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Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee Members

The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee is composed of 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Original selected members were appointed to one, two, and three-year terms with the possibility of being reappointed for one additional term. Newly appointed members will serve a standard three-year term.

A garden with different colored panels in the background
Current Members

The inaugural Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture are:

Angie Mason

Angie Mason
Executive Director/Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
Chairperson, Related Experience Representative

Mason is an internationally recognized leader in sustainable urban agriculture who previously created 15 urban farms sites across Chicago, Illinois where she served as the former Associate VP of Community Engagement and Senior Director of Windy City Harvest (Chicago Botanic Garden) for 19 years. She oversaw all facets of engagement with the community and directed the operations of a largely successful urban agriculture education and job training program with 200 participants and a $3.8M budget.

Mason has extensive knowledge in providing education that offers farmer development workforce training opportunities, paid jobs, and fresh food access in low-income communities. She also has experience operating a 50,000-gallon aquaponics system which grows and packs Veggie Rx packages distributed to patients at risk for diet related diseases, offers certificate courses and workshops in sustainable urban agriculture and aquaponics, and hosts an indoor year-round market offering fresh affordable food grown by program graduates.

Qiana Mickie, Executive Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture

Qiana Mickie
Executive Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture
Member, Related Experience
New York

Qiana Mickie is New York City’s inaugural Executive Director of the Office of Urban Agriculture. Under Qiana’s leadership, the office aims to advance urban agriculture and equity to actively address climate, health, and food disparities in the city’s natural and built environment.

By collaborating with interagency leaders as well as the breadth of urban agriculture stakeholders, Qiana has developed innovative initiatives to foster healthy, culturally relevant food production, educational trainings, and economic development opportunities for farmers and producers in the city. In the first year of her tenure, Qiana has developed initiatives such as reimagining Farm to School in NYC, building a M\WBE pipeline for small and socially disadvantaged businesses, and bolstering land security of community gardeners. She recently released NYC's first urban agriculture report and action plan.

For over 12 years, Qiana has also worked on local, state, federal, and international policy on issues such as food sovereignty, land stewardship, and health. Qiana is the former Executive Director of Just Food and Founding Principal of QJM Multiprise. Qiana began her career as a community advocate in New York City and serves on local, state, and international boards.

Ted Fang, Founder, Florence Fang Community Farm

Ted Fang
Founder, Florence Fang Community Farm
Member, Urban Producer
San Francisco, CA

Ted Fang is founder of the Florence Fang Community Farm, the largest community farm in San Francisco, and the City’s only USDA-registered farm. Mr. Fang is also President of the San Francisco Farm Bureau and an elected representative for San Francisco on the USDA Farm Service Agency Urban County for the Bay Area.

Mr. Fang is also the first Asian American to serve as editor & publisher of a major daily newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner. He is a founding member of the California Free Press Association, the Asian American Journalists Association and New American Media. He was a member of the Executive Committee for the California Newspaper Association.

Mr. Fang’s community and philanthropic activities include co-founding the Hep B Free campaign and helping to develop the first ever U.S. National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. Mr. Fang is an alumnus of UC Berkeley and Peking University.

Jerry Ann Hebron

Jerry Ann Hebron
Executive Director, Oakland Avenue Urban Farm
Member, Urban Producer

Hebron is an active member of the Detroit Urban Agriculture community, a city considered to be the national leader in urban agriculture. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, a workforce development project of North End Christian Community Development Corporation (501c3). The farm specializes in growing healthy food, hosting educational programs, generating jobs, and creating cultural gathering spaces in Detroit’s North End.

One of Hebron’s many accomplishments throughout her successful career includes working to pass Detroit's Urban Agriculture Ordinance.

Kaben Smallwood

Kaben Smallwood
President/CEO, Symbiotic Aquaponic
Member, Innovative Producer

Smallwood serves as the President and CEO of Symbiotic Aquaponic, a commercial and residential sustainable aquaponic systems company that he started with a loan from the Choctaw Nation and has expanded into 14 states. The company specializes in repurposing warehouses for aquaponic facilities in a cost-effective way. Smallwood brings extensive knowledge on how to bring affordable, innovative technology into communities plagued by food insecurity and historically underserved communities.

Viraj Puri

Viraj Puri
CEO/Co-Founder, Gotham Greens
Member, Innovative Producer
New York

As CEO and Co-Founder of Gotham Greens, Puri operates one of the world’s largest and most commercially successful indoor farming companies including eight hydroponic greenhouse facilities in the U.S. growing local produce year-round. The company practices climate smart agriculture using 100% renewable energy, no pesticides, 95% less water than traditional agriculture, as well as green buildings.

Puri brings extensive knowledge of innovative production and addresses food insecurity by establishing food donation partnerships with food pantries and community mobile markets to ensure the neighborhoods surrounding the greenhouses have access to fresh, healthy foods. He has also cultivated key partnerships with workforce development programs and educational institutions.

Jeff Young, Director for Urban Extension, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension

Jeff Young
Director for Urban Extension, University of Kentucky – Cooperative Extension
Member, Higher Education

Young brings over 33 years of experience with the University of Kentucky Extension and higher education, serving in many diverse administrative roles. He was appointed Kentucky Director for Urban Extension in 2019. He also serves as the National Urban Extension Leaders steering committee and Co-Chair of the Extension Committee on Programming (ECOP), Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Program Action Team.

One of his latest projects involves a community development initiative in Louisville, KY, bringing together the many agribusiness facets within a large urban community. This initiative, the Kentuckiana Agribusiness Leadership Academy (KALA), focuses on relationships, networking, and engagement of cohort members to better serve the local community.

