I login to our database software, CiviCRM, it informs me that I’ve been working at Wasatch Community Gardens for 3 years and 10 weeks. Of course, the obvious next sentiment one expresses in these types of reflections is something to the effect of, “gee, it feels like just yesterday that I…”
And it’s true. It does feel like just a few days ago that I began working at this wonderful organization called Wasatch Community Gardens. Those who know me well know that calendar grids and my imperfect memory don’t always align precisely, but it only takes a mere moment to correct my initial disbelief.
In the past three years I’ve seen this organization grow from a small, scrappy, grassroots nonprofit to a medium-sized, scrappy, grassroots nonprofit with a dynamic strategic plan and clearly defined mission, vision, values, and goals that are poised to carry WCG into the next phase of its programming.
I’ve seen WCG’s logo change from something reminiscent of a “Sideshow Bob” haircut (I’ve been told it was a yucca plant) to the beautiful heirloom tomato and wood-carved letters we enjoy today.
During my time here, we’ve launched a School Garden Program to begin coordinating gardening efforts with the Salt Lake City School District – a monumental, but exceedingly worthwhile task. I’ve seen our Community Garden Program grow and increase in its effectiveness, and our Community Education and Volunteer Programs navigate several transitions to emerge even stronger.
In the last year alone, I married the love of my life, Leslie Brown!
Most importantly, I’ve witnessed the local-food movement expand tremendously, with Real Food Rising and Green Urban Lunchbox opening their doors and establishing themselves as real forces for positive change in our community. Some have asked me how I feel about this new ‘competition.’ I always reply that Salt Lake’s healthy-food movement stands to benefit more from organizational diversity and healthy ‘cooper-tition’ as opposed to conflict and territoriality. There is strength and stability in numbers, and even though our interests overlap, our individual methods and tactics leave plenty of room for everyone to thrive.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to thank the people who have help support me during my time at WCG. First, thank you to WCG’s former Executive Director, Claire Uno, for hiring me, training me, and setting me up for success.
Thank you to the many AmeriCorps youth educators who have worked with us since I’ve been here – you made my job much easier and represented the organization incredibly well! Liz Pedersen, Sara Crowder, Aaron Lee, Kimmy Ertel, Maria Rukavina, Emilee King-Ward, Shannon Kennelly, Katie Adamski, Emma Kroon Van Diest, Maria Schwarz, and Maia Bromley-Dulfano – thank you for your service to WCG!
Thanks, too, to the AmeriCorps program in general and the Utah Conservation Corps in particular for your support of our programming. I humbly request that we, as citizens, continue to support these truly effective and important government programs for many years to come.
Thanks to WCG’s Development Director, Lindsey Oswald Smith, for always ensuring that WCG paychecks were honored at the bank, and for helping keep the organization fiscally strong.
Thanks to my wife and my entire family for all of their support during the past few years — especially during my back injury and the scary car accident.
Thanks to Eric Mitchell of Fifth Ocean Consulting for his support, generosity, and mentoring over the past three years. I’ll carry your gifts forward to the next step in my career at Montana State University.
Thank you to the Garden Goddess, Maryann Paradise, for always being such a stellar volunteer and ever-present friend in the garden.
Finally, thanks, to our current Director, Ashley Patterson, for being a fantastic leader and mentor these past few years. I am sad to leave, but I know that the organization is in extremely capable hands!
I’ll miss you all tremendously!
All the best,