Peggy Acott, Community Outreach Director, Portland Nursery, Portland, OR

From: IGC Retailer, November/December, 2013

Peggy Acott, Community Outreach Director, Portland Nursery, Portland, OR
What is a typical day like for you?
My day involves checking messages to help set the day’s to-do list, which could include gift cards for auctions; gathering donation materials; writing, photographing and proofreading for our website; and e-mail communications.

What takes up most of your time?
Communication in general, and answering requests for donations, which means e-mail discussion over the course of days, sometimes weeks, depending on the size of the project.  

What “best practices” do you incorporate?
We redirect a large amount of usable material to schools and groups every year that would have otherwise gone into a dumpster. We’re also moving to a more-computerized system that will cut down on paper.

What’s the best part of your job?
It’s great when kids harvest the first vegetables they’ve ever grown and discover they’re delicious. I also appreciate the opportunity for low-income families to grow and cook with fresh, healthy food. It’s all the messages of heartfelt gratitude that remind me of the value of even the smallest donation.

What’s the worst part of your job?
Filing! My job has grown so much over the last few years that the amount of paper generated has become unwieldy. My goal this year is to create a computer system for recording the nursery’s donation activity - it will make everything much easier to track.

Do you have any new projects in the works?
We’re working on a community garden that will include wheelchair-accessible raised beds; several brand new school garden programs; and more give-back gardening programs in correctional facilities and juvenile detention facilities, where a portion of the harvest goes to local food banks.

What does the future hold for you?
School gardens and smaller scale neighborhood community gardens are still on the increase. People continue to want more direct access to good food, as they want to reconnect with the outdoors with healthy, fun activities.

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