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Speakers are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Check back for regular updates!

Sue Beckwith photo

SUE BECKWITH is the Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF). TCLF collaborates with organizations across Texas and the U.S. to develop local food enterprises that support Texas sustainable agriculture and rural job creation. Sue is a former farmer and past president of TOFGA, and she was the start up project manager for Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill, the first certified organic commercial feed mill in Texas. She lives in Elgin, Texas. 

James Brown photo

JAMES BROWN spent a 30+ year career in church music after earning a bachelor’s in organ and a master’s in choral conducting. His recent retirement has taken him in an entirely new direction, but not without some early background in the field. James also has a culinary degree from the Art Institute of Houston and worked at the Houston Country Club and as chef de cuisine at the Hotel Sofitel in Houston.

That love of culinary arts led him to baking bread as a hobby, but he soon discovered there were no viable local options for freshly milled, locally adapted heritage grains. After gauging the interest of local chefs, James decided to start his own mill. He found farmers willing to grow organic heritage grains and found sources for seed, opening Barton Springs Mill in January 2017. Today the mill provides artisan flours, cornmeal, and grits to wholesale and retail clients throughout Austin/Hill Country, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

Alex Canepa photo

ALEX CANEPA provides strategic guidance to the Sustainable Food Center’s farmers’ markets and leads the organization’s policy efforts. SFC is a non-profit based in Austin that supports the local food system and the health of Central Texas residents. Alex works to reduce the barriers that farmers and ranchers face in getting their products to market.

Before joining SFC, Alex’s work included time with the National Farmers Market Coalition and Texas Senate. Alex holds a master’s degree from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s from Trinity College Dublin. He lives in Austin.

Nora Chovanec photo

NORA CHOVANEC is director of marketing and agriculture for Texas Farmers’ Market, organizer of the Austin Fermentation Festival, and design director for Travis Audubon. Nora’s experience encompasses communications direction, marketing strategy, brand development, and non-profit management, with a focus on food systems, species advocacy, environmental justice, and urban and rural development.

Nora is passionate about helping communities build sustainable practices that support and conserve the natural environment. Prior to moving to Texas, she was a designer and researcher for architect Maya Lin’s science-based art memorial “What Is Missing?” She also developed a catalog of documentary photography and videos produced across the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Cuba, and Uganda. She and her husband, Arabic and Turkish scholar Matthew Chovanec, live in Austin with a cat, four free-ranging chickens, and a plethora of pollinators in their home garden patch.

Linda Coffey photo

LINDA COFFEY has more than 40 years’ experience in raising sheep, beginning in Missouri on her family’s farm and continuing to the present day at Maple Gorge Farm near Prairie Grove, Ark. Linda uses her experience, as well as her animal science degrees from the University of Missouri (BS and MS) to assist sheep and goat producers in her position as NCAT livestock specialist.

As part of her work, Linda has written numerous publications and participated in podcasts, videos, and webinars, as well as presenting at conferences. Find Linda’s publications about sheep and goat production and internal parasite management at  to find Linda’s publications about sheep and goat production and internal parasite management.

Doug Constance photo

DOUG CONSTANCE is Professor of Sociology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. His degrees are in Forest Management (BS), Community Development (MS), and Rural Sociology (PhD), all from the University of Missouri at Columbia. His research area is the impact of globalization of the conventional agrifood system, and alternative agrifood systems.

He has numerous journal articles, book chapters, and books on these topics. His most recent edited book is Contested Sustainability Discourses in the Agrifood System (2018) by Routledge/Earthscan Press. He is past president of the Southern Rural Sociological Association (2003) and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (2008). Dr. Constance currently serves as the Quality of Life Representative and Chair of the Administrative Council of the USDA/Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Program.

Brianna Crowley photo

BRIANNA CROWLEY is the Texas A&M AgriLife Viticulture Program Specialist for the Hill Country region. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN in 2012 and her Master’s degree in 2017 from North Carolina State University in the field of Plant Pathology. Brianna has worked with fungal pathogens for the last decade and with perennial crops for the last seven, performing molecular and applied research in university and extension programs. Her duties are to conduct applied research and advise commercial grape growers on viticulture from site selection through crop production and the many areas of concern in between.

Rob Cunningham photo

ROB CUNNINGHAM lives in the middle of 22,000 organic, pasture-raised laying hens at Coyote Creek Organic Farm with his wife Amy and their two sons. The farm, located near Elgin, just east of Austin, has its own USDA certified organic feed mill which was the first organic feed mill in Texas open to the public.

