Alana is currently the Executive Director of Grow Springfield, a non-profit organization that supports community gardening initiatives in Springfield, Illinois. She helped create and currently co-manages the garden programs at Butler Elementary School and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois. Alana established the seed library at Lincoln Library and provides outreach through workshops and events that highlight community, food, and the environment.
She served as a delegate for Slow Food Springfield at the 2016 Slow Gardens Conference, in 2017 at Slow Food Nations, and in 2018 at Terra Madre. Alana is also the Leader of Girl Scouts Troop 6318 in Springfield, IL and the Arty Party Lead at Springfield Art Association.
Deborah retired from the University of Illinois Extension after working 30 years in the areas of small farms, sustainable and organic agriculture, and local food. She is currently the Market Manager for the Old Capitol Farmers Market. Deborah has been involved with several organizations working with food issues including, the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council, Spence Farm Foundation, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Organic Growers Association, and the Illinois Farmers Market Association. She has degrees in horticulture, soil science, secondary education, and environmental studies. Deborah lives in Greenview with her husband, Mark. She enjoys volunteering at the Northside Children’s Community Library and serving as a Big Sister in the BBBS School-Based Mentoring program in Springfield.
Liz RupelMembership Chair
Liz has a passion for community and local food and farm systems. She currently works as the Policy Organizer for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which works on behalf of Illinois local farming community and serves as an advocate in state policymaking. Liz’s mission as an organizer is to engage with regenerative farmers to learn about their hopes, successes, and barriers, in order to find solutions that will keep family farmers as stewards of the land.
She has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on policy and sustainable development from the University of Illinois Springfield. Her hobbies include traveling, outdoor activities, volunteering for Compass for Kids, and experimenting in the kitchen.
Michael HigginsBoard Member
Chef Michael Higgins is the executive chef & owner of Maldaner’s Restaurant. He has been a leader in sourcing menu items locally. Chef Higgins is a long-time gardener who keeps bees & grows herbs, flowers & vegetables on the rooftop at Maldaner’s. A native of the San Francisco area, Chef Higgins has lived in Springfield for over 30 years. His community activities include the board of Green Business Network, MacArthur Boulevard Association, Mayor’s Advisory Council for “Bicycle Friendly City”, Downtown Springfield, Inc., the Old Capitol Farmers Market& Buy Fresh Buy Local. He helped lead the way for city & state-wide smoking bans.
Elizabeth FarrarBoard Member
Elizabeth Farrar is a language teacher by day and a lounge singer by night. She enjoys speaking in tongues (Spanish and French) and traveling when she can. While new to the Slow Food board and movement, she has always been a fan of planting seeds. She enjoys planting her hot pepper garden in the backyard of the Airbnb she manages. Her favorite flowers include Cock’s Comb, Zinnias, and all yellow flowers. She looks forward to composting and learning more about soil. But most of all, she enjoys witnessing the beauty and mystery in nature. To quote her favorite hymn, “In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree, in cocoons a hidden message something God alone can see”. She is mom to dog Lola and cat Orian.
Hannah TomlinBoard Member
Hannah Tomlin grows chemical-free produce on Moon Girl Farm in Pleasant Plains. Located on the centennial Tomlin family farm, the business began in 2017 when Hannah moved back home to start applying the knowledge she gained from internships and the local food systems research she conducted in college. She received a BA in journalism and political science from Illinois State University in 2009, Master’s in global politics and culture from Illinois State University in 2012, and a PhD in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. Her dissertation was titled “Food for Thought: The Role of Land Grant Institutions in Small Farm and Local Food Education.” During graduate school, Hannah also participated in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and completed an internship at Cook Farm in Bloomington, IL shortly before starting her own operation. Moon Girl Farm sells their produce at the Old Capitol Farmers Market every Saturday and provides customers with cold-hardy greens and radishes from their high tunnel during the monthly winter markets. They also work with local chefs, retailers and regional school districts.
Mitch Cave Board Member
Mitch Cave is a fourth generation farmer located in Cass County on farmland purchased by his great-grandfather who located to Cass County from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He is the owner/operator of 4 Lees Farm and proud to be following his life long dream of providing clean, organic meats and produce to Central Illinois. When Mitch is not tending to his pure grass finished cattle, pastured pork, and pastured chicken, you will often find him in the high tunnel tending to his organic produce. Most recently Mitch added industrial hemp to his list of crops to be processed into CBD oil. Mitch is currently on the Old Capitol Farmers Market Advisory Board and also a vendor at the Old Capitol Farmers Market. He is a Buy Fresh Buy Local member and an Illinois Stewardship Alliance member. Mitch lives near Virginia, Illinois with his wife of 30 years and his teenage daughter.
Linda Reid Board Member
Linda is a passionate educator having had the great fortune to teach a wide range of students; from kindergartners through adult learners as a special education, gifted, and classroom teacher, university clinical supervisor, and school district program coordinator. Her love of fresh, delicious food started in her great-grandmother’s kitchen in Queens, NY and continued as she incorporated the joy of eating together into her classroom routines and professional learning workshops. Linda is keenly aware of the impact of regular good, clean, fair food on learning and is committed to empowering children, parents and teachers to garden and cook together. Linda has a Bachelor of Science degree in Specific Learning Disabilities and a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology. She and her husband recently moved to Springfield in 2019 and are thrilled to be part of such a vibrant, caring community.
Mat SmithBoard Member
Geordie Matthew Smith is an anthropologist by degree, an appraiser by career, and a writer by life. His wanderlust is only surpassed by his passion for nature. He prefers to live and work at the beach, with his pit bull, Sativa. His poetry has appeared in Twisted Vine Literary Journal and the National Library of Poetry anthology. “I’m getting older, my body needs some fine-tuning, but I feel young! My personality is split 50/50: independent loner or rampaging socialite…I have a great many faults!”
Originally from SW Florida, Southern Illinois holds a piece of his heart; he has worked with Springfield, IL, non-profits, including Grow Springfield, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the Illinois Environmental Council, inciting for fundamental social and cultural worldview-resets for the survival and success of our species – currently overwhelming (seven billions times over) the balance of life on our one Earth.
“Every man thinks that his burden is the heaviest ….. but who feels it knows it, Lord.” – BOB MARLEY
“Gladly did I live and gladly die and I lay me down with a will.” -ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
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