11 December 2010

Farewell Letter from the Executive Director

Executive Director Ann Forsthoefel and Senior Market Manager Jaret Foster

December 18th will be my last market as PFM’s Executive Director. The past two and half years have been the best of my professional career and I am so sorry my time at PFM is coming to an end. The journey has been extraordinary and I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute. Even during challenging times I always knew that I was one of the lucky ones. I have been fortunate to be paid for doing work that is both my vocation and avocation. I got paid to hang out with farmers, local food producers, shoppers who are extreme local foodies, extraordinary chefs, dedicated board members and the best damn volunteers and staff in the world. I have been truly blessed and the PFM community will always hold a special place in my heart.

It goes without saying that running the markets wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our board and staff. The next time you see a red-shirted staff member at the markets or call the office, say thanks or give them a hug. Working at a non-profit organization, these individuals are not making the big bucks and many of them only work for us 9 months out of the year, finding temporary work to get them by until the season starts again. Yet, year after year they return. Why? Because the markets are magical and it feeds their souls.

Most importantly, my thanks go out to you, farmers and shoppers. The markets exist because of your dedication. Weekly, I am amazed at the number of repeat shoppers we have at the markets. Dear shoppers, you have truly made a difference in the local food movement. Without you we would have never have created one of the most robust local food systems in the world. Educated and dedicated – the perfect combination for changing the conventional food system.

To our many value added food artisans and hot food concessionaires, I thank you for the passion you bring to your craft and for helping to make our markets a true showplace for local food.  It is because of this strength and diversity that our markets are so successful.

My dear farmers, I know the joy and sacrifice of your labor and it is the most noble of all professions. To you my last salute goes; you are the true heroes. Gnarled, soil-creased hands, slightly hunched backs and faces of extreme character; your beauty makes every day sunny. Daily on our behalf you plant and harvest in the rain, wind and sun. You tend to your animals through birth and death and defy convention in order to produce the best, most wholesome food, only to face the extreme odds of making a profit. I know as you review your checking account each month you ponder: is this worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes it is! You are our salvation, our connection to the whole.  Without you we have no guiding star; we have no hope of creating a society that is connected and nourished. You are and always will be my substance, literally and metaphorically. I leave you with this: No matter where I am, I will fight, educate, cajole, and give my last my breath to making local farmers prosperous, understood and loved.

~ Ann

To our beloved Ann,

Your considerable passion, strength, integrity, leadership and warmth have been an inspiration and a gift to our organization and the Portland community.  We wish you a world of happiness on your new adventure and will always keep a special place for you in our hearts.  You will be dearly missed.

~Your PFM Family