The Trees are Better
By: Emily J. Click
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Think about it.
Have you been into The Wild Ramp on Saturday mornings? If so, you’re likely to be greeted by Suzanne House, among several other volunteers. For me, Suzanne is the face of The Wild Ramp. As a volunteer, she serves a vital role in making The Wild Ramp such a huge success.
Suzanne is a transplant. She’s not lived here her whole life, but she chose to come back here and plant her roots here. Suzanne went to Marshall University after graduating from high school. In fact, she was chosen to participate in the Society of Yeager Scholars at Marshall University. The Society of Yeager Scholars afforded Suzanne a number of opportunities, including study abroad in both England and Spain. She’s not forgotten that and has been an active participant with the Society of Yeager Scholars since graduating from Marshall University, serving on its Board of Directors. It’s her commitment to this program and her love of the natural beauty of the tri-state area that brought her back. She said it’s because “the trees here are better”.
“People look at me funny when I say that”, Suzanne explained to me, “but I’ve lived all over and they really are.” In addition to traveling abroad, Suzanne has lived and taught in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and most recently Kansas. Suzanne is originally from western Ohio, where she grew up on a dairy farm. It wasn’t a big farm, but not unlike many of the farms that supply produce to The Wild Ramp, her parents’ farm had about 25-30 head of dairy cows and the occasional sheep and goats, and her grandparents had hogs. I can see why she has an appreciation for quality produce.
When asked if she considers herself a locavore, she told me that when she started volunteering at The Wild Ramp, she really didn’t have a local eating ethic. “However, as time goes on, The Wild Ramp inspires me to try new food. It’s changing me slowly. I want to eat healthy.” For instance, this winter she went to Kroger and picked up a container of blueberries. They looked nice, but when she bit into them, they were flavorless. She loves the peaches that she purchased this past summer at the market and can’t wait to get her hands on some raw peas. When Suzanne was growing up, her mother had a garden and fresh peas were always her favorite; tomatoes, on the other hand, not so much. Suzanne is hoping The Wild Ramp can change that for her.
As spring approaches (14 days and counting), Suzanne is excited. She told me that “every Saturday, when I go in, it’s constantly a changing place. This year the producers are planning so they can produce for the market. Now, they know that people are going to grab it. I can’t wait.”
Suzanne has been volunteering at The Wild Ramp pretty much since its inception. She discovered The Wild Ramp while attending an “April 2012 meeting of CAFE Huntington where I heard Stacy and Katherine present the idea for a year-round local market. It didn’t have a name at that point. I don’t really remember when they had the naming contest and ended up with The Wild Ramp – May or June, I guess.” The cost was $10 for a meal and all the proceeds went to the winning idea. Unfortunately, The Wild Ramp was not the winner. A local theatre group took the prize that evening. But, Suzanne was so inspired by the possibility of a place like The Wild Ramp that she approached the presenters and asked them how she could get involved. The presenters’ vision became a reality and Suzanne became a volunteer.
As a volunteer, she’s done it all. She’s helped paint the interior of the store; she stocks shelves; she works on displays; and she runs the cash register (this just happens to be her favorite responsibility). She also loves assisting consumers when they pick up an item in the store and ask what it is and how to prepare it.
I asked her what she loves most about The Wild Ramp. Her response: “It’s a very authentic place. The food is not perfect. The displays are not perfect. I like that authenticity.”
I also asked Suzanne what she hopes for The Wild Ramp’s future. She said, “I want there to be a time where people can’t imagine Huntington without it. I want people to think it’s always been here.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Suzanne L. House is Chief of Staff at Guyan International, Inc. and volunteers at The Wild Ramp on Saturday mornings. If you would like to volunteer at The Wild Ramp, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Cara Bailey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.