Mattie Devin: Foodscaper Spotlight

climate change featured foodscaper resiliency Apr 24, 2024

Madeline “Mattie” Devin (she/they)

Urban Farmer Educator
Green City Growers


What was the turning point that led you down the road to make this your career?

At the start of the pandemic, I saw a post online from a woman reaching out for volunteers on her farm that she was running alone. All of the produce she grew went straight into the community through CSA shares and community fridges.

I had moved back home and was finishing up my degree, so I wanted to do something to help the community while also getting me out of the house. Whether she knew it or not she became a great mentor to me and I wound up going every weekend until the end of the semester, then three to four times a week over the summer. I fell in love with growing food and wanted to find a way to spend my days doing so!

Name a couple of challenges that you face on the job.

No job is without its challenges. The rapidly changing climate has resulted in inconsistent weather patterns that make strategizing and crop planning more difficult. A perfect day for planting could be followed by a chilling frost. However, this reinforces how important our jobs are to develop stronger local food systems to reduce emissions and heavy resource usage.

You could also be planting in the blistering sun or torrential rain, but my dad always told me, “The weather is never an issue if you’re dressed appropriately”, so the rain boots and sunblock are always on hand.

There are also days that are lonelier than others. When I’m working alone, I take the opportunity to either catch up on my favorite podcasts, tunes, and audiobooks or take the time to plant in peace and quiet. Planting alone is a great way to quiet a racing mind and really connect with the earth.

Share a small moment in your job when you glimpsed the impact you are making.

I’m so fortunate that I can see the impact our team is making every day.

My favorite moments are being able to watch students harvest and taste the food they grew for the first time. For many students this is the first time in their lives they have grown their own food, and seeing the face of a student as they pull a vibrant orange carrot from the soil, or bite into their first ever sugar snap pea brings me such immense joy. Knowing these students are becoming more connected to what they eat and who they share it with gives me so much hope for our food system, our climate and future generations.

What are the most joyful parts of your job?

There are so many rewarding aspects of my job that keep me returning every day with a smile and sense of purpose.

One is sharing food with the community directly. It’s amazing being able to work with people to make an immediate, tangible difference in our food system.

Another is the satisfaction of seeing a client’s personal and collaborative creative visions come to life. Being able to transform a space with food is such an honor.

What would you say to someone considering a career in foodscaping?

To those considering a career in foodscaping… go for it! It’s a career that can be professionally, emotionally, and creatively fulfilling. This kind of work naturally attracts compassionate, creative, hard-working people.