Tucson Village Farm Staff

Tucson Village Farm Staff

Our ever growing 'Farm'ily

Leza

Leza Carter

Founder and Program Coordinator of TVF, Leza Carter has spent most of her professional years in the education field. It was her experience working in school gardens that led her to follow her dream of starting up an urban farm where kids could be out in nature and see for themselves that vegetables have a life before the produce aisle of the grocery store. She delights in seeing the look on children’s faces when they pull a big, orange carrot out of the ground or taste a fresh, red tomato right off the vine. When she is not at the farm, she is, well, at the farm with her supportive husband and two young, budding farmer children.

 LEZACARTER@ARIZONA.EDU

Liz

Elizabeth "Liz" Sparks

Elizabeth “Liz” Sparks is the 4-H Youth Development Associate Agent of the farm. She is the faculty lead for Tucson Village Farm and all of its programming. Liz’s is responsible for overseeing all of the operations and programs of the farm so while she has to develop new programming, seek funding opportunities and source donations, her real passion is exposing young people to nature, adventure and experiences which she still gets to do sometimes. 

esparks@cals.arizona.edu

Alex

Alex Atkin

Alex Atkin has lived in Tucson, AZ for 30 years and has spent her last 6 at Tucson Village Farm.  She began at the farm as a volunteer, served 2 AmeriCorps terms, and was hired as Farm Manager in 2014.  Alex studied Fine Art at the University of Arizona and earned her degree in 2008.  She now considers farming the finest art of all!  You can see her at the farm searching for bugs, teaching kids how to plant a seed, harvesting for market, and working with the 100’s of volunteers that help the farm thrive and grow!  She also enjoys hiking and biking and her favorite vegetable changes with the seasons.

atkin@arizona.edu

Becky

Chef Becky Yim

Chef Becky Yim came to Tucson Village Farm as the farm-to-fork culinary master. With her restaurant background and over ten years experience teaching culinary education to teens, she is the perfect combination of foodie and fun. Becky has a gift for transforming vegetables into delicious morsels that kids are begging to eat! Her love of cooking and kids is undeniable and creating healthy dishes that the kids can make at home is one of her greatest strengths. She knows that when she teaches a child to cook she is giving him/her a skill to last a lifetime. When Becky isn’t busy figuring out how to make 300 lbs of broccoli taste good to the ten year old palate, she can be found traveling, trail running or hanging out with her family.

byim@ARIZONA.EDU

Thom (and Alex)

Thom Plasse

Thom Plasse traded the rocky soil of Rhode Island for the caliche and clay of Tucson in March of 2011. Tucson won his heart during a stint with the Southwest Conservation Corps in the winter of the preceding year. After biking from Providence to San Francisco, touring the West in a car, and getting a fungus removed from his lungs he decided to return. Two AmeriCorps terms at TVF and one more bicycle trip later, he was hired on as Camp Coordinator and tasked with creating four fabulous weeks of seed-to-table programming for Tucson’s youth. He wears many other hats around TVF including chicken wrangler, amateur plumber, aspirational carpenter, pun specialist, and chief mycological liaison. Outside of the farm he can often be found with his nose in a book or a cup of espresso. Arugula and brussels sprouts are among his favorite vegetables, but please don’t make him choose.

tplasse@arizona.edu

George

George Stefanakis

George Stefanakis was born in New York City, raised in Athens, Greece, and self-actualized in Tucson. George has been at TVF for over ten years, and though his name literally means "farmer", he is a novice when it comes to agriculture. Instead, he specializes in building teams at the 4-H Ropes Course, where groups come to develop essential life skills such as leadership, communication, and self-belief. As a bonus he gets to yell at children and adults who are terrified of heights. George's favorite pastimes are to play soccer in local leagues, watch Arsenal F.C., and to climb on Mt. Lemmon as well as the local rock gyms. Most impressive of all, George makes the best Greek coffee you've ever sipped. He loves to spend quality interspecies time with his family and pets and plans on somehow using all these above skills to eventually retire to a sailboat in the Ionian Sea.

gestefanakis@arizona.edu

Jess

Jess Luse

Jess Luse started working at Tucson Village Farm ten years ago as a college intern and has found ways to stay involved ever since. Currently, she serves as their Community Outreach and Development Coordinator, overseeing events, marketing, newsletters, social media, and more. Jess truly delights in connecting TVF with the Tucson community at large. Each year, she leads a Culinary Medicine camp for teens, sharing her love for cooking simple and nourishing meals, and inspiring young people to use food as medicine. In addition to her work at Tucson Village Farm, Jess is a dedicated yoga practitioner with over 1,200 hours of formal yoga education from around the globe. She has studied under world-renowned teachers, delving deeply into Hatha yoga, Ayurveda, and yoga philosophy. With extensive experience in teaching public classes, workshops, and retreats, Jess brings a wealth of knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm to her teaching. She is a yoga teacher at Yoga Oasis and the farm’s very own yoga instructor as well.

