture Lead at Pioneer Farms, a living history museum in northeast Austin, in which she is responsible for land-planning for agricultural purposes and maintenance/expansion of agricultural "exhibits" keeping with the 1800s theme of the farm. She also keeps a home garden and raises chickens and ducks.
Becca Verm, Region 5 Director
Rebecca Verm is a farmer and educator currently operating the new Community Farm at LBJ Hospital (via Harris Health Systems) in her native city of Houston, TX. Prior to joining LBJ, Rebecca worked as the Farm Director at Blackwood Educational Land Institute, in Hempstead, TX, where she designed and implemented their new production farm and curated new curriculum for their educational programs. Rebecca also owned and operated her urban farm, Sown & Grown, in Houston's Settegast neighborhood from 2013-2016. She is a student of permaculture, biodynamics, and regenerative agriculture. She believes that by utilizing agricultural practices grounded in ecological principles and by empowering her community with the knowledge of these practices, we will cultivate resiliency both on our farms and in our society.
Katie Taylor, Region 9 Director
Katie Taylor is a founding partner of Grateful Farmers, a growing initiative focused on regenerative organic agriculture and equitable food systems. Katie recently transplanted to far west Texas with her partner, Kyle LaFerriere, to collaborate on a community revitalization project in Valentine. A native to eastern PA, Katie shares her time between states to focus on farming, education, and non-profit initiatives and is a volunteer BOD secretary at Friends of Johnston, Inc. and the new region 9 director at TOFGA. She is also a writer, herbalist, environmental educator, and advocate for monarch butterfly and pollinator conservation.
Former TOFGA Board Members
(If you know of others, please send us an email and we'll update the list! Thanks!)