Who We Are

Build It Up is an all volunteer run organization.  We operate through a Program Leadership Team, which practices consensus based decision making.  Our Program Leaders are an awesome bunch of people who share a passion for local food, gardening, and community service.  Check us out:


Sheri Cooper

I am “me” and I care about “we.”




Taylor Malone

Taylor Malone was born in Memphis, lived the majority of his life in Nashville, and now calls Johnson City home. You might say the Appalachian Mountains, music, and culture have captured his heart. An undergrad at ETSU in the Philosophy, Religion, and Digital Media departments, and leader in the East Tennessee Dharma Community, Philosophy Club, International Student Association, and Debate Team, Taylor will be graduating in the spring of 2014. He is very excited to have that energy freed up to foment a food revolution in Johnson City. A forest frolicker his whole life, he hopes to bring a little of the wild into well-kept lawns in the creation of community edible parks throughout the city. Having cultivated gardens and worked on a farm full-time, he’s also very interested in urban farming initiatives – in particular the creation of a community greenhouse in the downtown area. With the belief that philosophy begins in wonder, and that few are filled with wonder like children, Taylor especially hopes to engage the youth in the glories of getting one’s hands in the humus.



Lexy Close

My name is Lexy Close and I love to grow food, eat it, and share it with my community.  I studied International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, MA.  After graduation, I spent time working in Tanzania and then took seven months to WWOOF around Italy, the UK, and Belgium.  I returned home to Johnson City in 2010 and have found enough fun things to keep me occupied that I never quite made it to leaving again.  When I’m not at my job as Local Food Promotion Coordinator for the Appalachian RC&D Council, you can find me working on BIU projects or at home out in the garden or making something weird and tasty in my kitchen.  If you still can’t find me, I’m probably up in the mountains looking for mushrooms!  




Heidi Davis

Heidi Davis was born in Germany (long story). Her home town is Erwin, TN. She has a degree in Human Development and Learning with a focus on Early Childhood Development. Heidi’s research areas are how social programs affect learning in public schools, the effects of poverty in education, the effects of long-term, systemic poverty on populations, and she has recently added the War on Poverty in Appalachia and Appalachian history and culture.

Currently she serves as the liaison for the Petersburg Project at the College of William and Mary. Heidi works with several nonprofits, the local churches, different colleges on our campus, William and Mary students, people at Richard Bland and people at Virginia State University and somehow gets all of them on the same page to work on capacity building projects in Petersburg to address the various community needs. She is grateful to have a job that stretches her so much. Back home she worked in a similar way with several local agencies.




Lyn Govette

For more about Lyn, visit her site: http://www.lyngovette.com/#!about/c240r




Camille Cody

Born and raised in Asheville, NC, but a recent transplant to East Tennessee, Camille Cody manages Serenity Knoll Farm and wants to help support and strengthen the local food system in this region. With a background in agriculture, nutrition, and sustainable development, she has traveled and farmed in multiple states and Liberia (West Africa). She was managing a farmers market in Central Texas when the call to return home to the mountains persuaded her to move. She loves to cook, ferment things, and work outside.




Shae Keane

i write and i plant seeds for the dream of a more beautiful world harbored in the seeds of the land and in the seeds of our human soul– Join us, let’s grow a world we believe in.

He held a seed.

Between his two tiny fingers,

he held a seed.

And when he held a seed,

I saw every child in the world

holding a seed,

between their two tiny fingers,

holding a seed

that would grow to feed

and nourish

and inspire them

to Love this Earth

no matter how ugly

they see her being treated,

they see her being polluted,

they see her being hurt—

A tiny seed

between their two tiny fingers

harboring a big enough dream

to keep theirs alive.











Anna McKay

Anna is a recent resident of Johnson City. She has done her fair share of moving but has most recently lived and farmed in Pennsylvania for the last three summers. With a degree in Sustainability Studies, Anna hopes to merge her passions and education to help grow the local food movement. She loves how food brings people together, fostering growth and connections within communities and individuals. At her kindergarten graduation, Anna said that when she grew up she wanted to be a farmer’s wife; now she just wants to be the farmer.