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SPI Advisory Team

2019 Advisory Team

(alphabetical by last name)

Elliott Bass, Alamo Gardens

Bio coming soon...

Frankie Bayne, TOFGA

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.

Sue Beckwith, Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF)

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. Content from tofga.org.

Alex Canepa, Sustainable Food Center (SFC)

Alex Canepa photo

Alex Canepa provides strategic guidance to the Sustainable Food Center’s farmers markets and leads the organizations policy efforts. He works to reduce the barriers that farmers and ranchers face brining their products to market. In order to realize a more just an equitable food system, Alex sends and receives emails, attends meetings, and grills hamburgers at farmer’s markets. Before arriving at the SFC, Alex worked on other things for other organizations including the National Farmers Market Coalition and Texas Senate. Alex holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a double first-class honors degree in History and Political Science.

Willie Durham, Agency Liason, NRCS

Willie Durham photo

Willie teaches principles of soil health and agroecology throughout the United States. He began his agriculture career working as a field sales representative for Helena Chemical Company and Terra International, Inc. in the Rio Grande Valley in the mid 1990’s, becoming a Certified Crop Adviser in 1992. In 1995, he became the Regional Agronomist for Novartis Seeds (Syngenta). In 2001, he became a Conservation Agronomist for USDA-NRCS. In 2004, he was certified as a Professional Agronomist by the American Society of Agronomy. In 2006, he became the USDA-NRCS Resource Team Leader for Program and Technical Assistance in Uvalde, Medina, Kinney and Maverick counties. In 2009, he became State Conservation Agronomist in the Ecological Sciences Section for USDA -NRCS in Temple, Texas.

Katie Jolander, FSA

Bio coming soon...

Kara Kroeger, NCAT

Kara Kroeger works as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist for NCAT's Southwest office in San Antonio, Texas. She became a Certified Herbalist at the Rocky Mountain Center of Botanical Medicine in 1999, and a Certified Nutritionist through the American Health Sciences University in 2003. Kara also began training as a chef in 2009 and has had a private chef and catering business ever since. Kara continues to passionately study agriculture and food. She received a Bachelor of General Agriculture in May of 2018 from Texas State University, and currently works to spread knowledge about sustainable agriculture to local food producers through her work at NCAT.

Robert Maggiani, NCAT

Robert Maggiani 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, GROW North Texas & TOFGA

Bio coming soon...

Jarred Maxwell, Foodshed Investors

Jarred Maxwell photo

Jarred Maxwell leads Austin Foodshed Investor’s venture relations, guiding clients through the fundraising process, business analysis, and presentation preparation. He is an active angel investor in more than a dozen local socially responsible companies. He has served as Local Leader for Slow Money Austin since 2011 and helped found the Sustainable Texas Investment Club in 2010, the same year he founded The Happy Land Company, which specializes in the preservation of rural land. Prior to this, Jarred worked with the Luedecke Group of Austin and as an engineer at Dell. Jarred is a lifelong Texan and rancher, managing a 400-acre family ranch near Lampasas. He has a B.S. from UT, and lives in Central Austin with his wife Sommer and their young son. He is dedicated to healthy food, local economic vitality, support of small-scale businesses, re-invigoration of small towns and small family farms and ranches. Content from tofga.org. 

Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA)

Judith McGeary photo

Judith McGeary is an attorney, activist, and sustainable farmer. She earned her B.S. from Stanford University and her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. During that time, she became a passionate advocate of sustainable agriculture, and she and her husband established their own livestock farm. She founded the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance to promote common-sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems. Judith has been profiled in Civil Eats, the Texas Observer, and multiple Edible magazines, appears in the documentary Farmageddon, and has been interviewed on numerous radio shows across the country. Judith served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health and currently serves on the Board of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Advisory Board of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Tim Miller, Millberg Farm

Tim Miller photo

Tim P. Miller owner/operator of Millberg Farm in its 30th year of Certified Organic growing has continued to bring innovation with his alternative farming concepts on crop land that uses only small amounts of saved rainwater. From seed saving, flipping moveable fence system for pole bean growing and crop rotation, a mobile rainwater collection roof and utilizing trench composting are just some of his concepts for success. His endeavors have earned him recognition into the Sustainable Agriculture Directory of Expertise book comprising 717 people and 2015 Blue Legacy Award for Water Conservation as a Producer.

Colin Mitchell, NCAT

Collin 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. 

Pedro Schambon, My Father's Farm

Pedro Schambon is the owner of My Father's Farm in Seguin, Texas, a certified organic farm with GAP/GHP certificates and in compliance with all new FSMA regulations. Pedro helped develop Pro-Farmer Solutions Software Management, a software built to help farmers manage the paperwork associated with food safety and organic certification programs.

Thomas Schroeder, Audubon

Bio coming soon...

Scott Sroufe, Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)

Scott Sroufe is a Marketing Coordinator with Texas Department of Agriculture’s Trade and Business Development Division where he works directly with Specialty Crop Marketing, Farmers Markets, and Certified Retirement Communities. Previously he worked for TDA in the Food and Nutrition Division as an Events Specialist working with exhibits, trade shows, and conferences for the agency. Before coming to TDA, Scott spent 20+ years in vocational ministry and several years in public education as a teacher. He received his B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Content from tofga.org.

Tim Traister, Capital Farm Credit

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.

Eric de Valpine, Foodshed Investors

Bio coming soon...

Previous Advisory Team Members

  • Robin Barthen, Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)
  • Jay Bragg, Texas Farm Bureau
  • Brian Bruner, Texas State University
  • Lorig Hawkins, Middle Ground Farm
  • Marissa Lankes, ACC - Elgin Sustainable Agriculture
  • Lois Kim, PPC Farms
  • Andrew Smiley, TOFGA