Why did you decide to join City Fruit?
I have been doing community food system work for over 20 years in the Seattle area, and I really enjoy community rooted work that’s innovative and makes an impact at the local level. I’ve been familiar with City Fruit since it started, so I was aware of the great work happening here. I really enjoyed meeting the staff and board–that was really the final nudge for me.
Can you talk about your previous position?
For the past 10-12 years, I worked in south King County, with a majority of that time at a non-profit focusing on a project called the Food Innovation Network that worked with the community to start a food business incubator and a farmer’s market to improve food access in the community. I worked primarily with immigrants and refugees in the area. It was pretty incredible to see the ideas discussed at community meetings come to fruition.
What inspired you to work in the nonprofit sector with food systems? Does that have anything to do with your college experience and/or major?
I studied sociology and music at the University of Colorado, so what really led me down this path were the two AmeriCorps VISTA positions I held from 2001-2003, when I moved to Seattle. I later went back to school, for a master’s degree in Urban Planning at the University of Washington, with the intention of focusing on food systems. That’s helped me work in strategic long-term planning around food systems and collaborating with the community, including looking at how the various systems (housing, transportation) interact and impact one another.
My master’s degree ended with a professional project, and I worked with King County’s agricultural department. At the time, they were doing an assessment and planning around farming occurring within county limits. I surveyed farmers, using focus groups and an assessment process, getting direct input from farmers regarding farming in King County, their challenges, and their needs to stay in farming.
Going back to your AmeriCorps VISTA service, can you expand on those years?
I started at Food Lifeline in 2001, right before 9/11. At the time, there was concern about having food and water, and emergency planning. My second year was at Boomtown Cafe in downtown Seattle. It no longer exists. It was a meal program, where we had mostly unhoused customers who could use EBT or barter. Bartering would mean working, either washing dishes, serving, or a variety of other tasks. They could build up credit, and then bring in a friend for a hot meal. We had a chef, and the food was very good. The chef was really creative, with two or three options everyday, including a vegetarian option.
What is your favorite fruit?
Palisade Peaches, from Palisade, Colorado! Anytime I am back in Colorado in the summer, I eat these peaches.
What book are you reading? And/or listening to?
I’m reading Last Flight by Julie Clark and I’m listening to This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. The main character travels back in time to when she was in high school, which was 1996, when I was also in high school. I find it hysterical.
I read a lot of murder mysteries, like the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves.
What occupies your time outside of work?
My family! I love spending time with my kids and partner- particularly out in the woods and seeing nature through their eyes. When I get “me” time, I hike, paddleboard and play in a community orchestra.