Growing Plants and Feeding Students

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Theresa Allen, the Davidson College farm manager, has some impressive credentials. She owned and operated Passion Flower Farms where she grew heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. She also co-owned Peace and Harmony Farm in Georgia that produced similar crops. In addition, before coming to Davidson in 2011 she served as the lead horticulturalist at Spelman College in Atlanta. Theresa also holds a degree in Environmental Horticulture.

Beyond these accomplishments, however, is something far more important. Theresa Allen is passionate about what she is doing. It’s impossible to meet Theresa without being infected by the pure joy she gets from growing plants and feeding students. When asked about her favorite part of her job her immediate response was “planting seeds and watching them grow” followed quickly by “having students come and take an active role in helping grow the food they will be eating.” Davidson couldn’t ask for a manager more in line with the farm’s larger purpose. Money certainly transfers hands as pounds of lettuce or crates of flowers are sold to dining services, but the true value emanating from the farm goes beyond its cash flow.

Theresa is aware of these positive externalities that arise from growing food in Davidson’s backyard and facilitates student interaction with the agricultural world. She dedicates afternoons to teaching her work-study students and whole weekends to organizing volunteers from eating-houses and first year residence halls.

It’s impossible to deny, Theresa Allen is an incredible woman. She is able to to remember students’ names, manage acres of farmland, and educate the Davidson community, all with genuine passion and wholehearted joy. She’s always on the move in her uniform of bib overalls and bobbing blond ponytail, pausing only to inspire students or dispense some of her famous zucchini bread. In fact, after generously offering her time to provide some of the information for this post, she ended her email with the exclamation “no head for this… have to plow fields” and off she went doing the two things that bring her the greatest joy – growing plants and feeding students.