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Chester County Press

Landenberg Life Q & A

09/21/2017 03:16PM ● By Richard Gaw
When Landenberg resident Heather Sachs took over as a coordinator of the New Garden Growers Market earlier this year, she inherited what has become a Saturday destination spot for hundreds of local residents from spring to late fall. Along with her two co-partners Sarah Carmody and Becca Logan, Heather is transforming a Landenberg landmark, vendor by vendor, concept by concept. Recently, Landenberg Life met with Heather to discuss the market, what led her to an appreciation and knowledge of natural living, and why more people are taking the time to better understand what they're putting into their bodies.  

Landenberg Life: When you, Sarah and Becca took over for Carin Bonafacino as the market's management team earlier this year, what were your goals for this season, and in what ways have those goals been achieved?
Sachs:  We had no idea what we were heading into. I had never run a market before. Becca  had dabbled at markets but had never run one before, and Sarah was new to it as well. I am the marketing manager at Harvest Market in Hockessin, so my personal goal was to modernize the market's signage and other components as well, in the attempt to bring new life to the market. I had gone to the market years before, and seen Carin's son, David, juggling. At the time, he was about 10 years old, which is my son's age now, and I remember feeling, 'I would love to have my son at this market with me, helping people set up and learning about community.' When I received word that Carin was about to move on, I met her at Harvest Market and told her, 'I'm in.'
For the first year, we wanted to maintain what Carin had achieved, and not set too many goals. We have a lot of room to grow, from the standpoint of finding new customers, developing our marketing strategy and bringing more people into this lifestyle.

What advice did Carin give the three of you?
She told us to always include the vendors in on conversations when it's necessary, and to listen to the customers.

Take me back to the early morning of May 6 -- opening day of this year's New Garden Growers Market. What kinds of emotions were you all feeling?
Exhilaration and excitement. None of us knew what to expect, but we went into it completely open, with ideas and plans, and it was an amazing first market. The vendors were equally as excited to turn a new page in the market.

There is power in numbers, especially when the numbers are creative and have ideas. Talk about the partnership that you, Sarah and Becca have.
We had a few training sessions with Carin, but then when we first sat down alone with each other, I felt that it was amazing that three people who had never worked closely together could bounce from idea to idea, and keep the ideas fresh and the conversation flowing. We probably discussed 500 things that night together, and it began to create this great symbiosis. 

How did you arrive at learning and becoming immersed in the world of natural living, and the distribution and appreciation of organic food and products?
I have a Master's degree in counseling, so I have always liked helping people, but when it came to food, I knew nothing until my son was diagnosed with food allergies when he was a year-and-a-half old. He had his first and second exposure to peanuts when he was in preschool. At the time, I was working in Wilmington and I didn't know anything about allergies, and I actually sent my friend to the daycare with Benadryl while I was at work. I didn't know how life threatening it was for him at the moment. Once I got on that path, I began to learn about what the causes were for children with allergies,  and it always came back to food and chemical exposure. I thought they must go hand in hand. I knew what the word 'Organic' meant, but I didn't understand it. I felt like I was looking into the window, but I needed someone to pull me into that lifestyle. 
The first time I shopped at Harvest Market, I purchased every wonderful piece of food that I could find, and my bill was astronomical. Four years ago, I filled out an application there, and since then, it's been an enlightening journey of learning and discovery.

Farmers markets have grown from 1,700 in the United States in 1994 to more than 8,000 today. What's been the driving force behind this incredible rise?
In my opinion, it's a combination of health and the need for transparency. When I was younger, we didn't discuss how food is fuel. Food was what you did when you were hungry. A lot of our parents' generation are sick and so many of our children are living with allergies, so I think we've been forced into a situation where we need to know more about what we're putting into our bodies. People are beginning to fully engage in the knowledge that they can turn to food to restore health, which is such a beautiful return to tradition, as well as a method of better understanding our bodies.
Also, people appreciate that food companies are being more transparent about the products they are providing.

The New Garden Growers Market has become known as much more than a place that sells fresh fruits and vegetables. There's a bigger mission there. Define that mission.
We sell Amish farmer Aaron Esh's products at the Harvest Market, and when I found out that he also sells at the Growers Market, I was very excited, because he's like a celebrity. To meet him, for me, was the realization that I was helping his family. That's why farmers markets have grown, because people want to make those connections. When we choose to, we want to engage in that personal touch. The customers have a relationship with these growers. There's a trust there, and that becomes a community.

What have been your favorite moments at the New Garden Growers Market this year? Does anything stand out to you?
The Tomato Festival and the Zucchini Races. It allowed us to connect the food to the person or people who are growing that food.

What is your favorite spot in Landenberg?
I am so lucky to live at the start of the Edward Leeds Trail in the White Clay Creek Preserve. There's a little area off of the trail and it takes you to a rocky beach with big boulders and a spot of water that's about six feet deep. It's a little gem. Going to the creek makes me feel incredibly lucky to live so close to that very special place.

What guests would you invite to your dinner party?
I want this party to be an eclectic group of women who represent everything that I do. The person who immediately comes to mind is Robyn O'Brien, an allergy advocate who's child has food allergies. I watched her TED Talk about four years ago, and it changed my life. She has led me down this path that I am still on. The next person will be Shiva Rea, a world traveler and yoga teacher. The next will be Dr. Vandana Shiva, an advocate for nutritional food, would be wonderful to have at that dinner. The last woman will be Rosemary Gladstar, an herbalist. These women are a part of every path that I'm on right now.

What food can always be found in your refrigerator?
Fruits and veggies. I sneak them into my children's school lunches, which are filled with a small amount of protein and a lot of fruits and vegetables, and they love it.

The New Garden Growers Market is located at 8849 Gap-Newport Pike (Rt. 41), near the entrance to the New Garden Township Park. The market takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine, through Nov. 18. For more information, visit www.newgardengrowers.com. Are you interested in being a vendor? Send an email to info@newgardengrowers.com.

-- Richard L. Gaw

 


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