"Come on Emily!"
Even if it's been a week or two since we've seen Emily around the farm, we know that when June Magnaldi is around our favorite goose will come running. Emily literally follows our resident goose-whisperer around where ever she goes.
June has been helping at Veggielution once or twice weekly since June of 2011, taking the 1 1/2 hour bus ride from Santa Cruz to get here. She's been a Workday Leader for most of that time, and takes the responsibility of educating her volunteers very seriously.
Born to Italian immigrant parents in Redwood City, June has deep roots in agriculture. June has visited her ancestral village near Turino, Italy and helped her family with their farms many times over her life.
"I figure that for the past few thousand years my family has been peasant farmers. And peasant farming means organic farming, which is the real 'conventional' way of farming since that's the way it was done throughout history," said June.
She worked for NGO's overseas, mostly in Asia and the Middle East, organizing programs around small-scale farming, health care and refugee relief. June has spent over 20 years helping on various farms throughout the Santa Cruz area, including the UCSC Farm and Gardens. The farm crew and rest of the Veggielution staff often asks her advice on gardening, volunteer management and community involvement.
"I've seen a lot of progress in organic farming over the years in our area," said June. "I especially like supporting urban agriculture. I feel that having a large, public farm is essential for every big city. It's so important that people connect with the land, the plants and the animals, and get back to what really makes us human."
June particularly enjoys the community aspect of Veggielution. Participating in the incredible cultural diversity of San Jose is important to her. She says that having this connection to so many people from different walks of life is very fulfilling.
June has been known to put sticks in the hands of her volunteers on busy days when we are short on tools, so that they can weed more effectively. "I like helping at Veggielution because I know that they don't particularly have a lot of money, and because of that they need to be resourceful, like traditional farmers."
Her willingness to give advice, address issues and take initiative on the farm is what makes her an extra special volunteer. Thank you June for all your hard work!