Robin Smith, Director
Robin came to TRACTOR in part through her work with environmental groups. After graduating with a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, she worked for many years with various environmental agencies including the EPA, NC DENR, the Research Triangle Institute, and private consulting agencies. Working with all those groups involved careful navigating between bureaucracy, standards, and people, not unlike the work she does at TRACTOR, acquainting farmers with grocery store standards and connecting them with buyers.
Agriculture has also always been close to Robin’s heart—she grew up in a dairy farming community, and has been farming herself for nearly a decade, starting a few years after she moved to Western NC. Before becoming director of TRACTOR, she was a member of the Yancey County Agricultural Advisory Council Educational Committee and a Yancey County Farmer’s Market board member. She also received the Sustainable Agriculture Outstanding Achievement Award in 2011 for her farm, Bee Log Farm and Nursery.
Robin became director of TRACTOR when it was founded in 2012. The most gratifying thing for her about working with TRACTOR has been getting to know TRACTOR’s growers because she believes they truly embody resilience. She says: “I’ve got a lot of respect for the farmers and how hard they work.” Over the years, she has worked with all kinds of people, but she says that over all of them she’d “take a farmer any day.”
Her favorite fruits/veggies are heirloom tomatoes because she likes the idea that when she grows them and saves the seeds, she’s preserving the genetic diversity and culture embedded in that seed base. She also likes peppers because of the diversity in their shapes, colors, sizes. She enjoys creating her own spices out of the peppers she grows, which she says taste very different from those she purchases.
Becca Pope, Sales Manager
Bio coming soon.
Jim Edwards, Warehouse Manager and Delivery Driver
Jim grew up on a farm in Yancey County. After getting a BA in business from Mars Hill, he returned to Yancey County. He now works as both a farmer and the Warehouse Manager/Delivery Driver for TRACTOR. Like many farmers in the area, he is a former tobacco grower who now grows produce including peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, corn, and beans.
Michael Graf, Operations Manager
Michael is a recent transplant to Western North Carolina and is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. He became increasingly interested in local food systems through his experiences and satisfaction with gardening, visiting farmer’s markets, and during his graduate coursework at Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice. After completing his coursework at Lipscomb, he decided that he wanted to learn more about agriculture from a hands-on perspective and to travel to new places travel. He left the Tennessee Division of Water Resources, where he worked for five years, went out west, and worked a full season as an apprentice vegetable grower on a farm near Seattle, Washington. After that, he had the opportunity to volunteer on an ecological farm in Costa Rica and to spend time hiking through several unique agrarian regions of Spain. Through all of those experiences, he gained a much deeper appreciation for all of the hard work that small farmers do to support their communities and for the unmatched quality and freshness of their products.
Michael joined TRACTOR in September of 2017. What drew Michael to TRACTOR was the work that TRACTOR does to help local farmers connect to markets, and build healthier communities through connections to local food. His favorite fruits and vegetables are the ones that he either watched grow or knows who grew them.
Norma Chrishawn, Administrative Assistant/Bookeeper
Bio coming soon.
Jo Ann Buchanan, Quickbooks Consultant
Jo Ann connected with TRACTOR in early 2013 through Mayland Community College Small Business Center where she’d been doing Quickbooks accounting consulting. She enjoys working for TRACTOR both because she loves working with the rest of the staff, and because she thinks that TRACTOR is a wonderful idea that fits the needs of the community. As a consumer she likes having local produce, and she appreciates the services TRACTOR provides to farmers to help keep local farms alive. Her favorite fruit/veggie is the tomato because it’s such an all-purpose food.