2017 Speakers


 11th Annual Farm and Food Leadership Conference

September 24-26, 2017 | Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas


General Info | Lodging & Directions |  Program | On-Farm Dinner | Registration

Conference Sponsors | Volunteering & Scholarships | Exhibitors | Silent Auction 

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Kirschenmann pix croppedFREDERICK KIRSCHENMANN joins the Farm &  Food Leadership Conference for the first time, serving as keynote speaker. A longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann shares an appointment as Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He is also President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., continuing to manage his family’s 1,800-acre certified organic farm in North Dakota.

He is a professor in the ISU Department of Religion and Philosophy and holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has held numerous appointments, including the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He served as the Leopold Center’s second director 2000-2005, when he was named a Distinguished Fellow. He joined the board of the Stone Barns Center in 2004 and was elected president in 2007.

In January 2008, he began dividing his time between Iowa and New York, exploring ways that rural and urban communities can work together to develop a more resilient, sustainable agriculture and food system. He has written extensively about ethics and agriculture, including a collection of essays titled Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher.

Kirschenmann helped convene and continues to be active in Agriculture of the Middle, a multi-state task force that focuses on research and markets for midsize American farms. On his own farm he developed a diverse crop rotation that has enabled him to farm productively without synthetic inputs (fertilizers or pesticides) while simultaneously improving the health of the soil. He converted the farm to a certified organic operation in 1976, and the farm has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, the LA Times and Gourmet magazine.

His list of awards is lengthy, including: One World Award for Lifetime Achievement from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, the James F. Beard Foundation Leadership award, the 2012 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa, Leader of the Year in Agriculture by Progressive Farmer, the Seventh Generation Research Award from the Center for Rural Affairs, the first Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Sustainable Agriculture from the Glynwood Center in New York, one of Plenty magazine’s Top 20 People Dedicated to Sustainability, and the National Resources Defense Council Thought Leader award.


(Check back frequently, as speakers continue to be added!)

DR. BARBARA BELLOWS is an assistant professor and coordinator for the Center for Environmental Studies at Tarleton State University (Stephenville), a branch campus of the Texas A&M University System. Barbara has been actively involved in the study and promotion of soil health for almost 30 years. While conducting her dissertation research in Costa Rica and later coordinating a research and development program in the Philippines, she became an early practitioner and proponent of on-farm research and farmer involvement in the research process. Thus, throughout her career, she has worked closely with farmers researching and promoting practices that enhance soil microbial health and reduce soil erosion while maintaining crop productivity.

Currently, Barbara is conducting research on the impact of crop management practices (including no-till and cover cropping) on carbon sequestration. She is also involved in an interdisciplinary assessment of changing land use practices at the rural-urban interface and the impact of these practices on soil health, biodiversity, water quality, and environmental justice.

JANICE BEZANSON, executive director of Texas Conservation Alliance (TCA), has 35 years’ experience protecting rivers, forests, and other wildlife habitats. She has successfully campaigned for new national wildlife refuges and wilderness areas and for improved management of public lands. Much of Janice’s career has focused on water issues. She has led coalitions of ranchers, forest managers, and agribusiness people to stop unnecessary reservoir projects, and she heads TCA’s program to promote municipal water recycling in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Janice has served on advisory boards for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was featured in the Women Shaping Texas in the 20th Century exhibit at the Bob Bullock State History Museum and has been a recipient of the prestigious Chevron Conservation Award.


JONATHAN CLINTHORNE, PhD., is an ultra-endurance athlete who was awarded his PhD in Human Nutrition from Michigan State University. Clinthorne has served on numerous medical advisory boards and has authored a number of research papers covering topics such as aging, caloric restriction, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, immune function, inflammation and human nutrition.

When not working as the Manager of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education at Natural Grocers, you can find Jonathan running, climbing or skiing in the mountains of Colorado.




CLARICE CRISS is a Dallas Master Gardener intern and owner of Nella Roots Gardening, an urban farming consultation group. The Dallas native was raised in the Oak Cliff area and has deep ties to South Dallas. Working and living in the urban setting since graduation from the University of North Texas, she saw the issues with food access and equity and decided to do something about it. That “something” includes creating sustainability plans for local community gardens, developing curriculum for school gardens that teach students farm-to-table concepts and co-op skills while also advocating for policy changes on a local and state level.

Currently Clarice is working with Grow North Texas on projects throughout the Dallas area, the Sunny South Garden and schools in the South Dallas area.



WALT DAVIS was born into a West Texas ranching family that had raised cattle for at least five generations. He spent more than 50 years as a working rancher in west Texas and southeast Oklahoma, at one point almost losing the business after following the advice of commercial agriculture experts. Walt then spent years developing a biological ranching approach, based on planned grazing management. For the past 20 years, he has worked with land owners, ranchers, and public and private organizations as a management consultant, advisor, and teacher.

