From Mariah Friend, new After the Harvest Gleaning Coordinator, who gleaning volunteers will meet at farms and gardens as their field supervisor: I’m a Kansas City native who has loved being in the garden for as long as I can remember. My mother likes to teasingly tell the story of how I “helped” her pick all of the green tomatoes one afternoon while she had her back turned weeding!

My background is in nursing and I worked as an I.C.U. nurse for almost four years. After seeing so many preventable chronic illnesses, I became increasingly interested in how nutrition affects our health. Curious to learn more, I completed a farm apprenticeship with the Growing Growers program in 2012 and spent an entire season picking, cleaning, marketing (and eating!) delicious organic produce from the Gibbs Rd. Farm and others in the area. I also spent a year volunteering on the Fair Food Nashville Committee as an advocate for human rights where I learned more about the political and economic aspects of our food systems.

Deciding to make a career change in 2013, I’ve held several positions in the nonprofit sector and have grown to love working with vulnerable populations affected by economic disparity. When I learned of the opening for a Gleaning Coordinator with After the Harvest, I was excited to see a position which married my passion for social justice, meeting new people, and being outdoors on the farm.

I’m looking forward to gleaning with volunteers of all ages, learning from local farmers, and helping feed our neighbors. True to my childhood, I can still hardly wait for the first taste of a ripe red tomato from the garden!