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The Recipe That Inspired a Career

I will readily admit that I am a grown-up (unfortunately) who often doesn't know which direction I should take in life. I know my greater purpose though, and I believe that if I keep making small steps with good intentions then God will steer me down the path I'm meant to take. And small, seemingly insignificant things done with great intentions, by many people, can lead to monumental changes.

This is why it helps to have a village. The village can raise the child (for better or worse) and the village nurtures the adult. It inspires us to be more than just our solitary selves.

Hannah's journey with Mill Village began when a science teacher did a small thing with good intention; he started a garden at her high school. She took the step of starting a Garden Club to maintain that garden with her best friend. Her interest in the garden let that science teacher to suggest she look to Mill Village Farms for a summer job. She took that step too, and working with MVF put her inside a very unique Village. Here she had access to the resources and the experts who could challenge her to grow. At MVF her group was given a problem to solve: how can MVF get customers to take an interest in the more obscure veggies that grow locally? Things like squash, okra, and eggplant don't seem easy to serve simply steamed; we need some guidance on what to do with them. It seems like an obvious marketing question for a farmer to ask, but it turns out the question had a much higher purpose within it.

About this time, another passionate person intervened with a small thing done with great intentions. Traci Lynne Barr, a long time advocate of the whole food movement, a chef and an educator jumped into the mix. She offered to teach the kids some of the culinary skills they needed to help them solve their problem; how to make worthy stuff out of those poorly understood veggies.


She invited Hannah's work group to her home for a lesson. What resulted was a beautiful Ratatouille and an even more beautiful mentoring relationship. That evening Hannah was so inspired by Traci's energy and passion for the potential of good food that she began down a new path. She realized she enjoyed the process of cooking: going through specific steps to get a unique and personal result and then offering it to others to nurture them, but also to learn their perceptions of it.

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The Ratatouille and it's recipe was offered as a sample at MVF's mobile market. It had the desired result of encouraging customers to buy more local, seasonal vegetables to try making it themselves.

Hannah decided to use her new joy of cooking for a project at school and asked Traci to mentor her again. For this project Hannah wrote a recipe book called "Through Curiosity" and presented it at school with a dish Traci had shown her: a simple Butternut Squash Soup served with homemade croutons.

Hannah realized the value in being able to give others comfort and make them healthier with a simple nutritious meal. Her grandmother had also demonstrated this to her with her ability to take the most meager ingredients and turn them into something delicious. Hannah admired the skill & creativity she saw in these formidable women.

Over her time with Traci and MVF, Hannah had also come to appreciate the importance of fresh food to our health, and wants to see everyone have access to it. The fact that some of us are not able to open the fridge and find something natural and unpackaged disturbs her.

Hannah's chosen post-secondary path is now somewhere in the food world and she's currently investigating her options at several Culinary schools in the South. So all those small steps taken within the Village will raise Hannah, and in the long run, all of us to greater heights.

Story written by Tricia Reynolds