Walt is past president of Holistic Management of Texas and of the Oklahoma Land Stewardship Alliance, and is vitally interested in promoting land use that is profitable, sustainable, and user-friendly. He is the author of three books: How to Not Go Broke Ranching, A Gathering at Oak Creek, and The Green Revolution Delusion, plus has several more books in the works.


RICHARD DE LOS SANTOS serves the State of Texas as the Director of the Office of Produce Safety with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Prior to that Richard worked in the GO TEXAN marketing division for sixteen years. In addition to his time with the Texas Department of Agriculture Richard worked in the vegetable seed industry and was responsible for developing new vegetable varieties for growers.

He is from South Texas where he grew up on a farm in Mission, raising different types of vegetables with his family. Richard has a strong commitment to Texas agriculture with more than 35 years’ experience in the produce and horticulture industries.




NANCY FALSTER has taught nutrient dense cooking classes for the last eight years, both at her farm and locales that that range from local to far-flung. She has cooked for the International Weston A. Price Foundation Conference in Dallas as well as fed busloads of hungry guests on farm tours. Her business as a personal chef operates under the name Dine in Taste with Southern Grace.

The certified holistic farm in East Texas that Nancy owns with her husband Karl provides several top restaurants and co-ops in the Dallas area with grass-raised and -finished organic beef, pastured eggs, and their signature Cochon de Lait Cru (milk fed, pastured pork). She and her husband were guests in 2015 at the James Beard House Foundation in New York City with their pork as the featured main entrée served by Executive Chef Graham Dodds.

ADRIENNE HASCHKE has a rich food and nutrition background. After receiving an MS in nutrition from Tufts University and becoming a registered dietitian, Adrienne worked on federal nutrition policies and programs at the Texas Department of Agriculture for four years before transitioning into the role of Farm Direct Projects Manager at the Sustainable Food Center. She currently serves as a Mayoral Appointee to the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Board and a City Council Appointee to the Joint Sustainability Committee.

She has four years of on-farm experience as weekly workshare CSA member at Green Gate Farms and is entirely devoted to changing the built-food environment in order to conserve natural resources, strengthen family farms, and encourage healthy consumer choices.

JAMES JEFFERS served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2004-2008, and struggled to adjust to civilian life following his return home. He and one of his military friends, who was having similar difficulties adjusting, were both growing food for their families in North Texas, and together became involved in the local, organic food movement. Both found farming to be therapeutic and grounding.

With the help of the Farmers Veteran Coalition, the two launched a business in Dallas called Eat the Yard, doing vegetable production, composting, and edible landscaping for local restaurants, grocery stores, and community members. Within a few years, after losing several brothers-in-arms to suicide, the partners joined with other veterans to create a non-profit, F.A.R.M. Vets (“Farmers Assisting Returning Military), with a mission of integrating returning veterans to civilian life through the healing qualities they themselves have experienced through farming.

HENRY KRUSEKOPF has been employed by the Texas Department of Agriculture since 2006. For 11 years he served as a Pesticide Inspector based in Wichita Falls, not only conducting inspections, but presenting continuing education programs and investigating pesticide complaints. In April 2017, he became the Assistant Regional Director for Region 2 based in Dallas, where he oversees both agricultural and structural pesticide inspectors in a 70-county area of north Texas.

Henry grew up in Midland, Texas, and earned a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of California at Davis.




ALAN LEWIS directs government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, a health food store chain operating more than 100 stores in 19 states. He oversees organic certification and compliance for the stores while supporting the development of small local food producers. Alan serves on the board of the Organic and Natural Health Assn., is executive editor of Local Food Shift magazine, and has been a speaker at dozens of food-related events, including a presentation at TEDx Boulder in 2014.

Long a student of political activism, his focus is on communicating with policy makers and stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels using non-confrontational and inclusive frameworks.


ROBERT LIKARISH and his brother Jonathan own Ironroot Distillery in Denison, Texas. A graduate of Austin College and St. Louis University Law School, he discovered soon after completing law school that his passion was not in law, but in distilling. Robert has been extremely fortunate to have studied under some of the best known craft distillers in the U.S. including Hubert Germain-Robin, Chip Tate, and master blender Nancy Fraley.

Despite having such a young distillery, Robert and Jonathan already have earned numerous national and international awards for their whiskeys including having their Ironroot Hubris Corn Whiskey named Best Corn Whiskey in the World by Whisky Magazine (World Whisky Awards) and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the two most prestigious spirits competitions in the world.



