The following blog was written by Oscar Menzer, a rising Senior in the Bonner Leaders Program at the Campus Y. Oscar works at Farmer Foodshare as a Bonner; he is working with Farmer Foodshare this summer through the Bonner NC Summer of Service internship.
I’m now approaching the end of my first month as a summer intern with Farmer Foodshare. In the last two weeks I’ve made huge progress with our Donor Reward Program, built a sizeable chunk of the website, attended two great meetings and training sessions with the staff, and got some fresh air by spending a weekend at Cane Creek Farm.
The project I’m currently most excited about is the long-awaited fruition of our Donor Reward Program. Last semester I wrote a grant proposal to the Campus-Y for a simple program at our Donation Stations to reward our frequent donors with prizes like t-shirts and bags after a set number of visits. I was thrilled to see it funded, and now (finally) the rollout is in sight. We had some great t-shirts designed, and before we order them for the reward program we are offering them for sale for a limited time.
Online, building the new website has dominated the majority of my time. I’ve certainly learned a lot in the process about effective organization and information presentation, and in the next blog when the website is live I plan to break down the strategies we used.
The fastest growing component of Farmer Foodshare is one that a lot of our audience isn’t aware of – the POP Market (Pennies on the Pound). In addition to collecting food at Donation Stations, we operate a year-round wholesale market for organizations to buy fresh produce directly from farmers. We coordinate the sale of food, pickup, store, and then deliver it. Admittedly, this side of the organization has always been sort of a mystery to me, but I was finally pulled into the loop at a staff training event.
The session was instigated by the recent growth of the POP Market, and a new push the staff is making to secure new customers. The purpose was to train everyone on the team to be sales ambassadors, so that if we ran into a potential customer while working at a farmer’s market or elsewhere we would have enough basic information to pique their interest and point them in the right direction. It was a fun day, and I feel a lot more comfortable with my understanding of the program.
Outside of work, I recently spent a weekend on Cane Creek Farm, one of the vendors I see each Wednesday and Saturday at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market selling some of the best pork in the state. The property is run by Eliza MacLean and Elizabeth Basnight. I had the opportunity to tour as part of an environmental science class last year, and since then the farm has been featured on Michael Polan’s Netflix documentary series “Cooked.” So, suffice to say they’re sort of a big deal, and they should be – they do it right. My girlfriend, Elva, is living on the property (in a Mongolian yurt) over the summer to learn more about small, sustainable farming – admittedly her internship is a little cooler than mine. I followed her around one morning with my camera, documenting the daily chores: letting the chickens out, refilling watering troughs, feeding everyone, checking on the young pigs, harvesting squash and onions from the garden, etc. It’s not easy work – but there are certainly many attractive aspects. The property is beautiful, baby animals are abundant – definitely a nice break from sitting in front of a computer all day!
My experience at the farmer’s market has shown that a surprising number (if not the majority) of vendors at your local market would be happy to have you stop in for a quick visit any time this summer – just ask!