Fighting Poverty with Passion
My first month at Hollygrove Market & Farm (HM&F) has allowed me to fully flatter in what I have always considered my duel personalities. I’ll start my morning checking emails, editing the grant I’m working on, making some calls- all from the comfort of my little office made cozy by an ancient space heater and a mini-fridge. I do all this wearing my grown-up lady professional clothing, which I have opted to wear regardless of the fact that I have to ride a bike over the Jeff Davis Bridge, pass through Gert Town, and work on a farm.
My “office girl” persona (which I have lovingly been labeled by our groundskeeper) starts to fade in the afternoon and I find myself getting antsy for fresh air and movement. This is my favorite part about being a VISTA at HM&F. At any given time I can go weed my tiny garden plot, which I planted last week, or help bag chard for the next day’s market. I can go chat with some of the community gardeners who are residents of the Hollygrove neighborhood or Bernadette, our sassy market cashier, and get a new recipe for kale or try to figure out why my parsnips haven’t sprouted yet. I could sit at my desk all day long, reading articles and reports trying to figure out how to make HM&F operate more smoothly. Or I can just take a stroll and see who’s around and really get the dirt on what goes on here and what people want to see happen.
My current projects right now illustrate my personality split too. The first is working out the tedious requirements of a grant to support our Educational Outreach Program, which is still in its infancy. This is only the second grant I’ve ever attempted and the learning process is intense. I’m pretty sure they should have elementary children start learning how to decipher grants, the same way Spanish or French is introduced at a young age, because quite frankly it all sounds like a foreign language. I’m excited to complete it and hopefully have our program funded. We have the perfect environment for teaching food-based education.
My other project is a little more creative and doesn’t require a computer (most of the time). We are creating a resource center at HM&F, full of information about farming, gardening, organic growing, recipes, children’s activities and restaurants that support local farmers. The resource center will be in our market and if all goes to plan it will have a seating area with tables and comfy couches, free coffee and wi-fi and offer guests to HM&F a place to kick up their feet, learn a thing or two and take in the beautiful garden landscape. My goal is to create a welcoming space that makes people want to stay. Most people grab their Weekly Produce Box and bolt.
I’m thinking from now on I might want to dress a little more casual. Jeans and sneakers are a lot more versatile than a skirt and boots. But being able to be involved in a number of different projects here at HM&F is worth the wardrobe change!
– Megan Nuismer, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA @ Hollygrove Market and Farm