Meet Michael James! The New UAC Operations Manager

Posted by on Mar 25, 2020 | 0 comments

Meet Michael James! The New UAC Operations Manager

We are excited to expand the UAC team to include the new Operations Manager, Michael James. As we interview all the new members of our team, Michael sat down and answered a few questions about himself and what he’s excited about.

1) Tell us about an early experience with gardens and nature.
I used to live and work at Heifer International’s ranch in Perryville Arkansas. The ranch itself was almost 1500 acre. We had a large market garden (300 member CSA) and kept herds of sheep, cattle and goats. The ranch had way more than enough work for the 20 or so volunteers staying there. But, one of my most fond memories is finishing our long days of work, taking a moment to breathe, then going to work in a garden my friend Spencer and I had put together. It was a small little garden but took a lot of work because we took a different approach than most. We made a hugelkultur bed. This required digging up the beds, throwing in soaked logs and covering the logs with soil. I will always remember the amount of time and effort we put into that little garden. We had a big work day with some of our closest friend and even made a little, natural barrier (Devil’s Walkingstick, OUCH!) around the garden. If you ask the rabbits, they will tell you this barrier did not work. That garden meant so much to me and I still think of it fondly.
2) What got you involved with CSG?
I finished my fellowship with Tricycle in 2018 and moved to Charlottesville to start a little farm with my housemate. It just so happened he was a garden coordinator with CSG and the more we talked about his job, the more I wanted to get involved with CSG. There is so much good work being done in Charlottesville but in my mind CSG has stood out from the rest. I’ve volunteered with a few non-profit organizations in Charlottesville, and again they are doing great work that has to be done, but I really wanted to be part of the CSG team. I was willing to keep applying to available positions at CSG until I got a job or  was told to stop. I’m so happy to be part of an organization engage with some of the difficult work that has to be done in this city and this country.  
3) What has been your favorite part of CSG so far? 
My first day with CSG just so happened to be Aleen’s birthday. Maybe this is not the case for everybody, but for me I’m always a little nervous and quiet when I first join a new group, whether its with work, friends or sports. So, my first day with CSG I was a little nervous and of course it was Aleen’s birthday so we all went out for a lunch at Pearl Island. Not only was the food absolutely delicious but I felt very welcome with the team and was thrown right into the chaotic mix of the CSG team. I’ve felt welcome and engage with everyone since starting. This is a great bunch of people and that was very obvious since the first day I started and had a loud, talkative and fun lunch for Aleen’s birthday.
4) What are your dreams for CSG in the future?
My dreams are for CSG and UAC to move in to some of the local parks of Charlottesville so that we can have a larger reach with providing nutritious and delicious produce for some of the local communities in Charlottesville.. But it’s not enough to just provide the produce. If we can grow as an organization, we can do more to work with communities in their fight for self determination and justice. My dream is that not only will CSG and UACC grow in its reach and capacity but it will also make even more progress in advocating for racial equity, sustainable food and community representation. This is not a dream realized easily but CSG has the right people working to make it happen.
5) If you were a fruit or vegetable, what kind would you be and why?
If I were a fruit or vegetable, I think I would be a Patty Pan Squash, a little awkward and funny looking, but delicious!

We miss seeing our CSG students in the gardens, UACC friends at community markets, and CFJN partners in advocacy. Please know our hearts and minds are with you. We are working to provide coordination for emergency food assistance and to get the gardens robust and ready for your return. In solidarity -Jeanette, Megan, Aleen, Richard, Shantell, Jordan, Shannon, Mackenzie, Sarah, Tami, Yolonda, Leon, Michael, Rick & Peter

Ode From the Garden

It’s quieter now, less traffic, more bees;

more birds in the garden, more buds on the trees.

Our onions are nestled all snug in raised beds,

Along with potatoes like Kennebecs, and Reds.



Rain falling, birds calling, bugs crawling about,

A gardener keeps gardening when branches branch out.

The sound of Spring rising and cool morning dew,

But there’s one sound we’re missing, and that sound is you.



Ms Shannon, Ms Sarah, Misters Davis and Harden,

Ms Yolonda, Ms Mackenzie, Farmer Rich in the garden.

Don’t worry, we’ll be here when school starts again,

The CSG Gardeners and all of your friends.



Please stay in touch with us via facebook and instagram - especially for our exciting launch of Cultivate Charlottesville! You can also donate to support our CFJN emergency food assistance efforts.