August's Note from the Executive Director

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The summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of year. Long, hot days filled with local, fresh produce available at Georgia markets every single day of the week.  At GFMA, we have an all hands on deck approach to the season. Our focus is on outreach, specifically, helping our market managers and producers connect directly with people who want to buy good food for their families. This year, in the midst of it all, we learned that our beloved Lolade Olowolayemo would be returning to Texas to begin pursuing her goal of providing a holistic model of gynecological and maternal care.  We knew when she joined the team that we wouldn't have her very long but we just were not ready for her to go! Lolade’s mark on Georgia Farmers Market Association is clear.  She took our Nourish curriculum and expanded it, creating an outreach model that our market managers use to not only reach new shoppers but record and collect data weekly.  Lolade and I worked together to build a comprehensive consulting arm of the association, which is proving to be a solid way for GFMA to dig deeper in communities and support local food systems in a robust way.  What I will remember most, however, is how patient and kind she is with everyone she encounters along the way.  Her genuine and loving spirit was captured on video at the Food for Thought Conference; I couldn't believe how fondly she spoke of our work, considering she and I were functioning on about 3 hours of sleep at that point! To say she will be missed is an understatement.  We simply can’t thank her enough.

For all the reasons listed above, filling the programs coordinator position became my top priority. Let me pause for a moment of transparency: as Executive Director, I spend a lot of time in meetings and traveling around the state (and elsewhere) engaging members, shoppers and supporters in discussions surrounding the critical need for thriving local food systems.  It is the programs coordinator, who works behind the scenes, keeping things structured and running smoothly. For a small, grassroots organization like ours, these are big shoes to fill.  After combing through over 100 applications and conducting 12 interviews, we found the perfect fit, Jen Wassum.

Jen Wassum comes to GFMA with a wealth of experience and a breadth of knowledge. She also has a deep passion for sustainable agriculture. An emerging leader in the Atlanta local food scene, she is innovative and full of amazing ideas on how we can improve our work and expand our reach. Beyond her amazing credentials, Jen has fit right in as a member of our team. Talk about a perfect fit!

I suppose it could be awkward to spend a few weeks being trained by the person that you are replacing. It could be equally uncomfortable to receive feedback and plans from someone who is filling your position. To our delight, there has been zero weirdness between Jen and Lolade. Their stellar character and commitment to this work has shined through this transition. August in the GFMA office has been full of excitement and possibilities!

Join us as we say wish Lolade well on the next phase of her journey and welcome Jen with open arms. Sentiments to both of these rockstars can be emailed to [email protected]