Leading Our Grass-Roots Movement

Our initial success has a lot to do with the gardens founders and advisory board, which includes members of the Springfield community, Grant Beach residents, a licensed nutritionist, and experts in community development and gardening. Learn more about the Springfield Community Gardens' founders, advisory board, and staff below.

Click here to download our current strategic plan.

Click here to download our 2016 Tax Return.

Board of Directors

M. Aaron Little, CPA

Aaron serves as Board President. He is a CPA and managing director with nearly 20 years of experience with BKD, LLP. Nationally recognized for his expertise in health care revenue cycle and compliance, he provides consulting services to home care and hospice organizations, oversees the operations of BKD Health Care Revenue Cycle Services, and is a frequent speaker at national, state and regional industry events.

Aaron’s professional affiliations include the Home Care & Hospice Financial Managers Association, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. Native of the Springfield area, he is a member of Class 30 of Leadership Springfield and he was selected by the Springfield Business Journal as a member of its 2015 class of “40 Under 40.”

Heather Parker

SCG board Vice President is Heather Parker. Heather is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department. She serves on the SCG Board and the Advisory Board for Friends of the Garden (Springfield Botanical Center).

Her background includes work experience as a water lab technician for City Utilities; park ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers; field biologist for an international consulting company, the National Park Service, and the Missouri State University-U.S. Army Floristic Inventory Grant; environmental inspector for the City of Springfield; and management of a local family farm. Heather is committed to the betterment and overall health of our Springfield communities.

Christina Fugitt-Griffiths

Christina, SCG's secretary/treasurer, has been a high school French and Spanish teacher, an export manager, a translator, a sales representative, and founder of Tonnellerie du Monde owned by Independent Stave Co in Lebanon, MO. Serving on the SCG Board is important to Christina because it is a grassroots effort making real and tangible improvements to our community through our growing gardens.

Today, she and her English husband, Bill Griffiths, are former owners of Farmers Gastropub, which is a cause—not just a restaurant and pub. Its cause is to promote the value of growing food locally, cooking real food from scratch, and buying local food thus taking care of our local economy, our health, and our planet in the process.

Ashley Fears, MCP

Ashley serves on the SCG executive board as Secretary. Ashley is the Market Development Specialist for the City of Springfield Sustainability Division of Environmental Services. She serves on the SCG Board, as well as the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council Executive Committee and is a former Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition board member. After graduating from Drury University with a B.S. in Environmental Science, Ashley studied the displacement of populations and environmental remediation post-disaster to earn her Masters in City Planning. Working towards community sustainability through a collaborative planning approach, Ashley is interested in food systems and their role in community building and wellness.

Anita Kuhns

Anita Kuhns serves on the executive board. She has served as the President of the Grant Beach Neighborhood Association for two years after having been Vice President for many years. Anita is the committee woman for the 27th ward in the Green County Democratic Central committee, and sits on the NAC, Neighborhood Advisory Council, for the city of Springfield. She is also a contributing editor for the Springfield Neighborhood Community Newsletter. She grew up on a Missouri farm and attended MSU. She has lived in the Grant Beach neighborhood for over 23 years and is passionate about community building.

SCG Staff

Maile Auterson - Executive Director

Maile, as co-founder of SCG and six years as president, is a fourth generation Ozarks farmer who studied Planning and Community Development at Missouri State University and Liberal Arts at the University of Oklahoma.

Maile uses Asset Based Community Development to facilitate grassroots resilience and collaboration around healthy food access. Her volunteer efforts have resulted in the orchestrated growth of over 20 gardens since 2010 and—in partnership with Ozarks Food Harvest—the delivery of over 170,476 pounds of fresh produce to food-insecure neighborhoods in 2016 alone.

Emilee Blansit - Market Garden Manager

Emilee is our Market Garden Manager and inspiration to all she meets. She has served as our Americorps Vista Volunteer Coordinator and has been a vital member of our team for more than 2 years. Emilee an Ozarks native and has extensive experience in urban farming through experiences such as an apprenticeship at Urban Roots Farm. Emilee advocates for urban agriculture and teaches adults and children how to grow their own healthy food. She has led by example by working beside community volunteers and is now helping build out our farmer apprentice program. Emilee is also our resident artist and has attended the Kansas City Art Institute.

Brad Kiker - Operations

Brad volunteered for six years with SCG before becoming our AmeriCorps Operations VISTA. He is also a U.S. Army Reservist and works part time in logistics with UPS. Brad holds two Bachelor's degrees from Southwest Baptist University - one in Psychology and one in Religious Studies.

Rachael West - Food Hub Manager

Rachael West oversees our food hub, is the community kitchen manager and an expert in foraging and wild edibles. She has a passion for connecting our community with locally grown food and loves coming up with new and inventive ways to use foods and local flavors. This has lead to forming lasting relationships with restaurants and chefs in the community. She leads classes and workshops to empower others with sustainable harvesting methods, plant identification, recipe development and the use of food as medicine. Rachael also runs a free educational Facebook Page: Once Upon a Weed, where she shares her knowledge and recipes on wild edibles. She has worked with the Missouri Master Gardeners, Springfield Herb Society, Bass Pro’s Wonders of Wildlife School, and more.