Full Circle Faces: Emily Thomson, Grower Relations, Sourcing & Farm Food Safety
What brought you to Full Circle, & When?
I arrived at Full Circle in 2006, looking for temporary labor in the packing shed, but my resume earned me a management job – or THE management job. In my interview with Andrew, he asked whether I liked puzzles. Back then, all Full Circle operations were based on the farm, and there was a pressing need for systems to be designed and implemented to manage processes, information, and resources. At first, it was like wrestling an octopus, but I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. Looking back on those days, it’s impressive how far we’ve come as an organization.
How does Full Circle’s mission speak to you?
My father, an environmental activist, taught me to pay attention and to care about our small planet. Food connects us to the land and to each other. Changing a food system driven by global economics is a tall order, and will only happen through collaborative effort on many fronts. E.F. Schumacher’s concept of “smallness within bigness” resonates with me: I envision us collaborating with many like-minded partners to develop innovative, translocal systems of production and distribution which build, rather than expend, human and environmental capital.
Goals for Full Circle:
Our sourcing program, in development, aspires to bring our organization to a deeper level of mission integrity. Full Circle has a tremendous opportunity to provide direct support to farmers beyond simply buying their food, and I am committed to developing this program and its relationships.
Favorite food memory:
Holiday gatherings around candlelit tables laid with heirloom linens, crystal and silver, the hours of preparation culminating in a memorable meal, the passionate arguments at the table about politics and culture between the “grown-ups” of my extended Italian, Norwegian, and Irish family. During the cocktail hour, we kids loved the platters of caponata, peppers, figs, olives and cheeses, and the maraschino cherries from our parents’ Manhattans!
For me, there’s never been much separation between life and livelihood, and the opportunity to work with a team of talented people who want to effect positive change is a constant gift. I do like to keep an eye on the birds, another legacy from my father, and have lately taken up billiards as a sort of math exercise.
Last book read/favorite author/periodicals?
Camus explores questions of will and conscience; his novel “The Fall” is my favorite. For pleasure I’m reading The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov, and for edification, The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding and a heavy tome on food justice from the MIT Press.
Personal food weakness:
I have never, ever, been faced with too many chilled, freshly-shucked oysters.
Personal History with Farming?
My Italian grandfather was a nurseryman, and the love of growing things seems to run in the blood. I farmed organically for many years in Ventura County, California, and also made some of California’s first new-generation artisanal cheese. My children were small then and always with me. That was a sweet time.