Intern Spotlight: Eliana Torero

Blog post by Summer Intern Eliana Torero

This past summer, we had over 10 different interns all working independently on various circular economy related projects. As the summer comes to a close, we want to take a moment to appreciate Eliana Torero, one of our Farmers Market Interns!

Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in Oak Park, and I am about to start my second year of undergrad at UC Davis. I’m majoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. During my freshman year I volunteered on the student farm, and worked at the Davis Food Co-op.

What made you interested in interning with Plant Chicago’s farmers market?

In one of my classes this past year, we talked a lot about the implications of big vs. small farms, and how hard it is to be a farmer these days. It’s important to support small farms and attending farmers markets is a great way to do that! I have never worked behind the scenes at a farmers market, and was interested in learning more about what goes into running one. I also knew that Plant Chicago had started off-site markets in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, which are smaller than their on-site market at The Plant, but still important. It’s interesting getting to observe who chooses to support the markets, and even who knows about them. On my first day working an on-site market at The Plant, I was passing out flyers a few blocks away. One man I gave a flyer to said “Ok.. I don’t even know what this is”. Although people’s awareness about the importance of farmers markets is growing, there are still so many people that don’t know much about them.

What was an average day interning with Plant Chicago like?

Every day with Plant Chicago was different, which is representative of all of the moving parts that go into creating a farmers market. Many Saturdays were spent at off-site markets, which took place in various locations in Back Of The Yards. The off-site markets were much smaller than the monthly market at The Plant, so it was a different experience. On those Saturdays, I enjoyed spending time with staff members, other interns, as well as getting to know the vendors that supported Plant Chicago’s markets, whether big or small. A lot of days were also spent in Plant Chicago’s office, working on various projects that contributed to market outreach, standing in on workshops, getting work done around the farms, and preparing for markets. The craziest, busiest days were the monthly farmers markets held at The Plant. Compared to the off-site markets, it’s huge. There are over 20 vendors, and hundreds of people all fitting into the farm outside of the building. Helping to set up and take down was an intense part of the day. However, during the markets I got to meet people, eat amazing vegan BBQ, and learn about the waste station built by staff here, and get to know more about waste just by listening and being at the market.

What types of projects did you work on?

I worked at both off-site markets, and the monthly markets at The Plant.  A huge part of running a farmers market is outreach, so I helped with that by designing flyers and bringing them to neighborhood businesses and organizations. I also helped conduct research for the first city-wide #shopfarmersmarkets social media campaign, an initiative that involved over 15 market managers from Chicago working together to share information about the city’s farmers markets. This opportunity taught me a lot about the importance of markets. My last project was designing and writing vendor information cards. These cards will be a great resource for market-goers because they provide transparency about Plant Chicago’s market vendors, so people will really know what their buying options are.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about farmers markets?

Farmers markets are for everyone! There are usually many different types of vendors, so people don’t need to attend solely for buying produce. Even if someone isn’t positive they’re going to buy something, I’d still encourage anyone to still go check out a farmers market because they’re always buzzing with energy and samples! Also, stopping to talk to vendors is a great way to learn about small, local farms and businesses.

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