Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kayleigh and I ended our internship on May 15th. We spent our last week tying up loose ends for our social media strategy, and figuring out if the Slow Food Summer Series would truly happen. When we talked with Arielle we all came to the conclusion that the Summer Series would not be feasible this year. Suzanne, the chair of the Saratoga Farmers Market was pressuring us for exact dates and activities and we could not give her concrete information on our end. We had expectations to collaborate with different organizations (i.e. Skidmore Student Garden, Farmland Trust) but their was constant miscommunication. We had contacted the Skidmore student garden for an interview and in hopes of having them become a part of the series. We went there twice for a scheduled interview and both times they cancelled on us at the last minute. We were only able to get footage for the documentary and they never followed through with contacting us back about the Series. The Farmland Trust, who initially agreed to work with us on the series also never followed through. This left us with only three solid dates. Kayleigh and I were also leaving for the summer and there was really no one but Arielle to take this project on through the summer. We had initially thought that there was going to be two new interns to help Ari but neither could commit to all the dates. It was unfortunate because we had a lot of support from the Slow Food Board and the Farmer's Market but not enough resources. We learned a good lesson though. Sometimes things just don't work out and you have to made a decision to consciously pull the plug. We also did not want to leave it up to Arielle. It was our idea and we had to take ownership.

As far as the documentary. We continued to work on it past the 15th. We filmed a few more interviews at the market and some local footage around town. Kayleigh went home for a few weeks after her semester and then we edited it at the beginning of June before I left on my next adventure.

We wrapped up our internship with Arielle by creating a report on the tasks we accomplished and an overview on how we felt our internship went. For both of us, the documentary was the most meaningful. We met some of the farmers, restaurant owners, farmer's market board members, and community members who are involved in the local food movement. We also learned quite a bit about Slow Food in the community. Most of those we interviewed did not think they were a part of the movement and/or did not want to be associated with a "movement."I realized that our target audience will need to shift in order for Slow Food Saratoga to grow within the community. This local foodie driven organization by foodies, for foodies must also showcase the local farmer and the consumer accessibility issues. For me, Slow Food is about bringing to light the social and environmental issues that surround our current food system and working to create change. From what I have learned, the organization does honor ethical food but must also work to incorporate a broader audience within it's mission.

Overall the internship was really nice. I learned a lot about a start-up non profit organization. Slow Food Saratoga Region in particular that has no paid employees which I find makes things harder because everyone involved has another full-time commitment. There was never a constant stream of support from the board because everyone was really busy with other projects, jobs, kids, and life in general. Arielle took over as President of the Board mid-semester. This change in power was very apparent. John Sconzo the president before Arielle and basically built Slow Food Saratoga Region from the bottom up. He was obviously ready for a change and realized that the organization needed new energy but that meant that a lot of info and responsibility was transferred to Ari. I know Arielle has a great vision for the organization and her new role will be beneficially for the future of SFSR but like any transition, it takes time.

Kayleigh and I were Arielle's first interns and I think she learned a lot from us. We definitely learned to take some things into our own hands. Kayleigh and I started meeting on our own a few times a week in order to make sure we were getting everything done. We were given a lot of support to foster out own projects and out of that came the documentary.

We came in as interns during an important transition period for Slow Food. It was interesting to learn about an organization that I had been admiring for so long. When I head back home I hope to continue to help out with Slow Food and support their work within the community.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Over the past few weeks Kayleigh and I have been filming for the documentary. So far we have interviewed two farms and two local restaurants. It has been really fun meeting and interviewing the local vendors...

1. We began by interviewing Tim from Beekman Street Bistro. His farm to table restaurant in located in the heart of Saratoga Springs. He is super passionate about where he sources his food and has developed a really strong relationship with a few of the farms in the area. Tim believes that supporting the local farms has so many benefits and he hopes to some day grow his own vegetables.