In addition to their organic and Non-GMO Project Verified pasture-raised eggs, Rob and Amy raise grassfed beef and lamb for sale direct from the farm. Coyote Creek began producing pasture-raised eggs in 2005 with 5,000 layers, increasing that number by more than four-fold in the ensuing 14 years.


Justin Dreibelbis photo

JUSTIN DREIBELBIS serves as director for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. His responsibilities include supporting TPWD biologists throughout the state in their technical guidance activities on private lands. He also administers the Public Hunting Program on more than 1.5 million acres statewide.

Justin is an avid hunter and angler who fell in love with the outdoors at an early age, hunting the brush country of south Texas with his family. Before joining TPWD, Justin spent seven years with the Texas Wildlife Association in various roles that include conservation program coordinator and director of hunting heritage. He is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University. He and his wife Rachael live in Austin with their daughters, June and Jill.


Justin Duncan photo

JUSTIN DUNCAN is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s Southwest Regional Office. He has a BS in agronomy from Prairie View A&M University and an MS in plant breeding from Texas A&M University.

He’s spent years figuring out the nuts-and-bolts of successful organic farming in the humid South, concentrating mainly on sweet potatoes, strawberries, niche market ethnic specialty crops, cover crops, and drought mitigation techniques. He is currently working on cover crop projects in south Texas to help farmers there build organic matter in their soil.


Willie Durham photo

WILLIE DURHAM earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Entomology and a Master of Agriculture Degree in Agricultural Chemistry from Texas A & M University.  After college, Willie continued his agriculture career as a Field Sales Representative for Helena Chemical Company and Terra International, Inc. in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, becoming a Certified Crop Adviser in 1992. In 1995, Willie began work as Regional Agronomist for Novartis Seeds (Syngenta) in the States of Texas, Oklahoma and the Mexican State of Tamaulipas.  Willie has been working with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for about 18 years, first joining in 2002 as a Conservation Agronomist, 2006 as Resource Team Leader and 2008 as State Conservation Agronomist. Currently, Willie works as the USDA NRCS Soil Health Division’s Regional Soil Health Specialist, providing training, guidance, and technical resources to USDA-NRCS employees, customers and partners, to improve the health and function of our nation’s living and life-giving soil.  

Max Elliott photo

MAX ELLIOTT, LMSW, is co-founder and executive director of Urban Roots, an Austin non-profit that cultivates leadership skills in youth through food and farming. He earned a master’s in environmental studies from University of Essex, England, a master’s in social work from University of Texas at Austin, a bachelor’s in American studies from Tulane University, and a certificate in ecological horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz.

Max is the former co-director of the New Orleans Food & Farm Network and was a founding member of the City of Austin Food Policy Board. Currently, he is the co-chair of the One Voice Equity and Social Justice Committee and a board member of The New Philanthropists.

Charlie Flatten photo

CHARLIE FLATTEN is the water policy program manager at the Hill Country Alliance. He works in long-range sustainable water planning, directing and analyzing policy, and facilitating educational outreach and a cooperative dialog among the region’s diverse communities.

He is a member of the Hill Country’s three Regional Water Planning Groups and its three Groundwater Management Area groups. He works with universities, state agencies, the Hill Country’s land and water conservation NGOs, and the Legislature, and produces the Texas Water Symposium radio broadcast series. The consistent focus of his work is long-term health and sustainability of our limited water resources.

Diana and Saul Padilla photo

DIANA GARCIA-PADILLA has co-owned Yahweh All-Natural Organic Farm and Garden since 2008. Working along her husband Saul Padilla, she has grown the farm from its original half acre to 75 acres today. Diana also organized and continues to manage a CSA “Food to U” vegetable basket program, operating in the Rio Grande Valley. She obtained a Permaculture Design Certificate in 2013.

Diana is founder and president of HOPE for Small Farm Sustainability, an educational farmer-to-farmer organic training organization, overseeing its primary organic farming training program, offering hands-on education from seed to sale. In 2017, Diana developed the only organic farmers’ market in the region.

Dennis Gray photo

DENNIS GRAY runs Cactus Village Birds and Bees which produces primarily honey and quail products. President of the Coastal Bend Beekeepers Association, he’s an advocate for small- and medium-size beekeeping operations in Texas. From the world-famous Guajillo honey of the caliche (brush) country to 100 percent natural comb sections for high-end customers, his bee and honey operation provides quality products to the Texas Gulf Coast. His bee colonies also provide pollination to much of that same region.

A retired U.S. Merchant Marine Officer, Dennis now focuses his work on sustainable, high quality, local food for boutique markets.

