2016-17 Project Team

13580478_10208742978866040_5693339120169549297_oJames Collins

Project Leader

Major: B.S. Environmental Science (Geography) and B.A. Government

About me: I enjoy using my knowledge and experience to help others. I’m passionate about instilling sustainability and environmental stewardship in public policy and local communities. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading feminist poetry, listening to KUT and KUTX, eating Kerbey Lane pancakes, and hiking across the Texas Hill Country.

Favorite thing about growing food: Fresh food tastes great, no doubt about it! It’s rewarding to work with the farm (both the land and the people) and see our labor come to fruition. Plus the experience will help me write the “food production” manual for my doomsday bunker in the basement of Welch Hall.

Why UT needs a farm: In just about any part of the world outside the US, food is an essential part of culture and tradition. The UT Microfarm demonstrates that food isn’t just a commodity — it’s an integral part of our lives.

Spirit Plant: Bermuda Grass. I’m going to be everywhere, and there’s no easy way to get rid of me.

Michael Mottimage1

Project Leader

Major: Integrated Master in Professional Accounting and B.A. Philosophy

About me: I enjoy reading and watching movies on rainy days, exploring nature and the city, and playing games including video games, board games, or trivia. I enjoy learning random information about everything and anything. I also enjoy drinking way too much coffee and absorbing whatever food is put out in front of me.

Favorite thing about growing food: The magic involved. When you drop all the science and reasons behind why a plant grows, there is something magical from creating food from nothing. The experience you get form nurturing this tiny magical giver of food is indescribable. Simply it’s just magical.

Why UT needs a farm: College life is stressful. Being able to take a few hours to be one with nature, especially when we spend most of our day to day life’s in a busy urban center, is calming. Getting my hands dirty and growing food allows students to destress and gives them fresh healthy produce is a social experience. Farming and gardening on campus allows for the improvement of an individual’s mental, physical, and social health.

Spirit Plant: Potato, it can be used in numerous ways to create something beautiful and delicious.


Austin Downey

Project Member

Major: History and Women and Gender Studies

About me: I’m a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, passionate about nutrition and sustainable farming. Hobbies include running, cooking, and Netflix binging. This is my first year working at the Microfarm and I could not be more excited about it!

Favorite thing about growing food: I love the connection I feel to my food and my community.

Why UT needs a farm: The Microfarm is a wonderful way to educate students on the importance and beauty of sustainable farming, as well as to foster community engagement.

Spirit Plant: Sweet potato — a little sweet, a little mushy, and burnt orange through and through.


Hagen Fritzbio-pic-hagen

Project Member

Major: Environmental Engineering

About me: I am a first year Masters student in the environmental and water resources engineering department here at UT. I am interested in air quality and climate change and the individual actions each one of us can take to reduce our contribution to both. When I am not studying, I enjoy playing piano, reading up on topics I find interesting, playing ultimate frisbee, and biking. I hope by working and helping on UT’s microfarm, I can learn more about gardening on a small scale and develop a small garden of my own in the future!

Favorite thing about growing food: Seeing the plant push through the soil. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when something I plant takes root and actually grows into something that can be enjoyed by me or others.

Why UT needs a farm: Help students learn more about growing food and where the food comes from. We take for granted the immense amount of food found at the grocery store. Even just knowing a little bit more about when the fruit/vegetable is in season or how it looks before cultivating can make you appreciate the food more.

Spirit Plant: Sweet Potato. I tend to be a more quiet individual and like to keep to myself. When you get to know me though and get me out of the ‘ground’, I have a vibrant color. I try to be kind (or ‘sweet’) to every individual I meet, and it takes quite a bit for me to get angry with others.


Joy Youwakim

Project Member

Major: Economics

About me: Hi! I’m an economics major and a math minor. I conduct research in sustainable agriculture, and I like to make documentary films and take pictures. I love sustainability! In my free time, you can find me playing soccer at Clark or at an art market somewhere. I also enjoy long bike rides to farmer’s markets and cooking delicious things.

Favorite thing about growing food: Food is something that always breaks a language barrier. It’s is powerful in that everyone needs food on a basic level, but we can also really speak to people’s hearts with it. I also like observing current growth patterns in order to make recommendations for the future of growing food. I strive to work for the end of global hunger and poverty.

Why UT needs a farm: I find working with soil spiritual and therapeutic. I think it’s important for students to have that outlet. Also, in an era in which we can walk through life not knowing where our food comes from or who grew it and how, it’s important to be well-versed on the fundamentals of food production.

Spirit Plant: Purslane!