Spotlight on Marie Boyd, Healthy Harvest of North Iowa
Our local food coordinator spotlight this month is on Marie Boyd, special project manager for Healthy Harvest of North Iowa.
What do you do as a local food coordinator?
I like to say that we function as connectors between local businesses, organizations, and consumers in north Iowa. My role typically involves leading programing at farmers markets, facilitating community discussions and event planning, and promoting the sale of local products through marketing and relationship-building. No two days are the same, and I love every minute.
How long have you been in this job, and what is your background?
I began my role with Healthy Harvest of North Iowa in the spring of 2016, or just under three years ago. My undergraduate degree was in criminology and political science, which I followed up with a certificate in nonprofit management.
My food-related nonprofit career started began with three years as an AmeriCorps VISTA at a small nonprofit, Community Harvest Project. There I engaged with a piece of the local food system that involved a volunteer farming program that provided fresh produce to those in need in Massachusetts.
Following that, I spent two years working with Blue Zones Project in Mason City. We promoted well-being initiatives including access to, and consumption of, healthy foods through community programing and policy.
My passion has always been focused around building community around food and farming. Being a local food coordinator is the ideal outlet.
What are some of your favorite projects?
This past year, I have been fortunate to work on a project we call “Cooking Up a Healthier North Iowa.” We focused on bringing recipe demonstrations and cooking classes to farmers markets and community spaces. It’s been an amazing experience, getting to work with local chefs to promote recipes that highlight seasonal, healthy recipes to our community members, using an incredible tool called a Charlie Cart.
A close-second favorite would be our community-based Farm to Fork Dinners. Every event has a different way presenting that community’s flavor and partnerships, and each one feels like a living Pinterest experience.
In addition to that, I’ve loved our recently created local business networking group called the North Iowa Local Food Connection. It has provided numerous relationship-building opportunities that I truly believe will have a great, positive impact on our local food system for years to come.
In this field, every season looks a little different. We are looking forward to continuing the Connection program, expand our programing with the Charlie Cart, and pursuing the numerous opportunities that are developing through our farm to school conversations.
What new projects or directions are you looking forward to?
I also look forward to continuing a field trip experience with a local high school culinary program. It allows the students to experience a farm to table connection with their food by visiting a farm and then having lunch at a local restaurant that serves that farm’s products. And last year’s involved a stop at the local meat locker to experience the processing component! Never a dull moment in the local food world!
What do you love most about your job?
The best part about my job would have to be the fantastic people, followed very closely by all the amazing foods. There’s nothing I love more than getting to invite friends and family over to our home and serve them a meal where I can tell a story about each product used and the farmer who brought it to our table.
What’s your favorite local food or recipe?
My all-time favorite food is sugar snap peas, but a favorite go-to recipe to share would have to be Zoodles Primavera, created by one of our partner chefs — Sally Pressley of The Decker House Bed and Breakfast in Mason City. Here it is (below)!