Photo: Amanda Vanhoozier, Just Picked (left), and Amanda Austin, CFM Manager (right) at the 2017 Texas Organic Farmers and Growers Conference
If you’ve lived in Coppell anytime in the past 20 years and have been involved in its active outdoor education, gardening, or farmers market scene you’ve probably met the woman who had a major hand in making it all happen: Amanda Vanhoozier. Amanda, once a city employee, is a sought-after community organizer and the author of a new blog called “Just Picked” dedicated to food-and-farming advocacy in North Texas. Amanda Vanhoozier will be the keynote speaker at the Coppell Farmers Market celebration of National Farmers Market on Saturday, August 12.
If ever there were a perfect person to head up “Just Picked”, it is Amanda. She’s spent hundreds of hours on research, education and farm visits; has more than 800 farmers market days under her belt; and personally knows nearly every agricultural producer in a 200-mile radius (and those connected to local food production at any level).
I met Amanda Vanhoozier in 2012 when we both spoke at the Texas Organic Food and Farming (TOFGA) conference as guest presenters. That year, Amanda talked about her 15 years of professional experience cultivating food-and-farming communities by organizing community gardens. At the time, she and a committee of volunteers were knee-deep in growing what the Dallas Morning News writer Kim Pierce has routinely dubbed one of the best farmers markets in D/FW, and I was completely inspired by Amanda’s accomplishments.
That feeling remains to this day. When I asked Amanda Vanhoozier, “Why the blog?” she answered with this:
“This is a true story. The Coppell Community Garden started the Ground Delivery Garden almost 20 years ago. On any given Saturday morning, people going to the [Coppell] Post Office would walk across the parking lot with wallet in hand and want to buy produce! The answer was always that the produce is donated to families in need and they would sadly walk away. Seemed there was another need for our community, and that was a place for people to buy farm fresh produce; and what better chance to also help our rural friends [than] with a market to support their family farms and make a vibrant, healthy community in the process? The Coppell Farmers Market had this beginning in 2003.
It hit me at the Local Food, Local Places Summit in Dallas last year that we are relying on national trends to carry our love of growing, supporting and belonging to a local food system to take us into the future. And that we need more of a local buzz around local food in North Texas! I saw this as a gap, so I’ve started an online presence to give local champions the stories and resources to interact with and share.”
Amanda went on to explain that the word “Just” in “Just Picked” means:
Fair: Purchasing directly from a producer supports the integrity of your food and dollars spent goes back into their worthy work.
Fresh: The shorter the distance (in time and proximity) from production to consumer, the fresher. This doesn’t only include just-picked seasonal produce, but bread baked only a few hours before you pick it up.
Wholly: This is exactly what you need for a complete, wholesome connection with the food you eat and share.
If you’re proud to see this special project come out of our very own community, you can follow along at: www.JustPickedTX.com