Name: Genevieve (Genny) Fulco
Class Year: 1994
Business Name: Local Growers Alliance
My name is Genevieve (Genny) Fulco. I attended Sidwell from first grade through 12th and graduated in 1994. After working in the HIV prevention field for ten years, I decided to try something completely new to me: vegetable farming. I grew organic vegetables in Maryland for 11 years and then shifted to my current role as an aggregator of local agricultural products for farmers markets. Visit the Local Growers Alliance website to learn more about us and the markets we attend.
My time at Sidwell profoundly shaped my worldview. Sidwell introduced me to talented faculty and students with diverse perspectives, interests, and approaches to life. Some of my closest friends now are people I met at Sidwell and our shared history is uniquely precious to me. Above all, my time at Sidwell taught me to value curiosity, joy, critical thinking, creativity, peace, and justice. I reflect on these basic values to inform my daily life, both professionally and personally.
Producing food is complicated work! Doing it well requires planning, persistence, troubleshooting, and adapting to changing conditions. The agricultural industry has tremendous impacts on the health of people and the planet. The fundamental values I learned at Sidwell guide me as I work to optimize both. The science, math, and writing skills I learned at Sidwell also serve me well as I analyze soil test results, decide what crops to bring to markets, and communicate with colleagues and customers.
My years on vegetable farms have been full of surprises. Here are a few examples. Freshly picked sweet corn is delicious raw. Doing outdoor physical labor is really good for me. Learning a little bit of plumbing goes a long way towards setting up an irrigation system. Understanding pull and push forces helps me move heavy crates of potatoes. Understanding levers helps me move even heavier tractor implements. Plants and insects interact with one another constantly. Soil microbial life is vast and important.
Some things I especially like about my job are that it’s a great mix of immediate and delayed gratification, it keeps me outdoors and physically active, it includes solitary and cooperative tasks, and it provides an arena for me to be creative and also use some basic knowledge of math and science.
During the height of the covid pandemic, my life changed significantly less than many other people’s for one simple reason - I mostly work outdoors. Social distancing and masking were easy to do in the field and manageable at the farmers markets. Market sales increased because people wanted to shop outdoors and avoid the confines of unpredictably crowded supermarkets. Supply chain glitches increased everyone’s appreciation for locally sourced food. I was proud to offer locally grown dry goods (brown rice, oats, wheat flours, dry beans, etc.) alongside the produce that people were already accustomed to buying locally.