It’s hard to believe but I have already been working for Seacoast Eat Local for almost two months! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to do work that interests and fulfills me! For all of you playing along at home I thought I’d fill you in on exactly what it is I do day to day. My work for Seacoast Eat Local entails riding the SAMM van on Tuesdays, and writing one blog post a week on Wednesday. My Tuesdays start with a 7:30 alarm when I roll out of bed and get ready for my day. I usually bring a lunch, maybe my backpack, and if it’s a food demonstration day like it was yesterday, I have to be sure to bring all my supplies for that. The Van stays parked at our Mobile Market Coordinator Celeste’s house, I arrive at 9 am and the day begins!
Often times Celeste will pick up food for the van in the morning before I get there but if she hasn’t yet, I get to go with her to the farms. Celeste and I both enjoy scenic drives so she likes to take the backroads to our first stop at Exeter Hospital. On the way, we sometimes stop at Wake Robin Farm, which is a gorgeous property. The first time we stopped there I just wanted to stay. I’m not really a morning person so it’s rare that I witness the magic of the early hours, but that’s what I see when we stop at Wake Robin farm, the mist and sunshine sit beautifully over the rows of plants. Celeste and I will grab whatever they have ready for us to take that day, onions, carrots, lettuces, and other things, and mosey on our way. We usually arrive at Exeter Hospital around 10:30, and are open for business at 11. For those of you who haven’t seen the bus, it has this really cool feature where the side panel lifts up and opens completely. We then pull out shelving that holds all of the fruits and veggies on it, this is where people can select their purchases from. I also thought I should mention the awesome woman that volunteers with us at our Exeter location, Jean. There is never a dull moment with all her crazy stories! Volunteers, as well as interns, are really important to the SAMM Program. If you think you might be interested in volunteering, you should contact Celeste!
At the Exeter location we have quite a few regulars. We answer any questions they may have and make recommendations. I love to hear how they like to eat what they’ve purchased and how they plan to cook it. As a group we catch up with each other and usually talk about how hot it is, and Jean tells us a funny story. A lot of people utilize the bus at the Exeter location which is really great. Yesterday I had a food demonstration of a Carrot Beet and Sesame Salad, and I shared a family potato salad recipe. I invited people to sample both salads and then I talked to them about how to prepare the dishes and preserve these foods. At one o’clock we pack up, say goodbye to Jean, and Celeste and I head to our stop at Until Portsmouth. The SAMM Van stops at two different kinds of places; we call these corporate, and community stops. A corporate stop is at a business where most of our customers are employees of that business, but anything on the bus is still open to the public. A community stop is usually in a town center or somewhere that gets a lot of foot traffic. The goal of these stops is to serve the people of the community rather than a certain business. Unitil Portsmouth is considered a corporate stop. This is one of our slower stops and it only lasts about an hour although we have a few faithful customers that come out and buy things every week. I usually restock the bus during this time, Celeste sometimes does her ordering and we help the customers that come out!
The third and final stop of the day is a community stop in Farmington. Seacoast Eat Local chose to be in Farmington because it is a designated food desert. This is a term that has a lot of definitions. It accounts for the impact certain factors like transportation, distance to a grocery store and income all play in having access to fresh healthy foods. The goal of the SAMM van is to increase food access to people living in areas like this, which makes Farmington a perfect community for the work that we do! I have only been to the Farmington stop twice but it is my personal favorite. I really enjoy interacting with the customers there, they are always really kind, friendly and often express their gratitude and thanks that we are there. Its really great to see the positive impact the SAMM Van has on this community first hand. At 6:30pm we pack up tired but happy and head home for the day.
Getting to work with Seacoast Eat Local has been a really great experience so far. It has given me the opportunity to see exactly what I’m learning about in school play out in front of me! Its given me insight into working for a nonprofit, and I really enjoy exploring the humanitarian aspect of this work, meeting our customers, and having great conversations with the people I work with. If you have any more questions feel free to reach out in the comments below, and I’ll hope to see you out there!