This semester I worked with community organization Neighbors Without Borders to establish a farmer’s market in west Baltimore. I met with community organizers and helped to brainstorm ideas to ensure the success of the market. I worked a lot on the market website, blog and facebook page, helped recruit vendors, and organized performances for market days.
This process was an intense learning experience for me. I had never done any of these things before, so each step was a new obstacle and opportunity to grow. Above and beyond the technical aspects of putting together a web presence, I learned about the extensive effort it takes to start a farmers market. So much planning, coordinating, meeting, and discussing goes into every step. It was frustrating at times to be constrained to other people’s timelines. Most of the coordinating was done via email and that comes with its own challenges. Waiting for people to email back can be frustrating when you have limited time to complete a project or goal. One specific challenge was trying to create a webpage that met all the desires of the people who had already been working on the project for some time. But it was wonderful to see the progress that can be made when a purposeful leader is determined to make a vision into a reality.
I wish that I could have done more direct community outreach in schools and on the street to raise awareness for the market. I had really looked forward to this part of the project. But the time frame of the market and schools did not line up with the semester. I hope to continue my efforts in this area when the semester is over. This matter of time is the thing that I hope improves for future students. Our time as students is so limited, especially those of us who work as well as go to school. My advice is to have a specific and attainable goal that you need to accomplish figured out at the beginning so that you can steadily work toward it throughout the semester. Also clear communicate with members of the project so that everyone is on the same page is extremely important.
This was an important journey for me to take. It was crucial for me to learn exactly what efforts are required in order to create change in a community. I have wanted to be a part of this type of change for a long time and I am excited to see how the end product turns out. I hope that the market is a huge success and that it attracts and educates community members. I really would like to continue to try to make sure the market keeps going and has community and vendor support.
I had a fairly good concept of the food system and food system justice before the semester started. What changed throughout these past months was my ability to speak to others about it. I feel much more confident articulating what I know to others in a way that is easy to understand. I feel competent when I talk about the system and what needs to change and in my ability to ask people to get involved.
At times the work was frustrating, but it was a good experience for me. I increased my knowledge and skills and I feel more ready to do the work that I want to do independently because of my experiences.