Meet Our Board Members
Bill Boutang, President
Bill and his wife Sandi grow vegetables and until recently, raised broilers and laying hens in Balsam Township, Aitkin County. He serves as the manager of the Grand Rapids Farmers Market, where he has been a vendor and board VP for several years.
Bill has a varied work background that includes military service, sales, construction, residential design and sled dog training. He was a marathoner and ultra-marathoner. He served on the founding board of the Twin Cities Marathon and acted as VP of the Minnesota Distance Running Association.
Bill has served on the board of the MFMA since 2012. He was deeply involved in bringing SNAP to the Grand Rapids Farmers Market and began to participate in MFMA conferences and activities to learn more about the resources and dynamics related to food access at markets.
Bill’s favorite vegetables are sweet potatoes, onions and garlic.
Sara George - Vice President
Sara George is the manager and a vendor at the Wabasha Farmers Market. She is a fruit and vegetable grower and active community volunteer who has created farm-to-school, farm-to-hospital, and farm-to-restaurant programs in the Wabasha area. Sara volunteers in schools, her congregation, and area non-profit organizations. She also works at the Harbor View Café and has been active in selling locally grown items on their menu.
Sara was elected to the MFMA board in March of 2015. Her interest grew from her work bringing markets in SE Minnesota together. She sees service on the board as an extension of that work and an opportunity to share information and resources with area market managers. She would like to see markets standardize and support each other rather than reinventing the wheel.
Sara’s favorite vegetable is kale.
Karen Wingard, Secretary
Karen has been the director of the Elk River Farmers' Market for the past 3 years and has enjoyed every part of it. She really enjoys the relationships that are made and the connections with the community.
Karen joined the MFMA board of directors in 2016 and was elected Secretary in 2017. She would like to see the MFMA be a “go to” for all markets in the state and be able to provide the information that markets and vendors need to make each market successful. She has served on many other community boards and will use the skills she developed within the other organizations to help the MFMA grow. She wants to help the MFMA to retain and grow in the knowledge they are able to offer to markets and vendors.
Karen’s favorite vegetable would of course be potatoes :)
Ron Branch, Treasurer
Ron is a fruit, vegetable, and cut-flower grower who also serves as the manager of the Alexandria, MN Farmers Market. He has been involved with his market since the late 80’s and has also played a role in the creation of the new local foods online marketplace, LocalHarvestMarket.co
Ron has been involved with the MFMA since its “concept stage” in the late ‘90s and has served in many capacities as a board member and officer. He has first-hand knowledge of the organization’s development and relationships with peers, funders, and members.
Ron finds satisfaction in providing services to Famers Markets, communities and promoting local foods. The community connections and personal/ physical sustenance that people receive from markets are part of a centuries-old tradition. Ron enjoys participating in this lively interconnection within his own market.
Ron’s favorite vegetable is any vegetable that is in season!
Emann Khalil, Co-Treasurer
Emann has served as the Market Manager of the Fridley Farmers’ Market Association in Anoka County since 2015. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture, helping small farmers succeed, and educating the public on the benefits of eating locally grown foods. Having immigrated to the United States from Egypt in 1983, Emann hopes to serve as a voice for the Muslim community in our state, helping to make our local food economy more vibrant and equitable for people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds.
Sandy, along with her husband Lonny and family, run Whitewater Gardens Farm in SE MN. The Dietzs' raise a variety of certified organic produce, specializing in sweet potatoes, carrots, and greenhouse tomatoes all year round. With 22 years’ experience raising produce, the farm sells at the Winona Farmers’ Market and the Rochester Downtown Farmers’ Market, local restaurants in Winona, Rochester, LaCrosse, and the Twin Cities, as well as local co-ops and schools.
Sandy is a past Board member of the MFMA and has served on the board of the Winona Farmers’ Market Association, Winona County EDA Local Foods Subcommittee, LSP steering committee, and the FSA County committee. She sees opportunities for farmers’ markets in the current food trends, along with the younger generation finding value in sustainable farming.
Susan, a resident of Lake City, Minnesota, is currently employed by the University of MN Extension as the South East Regional Coordinator of the SNAP-Education program. She has over 30 years of experience in local foods and agriculture. She has worked as a food co-op produce coordinator, and farmer. In addition to vending at farmers’ markets, she has also managed them, implemented SNAP and Market Bucks programs at several markets throughout Southern Minnesota, and has experience in policy work as it relates to food access issues. Through her work with the MFMA, Susan hopes to continue growing a viable farmers market economy statewide, with a focus on building the capacity and strength of farmers’ markets in Greater Minnesota.
David is the new Market Manager of the St. Paul Farmers Market. Before joining the St. Paul Market, he had been the Market Manager at the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market for 6 years. David had a varied employment history from working as a School Garden Program Manager to a touring musician. He owned an independent record store, and has held a mix of positions in retail management, and events marketing.
New to the MFMA board in 2016, David looks forward to learning about the other directors and helping with current MFMA projects. He is passionate about small, independent farmers and helping them reach their goals. He believes that Farmers Markets across the state represent a town’s gather point, the center of the local community, and can be supported and strengthened through referencing the MFMA and board’s works done on the Markets’ behalf.
David’s favorite vegetable is a carrot.
Emily is the relatively new Executive Director of the Neighborhood Roots organization that runs three farmers’ markets: Kingfield, Fulton, and Nokomis in Minneapolis. A former manager at the Whittier Farmers’ Market, she also now serves on the Farmers’ Markets of Minneapolis Leadership Team. She has a decade of experience in local food service and production, retail, and nonprofits.
Emily thinks there is great potential for farmers’ markets to share knowledge and resources – and likes the increased public interest in food justice - and how that can play out at farmers’ markets.
Brian Naykki, a resident of Babbit, Minnesota, is the Market Manager of the Ely Farmers’ Market in St. Louis County. His journey to the world of farmers’ markets was a long one, fraught with health problems. In 2007 he had part of his right leg amputated due to a MRSA infection and was wheelchair bound until he decided to make some big life changes. In the fall of 2013 he embarked on a plant-based diet in addition to starting a fitness program. In one year Brian was able to walk without a cane for the first time in years, within two years he had lost over 150 pounds.
His difficulties shopping at his local farmers’ market while wheelchair bound inspired him to get more involved, and he started working at the Ely Farmers’ Market in 2015. Since then he has helped to help make the market more accessible to those with mobility issues and has enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for healthy local foods with those in his community. Naykki looks forward to bringing his ideas to the table and connecting farmers’ markets with programs that serve the needs of their communities throughout the state.
Ward Nefstead, Adviser
Ward is the an Associate Professor and Extension Economist at the University of Minnesota, specializing in Agribusiness, Commodity Marketing, and Farm Management.
Ruth White, Adviser
Ruth became an adviser to the MFMA board in 2000, when she began working in the Agriculture Marketing section of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Ruth has observed tremendous growth and development in the MFMA’s ability to serve Minnesota’s farmers' markets over the years.
Ruth completed her term in 2018 as Secretary for the Farmers' Market Coalition.
Ruth’s favorite vegetable is sweet corn….with butter.