Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meet the Market Manager!

Last year, during our first market season, market day was sometimes a bit stressful. With fewer people on the farm, the same two or three people would have to harvest, set up the market, work the market stand, and break everything down at the end of the day. This season, in addition to the apprentices who help with harvest, we are incredibly lucky to have a top-notch market manager, Ruth Ballenzweig. Every week, once the harvest is finished, Ruth gets to work weighing and counting produce, making the market stand look its best, and helping customers throughout the market day.

Want to get to know Ruth? Read on! And don't forget to say hello while shopping at the market.

What's your background?

I grew up in New York City and was working as an elementary school teacher when I decided to spend the summer working on a friend's vegetable farm in Western Massachusetts. I fell in love with the vegetables and the work of growing food and stayed on the farm for four years.

What got you into urban agriculture?

I moved back to New York about a year ago looking for ways to integrate what I learned about farming and gardening into my life in the city. I started visiting urban farms and markets and was fortunate to meet Bee and Stacey, who introduced me to some great urban farm and food projects, including teaching me about keeping chickens in the city as an apprentice last summer.

What led you to work at the Youth Farm?

This growing season I started working with Green Guerillas, a non-profit organization that supports community gardens and is a partner of the Youth Farm, as the Food Access Coordinator. As part of that partnership I am able to work as the Market Manager at the Youth Farm. I love working at the Youth Farm because so many people of all ages and backgrounds participate as staff, apprentices, volunteers and customers. I am always inspired by the quality of the cooperation of the many people involved, and the pleasure everyone involved takes in the food, the work, and each other.

Any other work or projects you do now that you'd like to share?

This fall I am starting a Masters of Education at Brooklyn College and I am looking forward to someday helping start a school garden based in large part on what I am learning here at the Youth Farm.

What's your favorite veggie that we grow at the Youth Farm?

Bitter melon! I haven't actually eaten it yet, but it is so beautiful! And, as something I have never grown or even tasted before, it is inspiring me to try something new!