The dictionary defines the word “impactful” as “having a major impact or effect on someone’s life”. Travelling across the US and Canada with the Greenhouse Education Center (GEC), I have met tons of people who have impacted my life in a positive way. From kids with crazy questions about why bees don’t talk to them, to concerned parents that want the best for their families. These moments have been the highlight of our team’s summer and keep us on the pursuit for the next funny story or wacky question.
Some of the most impactful experiences on the GEC have come from the many festivals we have done throughout Canada. These Festivals have primarily focused on water consumption and how to reduce the amount of hydro we use throughout the day. The GEC’s closed-loop irrigation system fits perfectly into that standard of conserving water, and it gave us a great talking point to use with the kids and parents visiting our greenhouse on wheels. As you migh
t have guessed, the kids at these festivals only have a few minutes of attention to spare, so it’s important to fill these few minutes with important information that will stand out from the many activities they do that day. These kids are always so attentive and throughout the chaos of water balloons and classmates running around screaming with joy, they always stop to take a peek. Whether they were feeling the coconut fiber in their hands or looking closely at the bees, there were no shortage of questions regarding the produce or the little bugs that help keep it growing. These moments are always hilarious and filled with so much innocence that you can’t help but appreciate how interested they are at such a young age. These memories will stay with us throughout the entire summer and into our coming years.
When travelling from grocery store to grocery store, it’s hard to find someone who stands out from the rest. We meet so many nice people interested in the greenhouse that we’ve become accustomed to consumers telling us stories about their lives, families, gardens, cars, TVs and whatever else they can spill out before their spouses yank them away. For the most part, these stories are filled with joy and leave us with a smile on our faces. On some very rare occasions, these stories can turn sad. Unfortunately, these sad stories are the ones that stick inside of our brains. For me the one that stands in my mind is a woman who we met in Pennsylvania.
She was a very nice woman but something seemed to be bothering her. As we chatted away I could sense some sadness in her voice when we started talking about pesticides and chemical use.
As if a switch flipped inside her body she started to cry. As I tried to console her I searched my brain looking for something that I might have said to trigger such sadness. She looked at me with the tears still in her eyes and assured me it wasn’t my fault. She had just lost her son two weeks prior to cancer, leaving behind a fiancé and a sister who was expecting. As I hugged her and apologized for the unfortunate passing of her son she explained that during the chemotherapy something had gone wrong and the complications had cost him his life. She was certain that this had all started with his diet and how the chemicals that food companies put into their food had contributed greatly to his illness. She then stopped and smiled. The fact that we were there in front of a random grocery store talking to consumers about produce slowly solidified a special place in her heart. The fact that we use bugs as a replacement for pesticides was not just a cool fact that intrigued her, it was a guarantee that what happened to her son wouldn’t happen to another son, daughter, mother, or father because of a NatureFresh™ product.
It’s conversations like these that have captured not only my heart but the hearts of everyone on the team, and they constantly remind us that even something as small as “Integrated Pest Management” can mean the world to someone. On slow days at the trailer, when there aren’t a lot of people stopping by, I think back to that lady and I’m reminded about the amount of good we can do with the Greenhouse Education Center. This pushes us to carry on with our wide smiles and informative discussions, in hopes that we can be difference makers for even just one more person.