Staff Spotlight: Your Amazing Berkeley Farmers’ Market Managers

Did you know that California certifies its farmers’ markets to ensure that the farmers grow what they sell at the market? These special regulations also require a Market Manager at all Certified Farmers’ Markets. These folks ensure that the markets are following the agricultural and health department regulations. In addition to that job, these folks work on recruiting and organizing the vendors, liaise with local city staff, promote the markets, and ensure markets are a safe community-gathering space. At the Ecology Center, we are SO GRATEFUL for our Market Managers, essential workers who are out there at the markets working incredibly hard to make sure the markets remain safe and open. We hope you will take a moment to meet our team!

Amanda Gordon, Program Manager

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
It feels good to support and be connected with independent CA farmers and learn their struggles and triumphs intimately. Plus the tastiest, most nutritious food is there!

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
Many residents of Berkeley understand the importance of supporting small health rather than big agriculture.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
While Berkeley Farmers’ Markets are a huge community resource, sometimes supporting and ensuring the success and safety of small farms and businesses is at odds with supporting the local community, especially the community that is most in need. For example, we set up our markets in public spaces and steward those spaces–places were individuals sleep, suffer from mental health crises, and ask for money. While our job requires us to maintain a safe, sanitary, and enjoyable environment for our vendors and customers to thrive, I feel the responsibility to support these members of our community is also on us. We usually have limited time to do this and there are very limited public resources available. Situations like this happen frequently and can be painful, frustrating, and difficult to resolve.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Strawberries from Dirty Girl Produce

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at the market?
There is a state-wide Health Code stating no live animals are allowed inside a certified farmers’ market. Mid-pandemic, as we are frantically ensuring everyone in the market is wearing masks and maintaining 6 feet of distancing, someone saunters through the market on horseback. A staff member radios in, “Umm, there’s a man riding through the market on a horse…and he’s not wearing a mask”.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
Learning how to garden, harvesting ripe fruit, dance parties with and without my toddler 🙂

Aimee Hutton, Market Manager

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
I love everyone I work with at the Ecology Center. I’m grateful to work on a team that inspires and lifts me up amidst some of the most delicious food CA has to offer.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
The Berkeley community is engaged and knowledgeable on a range of topics, and they stay curious. As someone that’s relatively new to the Berkeley community, it’s great to meet people who have lived here for decades and hear about their experiences.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
There’s always more to learn about farming, nutrition, Certified Farmers’ Markets, and all the work we’re doing at the Ecology Center. I wish I had all the answers, but sometimes I just don’t!

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Lately I’m obsessed with oranges from Kaki Farms, and I’m looking forward to when Happy Boy melons are back in season!

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at the market?
Recently there was a horse in market. I wasn’t there to see it, but the video footage and ensuing jokes made me chuckle.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
I love to sing and have participated in choirs from a very young age. Unfortunately my most recent concert was postponed due to the pandemic, but I’m looking forward to getting back in rehearsal as soon as possible.

Marcel Ramos, Youth Development Program Coordinator

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
I enjoy contributing to an essential service like food access while also supporting local agriculturalists and being immersed in the communities I help serve.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
I enjoy working with Berkeley communities because they are vibrant and full of life. I love getting to know the members of our communities and inheriting wisdom from them. I also like working with Berkeley communities because these work opportunities give me an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges that Berkeley’s most underserved populations are facing. Because I grew up in Berkeley, I feel inspired to work within our communities and lift up our neighbors with the resource available.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
One of the most challenging parts of my job is reconciling the needs of our communities with the lack of resources available to address these needs. Another major challenge of my job is working to dismantle systems of racism and oppression in our food systems.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
One farmers’ market food I can’t live without is Kashiwase’s stone fruit assortment! Their pluots, nectarines, and peaches are an amazing energy boost and mental health pick-me-up, as well as a healthy dessert option. Their other fruits are just as delicious as well.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
I am an avid beekeeper, and I spend my weekends introducing people to my hive and teaching hands-on beekeeping lessons with members of our community.

MC McDonald, Market Manager

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
I have a background in urban farming and loved how the farmers’ markets connected local food to the community. I strongly believe in directly supporting small, local farms that are practicing sustainable farming while at the same time bringing high quality, fresh produce to communities that need it. I also love the variety of tasks, working outside, and seeing the same people every week because you end up building strong bonds.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
I love the diversity of people and history of activism in Berkeley. I love that so many people care about where their food is coming from and their desire to build relationships with the farmers that grow their food. I also love seeing new folks become interested in the markets and get excited about eating with the seasons.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
Navigating conflict. The markets are not just a shopping destination, but a space where the community comes together in a social environment. Conflict arises in these spaces and as someone who is a steward of the space, you’re the person who has to mediate the situation.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Happy Boy salad greens, Basecamp chocolate chip cookies, Cultured kombucha, and Swanton Farm’s berries.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
I love making music and have been involved in a lot of bands since I was a teenager. I also am studying Arboriculture and love to geek out about trees.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at the market?
Halloween is usually a lot of fun at the market. We have a costume contest for all the vendors and I love seeing them get really competitive and trash talk one another (in good fun, of course)!

Jeanne Taylor, Market Manager

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
The food!!! The stone fruit and tomatoes and bread. Omg. Also the citrus! So good. Also getting to know the farmers has been so fun and I love them all so much.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
The community is full of…colorful personalities and such a variety of people. They keep me on my toes. Each market is so different which keeps work interesting!

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
It’s impossible to not spend all of my money on all of the amazing food. Also the weather is tough sometimes! The rain and the wind really take it out of me.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Tomatoes! They are just 8,000 times better than tomatoes from the store, it’s amazing. I hated tomatoes when I was a kid, and now I love them.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
Skateboarding and surfing. I love challenging myself physically and spending time with my friends outdoors.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at the market?
Honestly anytime I’m working with MC I am laughing SO MUCH.

Nizam Porter, Assistant Market Manager

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
I like interacting with my community.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
I like seeing my friends and neighbors and getting to know them, and positively impacting my neighborhood.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
Working with the wide variety of people who come to our markets and meeting everyone’s needs.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Fresh, local tomatoes are a hundred times better than grocery store tomatoes. I only eat farmers’ market tomatoes.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
I am a biology student.

Myisha Kemp, Youth Intern

Why do you enjoy working at the farmers’ market?
The market has a fun vibe and the community is very strong.

What are some reasons you like to work with the Berkeley community?
The Berkeley community is really respectful and care so much about their city and I appreciate their concern for the community.

What are the most challenging parts about your job?
Making sure that the community’s needs are fully met and taking their complaints and suggestions into consideration.

What is one farmers’ market food you can’t go without?
Avocados! Specifically from Brokaw Ranch.

What is a hobby or interest that you have outside of working at the market?
Drawing and painting.

Paul Stone, Market Manager

Paul has been a leader in the natural foods movement for the past thirty years. Paul has served on the Farmers’ Market Community Advisory Committee for the past twenty years and has contributed significantly to the development of the vibrant local food movement in the Bay Area. Paul brings extensive experience to the Ecology Center from his positions as a pioneering Organic Produce Wholesaler and as a Distribution Manager for Westbrae Natural Foods and Whole Earth Access where he oversaw operations and more than fifty staff. You can find Paul at the Ecology Center booth at the Farmers’ Markets where he has managed day-to-day operations since 2012.


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