Better Know a Farm Manager: Grace Oedel PC ’10
Grace is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Equal parts baker, farmer, and social activist, she was a pizza maker at the Farm before working last summer as a full-time Farm intern and switching to farm managing in the fall. She won’t show up to a party without a cake, or cookies, or brownies (made from scratch, of course), and does an amazing job working with kids at the Farm. Without further ado, Grace’s words on baking, food justice, and “Would-you-rather”:
Grace Oedel, 2010, Pierson College, Religious Studies
What made you want to be a farm manager?
I had worked at the farm before as a pizza maker and loved the space, the people, and being outside. I just wanted to interact with the farm in a new way and get a better sense of how plants really grow, what they need, learn more about the farming side of things. I was interested in food because of my love for cooking and my social justice interests and wanted to learn more about the growing, fundamental part of the process.
What’s your favorite vegetable?
GOOD LORD such a hard question. I think it depends on the time of year; right now I am just loving me some kale action, but in the sweltering late summer there is nothing more delicious than a ripe tomato right off the vine. Also, let’s talk about roasted eggplant for a second…
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I think I pretty much love cooking across the board, regardless of what I’m cooking. I make some sort of sweet thing every day because a) sugary goodness improves quality of life drastically, and b) every college student really just wants warm cookies 100 percent of the time and c) it’s really hard to make a bad-tasting thing when it’s comprised of chocolate and butter. But I am also getting more into cooking real foods, and since working at the farm I love that even more. I love cooking anything with a vegetable I have grown or harvested, I find myself appreciating it much more. I like just heating up a skillet and adding spices until it tastes ok….
What fruit or veggie best typifies you?
Raspberries. Best in the warm times right off the vine. Better with chocolate.
Describe a fun/hard/exceptional story from working at the Farm.
Every day this summer was fun, hard, and exceptional. I think spending an entire morning wrapping the cardoons in newspaper to keep their stalks white, only to pull them out later because they had over-wintered (to describe them edible would have been a bold-faced lie) was a hilarious experience, but it was great, because it was at that moment that my fellow intern Joe Satran raised the best “Would-you-rather?” question that I have ever encountered in my life: Would you rather be alone forever, or live only with, and at the whim of, country music star Leanne Rimes?
What’s your favorite food cause? Why?
Food work issues interest me because of the union between environmental issues, social justice, and the simple joys of cooking and eating together. From a purely environmental standpoint, working for a better, more local food system, with smaller, sustainable farms helps confront the multiple crises created by a national food system destroying the environment and us: massive amounts of oil being consumed; pesticides and fertilizers poisoning our soil and water supply, factory-farming practices decreasing biodiversity and increasing food-borne illness, and poorly-planned urban areas having little or no green space for food or education. Moreover, a more environmentally sustainable food system would also have powerful social outcomes, such as allowing all people, regardless of economic status, access to healthy, fresh food, creating urban green spaces in which children could learn and play, helping to battle the national obesity epidemic, and creating job opportunities within the community.
I think that if we work for a better food system we will inevitably have to confront these profound social and environmental issues, and thus working for a better food system is working for a better country in general. Another really cool aspect of this work is that it needs to happen on the grassroots level to succeed, so each little piece that each person does really is meaningful. I think that each person regardless of economic class or social location has the right to good, fair food, and it is our duty to work towards this as a society.
Tell us about other work you’ve done in the world of food and farming.
I have worked in two restaurants and worked as a pizza maker and a summer intern at the Yale Farm. I bake and cook with every free minute of my life. I hope to do more food and farming work after graduation!