Sustainability Spotlight – Sarah Poe
By Emma Berry
A couple of weeks ago Tanner and I had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah Poe, the Manager for the Folly Beach Farmers Market, to learn more about the woman behind the magic.
From the moment we met Sarah at the Folly River Park, the passion and positivity Sarah has for the community was evident. Originally from West Virginia, Sarah Poe moved to Charleston 15 years ago. She was raised around farmers and preachers and jokingly called herself a preacher of farming. She mainly has worked as a photographer, with a handful of sustainability projects on the side, however in 2015 she was offered the role as the Market Manager.
“I was very passionate about the planet and I had seen a need for this in our community. I took a little time to envision what we could do with our community here and I decided to come on board.”
The vision of the market:
To cultivate joy, health and harmony within community;
fostering a vital economic and educational connection between
local farmers, food purveyors, artisans and market guests;
ultimately creating a sustainable future for all.
Sarah wants to include local vendors who share the same mission of sustainability and vision for the market. She ensures that the products are organic and sourced as sustainably as possible to align with the mantra of the market, “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”. Sarah feels that the relationship we have with the land is disconnected and the market is a good place to start to cultivate that relationship.
We talked with Sarah about sustainability and what it means to her. Sarah believes at the core of sustainability is community, both locally and globally. A couple of years ago during the Standing Rock Protests Sarah, her daughter, and a group of seven from Charleston drove to North Dakota with the plan of staying for two weeks. “Just to go there and say what they’re going to do to you, they’re going to do to me. I am your ally. I am your sister. How can I help you?” Sarah recounted. After being there for one day Sarah and her daughter felt called to stay longer. They returned home and enlisted the community to help. They donated supplies to send back with Sarah to Standing Rock. This is a beautiful example of communities helping each other.
“When I went there I met thousands and thousands of people from all over the world. Ecuador, Russia, India, you name it. People from all over the world came. Peace activists. People that were passionate about the planet, about indigenous rights. Now I know I’ve got a team all around the world doing the same thing. So it gives me hope. They all went back to their places to continue the work. It wasn’t just about the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was about the people.”
It is about caring for one another and ensuring that the marginalized, the minorities, and the downtrodden are treated with the same respect and given the same rights as those in power.
It is about building relationships with one another and knowing your neighbor. One place to start fostering these strong community relationships is a local farmers market. Enter the Folly Beach Farmers Market.
Sarah’s first order of business was to move the market from the parking lot of The Washout across the road to Folly River Park. There are two wooden awnings in the park originally built for a farmers market, so Sarah felt it was only fitting to bring the space into its original purpose.
We asked Sarah what a typical day looks like to smoothly run the market. Sarah and her daughter start off by passing out postcards on the beach to let the people visiting Folly know about the market. Sarah then helps make sure the set up runs smoothly and all of the vendors have a spot.
This past week I was there helping Neyle, the 71% Project intern, set up to table and was able to witness the business first hand! Sarah held herself with composure and kindness the whole time as she worked with Public Safety to make sure there were no traffic delays, while also allowing the vendors to unload their cars and set up.
The market begins roughly at 4pm. To kick things off there is a yoga class under the stage or in the grassy area. The evening we were there the yoga class was specifically for kids and it was really cute watching them learn relaxation and deep breathing at such young ages. After the yoga class the live music begins. Typically the music consists of a local band or musician, and the first monday of the month a few members of the Gullah-Geechee tribe perform. We happened to be tabling the night of the Gullah-Geechee and were able to experience their beautiful song and dance first hand. There was a lot of energy in the air and excitement from the community throughout the performance.
It was encouraging to see the community coming together in the name of local goodness and left quite the impression on Neyle and I.
When asked what Sarah has gotten from her experience with the Folly Farmer’s Market thus far her eyes lit up and she replied, “I have grown so much. I have learned so much. It’s a joy really, meeting all these people that share your passions and just getting to know these people over the years.”