Many of our colleagues are migrants from points East, but few have had as long a journey as the one Lauren made before joining Driver’s team last year. A New Jersey native and 2011 graduate of Colgate in upstate New York, Lauren headed to Sierra Leone in the Peace Corps after graduation, and then returned to work on an unusual urban farm in Tampa, Florida, before heading to California.
Along the way, she became increasingly aware of and interested in issues surrounding nutrition, food and sustainability. Though a neuroscience major at Colgate intending to head for medical school, she worked as assistant to the school’s sustainability director, helping set up recycling programs and developing an on-campus garden that provided for a program of seasonal dinners at one of the campus dining halls. “It was completely unrelated to my major, but I realized I had some different interests on the side,” she says. By the time she graduated those interests influenced her to change direction entirely.
In the Peace Corps – working as a science teacher in Sierra Leone just before the Ebola epidemic erupted – she couldn’t help but be aware of issues surrounding food and water. Back in the U.S., she was encouraged by the success of the unusual Tampa farm, which cultivated a total of seven acres scattered across a schoolyard, another neighbor’s backyard, and other plots.
Morals and values in alignment
When she decided to head West last year, she scouted out an open position with us even before she moved. “I saw an ad from Driver’s on Craigslist and it seemed like a cool opportunity,” she says. “I talked to Graham and Adam, and their morals and values totally aligned with my own and what I was trying to do.”
She signed up to oversee our produce department, but her responsibilities have broadened quickly as foot traffic and business have grown since her arrival. “Now I’m more of a general front-end manager, handling the flow of the market, helping with communications and the general flow of things,” she says. “It’s been really, really cool to watch the store grow. It’s hard to find a really slow time now.”
Time off will soon find her hanging out in new digs at Stinson Beach. That’s a long way from upstate New York, let alone Sierra Leone. “I love how the small communities in West Marin are really supportive of each other,” she says, which reinforces her hopes for Driver’s. “I really see this place becoming a center for this community.”