Jesse Griffiths photo

JESSE GRIFFITHS owns and operates Dai Due Butcher Shop and Supper Club in Austin, which was voted one of the top 10 new restaurants in the U.S. by Bon Appetit magazine in 2015. He is also owner of Dai Due Taqueria and head instructor of the New School of Traditional Cookery. A native of Denton, Jesse was a self-taught cook and began his restaurant career at the age of 16. Dai Due focuses on traditional, local, and sustainable food, working with and serving only locally sourced produce, meat, and dairy.

As a hunter and a butcher, Jesse is a big believer in knowing and caring about how animals have been grown and harvested. He is the author of the book Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, published by Welcome Books, and the soon-to-be-released The Hog Book: a Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Preparing and Cooking Wild Pigs.

Hilda Gutierrez photo

HILDA GUTIERREZ is the food access director at the Sustainable Food Center in Austin where she oversees SFC’s Double Dollars Project (soon to be Double Up Food Bucks). This program offers a dollar-for-dollar match to market goers who use their federal nutrition benefits at local farmers’ markets. Hilda also directs engagement efforts focused on low-income communities.

Hilda is a native of the Rio Grande Valley and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. For generations, members of her family have worked as farm laborers. With a master’s in Latin American Studies and a B.A. in feminist studies, Hilda has extensive experience in the movements to end gender-based violence and to protect immigrant rights.

Zach Halfin photo

ZACH HALFIN is a horticulturalist, arborist, avid gardener, and friend to the critters and the soil. He has been gardening for 18 years and now works with landowners and farmers to implement landscapes that help conserve biodiversity, clean water, and healthy soil.

Zach is the garden manager at Thigh High Gardens here in San Marcos and is an active member of the Central Texas Farmers Cooperative when he isn’t busy landscaping and gardening.

Abbie Hannon photo

ABBIE HANNON is officer-in-charge and market reporter with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Specialty Crop Programs Market News Division in Phoenix. Abbie has almost 20 years of reporting experience in the produce industry, reporting commodities including broccoli and romaine from Arizona and California, watermelon from Texas, and lime and mango from Mexico.

Her office reports weekly truck rates and retail ad pricing, along with daily prices and shipments of vegetables, citrus, melons and other specialty commodities grown in the southwestern United States.

Kathy Harris photo

KATHY HARRIS is Program Director and Professional Certified Educator for Holistic Management International, where she works with a global community of educators to help farmers and ranchers regenerate our lands, revitalize the economic integrity of their businesses and communities, and improve their personal well-being. She embraced Holistic Management principles in the late 1990’s to rapidly transition her young family from a hi-tech life in the suburbs to a more self-sufficient lifestyle on a small family farm. Her passion for health, nutrient dense food, and biodiversity led to raising dairy cows and goats; grass-fed and finished beef and lamb; pastured poultry for eggs and meat; honeybees; nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Study of Holistic Management opened her eyes to the connections and relationships in nature and fostered a fascination with soil, plant, and animal biology, human health and nutrition, and energy. Thus began her 20 year journey of field experimentation with composting, compost extracts, Effective Microbes, paramagnetic rock/dust, and kitchen experimentation with making soft and hard cheeses, sourdoughs, Lacto-ferments, and probiotic brews (Kombucha and kefir).

Eric Herm photo

ERIC HERM is an organic farmer, author, poet, and musician from Ackerly, Texas. He is the author of Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth, as well as Surviving Ourselves, and I am the Tumbleweed. He has transformed all 1,200 acres of his family’s farm into organic production, growing cotton, wheat, barley, oats and rye.

He and his wife Jennie have begun an environmentally friendly textile business, Allred Farms, creating denim goods from their own cotton. Visit or for more info.

Dr. Ravi Jadeja photo

DR. RAVI JADEJA is assistant professor and food safety specialist at Oklahoma State University, having received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in food biotechnology in India. He attended Louisiana State University to earn a Ph.D. in food science, with a specialization in food microbiology. Following graduation, he joined the University of Georgia as a post-doctoral researcher, where he developed antimicrobial strategies to improve beef safety.

Ravi’s current research focuses on strategies to reduce foodborne pathogens within the food production chain. He is actively involved in training food industry professionals and regulators on topics that include food allergens, food safety audits, and regulations. He has authored 23 peer-reviewed journal articles, 3 patent applications, 44 abstracts, and 19 popular press articles.

Katie Jolander photo

KATIE JOLANDER is a Farm Loan Officer for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), currently covering 12 counties in South Central Texas. She has worked for FSA for 12 years and has held her current position for 6 years. Katie is a Texas State Department of Agriculture alumni, with a Bachelor's in Agriculture Education and Agribusiness Management. She grew up in Northern California on her family’s dairy farm.