JCL2@arizona.edu 

Elsa Bellsa

Elsa Jacobson

Elsa Jacobson is a recent UA Grad with her degree in Precision Nutrition and Wellness. During her time at the UA, she became passionate about youth nutrition education. When she started at the farm as an AmeriCorps member, she was in awe of the nutrition, outdoor, and agriculture education programs. She knew that the farm was where she was meant to be. In 2022, Elsa took on the job of 4-H Program Coordinator for the Healthy Living Ambassadors program where she is able to combine her love for nutrition, connecting kids with the outdoors, and community building into one! Additionally she is working on developing a partnership with UA's Nutritional Sciences Department which will help expand our existing Culinary Medicine programming. When she’s not at the farm, you can expect to find her enjoying Tucson’s incredible live music scene or exploring Arizona’s incredible landscapes.

elsajacobson@arizona.edu

Moonie

Moonie Tyler

Moonie Tyler  graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 with a degree in education, a minor in sustainability, and a passion for empowering youth outside of the classroom. After college she moved abroad to work at an outdoor adventure camp deep in the jungle of Taiwan. Among the lush landscape she discovered herself as an artist and has since explored creating through illustration, murals, stained glass, fiber, and clay. After travelling much of the world, she parked her sun-seeking soul in Tucson in 2018 where she found a vibrant community to call family and an inspiring landscape to call home. Luckily a good friend introduced her to the wonder of TVF - a place that magically combined all of her interests and passions! She was prepared to volunteer for years just to be involved in the magic but was delighted to be hired in 2023 as the farm's Camp Program Coordinator. She is also working on an effort to grow our budding art program. When she's not on the farm you can find her roller skating, hiking, doing art projects, and spending time with loved ones. 

moonietyler@arizona.edu

Letti

Letti Haro Astorga

Letti Haro Astorga is a proud alumna of the University of Arizona's class of 2020 (Communication and Sociology), and is currently pursuing her MBA (Class of 2025), further expanding her skill set. Letti currently works as the Office Specialist at Tucson Village Farm, having joined the team in January 2024. With a background in efficient office operations, Letti plays a vital role in assisting the TVF team’s needs by managing various administrative tasks and ensuring smooth financial transactions. Beyond the office, Letti is deeply family-oriented, cherishing time with both human and animal companions. A newcomer to the violin (an instrument she wanted to learn since elementary but opted to play the alto sax instead) and a passionate cosplayer, Letti enjoys immersing herself in creative pursuits outside of work. While you might not catch her performing in orchestra shows (yet), you will likely find her displaying her outfits at conventions.

ALHAROASTORGA@ARIZONA.EDU

Mary

Mary Z. Mays

After a career as a health behavior scientist and statistician, living all over the US, Europe, and Middle East, Mary visited Tucson for Spring Break 2001 and never left. During the COVID-19 pandemic she decided to study nutrition science and found her way to an internship at TVF. She is now a University of Arizona Designated Campus Colleague for TVF. When she is not taking notes on Chef Becky’s new recipes, supporting George with ropes course facilitation, or learning to use a zoodle-maker, pasta machine, gigantic stick blender, or humongous mixer, she assists with grant writing, research design, and evaluation. If you are curious about hiking trails on Tucson’s west side mountain ranges, Mary will happily describe each one.

 MAYZ@ARIZONA.EDU

AmeriCorps and Interns

Ann

Ann Wilds

Sabra

Sabra Mayer

Michelle

Michelle Halver

Sheree

Sheree Whiting

Ellie

Ellie Finley

Joy

Joyce Ziemann

Besh

Besh Cardenas

Emily Green

Emily Green

Emily Brown

Emalyn Brown

Auxiliary Staff

David

David Gilmore

Lucy

Lucy Atkin-Plasse

Judith

Judith Keller