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.
Teresa Stauder, Administrative Assistant
Teresa grew up in New Jersey where she worked as a dental assistant for many years. In 2011 she realized she needed a change of scenery, and having lived only on flat land, she decided to move to the mountains. After consulting a map, she picked Yancey County because it’s the highest point East of the Mississippi and permanently relocated to Burnsville.
Teresa fell naturally into food-related work in Burnsville. She has always loved farmers markets, fresh food, and cooking. Growing up, her family had a huge vegetable garden, and she’s continued gardening throughout her life. In 2012 she became the farmers’ market manager for the Yancey County Farmers’ Market, which she saw as an opportunity to pursue her love of food and as a good way to get to know the community.
In spring of 2015, Teresa began working at TRACTOR as well. One of her favorite things about working for TRACTOR has been getting to know the farmers. She particularly appreciates their honesty and practicality, and is inspired by how much they care about what they’re doing. Getting to work alongside these farmers is also important to her because she knows how critical farmers are to sustaining us all.
Asparagus and potatoes are Teresa’s favorite veggies. She loves how asparagus pops out of the ground—how one day it’s absent, and the next day it appears. Since being in Burnsville, she’s also developed a new appreciation for potatoes. She learned to grow them from a neighbor, and loves digging in the dirt to harvest them and the way they seem to multiply as she pulls them out of the ground.
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.