Jim Kamas photo

DR. JIM KAMAS is an Associate Professor & Extension Fruit Specialist stationed at the Texas A&M Agrilife & Extension Viticulture and Fruit Lab in Fredericksburg, TX. He has worked as a Research Associate and Instructor at Texas A&M, commercial fruit grower in Austin County, Texas and Extension Team Leader for the New York and Pennsylvania Lake Erie Regional Grape Program. Since returning to Texas in 1996, Jim has worked extensively with grape and other perennial fruit industries to conduct applied research and extension education programming to address the needs of commercial and small scale commercial fruit growers. Jim has authored two books, Growing Grapes in Texas and the Texas Peach Handbook. Jim has also been active in international fruit work in the Caucuses, North Africa, across the Caribbean Basin and Central America. 

Erin Kimbrough photo

ERIN KIMBROUGH is the program coordinator for Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s programs BattleGround to Breaking Ground and Texas Agrability. BattleGround to Breaking Ground provides veterans and other beginning farmers/ranchers education and resources to start or expand a farm or ranch. Texas Agrability provides information, education, and assistance to individuals with disabilities to stay actively engaged in agriculture.

Erin is responsible for developing programs, writing curriculum, providing education, and managing operations. She also provides technical assistance on programs being developed for veterans across the country. She and her husband, John, own Growin on Faith Farm where they raise meat goats, sheep, grass-fed beef, Yaupon tea, and horses. Erin and John also serve as founding members on the board of the Farmer Veteran Coalition Chapter of Texas.

Billy Kniffen photo

BILLY KNIFFEN is a water resource associate in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, where he has worked for 30 years. For the past 20 years, Billy’s focus has been on rainwater harvesting and watershed stewardship, earning numerous awards for his work. He is a past vice president and education coordinator for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Assn. and has conducted educational workshops and installed demonstration rainwater collection systems across Texas and the U.S., in addition to providing educational support internationally.

Billy co-authored the “Rainwater Harvesting: System Planning” manual used to train rainwater professionals. He and his wife, Mary, own a small sustainable farm in Menard, growing fruit, vegetables, and pecans and caring for free-range chickens, honeybees and Aberdeen Angus cattle. Their home is solely dependent on rainwater.

Travis Krause photo

TRAVIS KRAUSE is the co-founder of Parker Creek Ranch and Ranch Marketing Solutions. He is a full-time rancher and consultant alongside his wife Mandy and their two sons, Jack and Max. Travis was born and raised on his family’s ranch in South Texas. He earned a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University and worked several years abroad in India, Ecuador, and other developing countries.

Travis realized the practical limitations of his work and felt called back to his family ranch where he studied and experimented with sustainable agriculture techniques and production methods, business management, and a variety of agricultural subjects. He was profoundly influenced by the writing and teaching of Joel Salatin, Allan Savory, and others, and now Travis, Mandy, and their sons are successful leaders in the Texas regenerative agriculture movement.

Kara Kroeger photo

KARA KROEGER is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with National Center for Appropriate Technology in San Antonio, TX. Kara became a Certified Herbalist in 1999 and a Certified Nutritionist in 2003. Kara began training as a chef in 2009 and has had a private chef/catering business ever since. Additionally, she earned a BS degree in General Agriculture at Texas State University in 2018. Kara’s agricultural background is in grass-fed beef production. Through this work she learned an array of regenerative management tools to improve pasture health and productivity. Additionally, she works to manage and develop the NCAT Soil for Water initiative, which aims to create a critical mass of landowners who are applying regenerative agricultural practices that improve soil health and the water cycle.

Rep. Stan Lambert photo

STAN LAMBERT is a Texas State Representative, serving House District 71. A Republican from Abilene, Stan is in his second term representing Taylor, Nolan, and Jones Counties. He is a member of the House Committee on Insurance; the Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services; and the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission.

Born and raised in Abilene, Stan earned his bachelor’s in business from Abilene Christian University in 1975 and later his graduate certification in banking from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduation, Lambert began a long career in community banking.

Daniel Leskovar photo

DR. DANIEL LESKOVAR is Professor in Vegetable Physiology and Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, Uvalde. He has a BS from the Univ. del Comahue, Argentina; Master’s at UC Davis, California, and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. His program is centered in understanding plant morpho-physiological adaptation mechanisms to abiotic stresses and in developing sustainable cropping systems for high value vegetables, including watermelon, melon, tomato, hot and sweet pepper, leafy greens, onion and artichoke. His research has been published in +200 journal papers, book chapters and abstracts and has been associate editor of two Horticultural Journals. Recently he was selected Chair of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) Division of Vegetables, Root and Tubers (2018-2022). His current research focus is on seed-transplant physiology; soil and plant growth regulators and amendments; grafted tomato-high tunnel; hydroponics; root/shoot trait responses to drought and heat; and genotype/variety selection for stress tolerance, yield, quality and water use efficiency.