RICKY LINEX is a wildlife biologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service headquartered in Weatherford, Texas. A 1981 graduate from Texas Tech University with a degree in range management, Ricky works 51 counties in north-central Texas covering the Rolling Plains, Cross Timbers, Blackland Prairie, and Post Oak Savannah vegetational regions. He has worked with NRCS in Texas for 35 years.

Ricky is the author of the plant identification book, Range Plants of North Central Texas; A Land Users Guide to Their Identification, Value and Management. Within its descriptions of 324 different grasses, forbs, and woody plants, the book provides detailed browsing, grazing, and seed values of each plant for cattle, sheep, goats, deer, dove, quail, and turkey. The book was recognized as an outstanding publication by the Wildlife Society/Texas Chapter, the Native Plant Society of Texas, and the Society for Range Management/Texas Section.

annelies_lottmann-150x150ANNELIES 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 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.



SUSIE MARSHALL is founder and executive director of GROW North Texas, a Dallas-based not-for-profit organization 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. A native of the Dallas area, 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.


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 recently won her local municipal election and now serves on the La Marque, Texas, City Council.



JUDITH McGEARY, the founder and Executive Director of FARFA, 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 has served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health and is also active with Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

MEGAN NEUBAUER and her father Jack own Pure Land Organic farm in McKinney. Pure Land Organic supplies several fine restaurants in McKinney and Dallas and uses all organic methods on one acre of blackberries, one acre of annuals, and a 50-tree fruit orchard. She is also a board member of The Seed Project Foundation and Creative Director for Wells Hospitality Group.

Megan has a BA in biology from Boston University and worked for several years in the biotech industry before pursuing the farm full time, most recently managing a pediatric oncology research lab at University of Texas Southwestern-Medical Center.





KIM PIERCE is a Dallas journalist who has written about food, wine, and health for more than 35 years. She became interested in farmers’ markets in the 1980s, when California led the Modern American cuisine movement, and she has written about the scene both locally and nationally ever since.

A former Dallas Morning News staff writer, she’s freelance today and remains a regular DMN contributor specializing in all things locavore and Texas wine. She’s also the senior editor at Edible Dallas & Fort Worth. Kim co-authored The Phytopia Cookbook, which celebrates plant-centered cuisine, and is a contributor to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America and The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Her writing has been recognized by groups as diverse as the Association of Food Journalists and the Texas Dietetic Association.


ROBERT POTTS is President and CEO of the Dixon Water Foundation, a private foundation supporting healthy watersheds through good land management – with a particular emphasis on grazing and range management issues. From 2004 to 2007, Potts was the General Manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. Potts previously spent 11 years at The Nature Conservancy where he held  positions that included State Director of Texas and Vice President for the South Central Division, managing conservation work in Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Potts previously practiced law with the firm of Baker & Botts in Houston where he focused on international and corporate issues. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia University in 1984 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in 1980.


SARAH ROUNTREE SCHLESSINGER joined Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts as its executive director in 2015. She currently serves as an appointed member of the Water Conservation Advisory Council and as an alternate member for the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee.

Sarah previously worked at the Bandera County River Authority & Groundwater District as its Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator, and has experience with international non-profits with interest in water policy. Sarah holds an M.S. in water science, policy, and management from the University of Oxford.



ANDREA SHACKELFORD oversees menu development and sourcing decisions as executive chef for Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, as well as for Rick’s Chophouse and Sterling Catering and Events. Under her direction, Harvest was named one of the Best New Restaurants of 2014 by the Dallas Morning News and was featured on the cover of D Magazine‘s Best Restaurants of 2015. Shackelford is a Master Gardener and founding member of The Seed Project Foundation, a nonprofit established on the premise that funding sustainable ideas today will support ecological and social balance in the future.

Chef Andrea also helps with planning and maintaining Water Boy Farms in Lucas, Texas, which supplies food and flowers for both Harvest and Rick’s Chophouse, making her instrumental in earning the company the 2015 Horticulture Award of Excellence from Texas A&M AgriLife.

MARIE TEDEI made the transition from organic horticulturist to agriculturist in 2008, starting Eden’s Garden CSA Farm from her 14-acre horse boarding facility. She distributes produce primarily on her farm during a twice-a-month Market Day. Featuring only “clean” foods grown on-site and, when available, brought in by other local farmers and producers, it is the only all-farmers and all non-conventional food farmer’s market in the DFW area.

Located just 20 minutes southeast of downtown Dallas, Marie’s urban farm is still home to a few horses, about 30 laying hens, an Icelandic ewe, two Great Pyrenees LGD, and several barn cats. She also offers a small inventory in her garden center of “do-it-yourself” organic products and teaches low-cost beginning gardening classes.



