Summer growing season is here! That means that Amy Hingeveld’s job here at Riverview Gardens is kicked into high gear. As Community Engagement Coordinator, her day-to-day job varies greatly in order to meet the needs of the day. You can find her out and about around the farm doing a variety of tasks. Some of her main responsibilities include community outreach, scheduling volunteer groups and setting them up in the online system, helping out on the Farm and with the Corporate CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), creating health and wellness programs for Riverview Gardens and COTS, and also helping out with community events such as the Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive. Amy is an awesome asset to our team. We sat down with her to learn about makes her so special. Let’s get to know her better!
Q: How did you first get involved at Riverview Gardens?
Amy’s Answer: At the end of my summer job in 2018, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next. I did some research online and I found a job posting for this position here at Riverview Gardens with AmeriCorps. I was really intrigued by the concept of an Urban Farm right in the city of Appleton. I didn’t know that one existed. So I applied for the position both with AmeriCorps and Riverview Gardens. I went through the interview process, and now here I am today!
As a kid growing up in Fremont, Wisconsin, I always knew that I wanted to work with people. I knew that I wanted to do something where I was making a difference in my community. Urban Farming wasn’t something I had necessarily considered before this position, but I love working to improve social wellness. I’ve come to really enjoy working in this setting!
Q: What is your favorite aspect about working at Riverview Gardens?
Amy’s Answer: I love that I get to work outside while interacting with all sorts of people. The whole team pitches in to accomplish whatever needs to get done for the day. I really like being a member of a team where everyone is working towards a common goal. The day-to-day work varies, but I enjoy the new adventure that each day brings. Seeing the direct benefits from the hard work I’ve put in is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job for me. When I plant a tomato for example, I get to see the plant grow and know that I did the work to get it there.
Q: What has surprised you most in your time working here?
Amy’s Answer: The dedication of volunteers has been one of the most surprising parts of the job. They are fully vested into working towards making RVG an awesome place. I’d say that the magnitude of the community support has also been a surprise. It’s a really cool thing to see everyone. from community members to businesses, working together to make our community a better place.
Q: What do you wish people knew about RVG?
Amy’s Answer: We’re flexible! Whatever you are looking to get out of your volunteer experience, we can make it work. It doesn’t matter what your reason is for volunteering, we would love to work together. We have a place for everyone to be a part of a team no matter what your skill set is or what your capabilities are. We are open from 8am-4pm Monday through Friday and from 9am-12pm on Saturdays. You can stop out and volunteer anytime during those hours. If you only have a few hours available, that’s awesome! We’d love to have you.
I also wish more people knew that we are open to the public! Riverview Gardens is a unique, community green space right in the city. Come check us out. Whether you like to walk, bike, run, mountain bike, or if you’re looking for a new picnic spot, please visit us! We really want people to utilize the space. We’re here for the community. The trails and park space are open from dawn to dusk on every day of the year.
Q: Why should people volunteer at Riverview Gardens?
Amy’s Answer: There are so many reasons that volunteering at RVG is worth your time. First of all, it gives you a great opportunity to make new connections with people you wouldn’t necessarily have interacted with before. Another great reason is that you can learn new skills that you haven’t discovered that you have. Riverview Gardens really is “a place to grow” in your skills and abilities. No prior knowledge about gardening or farming is necessary. We will teach you what you need to know.
As I said before, it’s a great opportunity to easily see the tangible benefits from your labor. When the plants start to grow, you feel a great sense of pride knowing that you helped to nurture them to life. Overall, volunteering at RVG is just a good time! It’s a great chance to be outside and enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin summer weather.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Amy’s Answer: Hmmmm, this answer will probably sound pretty cliché. But I love to be outdoors. Whether it’s running, biking, or hiking, I enjoy the full spectrum of outdoor activities. I also like discovering new books and reading. Occasionally when it’s not too hot out, I like to bake something. But in the summer, that doesn’t happen too often!
Q: If you were give $1,000,000 for yourself, what would you do?
Amy’s Answer: This will probably sound like the typical millennial answer, but I’d love to travel. It would be so cool to see and experience new things. That is, after my student debt is paid off.
Q: If you were given $1,000,000 for RVG, what would you do?
Amy’s Answer: Tough question! With $1,000,000, I think I would update the tools and the equipment around the shop. I would make sure that everything is state of the art and up to date. For example, I’d love to have the newest technology for cleaning all of the produce. It would be cool to have a more efficient process. I guess that overall; I would want to make sure everything is current so that RVG can continue to successfully serve its mission.
Q: Final question (maybe the most important), What is your favorite produce grown at RVG?
Amy’s Answer: Wow that is tough question, too! I love to try new things. I don’t necessarily love tomatoes, but we grow a variety of them so I like to try new types to see if I can find one that I love. I also really like the herbs that we grow in the herb hoop house. And I’m really excited about a possible new product that we would debut in the fall… stay tuned to find out more details!