Alan Lewis photo

ALAN LEWIS navigates government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers, a Colorado-based health food chain founded in 1955, now with over 150 stores in 19 states. At the federal, state and local level, Alan engages on food, agriculture, nutrition, rural economic development, blockchain, trade, and health issues. Alan is active in several trade and advocacy organizations and has been a speaker and panelist at many events, including a talk at TEDx Boulder in 2014.

Long a student of political activism, his focus is on communicating with stakeholders using frameworks that are non-confrontational and inclusive. Alan has lived oversees for extended periods, which lends to his understanding of agriculture in varying social and political contexts. He also oversees organic certification and compliance for Natural Grocers while advising dozens of food, natural product, and ag-tech start-ups across the country. Current commitments include the Non-GMO Project board, Organic and Natural Health Association board, Real Organic Project standards board, Retail Advisory Committee of the American Grassfed Association, Farm Policy Committee of the Organic Farmers Association, and various committees of the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Sam Lillie photo

SAM LILLIE is the co-founder/CEO of Vinder. An online marketing app for small producers and farmers markets to sell direct-to-consumer and wholesale. He worked on the food policy board in Jefferson county, WA and was awarded the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year. He is a local food advocate, long distance hiker, and lover of burritos. 

Annelies Lottmann photo

ANNELIES LOTTMANN is the Central Texas Program Coordinator for the Texas Rural Cooperative Center of 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 continues to provide sales and marketing services to small-scale food producers in the Austin area. She also serves 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.

Patty Lovera photo

PATTY LOVERA is the assistant director of Food & Water Watch where she coordinates the work of the food team and focuses especially on meat inspection, food safety, labeling, and dairy issues. Patty has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Lehigh University and a master’s in environmental policy from the University of Michigan.

Before working at Food & Water Watch, Patty was the deputy director of the energy and environment program at Public Citizen and a research associate at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.

Alex Mace photo

ALEXANDER MACE is the food access manager at Sustainable Food Center in Austin, where he leads the implementation of the Double Dollars project (soon to be Double Up) at SFC Farmers’ Markets and expansion sites. Alex has studied and worked in food systems at home and abroad, building community gardens in rural West Virginia, teaching youth about orchard care in Dakar, Senegal, and studying food system resilience in Italy.

While pursuing a master’s in public health at Tulane University, he worked with multiple food systems organizations in New Orleans, engaging with community members in garden and nutrition education while developing his own growing skills.

Robert Mace photo

ROBERT MACE is the interim executive director and chief water policy officer of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a professor of practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Robert has over 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy.

He has a B.S. in geophysics and an M.S. in hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a Ph.D. in hydrogeology from the University of Texas at Austin. He says his residential consumption of water is under 30 gallons per person per day and claims it would be lower if his wife were “more cooperative.”

Judith McGeary photo

ROBERT MAGGIANI is a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist with NCAT in San Antonio. He has been with NCAT for five years and has authored or co-authored several ATTRA publications on food hubs, organic farming and drought resources for producers here in Texas. He earned BBA and MS degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and was an organic vegetable farmer in South Texas and Mexico in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Robert served as a Marketing Specialist with the Texas Department of Agriculture for 27 years, helping to start the state’s organic certification program in 1989. Robert has extensive contacts with growers, retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, and specialty crop trade associations, and is fluent in Spanish. He is a member of the Board of Directors for TOFGA and is a member of the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA).

Susie Marshall photo

SUSIE MARSHALL is founder and executive director of GROW North Texas, a Dallas-based not-for-profit that cultivates healthy food communities by strengthening local food production and improving access to fresh, nutritious food. She has 13 years’ experience working with food producers and food assistance programs distributing surplus fruits and vegetables.

Susie is a long-time volunteer for the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, currently as grants administrator and previously as executive director. Susie has a bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in health and physical education from Texas A&M-Commerce, and a master’s of theological studies from the Perkins School of Theology at SMU.

Jarred Maxwell photo

JARRED MAXWELL leads Foodshed Investors’ venture relations, guiding business owners through the fundraising process, providing business analysis, and assisting them to prepare to present to potential investors. He has been the local leader for Slow Money Austin since 2011 and is dedicated to healthy food, local economic vitality, support of small-scale businesses, re-invigoration of small towns, and small family farms and ranches.

Jarred is an active angel investor in more than a dozen local socially responsible companies. In 2010, he founded The Happy Land Company, specializing in acquisition, restoration, and preservation of rural land. A lifelong Texan, Jarred is also a rancher, managing 400-plus acres of family ranch outside Lampasas.

