Who’s Your Farmer?

Meet the staff of the Tucson Village Farm…

Elizabeth "Liz" Sparks

Elizabeth Sparks

Elizabeth “Liz” Sparks has a Masters in Education and a Bachelors in Environmental Science. She is the 4-H Youth Development Assistant Agent of the Farm, which means she gets to hone her multitasking abilities talking on the phone while writing grants, fielding questions from co-workers. She currently runs the 4-H High Ropes Course and High Adventure Program, which she insists is the only way to get her off the phone. Liz has been taking kids on leadership and wilderness adventures with 4-H for over 15 years to exotic places like Alaska, Russia, and Mexico. In her free time…what free time? She is the mother of 2 boys and loves mountain biking and rock climbing. You can email her at esparks@cals.arizona.edu

Leza Carter

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. You can email her at: tucsonvillagefarm@gmail.com

Alex Atkin

Alex Atkin Alex Atkin has lived in Tucson, AZ for 20 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.  To contact Alex, you can email her at atkin@email.arizona.edu.

Thom Plasse

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.

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.

George Stefanakis

George Stefanakis was born in New York City, raised in Athens, Greece, and self-actualized in Tucson. After coming to the heart-breaking realization that winning Magic: The Gathering tournaments was not a sustainable career for him, George worked as a Behavioral Health Technician in a rehab center for six years. Here he developed a passion for helping people, supporting those battling substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. Later, during a very brief volunteer stint with Iskashitaa, he discovered the AmeriCorps. The idea of a committed term of service in the local community planted a seed in his mind. The seed rooted, grew, then bloomed into a year of work at Tucson Village Farm in 2011-2012, many harvests ago, along with fellow members Alex and Thom. Then, a subsequent position sprouted, as an Instructional Specialist. George has been at TVF for ten years ever since, 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. 

Arshiya Razvi

A graduate of the University of Arizona, Arshiya Razvi has spent most of her professional life working in non-profits serving her local community. Born in India, raised in Chicago, she is a nomad at heart and has lived in many places including Tucson during her undergraduate years, on a small farm near Dallas, Texas, in Istabul, Turkey, and in a RV throughout the US. It was her love for Tucson that eventually brought her back here in early 2021 with her husband and 3 kids. Missing the farm life, she joined TVF as a farmer's apprentice in summer of 2021 and the sense of fulfillment and belonging she found here led her to joining the FARMily as the Office Specialist. Besides fruits and veggies, she enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and spending time with her loved ones. 

Jess Luse

Jess Luse came to the farm via a University internship back in 2014. She instantly fell in love with the garden, educating the children, the TVF community, and, OF COURSE, all the delicious farm-fresh food! After her internship, she served two Americoprs terms, worked as an independent contractor, and finally as a volunteer to stay involved in any capacity she could. She is so happy to be back 8 years later as their Community Outreach and Development Coordinator. She’s TVF’s yoga instructor and the one to reach out to if you’re looking to collaborate. She’s passionate about both wellness and community and TVF is her “most favorite” spot in town.

Elsa Jacobson

Elsa Jacobson moved to Tucson from Flagstaff, AZ in 2019, to attend the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in Precision Nutrition and Wellness. During her studies, 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, and she knew that the farm was where she was meant to be. Elsa recently 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! When she’s not at the farm, you can expect to find her either studying or exploring one of Arizona’s incredible landscapes.

Auxiliary Staff

Judith Keller

Judith Keller was TVF's Volunteer Coordinator for three years before heading back to Africa with her family. Judith would have quite the commute from Tanzania back to TVF so despite the distance Judith is continuing as our artist and illustrator. Judith will also be assisting with the coordinating of our 4-H Global Tanzania program which will soon be unveiled.

David Gilmore

David Gilmore is the farm’s web, marketing, photographer, filmmaker, and graphics specialist and has worked with TVF since 2010. David has a background in computer graphics, television, and pubilc radio where he was the 2004 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in journalism. He is originally from California but has lived in New York, San Francisco, Germany, Hawaii, and Kuala Lumpur where he met his husband Chuan. He loves to travel but has kept a homebase in Tucson since 2001. When he’s not cycling or hiding behind a camera, he’s writing his next memoir, singing bass with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and The Helios Ensemble, traveling the world, and playing jazz piano. He likes the purple mustard greens the best. He can be reached at davidgdesigns@gmail.com.

Jordan Ku’uipo Viernes

Jordan Ku’uipo Viernes is currently a senior at the University of Arizona majoring in Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health and a minor in Spanish. Following graduation this Spring, she plans to start her journey towards a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology back at the University of Arizona or in the city of Chicago starting this fall. With this degree, she hopes to work as an infectious disease epidemiologist, in which she will work towards understanding the spread and effects of different viruses in order to mitigate the risk and prevalence of said infectious diseases for the betterment of varying populations. In her free time, Jordan really enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, snowboarding, and trying new things whether it’s food, recipes, activities, and more.

AmeriCorps Members

Michelle Halver

Michelle Halver, an Arizona native, was born in Tucson and earned her bachelor's degree in Family and Human development at Arizona State University. She has lived in two other countries: British Columbia, Canada, and Tanzania, Africa where she served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps as a health educator. Her return to the States brought her to Prescott, AZ, where she became a mom and planted her first garden. And after a two-and-a-half year stint in North Carolina she fell in love with okra. Aside from plants and growing food, she loves traveling, camping, hiking, biking, yoga, art, music and nature. Michelle also values community and her relationship within it. She's enjoyed volunteering at her son's school as a garden guardian, and now with the Greening Group. She discovered Tucson Village Farm after her son attended a summer camp, which they both LOVED. And When asked what her dream job would be, she said HERE at the farm with us!

Sabra Mayer

Sabra Mayer began serving with AmeriCorps at the Tucson Village Farm in 2022 after returning home to Tucson on a break from academics to understand herself better. In her youth she participated in the Pima County 4-H Horse Project, served on the Horse Advisory Board in 2017, and initiated the 4-H Horseless Horse Project. In 2020 she completed a residency at Skyfire Farm in West Virginia habilitating feral and abused ponies to be rehomed with families in partnership with the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue. Sabra studied environmental science at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania from 2018 to 2021, where she was involved with the campus market garden, Meadville Mobile Farmers Market, Students for Environmental Action, Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and Crawford County Cooperative Extension. Sabra focused her attention on vegetables and community in 2021 while living in Ithaca, New York, working at Stick and Stone Farm. Rooted in her being and a naturalist at heart, Sabra deeply appreciates the sun, seasons, elements, and living beings of the earth. Her spirit is painted in brilliant colors, adorned in wild flowers, and often revealed in her spontaneity of dance and song.

Rebecca Berger

Rebeca M. Berger was born in the state of Puebla, Mexico, and came to the city of Tucson at the age of 17. She has a minor in art, and is currently a student at the University of Arizona, where she is majoring in Agronomy. She plans to continue and to focus her studies towards the growth of mushrooms, to help sustain the planet with products made by mycelia. Rebeca likes to hike, run, bike and draw during her free time

Forever in our hearts: Jason Isles

Jason Isles was introduced to the farm at the age of 17 through a field trip at his high school, Edge. He immediately fell in love with the Farm and began volunteering every Tuesday at U-pick. Jason saw the resources and assets available to him that the farm could provide (food, education, fun, and amazing friends) and before he knew it he was hired as AmeriCorps member, which was  his dream job.  On May 14, 2019 Jason unexpectedly passed away and left all of us at the farm heartbroken. Jason dreamed of having goats and a big orchard at the farm, stay tuned...we'll be creating those in his honor in the near future.