Tessa's FarmOn! Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to preserve family farming in America. How? Primarily through youth education, with an eye toward fostering community, the bond that brings us all together and seals our livelihoods, our commitments to one another and to the planet.
Learn more about the Empire Farm Ag-Academy and Community Center here.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
It's not an 'a-ha moment' per se, but a tipping point and convergence of timing, place and experience that wakes you up on a path with a passion that is unstoppable. Born into an agricultural community and dairy farming, I fled life on the farm in pursuit of glamour, travel and success. After putting myself through college, I launched a food product to market successfully that I sold 10 years later (and is still on shelves today). After learning the ugly truth about the big business of food first-hand, I decided to do something about it. I wanted to bring awareness to the family farm and nutrition density local food offers, not only for food security but as an economic engine and community bond around food education, starting with our youth. I started FarmOn! Foundation with this idea, in a movement to change the way America eats with food education and farm preservation, inspiring the next generation to feed us - and farm on!
How did you get your current good food job?
I made it up. At Empire Farm, we say, 'Get up, dress up and show up!' Make it happen. And change the world!
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
Learning the business of food, with roots based in everything-you-ever-needed-to-know-you-learn-on-a-working-farm, inspired me to think about who will feed us in the future? And take action in my back yard to create a replicable template for change.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
Big picture keeps you inspired. Never mind the daily challenges! The key is keeping your cool, staying focused and on budget. In a grass roots or startup role, these are the greatest obstacles you face setting yourself up for success. Failure is not an option.
Name one positive thing that a former employer taught you that you continue to appreciate?
I believe in you. Hard work pays off. When passion drives you, it is not work.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
Youth education with seed & soil to develop real life skills and healthy eating as a lifetime habit. Food policy focused on local sourcing, chemical free practices and access for all to fresh healthy food.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
Time. Time is a true luxury.