Casey McAuliffe photo

CASEY McAULIFFE operates Moon Dog Farms with her partner Alex McPhail in Santa Fe, Texas, and manages Galveston’s Own Farmers Market on the island. Under her leadership, the market became the first in the Houston area to establish a “double dollars “initiative for food stamp customers and the first in Galveston County to adopt the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC clients, which distributes $30 vouchers for fresh market produce to families using WIC benefits.

She graduated from Southwestern University in 2008 and worked on organic farms in the Northeast until returning to Texas in 2013. Casey also serves as City Councilperson for La Marque, Texas.

Stephanie McClenny photo

STEPHANIE McCLENNY is the owner of Confituras, a small jam company born in 2010 after several years of preserving the local bounty from Austin farmers’ markets. It did not take long for the local food loving community in Austin to recognize and appreciate Stephanie’s commitment to quality, seasonality, and really good jam. Since 2011, Confituras has been awarded 5 Local Hero Awards, 4 National Good Food Awards and a Southern Living Food Award. The Austin Food & Wine Alliance awarded Confituras a culinary grant in 2013 for their ‘Preserving Austin’ project, which is an emerging program that refers to both preserving the local, seasonal bounty and preserving local canning history and heritage. Confituras recently opened their own brick & mortar community kitchen and jam & biscuit shop in beautiful South Austin called Confituras Little Kitchen, which churns out seasonal jams and biscuits made with locally milled, heritage grains and offers an incubator mentorship program for women starting out in the food business.

Judith McGeary photo

JUDITH McGEARY, the founder and Executive Director of FARFA and the Council for Healthy Food Systems, is an attorney, activist, and sustainable farmer. 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 the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance to promote common-sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems.

Judith has been profiled in the Texas Observer and Edible Austin, appears in the documentary “Farmageddon,” and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows across the country. Judith previously served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health and remains active with Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Pedro Schambon photo

GLEN MIRACLE is the owner of Laughing Frog Farm in Hempstead, Texas, a small permaculture farm near Houston. Laughing Frog sells vegetables, fruit, chicken eggs and meat, and lamb meat and wool. The farm tries to work with nature to make farming as little work as possible by using plants, domestic animals, and wildlife to build the soil biology.

Colin Mitchell photo

COLIN MITCHELL currently works as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Colin has a bachelors 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. For NCAT he currently works on projects related to soil health and carbon sequestration, ecosystem services, adaptive multi-paddock grazing, cover crops, local food, and other regenerative agriculture systems. 

Kim Olson photo

KIM OLSON is a farmer, combat veteran, and advocate for public education. She currently is running for Congress to represent Texas’ 24th District, a suburban area wedged north of and between Dallas and Ft. Worth. In 2018, Kim ran statewide for Agriculture Commissioner, earning more votes than any Democratic woman in Texas history.

Kim entered the Air Force in 1979, later serving as one of the first female pilots. She retired as a full Colonel in 2005 after serving in Iraq, then continued her military service in the Texas State Guard. A fourth-generation farmer, Kim and her husband raise fresh fruits and vegetables and keep beehives for pollination and honey. She is also CEO of the non-profit Grace After Fire, helping female veterans make the transition back to civilian life.

Helenka Ostrum photo

HELENKA OSTRUM is a program specialist in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Division. She oversees community and student engagement initiatives, stakeholder committees, and the Summer Meal Programs. Helenka launched TDA’s Health Ambassadors for a Ready Texas Initiative, which provides an opportunity for high school leaders to champion healthy eating within their school communities.

Helenka grew up in rural northern New York in a county with more dairy cows than people. She served as a FoodCorps service member in North Carolina for two years and taught students about cooking, nutrition, and gardening. She earned a B.A. in psychology and anthropology from Barnard College and master’s degrees in food policy and public health from Tufts University.

Pedro Schambon photo

PEDRO SCHAMBON is the founder and president of My Father’ Farm in Seguin, Texas, and developer of ProFarmer software solutions, which helps manage day-to-day farm operations. He’s been a certified organic producer since 2008, managing 10 acres and 60,000 sq. ft. of greenhouses. In addition to organic certification, Pedro is certified as an organic inspector and for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and has extensive knowledge in meeting Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.

Pedro holds degrees in accounting and organic agricultural practices. He has traveled extensively; his experience ranges from consulting for Texas A&M in Guatemala, and founding an orphanage and sustainable farm in Columbia, to working closely with Comal ISD and Guadalupe County correctional facilities on agricultural initiatives.

