I have had the pleasure of being FRESFHARM Markets’ Volunteer Coordinator for the past year. We have relied on volunteers since the flagship market at Dupont Circle opened in 1997. They help with everything from set up and break down, facilitating our Matching Dollars program at market, special market events like our popular Build-A-Bug and everything in between. They really become part of the market family. Reflecting on the amazing work they do, I wondered: Why do these folks commit so much time, energy and hard work to FRESHFARM Markets without expecting anything in return? After all, so many of them have full-time jobs, busy lives and other places they could be on a frigid January morning or a gorgeous April afternoon than at market. So I asked?
Many of our volunteers started out as market shoppers. ?I?m a dedicated amateur cook and was already a patron of the Dupont Circle market,? says David Robinson, a volunteer veteran. ?I figured I should give back to such a good cause. By making market patrons feel more at home and at ease, we can increase the connections between local shoppers and the source of their food.? Today, David brings his years of volunteer experience to bear on the Silver Spring market, which he appreciates for its transit-friendly location, diverse clientele, and relaxed vibe.
Mariah Halperin started out as a volunteer at FRESHFARM Market by the White House. ?Having conversations with all the customers who would come to the Market Info booth gave me an appreciation for how much a farmers? market can mean to a community. It made me realize that I wanted to be a market manager myself.? FRESHFARM hired Mariah to manage several markets last September. ?I now get to see even more of the immense behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting on such great farmers markets.?
Luis Warner volunteers week after week helping break down our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. Asked how long he has been volunteering with us, he shrugged, ?Honestly, it?s such a blast that I forget.? Even for an amateur chef like Luis there is much more to market than his beloved tomatoes and kale. ?To me it?s not just about impacting local agriculture. I believe, by supporting the market and making good food affordable to more people, we can inspire change.? David absolutely agrees, ?I love that we make shopping at farmers markets more affordable for those receiving government nutrition benefits.?
According to April Israel, a Farmland Feast volunteer, ?These markets offer a unique crossroads for several different types of people – producers, consumers, educators and advocates. Being able to support these connections in a safe and friendly space is one of the most important things to me and what I strive to achieve through my volunteer work.
Whether it?s the Matching Dollars program, the farmers, the shoppers or the food movement as a whole, volunteering is about sharing what you love about farmers markets with others. It?s about giving back to a community that you are a part of and according to Luis, ?walking away with something more at the end of that experience.?
Interested in volunteering with us? We?re looking for reliable, energetic folks who love local food and farmers markets. Email me to find out more.
~ by Sam Giffin, Markets Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for FRESHFARM Markets