What does CSA Distribution Manager mean to you, in your own words?
It’s a lot of different things, which I like a lot. I like the variety of my job. I have to make sure the barn and everything looks nice and welcoming for people. I have to make sure the vegetables are always stocked and look nice. I welcome the members and, if they have any questions, I help them with whatever they need. I basically have to make sure everything is under control in the barn.
What were you doing before you became the Distribution Manager?
I worked at the Inn at Castle Hill. I was the breakfast cook at the Inn for seven years. That was also really fun, it was not an easy decision to leave.
And you are working at Appleton in the Farm Store?
Yes, I’m also the Lead Retail Associate at the store. In the winter, when Andrew (CSA Manager Andrew Lawson) doesn’t need me anymore, I will work there. There’s another piece to it, I will also be helping with the Trustees Grown products, which I am super excited about. If Andrew has too much of anything or has extra, we will use it to make our own prepared foods to sell in the farm store: pickles, kimchi, pesto, anything like that. That’s another thing I’m really excited about, it’s a lot of communication and knowing the food and produce. I’m the link between the farmers and the farm store to make that happen.
Were you familiar with CSAs previously? Had you ever been part of one?
I learned about it when I worked at the Inn because they had a CSA share there, which didn’t always make sense because we didn’t need a lot of lettuce and stuff like that for breakfast. It didn’t really work well because they needed breakfast things, but I learned about the CSA and I had a lot of friends who had it. As I was working in the store more and watching what Andrew did, I got excited about it because I realized I could never grow all those kinds of vegetables myself and I realized it’s amazing what he’s doing.
If I had never heard of a CSA, how would you describe it?
You are paying before the season starts so that the farmer can work and you share in the risk with the farmers who are growing the vegetables. Nature is unpredictable and you don’t know what will happen. Look at the last two years, one year was so dry, we were watering all summer and it was such a toll, and then last year, it rained too much and crops rotted because you can’t stop the rain. That’s the risk you take, you don’t know exactly what you will get and every year is different.
What’s a CSA pickup day like for you?
I get organized with all the paperwork and once people start coming in it’s kind of crazy, but I like that. There’s always things that need to be solved. The first week, we had a lot of new members just starting so there was a lot of helping new members, explaining everything to them, making sure they had everything they needed.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Tuesday is the biggest challenge, the first hour especially, sometimes 50 people pick up in one hour. Keeping the bins full is a challenge. Refilling the veggies can be hard work, but washing the bins can be kind of relaxing, having a little quiet time to myself washing out the bins.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
A lot of the members have the same mentality as me and are really passionate about local produce. They come in with their children and they explain the vegetables to them and explain to them where it comes from and how it’s grown. I think that is so important, that we teach the next generation about that. If they don’t have an appreciation for where their food comes from, they are going to have a whole different attitude about food. I see the parents come in and they take pictures of the kids with the vegetables and let the kids pick out which salad they want and that’s amazing. That’s what it’s really about. It’s something they don’t forget their whole life, it stays with them and it keeps them grounded and connected with nature.