SFC would like to honor all fathers on this Father’s Day, and thought we’d start with those close to home. Matt Macioge, SFC Farmers’ Market Operations Manager, and Evan Driscoll, Farm Direct Projects Manager posed a few questions to each other, and share their perspectives on their work and their families in their responses. We invite you to get to know Matt and Evan, and to wish them a Happy Father’s Day. And, to all dads, we hope you have a very Happy Father’s Day, as well, and that your day is full of growing, sharing, and preparing healthy local food.
Why are you working in SFC’s Farm Direct department?
Matt: I came to Austin to complete my Masters of Architecture at University of Texas, and in a weird turn of events began farming. Though I had always been passionate about the environment, cooking and food, it was a life changing moment when I put my hands in soil to plant a seed. That moment opened my eyes to the impact and importance farming has on our lives. But it was not until my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our son Sam that I wanted to commit myself to the farmer and food movement. He is the future, and I want to be able to be there for him as he grows. I want to be doing something that makes a difference in his environment and is a positive role model for him.
Evan: When I moved to Austin, I admired Sustainable Food Center for its comprehensive food systems based mission and programming. SFC was one of the first organizations I’d come across to focus on such a holistic approach to food, and I figured I’d end up becoming involved with SFC one way or another. As Farm Direct Project Manager, I have the opportunity to work closely with farmers, communities, businesses, schools, other non-profit agencies, and government entities to expand our local food market, while also working to make healthy, local foods more available to those who might not have access to them otherwise – these are opportunities I happily pursue daily.
Evan: What do you plan on doing for your first father’s day?
Matt: Sam and Erica have surprise plans for us on Sunday, but Saturday you will find me at the SFC Farmers’ Markets. Sam will be in his carrier, or with John Engel, Marysol Valles, Larry and Gail or any of the other vendors he has grown to know and trust. While I may be working a bit, I will definitely be shopping for food to grill that evening. Right now I am thinking Dewberry rotisserie chicken with carrots, potatoes and corn roasting under the drippings.
Matt: What do you plan on doing for your 8th?
Evan: My 8-year old son, partner, and I will likely head out to the Downtown Farmers’ Market on Saturday and pick up fresh produce for a tasty Fathers’ Day breakfast. I love breakfast above all other meals, as I’m an egg lover. As such, we’ll be going to Milagro Farm to pick up a dozen eggs, and we’ll be looking for chard, onions, potatoes, peaches, blackberries, tomatoes, onions, and peppers from all the other farmers at market. I’m looking forward to a very delicious Father’s Day morning.
Matt: How has farming changed the way you’ve raised your son?
Evan: I started farming in 2008 largely because I was motivated to provide our son - who was two years old at the time – with good food, plenty of outdoor time, and fond memories. On our acre of leased land, I often brought Cooper out to the farm with me to help collect eggs from the chickens, water our starts in the greenhouse, pick cut lettuce with his soft, little hands, and throw tantrums when he got overwhelmingly bored. I farmed up until 2014, and have since shifted from farmer to farm supporter through my work at Sustainable Food Center. And, this week, Cooper is attending farm camp at Green Gate Farms right here in Austin, where he’s currently a ‘Farmer in Training’. While my family might not be involved in the day to day of farming any longer, they are certainly part of the farming community, and are exposed to all the wonderful farmers and ranchers who grow the fresh, healthy, delicious foods we enjoy on a weekly basis.
Evan: How has the local food and farming community influenced your parenting style?
Matt: It has taught me life is resilient and bright, but requires tenderness, a nurturing environment, and respect to flourish. Parenting is no different. It has also taught me that community matters a lot. Our environment will provide the food we need, and likewise our community will provide additional support for parenting. The local food movement is a small community that is very close and often relies on each other. Each Time I see Cooper at market, I receive a big hug and a high five. I know that like Cooper, Sammy will have the support and love of our entire community to teach and guide him. Apparently it does not take a village, but rather a farmer’s market.
But on a more personal note, I met Yoshi Goto and her son Haruka through the market. Haruka began volunteering at the market’s when he was 12; over five years ago. He has grown from volunteer, to working for vendors, and is now a member of SFC’s staff helping to set up market each week. He is an exceptional young man. When we found out we were pregnant I asked if Yoshi’s husband - Haruka’s father - would meet me for lunch for some parenting advice. Stephen Gerald has taught me so much in the short period of time we had together during our often impromptu meetings. Sadly, Stephen’s star ceased to shine a month ago, but he has left a lasting impression on Sam and my relationship. “You see. He smiles; he knows.” – Stephen Gerald
What do you want your son to pick up from your time at SFC?
Evan: My work at Sustainable Food Center gives me the opportunity to meet roughly a billion amazing people every single day – farmers who are growing amazing, sustainable food, community members who are working to incorporate healthy foods into their schools and neighborhoods, and cafeteria managers who are realizing the importance of local foods in their menus. By simply being around all this amazingness, my son will hopefully learn through osmosis from all the great role models he’s surrounded by.
Matt: There are so many lasting lessons I hope Sam has the opportunity to take from my experience with SFC. First, pursue what feel s right. Don’t be afraid to change your course if the path is leading you somewhere unexpected but interesting. Eat, Drink and Enjoy life! Good food leads to good health and more time to share the things we love with each other. Always know that there is a bigger community out there willing to help. And finally, help others. Be as kind as you can to those around you.