We’re excited to introduce CFAC’s newest staff member, Tori Managan! Tori hails from Vermont, and she’s thrilled to be in “the wild west,” meeting Montana farmers and helping them succeed. We interviewed Tori to share more about her with all of you. Enjoy!
Q: What does it mean to you to be proud of a place?
A: I’m very, very proud to be a Vermonter. In Vermont, you’re not allowed to call yourself a Vermonter unless you have 3 generations back; I’m a 9th generation Vermonter, and I still have family that are farming there. I’m here to see where life takes me, but I know where my roots are, and I’m very proud to be from Vermont and I’m very proud of my family, and I don’t want to lose that.
Q: Tell us about your family’s farming business.
A: My cousin has a dairy farm and he has beef cows. They do logging, maple syrup, and hay. He’s going through succession planning. He has 2 farms right now. After he graduated from college, he had different views of ag than his father; he wanted to do more grass-raised beef. So he ended up buying a farm down the road from his father so he could farm the way he wanted to. I’m not even sure where he learned about sustainable farming practices, but he just did it and went for it.
Q: Do you think your cousin influenced your perspectives on agriculture?
A: Definitely. When I was a little girl I grew up going to his parent’s farm. I don’t know if I would pick up on that when I was a girl. It wasn’t until later when I was learning about soil and water quality, drawn to the details of ag, and he definitely shaped my perspectives. I just have a lot of respect for farmers and ranchers; it’s really hard work and very labor intensive and you don’t make a lot of money from it. It’s just a way of life.
Q: Are your siblings also involved?
A: My brother is marketing Cabot cheese, and my cousin sold milk to the Cabot cooperative. That’s the other thing; we were often able to collaborate and work together. I’m very proud of him. My sister lives in Houston, TX. She works for a wholesale grocer.
Q: What is your Myers-Briggs Personality Type?
A: I’ve never done the Myers-Briggs, but I have done others; I absolutely love that sort of thing. I can tell you that I’m an implementer, empathetic, and a learner.
Q: What is important to you about team-building?
A: It goes back to Myers-Briggs model; knowing that everyone has different strengths, and being mindful that we all bring something different to the table. I also really like the model of teamwork and going through different phases, and trying to facilitate a team to be high-performing.
Q: What is your best team-building memory?
A: I remember in grad school, we were doing an activity around diversity. We were a small cohort so we got to know each other really well. During the activity, one girl in our cohort was really attached to details; everyone was getting super frustrated and upset because we couldn’t move past the beginning of the activity. We were not a high-performing team. The second semester we were in a class and I was in a group with the same girl. We had to build a tower made of notecards. We were competing against the other team, who was also building a tower. The winner’s tower had to be the tallest but it also had to be able to stand for a long period of time. I remember stopping her at one point and I said “DO YOU TRUST ME?” and we got past the details, and we built the tower, and it still stands today. After that exercise, we became a high-functioning team.
Q: How did you get interested in sustainability?
A: I spent 3 months WWOOFing in New Zealand. It was a cheap way to travel the country while gaining hands-on experience with farming. Prior to that, I didn’t even know the word sustainability. I spent 3 months going to homesteads and farms, and I learned so much about how to have a small impact on the Earth. It seems crazy because Vermont is such a progressive state, but I wasn’t really tapped into that network when I was there. After I got back to the States, I wanted to make an impact here.
Q: What is it about farming that you believe makes an impact on sustainability?
A: I believe ag is the backbone of our society. I also believe ag gives a location a sense of community; people surround themselves with agriculture. By supporting local farms, you’re also supporting your local community in terms of economy. It’s all just so interesting to me: how do we improve the soil? How do we get good food to people who need it? To me, sustainability revolves around agriculture; everything revolves around agriculture.
I believe ag is the backbone of our society. I also believe ag gives a location a sense of community; people surround themselves with agriculture.
Q: What is it that you’re most excited to learn?
A: Vermont has beef cows, but we don’t have it on the same scale; beef producer probably has 20 cows. I’m most excited to learn, not necessarily about cattle ranches, but the scale of farming and the different ag practices you need to use in this environment. I want to learn why it is people are doing things the way they’re doing, and how we can make it a more sustainable model.
Q: What is it that you’re most excited to share?
A: My knowledge. I think the exciting thing about coming to Missoula and coming to this organization is learning from each other. Western Montana and Vermont are really similar in a lot of ways but there are also a lot of things we can share with one another.
Q: What has been your most exciting discovery about Missoula so far?
A: Goodwill! Thrift store shopping. I’m so excited to learn that there are good thrift stores here. Since I have visited before, I got hiking in already. I love hiking…but I LOVE thrift stores.
Q: What would you do with one million dollars?
A: I would pay off my immediate family’s and friends’ debt…and probably buy a ranch.
Q: What would you do with your ranch?
A: I’d want a diversified farm and ranch. I’d love to keep honeybees, sheep, chickens, veggies. I’m very interested in vermiculture.
Q: Favorite way to spend a Saturday?
A: How about a Sunday? I’ve historically always worked Saturdays. Favorite way to start a Sunday is slow, with coffee in bed. Getting some outdoor activity in. I’m always trying to plan and prepare for the following Monday for an easy transition to the work week. It’s like a mental health day.
Q: If Vermont were a song, which one would it be?
A: Country Road, Take Me Home
Q: If Montana were a song, which one would it be?
A: Ooooooo! Someone was telling me about this song called Montana by Frank Zappa.
Q: have you met any Montana farmers yet?
A: Yes! I met a girl who does vermiculture at her ranch near Billings, so I’m really excited to go see her.
Q: What is one thing you want people to know about you?
A: I’m really passionate about helping to promote local agricultural products, and helping people succeed.
You can contact Tori at firstname.lastname@example.org