Senior year is a tough time for many college students. It’s a year riddled with difficult decisions waiting to be made and the end to what many people call “the best years of my life.” As a result, most students go on to a job they don’t care much about, thinking only about their college loans.
Heidi Frame, a recent SUNY Fredonia graduate, is an exception to this general principle. She found a position she is truly passionate about—running the Fredonia Farmer’s Market.
This is not Heidi’s first encounter with local food. Her passion for the self-sustaining community came through a course offered at Fredonia, titled Sustainability in America. The class gave her a great respect for farmers, especially after taking a field trip to local farm and CSA Gong Garden. After the class, she became involved in running Earth Week programs on campus that advocated eating locally, and even sat on a panel with other members of the community for an event.
The farmer’s market had an open position, and Heidi was recommended to fill it by professor Christina Jarvis. The previous coordinators, Susan Mackay and Barbara Sam, founded the Fredonia Farmer’s Market about five years ago and are still very active in its running. Heidi brings a new, fresh outlook to events planning, but still has her ideas approved by Market Manager Barbara Sam before putting them into action.
Heidi has taken it upon herself to make each Saturday unique. Each market runs from 8am-1pm, but from 10:30-12:30 there is a special program. These include concerts from local musicians, crafts for kids, bike sales and lectures. There have also been cooking with produce demonstrations from local restaurant The White Inn and a Pet Appreciation Day. While each weekend is different, Heidi is working to promote August 29 as a bigger event.
The Awareness Fair that will be held on this day is due in part to the recycling containers that were donated in Fredonia. This is also the first weekend after classes at SUNY Fredonia begin, and Heidi is looking to attract the student population out to the Barker Commons, getting them involved in the community. In a way, it is a sort of celebration that the students are back in town. Activities for the day include a concert by student Ned Campbell, crafts for kids and a visit by local artist Aaron Walters who will show how he uses beach trash to make art. The Fredonia campus has made immense progress in terms of recycling, and this, Heidi hopes, will spread that awareness and enthusiasm to the community. Fredonia is already a very conscious community, and for those who are very active in recycling, this event will serve as a renewal of enthusiasm for sustainability.
Although Heidi’s position is only considered part time, she is obviously putting in many more hours. On top of the events planning, she calls each vendor every week to find out who will be there, collects the weekly fee, updates the facebook page and writes the press releases. Every Saturday, she is at the commons at 7 am to help the farmers set up for the market, and stays late to help them clean up. Heidi has also worked hard to bring new vendors to the market, and a full market has 22 vendors.
Although this wasn’t Heidi’s original goal, it suits her well, and she is learning that she likes this sort of social role. Plans always change depending on what comes along, but she thinks that the Fredonia Farmer’s Market may serve as a stepping stone to running a bigger market. She is still going ahead with her original plan—she will be starting grad school at Fredonia in the fall for English Literature, and eventually pursuing a PhD in order to become an English professor. Also in the fall she will be a Teacher’s Assistant, teaching a class of unruly freshman the finer points of English Comp.
For Heidi, running the market is a way for her to help bring food and food making back to the family endeavor. It is a way for her to connect to the people who are the backbone of the community; those that she believes have the most honorable profession. It is also a way for her to connect the farmers to the community, especially the student population. Heidi has become a valuable asset to the Fredonia community so quickly after graduation, it is truly admirable.
posted by Ashley Zengerski