Lance Sebring photo

DR. LANE SEBRING is the founding physician of the Sebring Clinic and the developer of Paleo Non-Pharmacy, located in Wimberley, Texas. Dr. Sebring earned a bachelor’s in biology at the University of Texas in Austin and obtained his M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He completed his family medicine residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler, Texas.

Wishing to work as an independent physician, Dr. Sebring opened his private practice, the Sebring Clinic, in 1996. His practice centers on reducing the amount of prescription drugs patients take, instructing them on natural treatment methods and teaching about the nature of disease and how to avoid it through lifestyle changes.

Peggy Sechrist photo

PEGGY SECHRIST, a practitioner and certified educator in Holistic Management, lives in Texas Hill Country with her husband, Richard, where they were the first Texas ranchers to create a certified organic, grass-fed beef operation in 1995, adding pastured poultry three years later. She has advocated for sustainable agriculture in collaboration with agricultural and wildlife agencies such as Texas A&M University, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Dept. of Agriculture, and NRCS, plus served on the SSAWG Board of Directors and the USDA/SARE Administrative Council.

Peggy continues to provide training and coaching in Holistic Management throughout Texas. Currently she is the Hill Country Advisor for the Soil for Water Initiative, a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology focused on educating landowners on increasing the water holding capacity of their soils.

Richard Sechrist photo

RICHARD SECHRIST has been a real estate broker for 35 years, specializing in farm and ranch properties in Central Texas. In 1995, he and his wife, Peggy, created the first Certified Organic Ranch in Texas. At that same time, they started Homestead Healthy Foods, a company that marketed certified organic, grass-fed beef throughout the country until 2006.

Richard was introduced to Holistic Management in 1993 and has been practicing that management system on the ranch since that time. He also managed a CSA in the Texas Hill Country and is presently the manager of farm operations for

Margaret Smith photo

MARGARET SMITH is a good food advocate working to create new markets for local farmers and increase healthy food access in communities. Margaret is the Director of The Common Market Texas, a nonprofit distributor of local farm foods based in Houston, TX. She manages the day-to-day operations of the food hub including food safety systems, cold storage warehousing, trucking, sales, and community outreach. Before joining The Common Market, Margaret graduated from William and Mary and went on to work as a farm hand, in restaurants, as a researcher, and at farmers markets before completing her masters degree in Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. In 2015 she joined The Common Market team, contributing to the national expansion of the organization. Margaret is committed to collaborating to build an equitable food system in Texas and beyond. 

Wendy Taggart photo

WENDY TAGGART is co-founder of Burgundy Pasture Beef which began in 1999 – “On the Ranch”. Since then it has become a vertically integrated 100% grass fed beef operation – from the pasture to processing to retail stores (Burgundy’s Local Grass Fed Meat Market) in Dallas and Ft Worth, TX. Wendy manages aging, cutting, and packaging for their retail store in Grandview, while networking with other like-minded producers to increase the store’s selection.

Originally inspired by a desire for flavorsome, wholesome cooking and the challenge of raising young children in a “fast food” world – Wendy has helped Burgundy Pasture Beef evolve as a “grassroots”, primarily direct retail, business – responding to a growing trend of consumers demanding more wholesome meats and a desire to know more about the foods they eat.

Butch Tindell photo

BUTCH TINDELL has more than 35 years’ experience gardening, farming, and ranching. He has taught sustainable farming and ranching to hundreds of beginning and experienced farmers and gardeners as well as developed numerous courses and curricula, also serving as an instructor with The Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture. In addition, he has worked on farm and ranch 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.

Butch holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University and has studied with leaders in regenerative agriculture such as John Jeavons, Dr. John Navazio, Darren Doherty, and Allan Nation. Butch, his wife Diane, and their children and grandchildren raise cattle, sheep, and pecans at Aquilla Valley Farm in central Texas.

Tim Traister photo

TIM TRAISTER is a loan officer with Capital Farm Credit, where he specializes in land financing, small producers, and niche farming loans. Capital Farm Credit is a Co-op and the largest rural lender in Texas with over $7 billion in assets and over 20,000 members who share in its profits. Prior to joining CFC, Mr.Traister has worked in the commercial banking and real estate sectors, where he has been 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.

Bertha Venegas photo

BERTHA T. VENEGAS is the State Outreach Coordinator for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas. In her position, she serves as NRCS Liaison coordinating outreach efforts with organizations that work closely with minority farmers and ranchers providing program information for the planning and application of conservation work. She manages the state outreach operations including grant opportunities for conservation work in urban and rural areas.

Bertha, a native Texan, 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.

