Q&A with Alexandra Tomaso, Pietree Orchard
In her role as Public Relations & Event Coordinator for Pietree Orchard in Sweden, Maine, Alexandra Tomaso connects people to their food. She does this when they come to the orchard, but also after they go home through their blog, newsletter and social media. Alexandra took a few minutes to answer questions about the intersection of farm-based education and her role at Pietree.
Why did you become interested in farm-based education?
I landed a great job as a Personal Assistant here at Pietree Orchard in 2013. I knew nothing about farming when I took the job. I thought I did, but soon realized I needed to educate myself. I connected to the farm and the farming community quickly, enjoying everything I learned a long the way. Not everyone is lucky enough to do this. I want to make it possible for everyone to connect to farms. I want to make it possible for everyone to see, taste, and smell how food is grown. All people eat, and all people should have the opportunity to connect to their food the way I have in the last few years. The lessons I have learned on the farm are invaluable; sharing these lessons with others is an amazing experience.
Could you describe your orchard's mission and the programs you offer that help fulfill the mission?
We are here to produce nutritious fruits and vegetables using local labor and provide a place for people of all ages to learn about fruit and vegetable agriculture in Maine. We sell our fruits, vegetables, and baked goods at our farmstand in season, participate in local farmers’ markets, and sell to local restaurants and stores. We offer a variety of pick-your-own crops, allowing customers to experience hands-on harvesting. We offer custom tours, educational talks, farm demonstrations, and tastings. Our school orchard tours are customized to students' ages and teachers' curricular needs.
What impact do you hope to have on the people who visit the orchard?
I hope to connect people to their food. I love having a role in people experiencing fresh fruit right off the tree. Tree ripened fruit is something all people should taste- it will change your life! I love to bring kids to the farm; I hope they see all the love and labor that goes into what they eat and leave with a greater appreciation for their food. I hope our weekly blog and monthly newsletter will help people prepare delicious, locally grown meals at home!
What do you know how about farm-based education that you wish you knew when you started?
How much fun it is and how many other passionate people are involved in farm-based education. I now know that there are limitless resources and people to connect with.
What are your vision and hopes for the fast-growing movement of farm-based education?
I love having a role in people experiencing fresh fruit right off the tree. Tree ripened fruit is something all people should experience. Bringing kids to the farm to learn about food, how it is grown, and how to have a smaller footprint on this earth is my passion! Helping all know how to prepare fresh food is important to me.