On a brisk December day with flurries in the air, we gathered together at the Hampshire…
It’s the people that make any organization work, including staff, volunteers, and those we serve. I’d like to take a moment to highlight some changes on Grow Food Northampton’s team, and to acknowledge the importance of contributions made by those who are leaving us. First, the good news: as new participants in the MassLIFT-Americorps program, we have been able to add two service members who are doing a fantastic job!
Katie Carr is a Community Engagement Coordinator, half-time with us and half-time with Hilltown Land Trust. She’s working on coordination of Food Access programs, and on a wide variety of outreach and communications projects. Katie’s work will help us do a better job reaching our target audiences with information about our food access and other programs, coordinating the efforts of volunteers, and staying in touch with our supporters via web, email, and social media.
Caroline Rosa joined us as a Youth Education Coordinator in order to manage our existing field trips and vastly expand our educational offerings in the local public schools, thanks to a recent state grant. She has already hosted 25 classes at Crimson & Clover Farm and visited 6 of those classrooms after their field trips to prepare vegetables harvested, and will visit many more classrooms in December, helping students learn to prepare kale chips and veggie-filled omelettes in their classrooms. Many more activities conducted in classrooms, school gardens, and as extracurricular offerings will occupy her winter and early spring, with late spring field trips bringing students to the Community Garden and Giving Garden.
Erica Martenson has also ended her season as Tuesday Market Assistant and late-season Giving Garden crew. Erica took everything in stride, including van and trailer breakdowns, and was always cheerful and ready for hard work. We appreciate everything she did to make our year go smoothly and look forward to her return in 2017!
We must also share the news that Carla Shafer, our Administrative Manager since mid-2015, moved on in mid-November. We are grateful for all of the hard work and good ideas she contributed in the office while she was a part of the team. She was especially appreciated by those who worked with her in the Giving Garden, where she played a leading role in expanding the project in 2015 as a volunteer and again in 2016 with a small number of paid hours. Here was Carla’s lovely message as the season closed:
I just came from the Giving Garden. I had a few final rows of cover crop to plant before the rain started. It only took a few minutes, and then, suddenly, the season was over. I stood briefly in the light drizzle, looking out on rows of inch-high rye and oat sprouts just barely visible against the dark, fluffy soil that was so recently occupied by tomatoes, peppers, carrots and squash.The grain sprouts are just embarking on their brief but brilliant career; all their energies going towards preparing the soil for a coming Spring that we cannot yet imagine. The burden of that Spring is theirs to carry for the time being. Let the Rye exult in its new youth. For those of us who labored on that little plot of land all summer, this is our moment to revel in the satisfaction of the Harvest Home. A job well done, indeed. With everyone’s help, we delivered almost exactly 6000 pounds of produce, a Farmer’s Market equivalent value somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. Isn’t that awesome?!I want to take this moment to thank each person who participated in the Giving Garden this season. Even if you only came once, and stayed a short time, your contribution was crucial to our success. You are the reason I looked forward to coming to the garden every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Your dedication amazed me and filled me with admiration. For some of you, I watched your knowledge, confidence, and physical strength grow as the weeks went by, and guessed that the garden was benefiting more people than just the intended recipients of its food stuffs.
For all that you brought with you to the garden, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Carla will be around as a community gardener and may help shape future Giving Garden plans on a consulting basis, but leaves big shoes to fill. We thank her and wish her the best!
Luckily, Niki Lankowski had some availability now that Tuesday Market has finished a great season, and has agreed to take on Carla’s office administrator duties for the winter. We look forward to having her in the office more often.