This time around I am writing on my combined experiences of November and December. Between all of the times I went home over the past two months, and how busy I was with HCFM, I forgot to write a post! I know you have all been biting your nails, waiting for my holiday address, so fear not. Here it is:
Thanksgiving and Christmas around the market were fairly slow in terms of the volume of customers we served. The number of weekly vendors dwindled, the selection of goods ebbed as the harvest season wound down. Still, many of our committed patrons shopped with us for their big holiday meals. And though the pace of the weekly markets slowed, work around the office picked up substantially.
Over the past two months I organized a fundraising campaign, sending out letters to our contacts requesting they include HCFM in their holiday giving. I also compiled a series of survey questions for our annual End of Season Customer Survey.
To everyone who filled it out- we appreciate your feedback, you are helping us improve. I am confident that we can bring you these changes in the new year, making for a better market experience all around.
In 2018 I am most looking forward to launching our Urban Farm field trip program and “Traveling Trunks”. Partnering with local schools, HCFM seeks to expand educational programming and improving nutritional knowledge county-wide.
“Traveling Trunks” are educational tools that can be let out to schools for weeks at a time, and provide teachers with short lessons based on the contents of the trunk. Popular for history classes, these trunks provide students with a hands-on learning experience that makes learning fun. For example, in a history-themed traveling trunk, a student might find garments from colonial America, along with utensils and books of the day.
In order to translate this idea to educate children on crops, we could include in the trunk some small hand tools, seeds, soil samples, and pictures of vegetables (real vegetables would be ideal, but would likely not travel well). This will get kids excited about gardening, and could be a precursor for the Urban Farm field trips.
Over the past month I’ve been working on a grant to jumpstart this field trip program, and building relationships with educators and administrators within the county. I hope to have the support of Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) in this venture, as they have a hand in each of the districts. They could provide a strong framework for applying this program across the county, not just in specific districts.
This year I am striving to make a tangible impact on HCFM, helping set the course for successful programming and financial stability in the years that follow. As I approach the midpoint of my service year I reflect on the impact of VISTA’s in the community, and am proud of what we’ve done so far. We still have a lot to offer as we approach the new year, a fresh slate.