A few words...[in brief]...
Down to earth. Connective. Multi-faceted. Event Organizer. Photographer. Practical. Unassuming. Commanding. Mother. Wife. Foodie. Explorer. Nurturer of Place.
You know that famous Walt Whitman quote "I contain multitudes." I believe that true of all of us but when I think of this quote, I think of Amber. She comes to mind because she has manifested multiple expressions of her interests, passions, life seasons and you can't pin her down to one profession or role or title.
Good food, experience, aesthetics, accessibility, and atmosphere. Working for Freshfarm Markets, Amber coordinates weekly farmers' markets during the year. She organizes and runs a seasonal supper series called Makers Meals, which pulls together unique menus and experiences sourcing from local farmers, distillers, growers, and makers.
Amber cares about what makes a place distinct and its connectivity with the inhabitants interacting with it. Through her photography, Freshfarm, and Makers Meals, Amber gives attention to and creates experiences for people to understand the ecosystem we are a part of and the people that help us stay connected through food, drink and nature.
Interested in what gives a place its character, flavor and personality, Amber's exploration of "terroir" has created consistent and beautiful experiences around the DC metro area. I am excited to share her interview and some of her journey this year.
You refer to a sense of place in your blog, your work and Maker's Meals. Your blog is called "A Little Terroir," and when looking up the meaning of "terroir," it translates to "of the earth." In your words, what is terroir? How does this concept apply to our daily lives?
In your experience, what have you come to learn about the terroir of DC?
DC is a city of great contrasts and intersectionality. On one hand, there is a transient community that is bumping up against a longstanding community. There are people from all across the country and the globe living next door to people that have never been on an airplane. There are national politics happening on top of local politics. There are representatives lobbying for the biggest manufacturers in the world while a growing maker community attempts to sell their products at a fair price to provide themselves with a livable wage. There are billion dollar development projects in sectors of the city that have failing schools. There are embassies on embassies in a city where there is a huge shortage of housing. There are food deserts surrounded by some of the richest agricultural land in the country.
And still, DC has become home to thousands of individuals and small businesses that have chosen to invest in, advocate for and create the city that we all want to live in.
Who is a force in your life (positive or negative) and why?
Ohhh, dear. This one could be long winded. I feel like it is a bit cliche, but I think the answer is my mother - or, more broadly, all the women that have come before me and said “I want more than that” or “I shouldn’t have to choose one or the other” and paid consequences that made it so that I didn’t have to.
My mother showed me firsthand that women carry a strength that when unleashed, can carry a great deal of good.
I didn’t have an intellectual understanding of feminism until college, but I had already become a feminist as a result of watching my mother become a female force in our community.
What is different about you today than a year ago?
I feel like I have come into myself in a big way this year. The year started with a lot of fear of what’s ahead (and there still is…) but events this year somehow opened up this area of female unity + power in a way that I feel I am beginning to live in a new way. I’ve been working hard this year to build my supper series and my photography business and generally just figuring out what I should be focusing on but above all else I feel powerful, like “don’t stop me now! I’m just getting started!”
Ohhh, and I’m a little edgier - I definitely drop the F-bomb way more than I did a year ago.
What rituals do you practice in your life?
The table. Yes, the table is a thing, but it’s also a place and an action. It's an everyday simplicity that has deep and profound resonance for me. When we gather round the table, we say a conscious "yes" to the physical, relational and even spiritual nourishment that we all need.
Since we first married, my husband and I have enjoyed cooking and eating with each other, friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers.
From the thoughtful preparation to the closing words and last sips of wine, the whole thing can be quite sacramental. On my best days, it is, in fact, just that -- the act of creating and participating in a sacred space where people can experience a sense of beauty, community and wholeness.
When faced with a challenging situation, what is the first thing you do? What is the second thing?
Typically, the first thing I want to do it take a nap. I deal with stress by shutting down.
Then, I face it.
When I’ve been in difficult situations, eventually I get to a point where I just need to suck it up and push through. Humility has helped me get through a lot of difficult situations as well -- accepting my failures, forgiving myself where necessary, and moving forward.
What is a quote you come back to time and time again?
What do you love about yourself?
I love that I don’t bullshit. I’m a doer. I get shit done.
How do you balance motherhood and your work with the Farmers Markets, Makers Meals and your photography business?
I have a suuuuuper supportive husband! He is my biggest cheerleader and does so much to make sure I can say yes to things when it comes to Makers Meals and my photography work. I’ve also been learning from some really cool working moms that you don’t have to say no to one in order to say yes to the other. If you surround yourself with the right community, they don’t mind that you may have to bring your 2-year-old with you every now and then.
What are your favorite foods and smells right now?
My favorite food right now is labneh. Zayt & Za’atar is one of my vendors at the H Street NE Farmers Market and I get a container from them every week, drizzle in some olive oil and their zaatar spices and eat all the raw vegetables my heart desires! They even inspired me to roast broccoli and cauliflower with za’atar spices and then dip it in the labneh. My daughter is also a big fan so she often joins me -- though she prefers to eat it with a spoon.
OOTD: Her Own (Everlane, Topshop, Nisolo) // Make-up: Her Own // Necklace: Kedge Hollow in Sienna
Make sure you're following us on Instagram to see more posts and highlights from her story this week.
Stay tuned for our next week's feature, spotlighting culture consultant and beloved human, Amira El-Gawly