2019 TOFGA Board of Directors
Andrew Smiley, 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 as President of 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.
Emily Erickson, Immediate Past President (2016-2018)
Emily served as TOFGA President from 2016-2018. She is co-chair of the Austin Community College Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurial Program Advisory Committee. Her previous experience includes community relations, sales, and management at Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill & World’s Best Eggs; event planning and advocacy work with the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance; development and PR at the SIMS Foundation; and international education. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Emily traveled domestically and internationally for fun and for work. Her heart never left Texas though, and she delights in working with farm and food enthusiasts across the state through her work and volunteer positions.
Patrick Lillard, Vice President
Patrick is the Farm Operations Director of World Hunger Relief in Waco, TX. 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.
James Buratti, Secretary (2018-19, 2016-17)
James and his wife Jennifer (also a former TOFGA Board member) connect with the land on their 5th genration family farm in Granger, Texas. They raise grass-fed dorper sheep, registered miniature cheviot sheep, and registered miniature donkeys at Bohemian Bounty. James is a techie 8-5, but has been involved in the local and organic food movement since moving back to Texas in 2001. James holds a BS and MS degree in natural resources management. In 2016 he co-authored a chapter on local food in Urban Horticulture, a college textbook. He is currently working towards a PhD in Geography at Texas State University, with research on the local and organic food networks, sustainable agriculture, and the role of Texas hard cider producers and neolocalism. James lives in beautiful Georgetown, Texas with Jennifer, their two girls and two cats.
Evan Driscoll, Treasurer
Evan is the Farmers’ Market Coordinator at Sustainable Food Center where he manages the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown and at the Triangle. He farmed for six year before joining SFC in 2014, serving as a Farm Manager at Green Gate Farms in Austin, TX. Before this, he owned 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 served as the At-Large New and Beginning Farmer Board Position for the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association before becoming Treasurer. He, his wife, and two kids live in Austin.
Regional Director At-Large : Open Seat
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.
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 for 2½ years before taking his current position as Farm Manager at World Hunger Relief in Waco, Texas.
Patience Blythe, Region 2 Director
Patience Blythe just bought her first farm in Elgin with her partner, Cody Creech. They plan to 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. She is excited to be Region 2's director and looks forward to meeting all our members, old and new.
Marie Tedei, Region 4 Director
Marie is founder/owner/farmer of Eden’s Organic Garden Center and Eden’s Garden CSA Farm and Regional 4 Director of TOFGA. From her shop, urban farm, and mini-organic farmer’s market, in southeast Dallas County’s food desert, Marie strives to help feed her community’s minds and mouths with organic information, products and food.
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.
Rene McCracken, Region 6 Director
Rene' McCracken serves as Region 6 director for TOFGA. She is Director of Agriculture at Northeast Texas Community College and lives in Mt Pleasant with her husband Tim and their girls, Samantha, Claire, and Audrey, on their 40 acre ranch where they raise cattle and boer goats. Rene' farms, teaches farming, and loves talking about farm issues, especially gardens and goats.
Aislynn Campbell, Region 7 Director
A native member of The Coastal Bend community, Aislynn is a passionate advocate for quality of life and wellness for her home community. Aside from her work at TOFGA, she is Executive Director and Found of GROW Local South Texas and Founder of the Corpus Christi Downtown Farmers Market. A tree hugger since youth, Aislynn turns every crisis into an opportunity by exploring nature-based, common sense solutions. Aislynn's family owns a hobby farm in Taft, TX, and has participated in rural-to-urban agriculture for nearly 20 years. As a public relations professional, Aislynn is proud to have found her voice supporting regenerative agriculture and affordable access to nutrient-dense foods to help secure our state and country's future legacy.
Former TOFGA Board Members
(If you know of others, please send us an email and we'll update the list! Thanks!)