2. We interviewed Michael Kilpatrick from Kilpatrick Family Farm. Michael is only in his mid-20s and currently owns and operates one of the largest farms/market vendors in the area. When he moved up to the area he had no idea he would be a farmer but his current lifestyle consumes his life (He loves it). He hopes to continue to grow and provide the area with great food.

3. Gordon owns a small farm, called "Nine Miles East (ironically nine miles east of Saratoga)." His farm covers a different niche in the area. He provides a "CSA" or as he calls it "Go Bag" to local offices for only ten dollars a week. He also makes prepared foods and hosts some farm to table dinners at his farm. His goal is to make the local food market easy for consumers.

4. Rich owns Four Seasons, the health food store and cafe in town. Four Seasons offers a local selection of foods, vitamins, & household items, etc. The cafe is awesome, (I eat there often) affordable and provides customers with healthy vegetarian/vegan/gluten free/raw options!

We have also shot some footage of the farmers market and the local college's community garden!

We are currently trying to map out a Slow Food Summer Series for the market this summer; finite details to come...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wednesday a few of the Slow Food Saratoga Region members attended a chocolate workshop at the Chocolate Mill in Glens Falls, New York. It was a very interesting and informative workshop put on by Certified Master Pastry Chef. Frank talked a lot about the history of chocolate and some of the social and environmental issues associated with cocoa beans. We tasted different raw chocolate and watched Frank make some of his famous chocolates, YUM!

My brother Ian attended the workshop with me and on the way home we had an interesting conversation about chocolate. Now,  I am certainly a chocolate lover and like coffee I understand that the acquisition of it is a bit on the sketchy side. Buying a bar of fair trade organic dark chocolate costs more than a Hershey's bar. I can comprehend that the externalized costs associated with a Hershey's bar are (hopefully) built in to the cost of the fair, trade organic bar ($1 vs. $4). That I can tackle, grasp, and make a conscious decision about.

The conversation I had with my brother was more about the chocolate workshop we attended, the consumption of "chocolates," and other expensive commodities; more or less luxury food items. These items are even associated with events, tastings and in this case a workshop (one I was able to attend because the cost was paid for by my organization). After operating in a four year institution that preached accessibility, social/environmental justice,  saving the world, and existing in moderation, this "foodie" world I am currently involved in has me thinking quite a bit.

I am also aware of the small business owner, the chef, the brewer, the farmer, and the chocolatier who put their time and effort in creating something amazing. I love good beer, good cheese, good wine. I also prefer that most food items are organic and local. My food budget it the biggest of them all, and I believe it should be. I can also understand that those who have money can afford events, tastings, etc and in most cases the money is donated to a charitable cause.

My real question is how much is too much? How do these particular food items fit into an environmental food movement that advocates accessibility.

Last Saturday I attended another event held by Brown's Brewing Company in Troy, NY. The event was fun. We had our annual meeting there followed by a beer, cheese, and sweets tasting and finally a showing of the documentary Urban Roots. The film was amazing; Urban Detroit being revitalized by community gardens (right up my alley).

So I suppose that there was nothing wrong with the event. The beer and cheese were local and money went to the film makers. I just couldn't help but feel awkward about being there, enjoying really great food and beer with an exclusive crowd of people who paid a lot of money to get in to see a movie about people who have nothing.

Recently I feel like a snob. "Is that fair trade coffee." "Do you have any local beer on tap, and do you have a glass pint instead of the plastic?" (Never actually outwardly expressed) Deciding where to grab a bite to eat with friends is always difficult (I usually have a separate stop). Of course if those are the least of my problems I should not be conflicted at all.

I just feel like I walk around with an "I only eat the best" attitude. (I find myself inaccessible) I suppose, ironically, it is because what I think is good, is good for everyone and everything (ethically, environmentally).

my continued path of self-discovery...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Next week is my first official Slow Food Saratoga Region chapter meeting. Along with the Chapter meeting is the Browns Brewing Co event. A local venue will be showing the film, Urban Roots, and there will be a beer and cheese tasting, yummmy! 