Coleen for web

COLEEN THORNTON received her bachelor’s in nutrition from Ohio State University and started her career as a registered clinical dietitian. In 1999 she received her MBA in finance and accounting from the University of Texas, Arlington, and joined the management team at American Airlines. Coleen’s love of nutrition called her back to food, and she opened Heaven Sent Produce, a 3-acre urban farm in Arlington, Texas, later moving and expanding the operation into a 60-acre farm near Tahlequah, Okla. Heaven Sent Food & Fiber Farm includes a market garden, an orchard, Jersey cows and Nubian dairy goats, pastured pork and poultry, Merino sheep and Alpaca, and a commercial beekeeping operation.

Coleen also consults in Food and Ag Economic Development with farms and regional food systems to improve profitability and healthy food security. She assists Native American governments and regions in their efforts to expand agricultural production, food systems and food security, and she advises clients on horticulture and livestock production, value-added opportunities and business models. Coleen is an alumna of the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Program, on the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce Board, and holds the agriculture seat on the Oklahoma Workforce Board-Muskogee. She is a certified GLOBALG.A.P.® and Harmonized Produce Safety Standard food safety auditor, completed the FSMA HARPC course, and is working in partnership with OSU Extension on local food safety initiatives for FSMA compliance.

CHARLES “BUTCH” TINDELL speaks regularly to groups locally and nationwide on sustainable agriculture, based upon his 35 years of experience as a gardener and farmer. As an instructor at The Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture for 21 years, he has taught sustainable farming and ranching to hundreds of beginning and experienced farmers and gardeners. In addition to teaching and research, he is a farm and ranch consultant with Homestead Farm Design.

Butch and his wife, Diane, along with their children and grandchildren, own and operate Aquilla Valley Farm, a small, diversified family farm north of Waco, Texas.




AMANDA VANHOOZIER most recently served as director of market operations at the Dallas Farmers Market, located downtown. She led the market’s transition to return it to the original 1941 intent … to be a producer-only venue for farmers to sell directly to customers. Within two years, the farmer participation increased by 85 percent, attracting a community of customers who want an authentic relationship with the food they are buying.

Previous to that, Amanda founded other local food markets and gardens with the belief that following nature’s systems that sustain life would also cultivate healthy communities: the Coppell Farmers Market located between Dallas and Ft. Worth; Coppell Community Gardens, where a community of gardeners grows and donates just-picked produce to food pantries year-round; and Stringfellow School Outdoor Learning Environment, where children are introduced to growing food at a young age.

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

Howard works with scientists and researchers around the world to develop effective solutions, based on the latest science, for the real-life problems farmers are experiencing because of GMO crops and glyphosate. Howard is a co-author and the primary coordinator of a first of its kind scientific study: the feeding of GMO grain and non-GMO grain to hogs for their lifetime as a meat animal. Howard is an internationally recognized speaker on the topic of GMOs. Howard also serves on the board of directors for the Council for Healthy Food Systems (CHFS), Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance’s sister 501(c)3 organization.

RICK WELLS is the owner of Wells Hospitality Group and founder of the Seed Project Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to create educational, agricultural, and community initiatives that support sustainability. The non-profit believes funding sustainable ideas today will support ecological and social balance in the future.  The hospitality group co-owns Rick’s Chophouse, Harvest Seasonal Kitchen and Sterling Events.

Rick also owns The Goddard school in McKinney with his wife, Robbin. They live with their children on an organic vegetable, flower, and honey bee farm in Lucas, Texas.



SHAHAR YARDEN started milling in 2002 when the Homestead Heritage community near Waco, Texas, acquired its first, large stone mill. In 2003, the community erected a circa 1760 timber-framed gristmill. Shahar apprenticed with an old-time miller in North Carolina who taught him the trade.

Over the years, Shahar has worked with local farmers to grow heirloom varieties of wheat and corn without using harmful pesticides and herbicides. Today, Homestead Gristmill grinds over ten varieties of grain and blends baking mixes for sale.




justin and cara amarillo livingJUSTIN and CARA YOUNG have operated the gardening and nutrition program for the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo, Texas, since 2011. Cara manages a one-acre plot onsite at the Food Bank where they grow a variety of crops and raise animals as a way of providing food for Food Bank clientele. She also oversees an outdoor classroom for community members to learn how to produce their own food. Justin teaches gardening and cooking classes throughout the community.

High Plains Food Bank supports 14 community gardens; conducts multiple workshops, field trips, and tours; and works to increase access throughout the community to healthy foods and to education about their benefits. (Photo by Amarillo Living.)