Farmshare Austin Staff

Andrea Abel
Executive Director

Joining the Farmshare team in January, 2017, Andrea has had her hands in the dirt and her heart in food and agriculture for most of her life. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After moving to Austin in the late 1980s, Andrea received a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin where she wrote her professional report on The Definition and Regulation of Organic Foods.

Andrea has focused on creating community sustainability in a variety of nonprofit and government positions, whether through ensuring access to health care, telling a story, increasing food security, improving environmental and public health in the U.S.-Mexico border region, wildlife conservation, or protecting farmworker health.

She is a recipient of 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 brings together Andrea’s ardent passion for achieving food security by tackling social determinants of health and community-driven problem-solving in a fiercely collaborative setting involving all levels government and civil society.

Taylor Cook
Operations Director

After earning my Master’s degrees in Economics and Public Administration from the University of Montana in 2008, I moved to Austin to pursue a career in healthcare policy. Shortly thereafter I began volunteering at farms and farmer’s markets to learn more about local agriculture and support businesses that work to make healthy sustainable food more widely available.

Since returning to Texas (I am originally from Fort Worth) my dual interests in healthcare policy and food have continued to be nurtured in my personal and professional life. Working for the State of Texas I had the opportunity to write grants, develop new programs, manage federal funds, and earn my credentials as Project Management Professional. I also continued to volunteer with local growers, have been an active food blogger and member of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance, and am now completing my graduate certificate in Public Health from the University of North Texas.

My interests and skills have converged in Farmshare Austin and I am happy to work for an organization that takes a comprehensive approach to supporting new farmers through Farmer Starter. I am also excited to help Farmshare Austin play a critical role in making the food system more prosperous and healthful across the community.

Michelle Akindiya
Education Manager

Michelle Akindiya is an enthusiastic addition to the Farmshare team. She caught the farming bug in 2005 when she left a career in theatre in Chicago for an internship on a farm in Southern Wisconsin. She continued her farmer training with CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) and the Michael Fields Institute while managing a CSA farm and vineyard outside Chicago. After moving back to Austin in 2009, she’s worked with Gabriel Valley Farms and has been the Garden Manager at the Monument Cafe since 2011. She loves that farming never fails to provide something new to learn, a new technique to try, and a new challenge to overcome. Most of all she loves to share her passion for sustainable growing with the community and is excited to nurture a new crop of farmers.

Ben Swisher
Farm Manager

I grew up in Austin, Texas, always an outside and hands-on learner. All my uncles have ranches outside Austin and I was lucky enough to spend time on them, as I was growing up. I only got interested in farming after high school and then learned about Farmer Starter, launching my start into the farming world. After the pilot program I worked my way up and have been able to learn more about the need for more fresh produce in Austin.I’m currently the Farm manager for Farmshare Austin.

Carolina Mueller
Food Access Manager

I love food. After graduating with my B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Rutgers University in New Jersey, I worked for the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market, a program run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agency. We ran three Farmers Markets a week in addition to other programs.In  the summer of 2014, I moved to Austin to work for Sustainable Food Center. I enjoyed helping to connect community members, organizations and schools with classes and programs offered by SFC. I started farming in September of 2015 with Urban Roots as an apprentice and then worked at Joe’s Microgreens.  I believe that healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food is a basic human right, and hope that I can be a resource as we work to make our food system more equitable!

Tara Kirmse
Mobile Market Coordinator

Tara grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast and graduated in 2007 from Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Arts.  From there, she moved to NYC where, while working in almost every aspect of the food and beverage industry, she became more and more interested in urban agriculture and local food systems.  In 2013, she moved to Spain to try a hand at agricultural work and teaching English. Upon moving to Austin in late 2015, she started farming as an apprentice at Urban Roots and soon after, started to work at Joe’s Microgreens. She is very interested in the built environment and the movement and integration of peoples in response to social systems, healthy food access being one of the most basic and important of these.

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Farmshare Austin is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. This policy and others are included in our Employee Handbook.