Kayleigh and I are working on what we are calling the "Slow Food Summer Series". We are going to showcase local organizations and put on demonstrations at the farmers market every other Saturday between the months of June , July, and August. Prospective guests: 

1. Fields Goods Founder, Donna Williams, a CSA of sorts that offers an affordable month by month payment plan
2. American Farmland Trust
3. Skidmore Gardens, the campus garden club
4. Food Revolution representative  (Jaime Oliver's movement)
5. Composting Expert (We have not found yet)
As far as the documentary, we have been successful in acquiring individuals/organizations who are interested. We are in the process of scheduling interviews. We were also thinking of including interviews of college students  and maybe slow food board members. We would like to start interviewing once the event this weekend is over. 

We have been in contact with local farms and restaurants who have responded eagerly to the prospect of being part of the film. Although they are eager a handful of them have been expressing apprehension. They seem to believe that they are not taking part in the slow food movement. I found this ironic because I think of them as BEING the slow food movement or at least an integral part of the movement. They are providing people with delicious, nutritious great food that is “slow”. After just a brief email conversation with one farmer, I learned that he attended a slow food event that was more about luxury cuisine that local food and community. I also share his concern with the movement. I do think the slow food movement is moving forward in a positive direction, it cannot be an elitist movement. It needs to be driven by community, living locally, and most importantly working to educate everyone and to make this food more accessible for EVERYONE! With that being said, I know Ari, Kayleigh and I are on board in that respect and I hope we can truly support those ideals moving forward. 



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kayleigh and I met last Wednesday to discuss the documentary that we will both be working on. We have certain goals for the film: We want the film to communicate the definition of Slow Food clearly and effectively to all the viewers. We want to interview people, organizations, and farms in the community in order to give the viewer a broad perspective on what is currently going on in the Saratoga region. Next, we want to cover the issues of accessibility and then finally some helpful tips for consumers. Kayleigh and I have started by emailing local contacts to interview.

On Friday, we also started to plan the Brown's Brewing Company event. We want to make sure we have an informational booth up for those who are interested in Slow Food info. We are planning on giving away some swag to the crowd and  networking with other like-minded organizations and individuals. Before the event we will be holding our annual meeting for all Slow Food Members. Because two of our board members stepped down, there will be a vote for two more new board members.

We will also be participating in a local chocolate making event. It is a chocolate making class that will be sponsored by slow food and all of us will have the chance to participate as Slow Food members. I am really excited about this!!

Kayleigh and I are also hoping to have a physical presence at the farmers market this summer. We want to have special guests every Saturday to provide shoppers with anything from gardening tips to cooking recipes. We are working on how we will coordinate these guests and  on who exactly we want to connect with.

More to come!


Monday, March 26, 2012

On Saturday, Kayleigh and I met with our on-site supervisor, Arielle and the rest of the Slow Food board. Unfortunately we found out that both the President and Vice President of the organization would be stepping down in the near future. They started Slow Food in the Saratoga Region and believe that it is time for the younger members like Arielle to take on more responsibility. It came as sort of a shock to me but I understood where they were coming from. They let us know that they would still be slow food members and resources for all of us. We checked in with one another, has delicious baked good from the local bakery, Mrs. Londons, and talked about moving forward.

Kayleigh expressed interest in making a slow food documentary and I agreed to help take the project on. We are going to meet this week and create a storyboard. We want to showcase the slow food movement in Saratoga so that people can grasp the ideals on our mission.

We are also going to be planning an event at Brown's Brewing company in Troy, NY. Brown's is a local brewery that grows their own hops and is located very close to my hometown. They will be putting on a farm to table event and Slow food will be co-sponsoring the event. There will be local beer, cheese and sweets.

In Addition the film Urban Roots is going to be shown. It is a story about the emerging urban farming movement in Detroit. "Devastated by the collapse of its manufacturing base, dedicated citizens have started a movement that is transforming their city, as well as our country at the end of the industrial age. Urban Roots shows how we can prevail in the most difficult of times and places."

Michele Owens, Gardener and Author of Grow the Good Life: Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise, will be our special guest.

