For this month’s blog, I interviewed our new garden coordinator (well….she’s so much more than that but that’s what I focused on!), Jamie Saunders:

Tell me about your job with the WV Food and Farm Coalition and how it ties into Grow Appalachia.

I’m a Foodshed Coordinator with WV Food and Farm Coalition. My Foodshed consist of three counties. Randolph, Pocahontas, and Pendleton here in WV. I get to wear many hats that encompass community development and foodsystem work within those three counties.

What’s your background prior to this?

I hold a BS in Horticulture with a minor in Soil Science from WVU. During my time there I gained experience working in the Agriculture department running the college CSA and a student lab/ field tech with the Entomology and Plant Pathology labs. That gave me a lot of opportunity to talk to small-large scale producers within the state.

What has been your favorite part of the Grow program? 

The Community Garden! Garden therapy has been my saving grace these past few months!

What has been the greatest challenge?

Community involvement!

Are you very passionate about food insecurity?  Do you see yourself being involved in food and farm issues in the future and if not, what do you think this might lead to for you?

I’m hugely passionate about food security! I wish I could remember who said it, but “As Appalachians we use to eat this food out of necessity, now we eat it because it’s GOOD”. That has stuck with me and I believe that WV has the ability to re-foster a food system that has already sustained us over the years.  We as the hub of Appalachia has such an amazing potential for Agriculture UNDER the right conditions.

Are there any standout things that Linwood is doing that other Grow sites should know about?

Get you a Steve and a Tommy! I have been saying that all summer.

Steve manages the high tunnel and the community garden, and Tommy, his cat , stays in the high               tunnel and gets all the mice/voles/ big grasshoppers.

Steve is a perfectionist and is an incredible hard worker. He’s dedicated to sharing what he knows,                what he’s learning, and what he hopes to learn more of with the community through this Program.                In the community development world we call that a “Community leader/resource.  Get you a Steve.

Is there anything else I should have asked you that you’d like the world to know?

Maybe what my favorite things to harvest? Carrots! I love their smell!  Least favorite? Green beans.

Thanks, Jamie!