Our Board of Directors
The CAFF Board of Directors is composed of farmers and community leaders with expertise in a wide range of areas, including advocacy, business management, communications, finance, education, fund development, and law. The Board meets monthly and is responsible for taking care of the strategic and financial health of the organization.
Dawnie Andrak, board chair, is co-owner of Local Roots Food Tours, offering culinary diplomacy experiences. She graduated in 2017 with a Master of Arts, in the inaugural class of University of the Pacific’s Food Studies program. Dawnie is also a graduate of our Food Literacy Academy, as well as a graduate of the Center for Land Based Learning’s Farm Academy, a program for beginning farmers. Dawnie also founded and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Capitol WebWorks, LLC, an internet consulting firm specializing in political, governmental, association and nonprofit, and public affairs communications.
“Farmer Al” Courchesne has been a welcome sight at farmers’ markets around the Bay Area for over 30 years. And just like his peaches, Al is homegrown. He planted his first peach orchard in Brentwood in 1976. Thirteen years later, Al began farming organically in large part because of a commitment he wanted to make to the soil, water and community he lived in. Throughout his farming career, Farmer Al has been a vigorous advocate for sustainable land use, conservation, and organic farming practices. Al lives on the farm with his wife Becky, their two daughters Maddie and Millie, and their ever-present dog Noci.
Gowan Batist was born and raised on the Mendocino Coast into an agricultural family. She studied metal fabrication and sustainable agriculture in college, and farmed in Portland, Oregon on a 150-acre farm before returning to Mendocino to manage the Noyo Food Forest, Fort Bragg Unified School District’s farm-to-school program. During her three seasons as manager of the Noyo Food Forest program, she began composting spent grain from North Coast Brewing Company as a hobby. The hobby became a mission and a career, and Fortunate Farm was founded on 40 acres co-owned by North Coast Brewing Company in 2014.
Patricia Miller is a Community Engagement Manager with Edible Schoolyard Project based in Stockton, California. She is a co-founder of the Black Urban Farmers Association (BUFA) of Stockton, former Director of Special Projects for PUENTES and a retired Senior Community Service Officer for the Stockton Police Department. She migrated from San Francisco to Alameda and then Stockton as she was drawn to agriculture in the region and has lived and participated in food systems and economic development work for more than twenty-five years.
Tommy Irvine grew up and resides in Chico, CA. He graduated from California State University, Chico with a B.S. in business administration with an option in accounting in 2003. His career began as a CPA with K-Coe Isom, which is committed to agriculture and an appreciation for community. He also currently serves as the treasurer of Chico Sunrise Rotary and will be on the board for 2014-2016. His career has offered him a wide variety of experience, including both financial statement auditing and income tax services and provided him with the opportunity to work with a variety of family owned businesses.
Michelle moved to Sacramento from Central Appalachia in 2004. Michelle worked in county behavioral health and coordinated media and communications campaigns that sought to improve economic and social conditions for rural communities. Here in California, Michelle’s passion for sustainable food and farming practices inspired her run for the Board of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. She served the member-owned cooperative organization for almost 6 years in various leadership positions including Board President. Michelle has more than two decades of progressive experience as a communicator, with the last 12 years working in planning and implementing public policy communications. She also has a lifelong love of home cooking, entertaining, and local food.
Deirdre Holbrook has worked in land conservation for more than a decade, inspired by her love of the land, farming and food. She worked with leading land trusts pioneering agricultural conservation programs including Marin Agricultural Land Trust, and today with Sonoma Land Trust. Prior to that, she served as a communications consultant for Straus Communications with clients including CAFF, Rodale Institute and U.C. Davis. She earned a B.A. from U.C. Santa Cruz and an M.A. from Northwestern University.
John Bailey is a California licensed attorney based in Salinas, California. In his legal practice he represents small to mid-sized farmers and ranchers, and a variety of agriculture-related businesses. John is also the Executive Director of Top 10 Produce LLC, a brand holding company involved in produce branding, value-added agricultural manufacturing, and licensing of intellectual property.
David Visher has been helping small farmers succeed for 30 years. He is serving his third term as a CAFF Director. Visher built a produce distribution company, farmed 60 acres of specialty crops, and spent nine years with the University of California Cooperative Extension Small Farm Program where he worked directly with farmers and institutions to help small producers in business and marketing. Leaving academia he founded a successful firm that created educational opportunities for farmers and ranchers about business and marketing, strategic planning, and agritourism. Returning to the UC Sustainable Agriculture Program he was a Values Based Supply Chain Analyst for five years. Along the way he has directed seven NGO’s, and since 2002 served as a consultant for the USAID Farmer to Farmer (F2F) program 17 times in 12 countries.
Scott grew up on a family farm in South Dakota. During college, the farm was foreclosed and sold to a large farming group which plowed up acres of native prairie for one large conventional corn field. After moving to California, Scott started a 2.5 acre urban farm in Riverside CA. Today, he serves as the co-chair of the Riverside Food Systems Alliance, board member of the Riverside Food Coop, serves on the Grow Riverside conference planning committee, Sherman Indian High School Agricultural advisory board member, and is serving on the California Farm to School Working Group with the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork and works as Riverside Unified School District Food Hub Coordinator.
Judith Redmond is an emeritus member of the CAFF Board. She spends her days as a farmer at Full Belly Farm in northern California, and as a volunteer for a number of community organizations including CAFF. She is currently involved with organizations like California Climate and Agriculture Network; U.C. Davis Ag Sustainability Institute; and AGree (Transforming Food and Ag Policy). She is a Fire Commissioner with the Capay Valley Volunteer Fire Department and on the steering committee of the Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival hosted by Full Belly Farm.
Rich Collins, emeritus Board Chair, has been involved in vegetable production since the age of 10 when he started a one-acre suburban market garden with his family in Sacramento. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Managerial Economics from UC Davis. Today, he is the original founder and of California Endive Farms (CEF) and owns the Collins Family Farm. Rich is a 2008 recipient of the Award of Distinction from the UCD’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is a member of the San Francisco Professional Food Society as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Slow Food USA.
October 7, 2020: Late last month, we lost a friend, devoted CAFF board member and tireless champion in Sacramento fighting for family farms across the state. Pete Price served as CAFF’s legislative representative from 1998 to 2010 and joined the board in 2000 where he chaired the Policy Committee. Working to reform our food and agricultural system, Pete volunteered countless hours, always guided by an unwavering commitment to fairness, justice and sustainability. Pete was determined to retire from CAFF once and for all this December, but a bicycle accident cut that goal short. His legacy, however, lives on.
Learn more about Pete, his contributions to the world of sustainable ag policy, and how we are honoring his legacy.
In honor of Pete, we at CAFF are announcing the creation of the Pete Price Farm Policy Champions Fund. The Fund will provide resources for farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates to engage in California state policymaking. Interested parties can make a contribution here. In addition, CAFF is creating the Pete Price Farm Policy Champion of the Year award, as part of our annual recognition of food and farming champions across the state at the California Small Farm Conference.