As of right now we have only begun to plan this exciting event. More new to come!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The social media aspect of my internship has been quite interesting. Facebook, Twitter, and Websites are a great outlet for networking with like-minded people, educating those who are unfamiliar with our mission and cross-promoting events. Kayleigh and I have been featuring some local organizations as well as sharing ideas and recipes on the blog (check it out...

I am also responsible for the email account. We receive emails about events and from people who want more information about slow food in Saratoga. I have also had people who are a part of slow food in other areas email us and they want to know where to eat when they are visiting. It makes me feel really special to share my ideas with other people.

Kayleigh created an amazing flyer for the community (above). We wanted to give it an "occupy feel" and thought that the statistic was grabbing. We have created a database and continue to add to it. It is made of of farms, restaurants, vendors, and like minded organizations that we hope to work with in the future.

We have also drafted a letter to send to farms. It contains information about our organization and willingness to work together in the future.

It has been absolutely beautiful here over the past few weeks and I can't help but think about the outdoor market. Kayleigh and I have been pondering the thought of a booth at the market this spring. It would give us another opportunity to educate the community! We have a meeting with the board on tuesday and will be presenting our idea.

More to come...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recently Kayleigh and I have been working on promoting Slow Food through online social media sites like facebook and twitter. Slow Food Saratoga does have a facebook, twitter, and website that need to be maintained and Kayleigh and I share responsibility in doing so. We have been researching the local food scene on a few different levels. We are identifying farms, restaurants, other food distributers, markets and like minded organizations in hopes of networking. We are also creating a Slow Food database so that we can communicate and cross-promote events. It has been fun researching the local food scene; I hope to meet new people and further our mission.

The past few weeks have been a wonderful introduction to Slow Food Saratoga. My onsite supervisor and Slow Food board member is Arielle. She is a Skidmmore College alum and currently runs her own business. I am also working with another intern Kayleigh; she is a sophmore at Skimore College and is pursuing a dregree in sociology.

In late January, Arielle and the Slow Food Saratoga board of directors invited Kayleigh and I to a "Slow Food Dinner." It was held at Hatties, a local restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs, that is know for its Southern cuisine. It was nice to get to know everyone a little better and to share some delicious food. The slow food benefits bring like-minded people together and also promote local venues. Arielle, Kayleigh and I also had a chance to outline our expectations for the internship.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This blog is a personal reflection of an internship I am pursuing with the organization Slow Food Saratoga. This organization is interested in "promoting, clean, fair, & good food in the Saratoga Region. They are vested in preserving culinary biodiversity, enjoying home cook meals made with family and friends, local food, appreciating food from farm to table, tasting new things, supporting ethical and sustainable food, recognizing the achievement of local food producers, ad exploring food culture. Slow Food Saratoga is a grass roots, non-profit organization. 

Throughout my internship I hope to use my resourcefulness and creativity to help the movement grow and reach more people on a local level


1. Management of the Slow Food social media (Facebook, Twitter, and the Slow Food website).
2. Email List and Newsletter Management. I will communicating directly with Slow Food Members and continuing to add to the Slow Food database. 
3. Networking with like minded organizations to cross promote events. 

These everyday activities will help Slow Food Saratoga become more active in the community!

I will also be a part of putting some long term strategies in place: 

1. Generating interest in Slow Food within the community. 
2. Help implement and promote this Slow Food basic cooking classes. 
3. Help plan and promote a Slow Food pop up restaurant this spring which will bring in local chefs to create meals with local/artisinal ingredients. 
4. I will help coordinate Slow Food hosted dinners at local, "slow" restaurants.

1. To gain a better understanding of a local non profit organization interested in promoting the farm to table movement. 
2. To gain "real world" experience working with a non profit that is interested in the local food movement. 
3. Helping this grassroots organization move forward. 
4. I hope to reach out locally and learn about what is happening in this specific community in relation to food. 

I am so excited about this wonderful opportunity! 

more to come