Andrea Abel, Executive Director
Andrea joined the Farmshare team in January 2017, but her hands have been in the dirt and her heart in food and agriculture for most of her life. She earned a BA in Spanish Literature from Carleton College in Minnesota, followed by a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where her professional report was titled "The Definition and Regulation of Organic Foods."
Throughout her career, Andrea has focused on creating community sustainability in a variety of nonprofit and government positions: ensuring access to health care, increasing food security, improving environmental and public health in the U.S.-Mexico border region, wildlife conservation, protecting farmworker health.
She received the Betsey K. Cooke Grassroots MVP Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers, served for six years on the Sustainable Food Center board of directors and was appointed by EPA Administrator Carol Browner to the National Advisory Committee on Trade and Environment and by Governor Ann Richards to the Governor’s Commission on Women.
Farmshare unites Andrea’s passions for providing food security by identifying social determinants of health, and using community-driven, collaborative problem-solving involving all levels of government and civil society.
Michelle Akindiya, Education Director
Michelle caught the farming bug in 2005 when she left a theatre career in Chicago for an internship on a farm in Southern Wisconsin. She continued her farmer training with Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) and the Michael Fields Institute, while managing a CSA farm and vineyard outside of Chicago. Since her arrival in Austin in 2009, She has worked with Gabriel Valley Farms and served as Garden Manager at the Monument Cafe since 2011. Michelle loves the endless learning opportunities inherent to farming, and she loves to share her passion for sustainable growing with the community and is excited to nurture a new crop of farmers.
Heather Helman, Food Access Director
Heather fell in love with sustainable agriculture and urban food systems during college, when she spent a summer working on a small organic farm out West. She then went on to farm at various rural and urban farms throughout the country for several years, including in her hometown of Buffalo, New York and in Birmingham, Alabama. She is deeply passionate about improving community food security and food sovereignty. These interests led her to work with both urban food policy as well as the facilitation and maintenance of a large network of community gardens in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY until she moved to Austin in Fall 2018. Heather believes that fresh, healthy food for all communities is a right, not a privilege, and this belief is her driving motivation as the Mobile Market Manager for Farmshare Austin. She is very excited to continue growing her own garden here in Texas, where there is significantly less snow to contend with.
Natalie Hayhurst, Mobile Market Manager
Natalie is a native Austinite with a passion for food and sustainability. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2018, where she was able to foster her interests through academia and a study abroad program focusing on land use issues, especially as related to farming practices. After graduation, she wanted to put her knowledge to use in a hands-on setting. When she found this position with Farmshare, it was the perfect fit, allowing her to work with locally grown produce and share access, information and passion with communities around Austin.
Erin Waters, Assistant Farm Manager
The love of food began her journey here
Of all senses, taste has been most prized
She followed her gut to a ten year career
In kitchens, which were not for her, she realized.
She longed to connect to food in new ways
To learn its source and its seasons
To play in the dirt and spend meaningful days
In a community which works for good reasons.
So from Dallas to Austin she came thus seeking
And through Farmer Starter she have found new meaning;
A great program, she guarantees you will find most intriguing!
If toward sustainability and organic farming you find yourself leaning.
She'll tell you, it's rare, the people are fair
We care and it shows at Farmshare.
Daniela Silva, Mobile Market Coordinator
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Daniela received her bachelor’s from Texas A&M University in Agricultural Leadership & Development with an emphasis in Political Science. She stayed at her alma mater to earn an M.S. in International Agricultural Development. Between degrees, her lifelong interest in the intersection between agricultural sustainability and social justice led her to the Peace Corps, where she served as an Environmental Action and Food Security volunteer. Daniela recently brought home the knowledge and experience necessary to improve food access in her new city with Farmshare Austin.
Carlos Vences, Mobile Market Coordinator
Carlos grew up in Central Texas riding horses, raising chickens, and eating local produce. His appreciation for agriculture came naturally through his family background, an avid interest in rodeos, and love of local food. A graduate of Texas State University with a B.S. in Agriculture Business with an entrepreneurial spirit, Carlos owned and operated a small business for several years but decided to direct his focus on agriculture and achieve his long-time goal of turning his land into a sustainable farm. He joined the Farmshare team to learn more about organic farming practices while spreading access to healthy food across his home of Central Texas.
Diana Humphreys, Bookkeeper
Diana recently moved to Austin, Texas with her husband and 2 young children. She is originally from Italy, and at the age of 7 she moved with her family to Massachusetts. She became involved with her family’s automotive repair business from an early age. After graduating from Lasell College with a Bachelor's degree in Business Management, she managed the family business and knows all the ins and outs of how a small business operates. She comes to us with 20 years of extensive business management and bookkeeping experience.