Plant It Forward

Our Staff

Liz Vallette


Liz joined the Plant It Forward team in January 2017, after admiring the organization for years. She is a native Houstonian with more than ten years’ experience in nonprofit organizational management. Her experiences working in several countries affected by the migration crisis led her to seek out sustainable economic solutions to support refugee resettlement and assimilation here in the U.S. Liz is an army veteran who studied industrial engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and business at the University of Houston. She dabbles in edible container gardening, cheers for the Houston Dash, and is learning French.

Daniella Lewis

Operations Manager 

Daniella has a professional architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin and worked several years in that field before joining the Plant It Forward staff in January 2016. While a student at UT, Daniella had the great experience of leading the efforts to establish the first community garden and micro farm on the UT campus, both student-run projects. Daniella caught the farming-gardening bug while living in Austin and volunteering at local farms, owing special thanks to Green Gate Farms where she volunteered frequently over the course of 4 years and learned much about organic food production. At Plant It Forward Daniella manages the Farm Stand initiative, and also handles office administrative tasks, marketing, volunteers, research, and whatever else needs to be done!

Rachel Folkerts

Farm Manager 

As Farm Manager, Rachel runs Plant It Forward’s Demonstration Farm and serves as a technical advisor to Plant It Forward’s farmers. She loves experimenting with new growing techniques and is always learning something new! When she isn’t farming at the demonstration site, Rachel can often be found around town, visiting each of Plant It Forward’s farm sites to trouble-shoot and exchange best-practices with our farmers. Prior to joining Plant It Forward’s team, Rachel worked in the Environmental Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis. She got her start in agriculture in West Africa, where she served for two years as a Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent with the US Peace Corps.

Mustafa Abdulqader

Farm Hub Coordinator

Mustafa is responsible for the quality assurance / quality control of Plant It Forward’s retail produce, managing warehouse and farm equipment operations, and business development. When he’s not problem solving and streamlining processes, he’s probably doing something like orchestrating high water rescues and making his community a better place. Mustafa is originally from Baghdad, Iraq, and spent his teenage years in Damascus, Syria, before settling with his family in Houston.

Joe Novak

Agriculture Consultant

Joe Novak is a life-long gardener. He has a Ph.D. in Vegetable Crops from Cornell University and has taught courses in garden science at LSU and Texas A&M. Novak holds expertise in organic farming practices and operations as well as in the field of Sociohorticulture. Novak is a consultant in special garden programs, advises some unique community garden programs in the Houston area and teaches a course in urban agriculture at Rice University.


Cathy Stewart

Advisory Council Chair (Volunteer)

Cathy has been paying attention to food and food production since she started travelling and living in places like Brazil, Europe and India.  Her role with the Farm is to build vibrant and productive relationships with the Farmers and the community.   Besides loving to eat, drink and cook, she geeks out over grocery stores, kitchens, farms and factories.  She also has a full-time job as an IT professional.