I’ve been with The Land Connection for a short time, but as of the beginning of July, I’m moving on from my position as the Program Director. It is an exciting time for me as I transition to this next step, but also a time for reflection and gratitude of all that I’ve gained by being a part of The Land Connection family. Being the Program Director for this extremely unique organization has been an incredible pleasure, and it has been great working with The Land Connection team – staff, board, collaborators, partners and network. I’ve learned so much about the world of sustainable agriculture, increasing access to local foods, and the very BEST recipes for using these delicious delicacies :) I’ve grown tremendously in this position and learned a lot about myself along the way. I will always be a supporter and champion of sustainable agriculture and local foods, and will continue to support these efforts at The Land Connection and in our community.
Even in my short time here, we have accomplished so much as a team. I’ve been with the Champaign Farmers’ Market from its 2nd season to now its 3rd, seeing an incredible dedication by our local community by supporting the market each Tuesday. It’s been incredible to interact with people at the sampling tent. The best has been sampling recipes and having our customers try them at home that night or that week, and report back on how the recipe went for them. By showing people that you don’t have to be Bobby Flay in the kitchen to make amazing meals with local foods (well, the food adds most of the awesome flavor…;) has been incredible. I’m so happy also to have brought in funds to support this important facet of our community. I'm so thankful to all of the chefs who I have had an opportunity to work with in the sampling tent - thank you for sharing your talent, skills and insight to help others learn how to use, store and prepare local foods in unique ways. You all have truly helped our local community embrace and explore local foods and all the great things you can do with them! Thank you as well to the community for your regular support - this is how we build community and help local farmers succeed - and eat healthier at the same time.
Also, farmer training has continued to grow, with our work in helping young farmers launch their dreams to helping grow a community of farmers looking to transition their grains to organic production. I’ve learned so much about the incredible work farmers do to produce the food we eat, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. From managing risk to producing to marketing, farmers are really the utility players in the food world, all with a passion for putting delicious produce and goods on our dining room tables and connecting us back to the land. All of the farmers I met have been incredibly inspiring, and I’m thankful The Land Connection has been so versatile yet constant to supporting the needs of our farmer community.
Prior to joining The Land Connection, I had worked in sustainable business – helping companies reduce their environmental impact through incremental change and engagement. I’ll be jumping back on that ship, helping public sector buildings across Illinois save energy through the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) in Champaign, Illinois. I’m excited about continuing to drive efficiency in the economic sector and re-energized about helping the public sector increase their efficiency – of energy and dollars. However, my sustainable ag roots will never be lost, as I hope to build relationships and help bridge the gap between producers and institutions to continue helping farmers grow and people eat healthier foods.
I've really gotten to know The Land Connection a and its mission, partners and farmers, and I've realized just how truly vital and extremely unique organization TLC is and how it supports so many. It’s been a privilege to be a part of TLC's story and help further its mission with a stellar team of leading farmers, organizations, Board members and staff. I thank everyone that I have worked with and I look forward to following TLC’s journey to see what exciting things the organization is working on in the future!