John Erwin

John Erwin
Professor/Chair, University of Maryland – Department of Plant Science
Member, Higher Education

Erwin’s research and teaching activities focus on controlled environment agriculture, urban agriculture, community strategies to mitigate climate change utilizing plantings and street trees, organic methods of pest and disease control, and emerging methods of crop production. He is currently working on a community-industry-university-government local food production partnership in Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. where vegetables and fish cultivated by youth from surrounding underrepresented communities are sold to local farmers markets, restaurants, and schools.

Erwin brings extensive knowledge of innovative production and experience translating academic research on urban agriculture and innovative production into real world applications.

Allison Paap

Allison Paap
Vice-President-Lending Manager, American AgCredit
Member, Financing Entity Representative

Paap has 20+ years of experience in the Farm Credit System and has been an Ag Loan Officer to urban clients for over 10 years. She currently manages $65M in loans for Southern California farmers and ranchers and oversees a team of agriculture lenders based throughout multiple counties. In this capacity, she has researched business models for farmers in highly urbanized areas, including indoor production, community, and cooperative farming.

Paap’s additional accomplishments include serving as a Director on the Board for the San Diego County Farm Bureau and Riverside Food System Alliance, as well as serving on the Urban Ag Workgroup for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. She has also presented at the California Small Farms conference.

Rev. Dr. Carl Wallace

Rev. Dr. Carl P. Wallace
Chief Operating Officer, Abundant Life Farm
Member, Non-profit Representative

Wallace serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Abundant Life Farm; a non-profit, historically underserved urban, climate smart, innovative and conservation practicing farm. It relies on volunteers from partner churches, local boy scout troops and refugee communities to provide healthy foods for community members and learning opportunities for local students. Abundant Life Farm operates the largest approved NRCS Seasonal High Tunnel. His former church was the first recipient of a NRCS Seasonal High Tunnel in Summit County (Ohio), for which then-Congresswoman Marcia Fudge was instrumental in creating.

Zachari Curtis

Zachari Curtis
Law Student
Member, Supply Chain Expert
Washington, D.C.

Since 2018, Curtis served as the Operations Director at Dreaming Out Loud, Inc., a non-profit social enterprise using food systems to build community and economic opportunities within marginalized communities. Her expertise includes logistics and distribution for building an equitable food system. Curtis transitioned the organization’s food distribution infrastructure from being a simple farmer's market into a vertically integrated food aggregator for regional farmers. She also expanded to include wholesale food distribution and a direct-to-consumer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program supporting 1,200 families per week.

Curtis has experience building accessible and scalable supply chains, creating cooperative networks between urban farms, and connecting urban producers with the full range of distribution channels: direct-to-consumer CSAs, farmers markets, food aggregators/hubs, wholesale distribution, and institutional procurement partnerships. Curtis is a JD Candidate entering law school in the fall of 2023 where she hopes to further her studies in agricultural and labor law.

Kate Greenberg, Commissioner of Agriculture, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Kate Greenberg
Commissioner of Agriculture, Colorado Department of Agriculture
Member, Business and Economic Development Representative

Kate Greenberg was appointed to serve as Colorado’s first female Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Jared Polis in December 2018. As Commissioner, Greenberg provides leadership and direction to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. She has served as president of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association and the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and as a board member of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Prior to her role as Commissioner, Greenberg advocated for federal farm policy with the National Young Farmers Coalition out of Durango, CO, worked to restore Mexico’s Colorado River Delta, and farmed on various operations across the West.

How to Become a Member

Solicitation for new membership nominations typically occurs on an annual basis and may include one or multiple open positions. USDA will publish nomination/application information via the Federal Register. USDA will also make additional announcements via official news and press releases.

Sign-up at to receive email notifications once there are vacancies on the Committee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee?

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create this committee to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices as well as identify any barriers to urban agriculture.

What do Federal advisory committee members do?

Federal advisory committee members have both the expertise and professional skills that parallel the program responsibilities of their sponsoring agencies. Typical responsibilities of advisory committee members include but are not limited to the following:

  • Serve voluntarily without composition and solely an advisory role;
  • Attend and participate in committee meetings;
  • Represent the constituent industry or interest group, as appointed;
  • Abide by the committee charter;
  • Provide advice that is relevant, objective, and open to the public;
  • Act promptly to comply work; and
  • Comply with all FACA requirements and ethical guidelines.

What is the nomination process?

The USDA announces when Federal advisory committees have open nominations in several ways including the Federal Register and official press releases. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified individuals for membership, including self-nominations. The process of nomination typically includes the submission of an AD-755 (PDF, 2.9 MB) background information form, resume, and other supplementary documents or publications. Once all documentation is received, USDA will review applications for completion and evaluate the qualifications of each nominee. The best qualified individual(s) will be recommended for appointment for which the Secretary of Agriculture will make a final selection.

What is the term limit and time commitment?

Members are appointed for a 3-year term. The Committee holds no fewer than three public meetings per year. In addition to public/open meetings there are several closed meetings scheduled on a recurring basis for administrative and preparatory purposes.

What is the criteria and qualifications to become a member?

Nominees must be able to pass a background check. Qualifications are based on experience and are unique for each open position.

Can I still apply if I’m a current member of a different committee?

Voting members may only serve on one USDA Federal advisory committee at a time.

Will I be compensated?

Federal advisory committee members serve without compensation. While engaged in the performance of their duties away from their home or regular place of business, Committee members may be allowed reimbursement for travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, authorized by 5 U.S.C. §5703, in the same manner as a person employed intermittently in the Government service.

Why is this important?

The Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee is one of several ways that USDA is extending support and building frameworks to support urban agriculture, including issues of equity, climate resilience and nutrition access.

What if I have a different question?

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