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. 

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, 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 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.

Coverdell Fellow: Angell Kim

Angell Kim is a Korean-American born and raised in Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Latin American Studies. She has had many diverse experiences such as volunteering extensively with Rotary International, working in a medical device consulting company, serving as an education volunteer for the Peace Corps in Colombia, meeting her Colombian husband in Bogotá, working for an NGO that advocates for reproductive health, and now she is currently an MPA, GIS certificate student and Coverdell Fellow at the University of Arizona. She likes to bake, cook, chat with friends, and play sand volleyball.

AmeriCorps Members

Aiden Pierce

Aiden Pierce has been with Tucson village farm as a Healthy Living Ambassador for 2 years now. He is a student at Tucson High School. In his short time at the farm he has learned a lot about not only how to live a healthy lifestyle, but also leadership skills, as well as other important life skills. He is an avid cyclist, and also enjoys hiking, running, and swimming. He is also very passionate about the environment and is looking forward to doing more to combat climate change and creating a safer and more sustainable world in the future.

Danna Lopez

Danna Lopez was born in Riverside, California but grew up in Guamúchil (Sinaloa), Mexico. Danna moved to Tucson, Arizona four years ago from Hermosillo (Sonora), Mexico. While Danna values her Mexican roots and culture, she likes all the opportunities that Tucson has to offer. Danna would love to know more about other cultures and has dreams of traveling to Northern Europe one day.  She is a mother of a 9-year old girl (Ivanna) and a 12-year old boy (Daniel). Although a full-time mother, Danna has the ambition to become a registered dietitian. Danna holds a degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Durango Santander (Hermosillo campus) where she did an internship at the Sonora State Children’s Hospital in The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Danna is currently enrolled in an M.A. program in applied nutrition (dietetics emphasis) at the University of Arizona. Danna wants to work with infant children (preferably in a hospital setting) when she becomes a registered dietitian. Danna is thrilled to have an internship position at the Tucson Village Farm because of the farm's commitment to teaching children in the community about healthy lifestyles. In her free time Danna enjoys being with family, baking, swimming, and exercising.

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!

Queen Jackson

I am Queen Zuriel Jackson and I go by Queen. I was born in Colorado and spent most of my childhood in Moore, Oklahoma. I moved to Tucson during highs chool and joined the Air Force shortly thereafter. I had the unique privilege to be overseas over the course of my enlistment. I enjoy Traveling hiking gardening and working within the community to make a difference in the world. I am so excited to be serving my first AmeriCorps term here in Tucson! 

Mayrose Clark

Maryrose Clark is an AmeriCorps member at Tucson Village Farm. Originally from New York by way of California, she has now made Tucson her home over the past year. She studied Social Science and Graphic Design in college, and has worked in many different fields such as finance and healthcare, but found her true passion in teaching. After working in the education field, she found her niche working in a more holistic manner, incorporating lifelong skills such as gardening and yoga into her teaching. She is passionate about seeing children’s eyes light up when they can see the fruits of their labor come to fruition. This is what brought her to the farm! Maryrose loves being in nature, and being creative and artistic whenever possible. When she isn’t at the farm, Maryrose can be found singing and dancing, hiking, reading, baking, or teaching herself something new in the realm of art. She has a special interest in using plants in unique ways such as in the form of natural dyes or garland making, and will also gladly talk to you about herbs.

Rabiah Zaghloul

Rabiah Zaghloul is an Americorps member and a huge advocate for healthy living. He first visited the farm when he was 14 and fell in love with it. Rabiah graduated high school in 2017, and has been on a mission ever since. He has worked multiple jobs that include ski lift operations, sales jobs, has worked with refugees doing art therapy, as well as security at the Tucson Museum of Art. Rabiah has ventured into landscaping and construction as well. He feels it is time to serve his community and do something he is passionate about. The future for him looks like going to school for  health sciences and starting the path to sucess. 

Dalya Parker

Dalya Parker was born and raised in Tucson, graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences, and is now a graduate student studying Applied Nutrition at the UA. She plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and helping her community take control of its health through food. She believes that farm-to-table is the best way to encourage kids to try new foods and eat a balanced diet and she is so excited to be teaching about the power of fruits and veggies on the farm! Dalya loves cooking, baking, trying new coffee shops, and painting in 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.