“’That’s so perfect for you’ my friends back East responded to my Facebook post announcing my new position as Manager of the Teton Valley Farmer’s Market,” Karen Lowenthal laughed when I told her she was my topic for this week’s TVN column!
Karen and her husband, Harry, moved from Dublin, NH (in the Mount Monadnock region of the state) to Teton Valley at the end of October 2019. Both, recently retired from teaching careers, decided they needed to be closer to their son, Sam, who had moved to Jackson, WY after college in 2008 (a familiar story — so did my son, Jeff, in 2006. And I followed him in 2015.)
I have to tell you about Sam. He and his best friend at Marlboro College in VT, Greg Meyers (now of Teton Arts Council fame!) moved to the Rockies for the skiing and white water kayaking — and stayed for the people and wonderful experiences both have enjoyed in Teton Valley. You might know Sam from the band he started, Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons. “He has no weapons, only his band-mates — Jack Tolan on guitar, Galen Karnatz on keyboard, Bobby Griffith on trumpet and percussion, Andrew Keehn on drums, and Sam on bass,” Karen laughs. “They often play their own original music, an eclectic blend that has its roots in several genres including funk, rock ‘n roll, and the blues. The Knotty Pine is a favorite venue.”
Now about Karen. Prior to coming to Teton Valley, Karen was an elementary school teacher (grades K — second grades) for 25 years. “I emphasized Experiential Learning, a hands-on approach to education that brings the curricula to life using real-life experiences,” she explained. About 10 years ago, Karen was approached by Kin Shilling of the Cornucopia Project and asked to become involved in the program. The Project’s mission is to bring gardening and food awareness into school children’s lives. Although the Project began as an elementary school endeavor, it’s now part of K — 12 education. Karen was delighted to incorporate the Cornucopia curriculum into her teaching, and, for the remainder of her tenure as elementary school teacher, she did just that. She also worked closely with autistic children in her classes, finding they responded well to gardening as a “grounding” experience in their school experience.
Following her retirement from full-time teaching, Karen worked part-time with the Monadnock Developmental Services as a Direct Support professional where she incorporated some gardening into her work with a 27-year old autistic woman. For her second and third years of “retirement”, Karen worked again with the Cornucopia Project. In addition, she worked in the Peterborough Community Garden which provided fresh produce for the local Food Pantry.
“I’ve had my hands in the dirt for years,” she smiles. “Even here, where within what seems like minutes after I’ve watered my garden, the dirt turns to cement!
Gardening in Teton Valley presents two challenges for me — high altitude gardening and heavy clayey soils.”
Karen and Harry are currently renting a lovely house on the west side of the Valley from our Market Board Chair, Rob Dupre. When the Market Board was searching for a new Market manager to follow Steve Thomas, Rob, knowing Karen was looking for some part-time work, approached her. She was delighted — and so was the Board upon interviewing her soon thereafter! Steve, sadly — for him and for us — had to move out of the Valley at the end of last year. Barry McKay, current Board member and past Market Manager, had recently talked with Steve. Steve has relocated to Thermopolis, WY where he’s within spittin’ distance of a good trout stream. “So, Steve’s happy,” Barry said smiling.
When Karen’s not gardening, managing the Market, or attending one of Sam’s concerts, she’s substitute teaching at Driggs Elementary and Rendezvous Upper Elementary Schools, and is a Board member of the Teton Arts Council. Retired, Karen?
“On balance, how are things going for you vis-a-vis the Market?” I asked her.
“Going well,” she was quick to reply. “I’ve enjoyed the challenge of planning for a safe ‘Covid-19 Market’. I’ve also enjoyed working with Alison Brush to support the Teton Valley Farmer’s Market ARTISANS AT MUGLER. I have a very supportive Board, the vendors are great, and I’m impressed by the variety of products for sale already. I’m just happy to see the Market operating.”