Why hello there! My name is Bianca, and I am the Assistant Farmers’ Market Manager here at Countryside. I’ve been with Countryside for the past 9ish months now, but I’m new to this blog-o-sphere, so I thought I’d share a little bit about myself and how I came to be at Countryside!

My first time at a Countryside Farmers’ Market was opening day at Howe Meadow of last year. I was required to do volunteer hours for one of my nonprofit management courses at Kent State (which is usually a drag) so I wanted to pick something fun and outdoors. A quick google search led me to Countryside’s website, where I learned about the markets. After some email exchanges, I was set to arrive opening day to help out with the zero waste booth.

I showed up that morning not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as it was in the low 40s and raining (not off to a good start). I waltzed up to the information booth and introduced myself, and Serena was there to greet me warmly and give me the run-down of what to expect (she was also kind enough to offer me an extra jacket). I then headed over to my booth and was greeted by then-sustainability coordinator Annie, who was rather cheerful for it being such a gloomy and wet morning. She explained to me the importance of the zero waste booth, what is expected of vendors and customers in relation to zero waste, and how it has an impact on CVNP.

As the opening bell was ready to chime in all it’s glory of the beginning of the outdoor season, I was surprised to see so many customers lined up at the entrance, waiting to venture around the market and get their hands on some local gold. Although the weather had a gloomy hold over the day, I couldn’t help but notice the sense of happiness and pride that illuminated throughout the market boundaries. Everyone was super nice (too nice), had a big smile on their face (in the occasional creepy way), and kept looking so lovingly down at their bags filled with fresh produce, baked goods, and artisan pieces. After walking around the market myself, and spending a lot more money than I intended, I understood. 

It was by far my interaction with market staff, volunteers, vendors, and customers that morning that made me so excited and eager to come back. I went home that day and searched Countryside’s website high and low for any available positions. I came across the position of a Food Access Associate, and applied right away. I ended up being offered that position (thanks Erin!) and not long after, was offered the position of Assistant Farmers’ Market Manager (again, thanks Erin!). Since then, I’ve made many friends, learned a lot, and have grown a deep passion for supporting local and being a conscious consumer. To come full circle, I now oversee the zero waste program, as well as volunteer coordination. If you have a passion for local food and are looking for a fun way to get involved with your community, email me at bdifeo@cvcountryside.org to learn about volunteer opportunities with Countryside!