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:

Lexy Close

Educator & Organic Gardener

Lexy loves to grow food, eat it, and share it with her community.  She studied International Development and Social Change at Clark University in Worcester, MA.  After graduation, she spent time working in Tanzania and then took seven months to WWOOF around Italy, the UK, and Belgium.  She returned home to Johnson City in 2010 and has found enough fun things to keep her occupied that she never quite made it to leaving again.  When she’s not at her job as the Beginning Farmer Program Director for the Appalachian RC&D Council, you can find her 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 her, she’s probably up in the mountains looking for mushrooms!  

Lyn Govette

Educator & Community Garden Coordinator

Lyn Govette lives and works in Johnson City. She is one of the founders of and the coordinator of the Tree Streets Garden Project for the past eight years. Over the past five years she’s worked with students at Topper Academy in learning gardening and cooking what they grow. She’s also an artist who practices socially engaged art. 

Sheri Cooper

Science Hill High School Employability and Transition Coach. 

Sheri guides students through entrepreneurship opportunities in market gardening, catering, and other local food related projects. 

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. Taylor graduated from ETSU in 2014 with a degree in the Philosophy, Religion, and Digital Media departments. He is very excited 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.