2020 TOFGA Board of Directors
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Colin Mitchell, Regional Director Statewide At-large:
Bio Coming Soon
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.
Lacey Proffitt, Region 3 Director
Bio Coming Soon
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
Bio Coming Soon
Former TOFGA Board Members
(If you know of others, please send us an email and we'll update the list! Thanks!)