Introducing Mindy Ross, Elk Run’s New Field Manager
MINDY ROSS: FIELD MANAGER
Mindy is from Olympia, and is living there again at the moment. She grew up on the water out on Steamboat Island Road, and the Salish Sea remains one of her great loves. Mindy remember crabbing and going geoducking with my family as a child. Her favorite thing about summer (besides farm-grown tomatoes) is going for a night-time swim in the Sound.
Mindy attended Reed College in Portland, where she studied English Literature and wrote a creative thesis of short stories about music and road trips. She then received my Master’s in Teaching from Evergreen in 2011. She went into teaching because she loves working with youth, but found it was hard to build relationships with students when you have 150 of them a day.
During her fall student teaching, two of the students at Mindy’s school died. It was a small school, and the entire community was devastated. She struggled with her own feelings, and with how to best support her grieving students. Wanting to know what she could do, she wrote my master’s thesis on Grief in Adolescence. Mindy can tell you a lot about theories of grief and how they have evolved, but all of her research led to few concrete answers. The one that did come out clearly was this: The people who cope best with loss are those who already have an attribute called “resilience.”
Mindy has found no better way of cultivating resilience than through farming. It strengthens individuals and communities, nourishing us with healthy food and with work that connects us to the environment and each other.
Her original interest in farming grew from her interest in food. Mindy’s family has always shared home-cooked meals together, and she went from that to enjoying fancy restaurant food, and to becoming interested in local produce. When she lived in Seattle she started frequenting the University District farmer’s market, trying new foods, reading cookbooks, and getting more and more into cooking.
Six years ago, in the middle of her master’s program, Mindy had her first experience farming at Growing Places Farm in Centralia. She worked with a small crew of at-risk youth turning a parcel of land around the food bank into the beginnings of a working farm. They grew food for the food bank and developed strong relationships with one another. She saw everyone, including herself, becoming more resilient. At 26, Mindy had discovered my passion!
Mindy has been farming for the past several years now, primarily growing organic vegetables. Last year, she interned at Seattle Tilth Farm Works, where she became devoted to a community-based farming model, and where she met Maria Anderson (the current Farm Manager at Elk Run Farm).
Mindy believes farming is good for us. Working outside, getting vitamin D and exercise, having our hands dirty and in touch with all the beneficial microbes in the soil – farming makes her feel healthy and happy. Learning to build things and use tools, skills that were not a part of her liberal arts education, makes her feel strong and empowered. It is wonderful to reconnect with such an elemental part of our existence through the simple act of growing food, and anyone can do it!
Mindy is thrilled to be working for Elk Run Farm, growing food for those in our community who need it the most. She hopes to meet you out on the farm soon!