Tales from the Team: On Sharing

This is the first post in Tales from the Team – a series of reflections, thoughts, and behind-the-scenes stories from our coordinating team. Today, Program Development Coordinator Jenna Anders shares a bit on sharing. 

Photo courtesy of The Bruin Club

Photo courtesy of The Bruin Club

In the last two years, as a coordinator for Market Shares and a co-oper at Brown’s Environmental Program House (West House), I’ve changed – I am now incapable of cooking for fewer than 30 people. I roast vegetables by the bushel, adding oil in cups and salt in handfuls. At first, this solicited shock and amazement amongst my friends, but by now, they expect it. I am the friend who brings a gallon tub of lentils to a small potluck and several pounds of carrots to a meeting. I wish I could say this is intentional, that I do this out of a belief in the power of large quantities of vegetables to nourish relationships or facilitate meetings. But I think by now it’s simply out of habit, from two years of living in a food co-op where I share my meals with 30 friends on a regular basis.

Because I live in West House, I don’t have a Market Share. West House orders our food from several of the same farmers and producers as Market Shares, so I haven’t felt the need to buy a share for myself. As a Market Shares coordinator, I am allowed to take a few pieces of produce from the share every week. Often, I simply grab a few apples for snacks throughout the week, or a carrot to bring to the library (sorry if I’ve disturbed your studying with my crunching!). Occasionally, I take a few extra root vegetables to add to the West House pot.

Market Shares and West House are more similar than in the farms we order from. Both are communities dedicated to sharing. At West House, co-opers take turns cooking, and we gather to share dinner (usually a legume, a grain, and roasted root vegetables) every night. In Market Shares, over 81% of shareholders report that they share their produce with 2-5 people every week, and the sight of familiar bright green tote bags floating around campus every Thursday elicits smiles and friendly nods to strangers.

 The BMSP community introduced me to a large number of positive and energetic people who share my interests – and are often more knowledgeable about these interests than I am. The process is not just about moving vegetables from farmers to forks; it’s about hundreds of people coming together to share their enthusiasm, knowledge, and commitment to conscious consumption. With over 350 individuals working together to this end, supporting each other – whether in the form of sharing recipes or contributing to our subsidized program – our community is a strong force in the local food system. This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my work with Market Shares, that I get to be part of a community that shares more than just vegetables. 

It is now genuinely a challenge to cook for only a few people. When I leave the co-op and finally sign up for a Market Share next year, I’ll have to relearn how to measure out my spices and eyeball a proper serving of rice.