Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Francisca, Summer/Fall Co-op Extraordinaire, Says Farewell

FranciscaMy six-month job at Farm Aid has come to an end. As I clean out my office to make room for the new co-op, I can’t help but think back on some fond memories. I joined the Farm Aid team back in July, when concert preparations were in full swing.

I had no idea what to expect as our staff piled into vans and cars to make what was supposed to be a six-hour drive to Hershey, PA. Once we hit the road, a few of my excited co-workers tried to liven things up with music, snacks and pickles. As for me, I was perfectly content to take a nap. I do remember waking up at one point, looking out my window and thinking to myself: ‘Oh. I thought Pennsylvania was in the other direction.’ It was at that point our driver made a daring U-turn and eight hours later we arrived in Hershey.

We pulled in to Hersheypark Stadium for introductions to the venue staff, caterers and other Farm Aid concert producers. At that moment, I thought back to the weeks leading up to the concert. I remember sitting around a table during staff meetings and staring wide-eyed as everyone discussed making handmade pennants for the HOMEGROWN Village. Then, there was the day we sold thousands of pre-sale concert tickets, the phones ringing off the hook. Needless to say, I was a wee bit uncertain about how a 14-member staff would pull off a concert for 30,000 people. Meeting the production team and volunteers gave me a view of Farm Aid’s broad reach, and the live concert experts that we rely on every year to pull off a huge concert event. That the organization is able to enlist help from such dedicated people, who come back year after year, is remarkable. With a true group effort, the concert was a tremendous success.

After we returned to our office in Massachusetts, I couldn’t help but think: ‘What now?’ Well, we continued to answer farmer calls on the hotline. We kept up with Congress to push for the Farm Bill. Several staff members attended conferences and conventions to speak on Farm Aid’s mission to keep family farmers on the land. I got several opportunities to interview farmers who were highlighted by our Farmer Hero series and to report on news stories that affect farmers and consumers alike.

I’m sure I haven’t reported on all of the things Farm Aid does throughout the year. My six-month stint gave me a look into the non-profit world, and the food and farming world. I was endeared by the organization that is so well known because of its glamorous board members, but successful because of its down-to-earth and eager staff. I am happy to have been a part of Farm Aid.

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