After 18 weeks of produce distribution, we can gratefully say we have completed yet another successful farm stand season! From patrons lining up hours before we open, to volunteers sliding into our DMs wanting to know more about how they can contribute, the support has been endless. We’ve made tons of amazing progress over the course of the summer, one of the first improvements being the installation of our cooler. This spacious walk-in cooler allowed us to make our produce orders without worrying about space limitations, and was also our hideout whenever we wanted to escape the scorching temperatures. It was the first installment to ever happen in RBAC’s Growth Center, the first of many improvements that this building will encounter in the near future.
The cooler wasn’t the only physical change that occurred this season! We also implemented new safety measures to allow a more pleasant experience for patrons waiting in line, thanks to the thoughtful thinking of our farm stand manager. Previously, roles at the farm stand included things like bag-fillers and restockers—and now we have a designated greeter! The job of the greeter is exactly what it sounds like—someone who greets each patron individually with a warm welcome, converses with them until it’s their turn, and lets them know when they can walk up to the tables. While the role may sound simple, it was undoubtedly the most impactful. Conflict reduced drastically as there was a lot less line-cutting and disagreements about who was up next, all while building relationships with each patron who showed up. Thank you Kerry!
With the introduction of new roles, crew members moving for college, and some going on international trips, help was always appreciated on those busy Saturday mornings. Thankfully, so many volunteers from the community came out and dedicated their time so that we never had to worry about not being able to operate at full capacity. We honored these volunteers with a volunteer recognition ceremony during our end-of-season harvest fest, but it is also worthwhile to appreciate their hard work and effort in this recap as well! These volunteers include (but may not be limited to): Alex, Elsie, Brandon, Tushar, Casey, Comet, Ashley, Emily, Justin, Ellie, Galah, Jean, Mrs. Sauvion, and Brandy. The support did not end there! We also had tons of assistance from great RBAC staff, including: Halley, Jerrell, Tamia, Fatima, Mae, Isaac, Zion, Ryan, Aden, and Najmo. A huge shoutout to all these people for taking a stand for food justice!
Speaking of harvest fest, what a beautiful way to celebrate the end of the season and beginning of a new one! We had 4 extremely talented performers: Isaac Robersone on the saxophone, young dancers from the Northwest Tap Connection, and rapping from Mae Dinero, Gyasi, and Ryan Croone. To accompany the great tunes, there was great food provided by the one and only Eddie Grinnell, who also runs the Priority Hire program at RBAC. Eddie whipped up some delicious soul food—greens, pasta salad, mac and cheese, chicken (is your mouth watering yet?!) and more. A cupcake decorating station filled with gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin flavored cupcakes (provided by Kerry!) allowed for a sweet treat amidst the fun and got us all in an autumn mood. Tours were also led by Managing Strategist Gregory Davis, and Kanwal Yousuf shared the work she was doing as our first-ever Development Manager! A big thank you to the members of the Stage Crew: Sam, Jeremiah, Tina, Makayla, and Ken for helping us document the event! So many amazing people from the community showed out for us—we truly couldn’t ask for a better group of people to spend the last farm stand with.
The support we received over the summer wasn’t limited to in-person interactions. Our social media platforms grew exceptionally well, one standing out in particular. Due to tips from Halley, consistent story posts, a proper posting schedule, and recording weekly reels, Instagram quickly became our greatest tool for online marketing. We gained over 200 new followers (after being stuck in the 700s for a few years) and racked up OVER 30,000 views on our reels! These reels would normally consist of things such as produce we were offering that week, save the dates, and volunteer callouts. We also started a new hashtag, #standforfoodjustice, to reflect the mission of our work and create something that would hopefully stick with people who landed on our page. These followers, better termed as supporters, have been a huge reason behind why we have grown so much this past summer.
We wouldn’t be able to operate a farm stand without the contribution of our amazing local farmers, many of whom being BIPOC. Our partners this year included, but were not limited to: Beatrice Shimirimana, Jacobs Agro, Alvarez Organics, Collins Family Orchard, Regeneration Farm, Puget Sound Food Hub, Farmstand Local Foods, and Kamayan Farm. None of this would have been possible without contributions from Harvest Against Hunger, KCD, Kwik Lok Corporation, and WSDA.
5 summers of running a farm stand requires hard-work, tons of patience, and lots of selflessness. But seeing the grateful reactions, joyful thank you’s, and beautiful smiles of our patrons every week truly made each farm stand worth it. With so much momentum being gained over the last few years, the farm stand crew and I are already looking forward to what the next season will bring. Once again, we are so thankful for each and every one of you who showed love to our work. Whether it was a like on one of our reels or taking locally grown food home to your family—you took a stand for food justice.