Howard Vlieger photo

HOWARD VLIEGER is a third-generation family farmer who has been a “student of the soil” since 1989. Howard lives on the farm where he was born and raised in northwest Iowa, assisting his son with farming duties. Since 1992 Howard has been a crop nutrition adviser and has founded two companies to help family farmers reduce dependency on chemical-based farming and transition to biological and/or organic production. Howard works as an independent crop nutrition advisor, helping crop and livestock farmers across the U.S.

Howard also works with scientists and researchers to develop solutions, based on the latest science, for problems farmers are experiencing because of GMO crops and glyphosate. Howard is a co-author and the primary coordinator of a scientific study on the feeding of GMO grain and non-GMO grain to hogs for their lifetime as a meat animal.

Sean Wall photo

SEAN WALL is a professional forager and habitat engineer. He studied environmental science and wildlife biology at Texas A&M University and has worked in habitat management on several private properties. He teaches classes on botanical identification and uses, as well as species propagation and habitat remediation.

Previously he’s provided native ingredients to restaurants and developed unique recipes and culinary uses for native and wild plants. He’s also designed environmental education programs for school children and adults. Currently, Sean works with small farmers and landowners, developing sustainable food systems and alternative land management strategies. He’s also a professional artist, specializing in handcrafted paintings made with pigments and paints derived from native plant and mineral sources, and is the author of the book, The Cycle of Foraging.

Abby Wetzel photo

ABBY WETZEL is a master of all things fermented - sauerkraut, pickles, hot sauce, ginger beer, kombucha, local sodas - you name it, she's made it! Her love of ferments began in 2012 during her time at a New York farm. She became enthralled with the delectable tangy flavors, the bubbles, and the microorganisms that transform our foods. Three years later, she began teaching fermentation classes and workshops and has fallen in love with spreading the culture of cultures. In April of 2017, she attended a Fermentation Residency Program with Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation. Abby looks forward to sharing ideas and knowledge about this ancient food preservation technique.

Matthew Williams photo

MATTHEW WILLIAMS is working to turn the farm that’s been in his family since 1860 into a regenerative agriculture demonstration site. The land that Matthew now calls Green Valley Gardens, located in Denton, Texas, was for most of its years used for cattle, deer, dairy, and coastal hay. Since Matthew’s introduction to permaculture techniques five years ago and his subsequent completion of permaculture design and teacher training courses, he has become increasingly successful at the growth and marketing of native plants and trees, as well as other high value crops.

He also spends his time educating others about how to transform their own land. Matthew is happy to call himself a “total plant nerd.”

Angela Worth photo

ANGELA WORTH is the farmers’ market/Mobile Mercado manager for the San Antonio Food Bank. Mobile Mercado is a mobile mini-grocery store, farmers’ market, demonstration kitchen, and teaching tool that improves access to healthy, affordable foods with a focus on locally grown fruits and vegetables. The mobile market also provides nutrition education, traveling to a number of “food deserts” in the Food Bank’s 16-county service area.

In addition to serving as manager of the Food Bank’s numerous farmers’ markets in the area, Angela oversees the organization’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where she earned a bachelor’s in chemistry.

Zachary Yanta photo

ZACHARY YANTA, state director for Texas Farm Bureau’s District 12, is a 5th-generation farmer and rancher with agricultural roots that run deep in Texas. He grows corn, grain sorghum, and cotton in and around Karnes, along with no-till cover crops, legumes, and sesame. He also runs a cow-calf operation, stockers, and fed cattle in the feed yard.

Zack joined Karnes County Farm Bureau shortly after he moved back to the farm in 1988, after earning a bachelor’s in agronomy and a master’s in soil and crop sciences from Texas A&M. He was elected to the Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) state board of directors in December 2014 and previously served as a state director from 1996 until 2002. Yanta also served on the State Resolutions Committee and Project 2000 Committee.

Erin Zwiener photo

ERIN ZWIENER is an author, educator, and conservationist who is serving her first term in the Texas House of Representatives. She is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee and Agriculture and Livestock Committee and is a founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus, serving today as its secretary. Rep. Zwiener also belongs to the House Democratic Caucus, Rural Caucus, Sportsmen Caucus, Farm-To-Table Caucus, Young Texans Legislative Caucus, Women’s Health Caucus, and the Legislative Study Group.

A fifth-generation Texan, Rep. Zwiener is committed to fighting for Texas values including healthy communities, inclusivity, and common-sense government. She holds a bachelor’s in natural resource conservation and a master’s in creative writing. She is a three-time Jeopardy! Champion and a member of the Long Riders Guild. Rep. Zwiener lives in Driftwood with her husband Quincy, daughter Lark, a dog, three horses, a mule, and a pot-bellied pig.