For the first time in many years the Coppell Farmers Market will undergo a change in leadership. Members of CFM staff and steering committee are honored to have had the opportunity to work with outgoing committee chair, Karen Pearsall Gillham, for over seven successful years. Incoming committee chair, Peggy Rosson, has been working alongside Karen since January of this year, and the baton was officially passed on Wednesday, April 19th, during a Coppell Farmers Market committee meeting.
Peggy Rosson has served as a volunteer for the farmers market and Coppell Community Garden since her move to Coppell more than three years ago. Upon retirement after 41 years in student life at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, Peggy relocated to be near her granddaughter. In California, she volunteered with the campus community service organization (all 41 years), the Stockton Earth Day Committee (20 years), and Girl Scouts (troop leader for ten years). She was awarded the Order of Pacific, Pacific’s highest honor for staff.
When asked why she chose to volunteer with the farmers market and community garden, Peggy explained that an ”investment in the gardens and market supports [her] belief that we are stewards of the earth, not its owners” and that she sees “the value of modeling healthy, sustainable living, not just talking about it.” She also explained that upon moving to Texas she quickly found that she wanted to spend more time with other garden and market volunteers.
Peggy has been notably dedicated to supporting the growth and success of both organizations, making her a desirable candidate for the CFM committee chair position. She explained that her lifelong volunteer ethic is inspired by her grandparents who “were role models for service and caring,” and when we asked her about looking ahead she said her goal is to “empower each of us to give what we can give and always keep learning from each other and our work together.” As the incoming CFM committee chair she wants “the market to continue to support a sustainable environment and strong sense of community.”
Supporting a strong sense of community is just what Karen Pearsall Gillham did during her term as the chair of the committee, which spanned 7 ½ years! Taking the reins in 2010 as co-chair with Ken Hevron, Karen then became the single committee chair by 2012. During her term she facilitated behind-the-scenes activities like keeping the steering committee (comprised of a group of citizen volunteers) on schedule to achieve goals set by two separate Strategic Action Plans. Early accomplishments included starting Winter Markets, implementing the acceptance of SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps), and achieving the market’s GoTexan and Texas Certified Farmers Market designations.
Overseeing two moves – from the original location on Bethel Road to a temporary location on South Coppell Road, then to the present location in the pavilion of Old Town Coppell – were mammoth tasks. Dealing with construction details, meetings with the City, and figuring out logistics of the new location as respects vendors and shoppers were tasks handled all on a volunteer basis. Even while holding down a full-time job with GE, Karen put in many hours of planning, working closely with other committee members and City Liaison Amanda Vanhoozier.
Karen has planned and headed the Farm to Table dinners through six years and will again work with Chefs Robby and Victoria Hooker on the 7th annual dinner this October, 2017.
Since the beginning of Karen’s term the farmers market grew from a small market to an intermediate-sized market. Extra time and effort is required to effectively manage a growing farmers market, so Karen headed the search for the Coppell Farmers Market’s first paid market manager. Amanda Austin now handles many duties previously carried by Karen and others on the committee, but Karen will remain as a member, sharing the expertise she has gained through the years. After all this time, she can’t imagine NOT being on the committee and working for the success of the CFM!
As Karen rolls off the chairmanship, she joins three of the four previous chairs in remaining active on the CFM committee. The committee benefits from the experience of original members and from the fresh ideas of new members. To join this dedicated group of volunteers and support the local food movement, please see the Volunteer page of our website.
The Coppell Farmers Market is open Saturdays, 8 a.m. to noon at 768 W. Main Street in Old Town Coppell. Lone Star Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and bank ATM cards can be used to purchase wooden market tokens (market cash) at the CFM hospitality booth in the center of the pavilion. See website for more information.