We had the good fortune of connecting with Anne Genson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anne, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
As a small, local non=profit, the most important factor behind our success is community and relationships. Especially as a non-profit, you have to build a network of supporters who show up to help whenever they can. Sproutin’ Up is only successful because of our volunteers and we take this seriously. Volunteers help with SO much from gardening (planting, prepping, weeding, harvesting) to helping with fundraisers to spreading the word about our programs throughout the community. Not only do we have individuals who volunteer their time to make us successful, we also have so many local businesses who come alongside us to support our efforts. In fact, this year we’re launching a really cool flower delivery program which enlists local businesses to purchase a flower share. With their purchase, we donate a flower share to a local nursing home. This program will teach the youth enrolled in it how to grow, harvest, and style flowers as well as the benefits of philanthropy.
Along with building relationships, shear tenacity has made Sproutin’ Up successful. We have had so many difficulties throughout the last twelve years, but every time we hit a roadblock (deer eating vegetables, transportation for kids to our location, losing our land due to property sales…) we have found a way to come back stronger. We will continue to do this because we believe what we do is so important for those experiences food insecurity in our community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started Sproutin’ Up twelve years ago when I was doing health education for kids in need. As part of my job, I went into low-income neighborhoods to teach about healthy eating and exercise. The memory of a little boy who filled his plate to overflowing with blueberries was one of the moments that sparked me to start a non-profit to help alleviate food insecurity. So many amazing things have happened over the last twelve years to get Sproutin’ Up to the place we are today, having a permanent home for our farm within walking distance of the neighborhoods we work with. I would have never dreamt this would be possible, but it’s taken a lot of hard work. This is our third farm location and each time we’ve moved, we have had to recreate an entire farm, from design to irrigation to saving our perennial plants. Along with moving, we lost many of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm members each time we moved and have had to rebuild our business each time. Currently, we have an acre vegetable farm which serves families from a variety of backgrounds. For every membership we sell, we donate a full membership (20 weeks of produce) to a family in need. We also are the only Youth-Run CSA in Fort Collins. We hire teens (ages 14-16) who are under-resourced and teach them how to have their first job on our farm. They interact with customers, grow the food, and develop a resume to move forward in life. We also have programs for kids ages 10-13 that focus on nutrition education and philanthropy. Every child and teen who work on our farm earns a stipend for their work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Fort Collins has so many great spots! I would have to take them to my farm where we would feed the goats and chickens and then make the short walk through the natural area to the Poudre River. We would also have to visit The Exchange in downtown Fort Collins for some ice cream from Churn and a quick game of cornhole. We couldn’t miss Odell Brewing for a beer, Bath Garden Center and Hey Day boutique at Jessup Farm for some shopping, I love shopping and eating in downtown Fort Collins – sitting on the patio at Coopersmith’s enjoying a beverage in the sunshine is the best.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Fort Collins community, especially our close family and friends have supported us along the way. I remember when we first started out, our fundraisers would be full of only friends and family. It was a big deal when our events started being filled with faces I didn’t recognize – very exciting! Those friends and family are still by our side, cheering us on, volunteering on the farm, and purchasing tickets to our fundraising events. Along with these lovely people, there are so many businesses who have supported us, but both Odell Brewing Co. and Bath Nursery and Garden Center have been with us from the beginning. Allowing us to host fundraising events at no charge and donating to us so that we can grow and expand our programs.
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