Gracie Cavnar believes that you can do anything you put your mind to, and she’s spent a lifetime proving it.
In 1998, following careers in architecture, hospitality and public relations, Gracie retired to write and travel. But, after she learned about the childhood obesity epidemic and its astounding effect on American lives and wallets, she spent years researching best practices around the world and then launched Recipe for Success Foundation in 2005 to change the way children understand, appreciate and eat their food. Her vision of Hope Farms has always been a critical part of the solution – making it easier for all Houstonians to feed their children healthy food. After nearly a decade of fundraising and planning she led the Hope Farms groundbreaking on Earth Day 2016.
“There is nothing more hopeful than planting a seed,” she likes to say. You can find Gracie at the farm nearly every day with her hands in the dirt, leading a farm walk, teaching a cooking or gardening class, or leading the Vet trainees through their business planning classes—planting seeds everywhere she goes.
When she not working, she’s-latin in the gardening kitchen with her 7 grandkids undoing her best to convince them that they love beets as much as she does.
“Give a child a vegetable and you feed them for a day, teach them to grow their own vegetables and you feed them and their community for a lifetime; inspiring agriculturist is the single most powerful investment we can make for our future”
Tyler was born with his fist full of seeds and grew up working on his family’s farm on the edge of Houston. This ever-smiling Army Veteran has his hand in everything because his focus and joy is teaching others to farm—whether fellow veterans or the neighbors kids. He runs the whole show from raising crops to teaching others to farm, and particularly loves taking care of our chickens. Being the East Texas boy that he is, Tyler’s favorite food is okra.
Deputy Director, Recipe for Success
“By illuminating the path of food from farm to table, I believe Hope Farms helps build a more deeply rooted connection to our environment and a foundation of sustainable living for future generations.”
Mary loves events—planning, organizing, giving. So in addition to managing our office and administration, and assisting the CEO, she orchestrates our Chefs in the Field events –whether they are the popular multi-course Suppers held every spring and fall, or the laid back new Summer Series. Mary also coordinates rental of Hope Farms, so if you are planning a bucolic special event, she’s your gal, especially if you include her favorite broccoli on the menu.
Director of Education
“We are fortunate to literally plant seeds of healthy living. As we educate people on the importance of nutrition and healthy foods we get to promote and help sustain long, happy lives.”
It may look like we are just having fun learning about our food, but as a Master Educator and former school principal, Jen makes sure that underlying all the frivolity, our content is serious, and its impact is meaningful. She oversees the curriculum development for all our Seed-to-Plate classes and the Farmer Training Program. Does your school want a field trip? Jen will make sure your kids have fun, but also come away with a lasting understanding of healthy food and love Sweet Potatoes as much as she does.
Veteran Program Advisor
“Veterans are as diverse as our country, with different aspirations and needs for support. One common thread, though, is the need to have a purpose and a tribe. Hope Farms is providing our former warriors the opportunity for not just a new career, but a new community and new purpose.”
Carl is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and an 11-year veteran of the Navy. Since leaving the Navy he has served the Houston Veteran community in several ways, including as Founder and Director of Expedition Balance, as a founding Board Member of Combined Arms, and as Director of Veterans Affairs for Houston Mayors Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner. He can’t get enough fresh tomatoes and loves the culinary diversity of cauliflower.
“We live in an age where people are disconnected from each other and from nature in fundamental ways. Food, our relationship with it and the earth is comes from are, in my opinion, the best starting point to address this disconnect.”
Our always smiling and observant former Assistant Farm Manager, is now back at the farm as a top hand–lending his special expertise part time, while in his day job he helps keep Arte Publico Publishing group on track at the University of Houston.
A bit of a philosopher who studied religion in college and Mandarin in China, Jamie is a man of surprises. For instance, his last name is not Italian like many people assume, but comes from the Basque region in northern Spain and means “gateway to the forest”.
He is especially excited that we are going to begin growing asparagus-his favorite veg!