Sarah Thurman was born outside of Los Angeles and graduated from Royal High School. She attended Humboldt State University in California, and moved to Athens to be with her now husband in 2014. Sarah is the Market Manager at the Athens Farmers Market. Before becoming manager at the market, she worked for Full Moon Farms farming and working their booth at the market. She lives in Madison County with husband Kirin Thurman, son Kylo and dog Lola.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Growing up in the suburbs with commuter parents, my family didn’t really have any friends, and we didn’t really have a social life. I think it was really lonely. So, I spent a lot of time outside in nature and the trees and the plants really became my friends. When I went to college, I studied political science, got a teaching credential and realized I was really good at managing people and projects. I had fun doing it. When I graduated and I finally had the autonomy to decide what I wanted to do with my life and I immediately jumped into farming because I wanted to know how to work with my hands. I really like manual labor a lot.
When I moved here, I felt like I ought to get into teaching to make good use of my credential. I had a hard time finding a teaching job in Georgia and, in a fit of anxiety, my husband said “You are not going to be hungry, you are not going to be homeless…what do you want to do?” I blurted out that I just wanted to be a farmer, and he said “Go! Be a farmer!” I found a farm in Newbourn, Georgia. I accidentally found the largest organic farm in Georgia, worked there for a summer and loved it. The next season, I found a farm closer and I stumbled upon Full Moon Farms in Winterville. It was just magical and we had a great year. I was all set to do that for the rest of my life, and then I got pregnant. Manual labor and pregnancy do not mix very well. During my pregnancy, a lot of vendors at the market propped me up and I deeply appreciated it. Then, they hired me to work in their booths and continued to keep me feeling included in the market, even though I wasn’t working as a farmer anymore – that meant a lot to me. Towards the end of my pregnancy, Jan [the previous market manager] decided to step down as market manager and I realized, in that moment that it was the perfect job for me. I get to still be around the people I love and the work that I love, but I have a chance to use a whole different set of skills that I have. You can be pregnant and manage a market. I went after it, I got it, and three years later I am still having a blast stabilizing the livelihoods of people whom I deeply respect, and whom I think deserve to live a life of comfort and abundance themselves and enjoy building an environment that gives them that opportunity.
Also, I get to address that kind of loneliness from my childhood. You know, I think a lot of people in their adulthood, hopefully, try and to make their children’s reality a little bit better. They improve upon what they had. So, what I think what I would like to improve upon for my child and the next generation is this waning public space reality that we are facing. Public spaces are rapidly becoming endangered spaces. It is going to take people a while to realize that the computer, internet and digital realm is not going to give them the fundamental need that they have of togetherness. While people are are figuring that out, I am going to maintain a healthy, strong market for those who already recognize their need to be together and for those who are challenging the status quo, that they have somewhere to go. That is profoundly important for me.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens, and what do you love there?
My guilty pleasure is the Ahi Poke restaurant, and I just really like having access to fish.I really miss living near the ocean, and I really miss fresh fish and that is the closest and affordable thing. It is just good.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
I know exactly what I want to do, but I can do it in many places in the world. I really like freediving which is pretty much scuba diving without the equipment. Being in the presence of coral reefs has been one of the most profound and exciting things I have ever done. I would go anywhere in the tropical equatorial region. I will go anywhere near the equator that will get me around coral reefs. I am currently fantasizing about Fiji, Indonesia and Belize.
What is your favorite movie, or what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
The first movie I remember seeing was going to see Something About Mary with my dad, and how shocking it was. I was very young, I was probably a tween. I remember there was something about testicles and my dad falling over laughing and me being shocked about his dirty sense of humor I couldn’t figure out if I was ok with that.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I am late to the game in realizing as a woman what my worth is, and now in my thirties realizing I have a very immature feeling of self-worth. I never challenged that sense. I think that we all have a sense of intuition, and we all have a voice inside ourselves that will never fail us and will always guide us in the right direction and when you believe that you begin to establish a sense of self worth, and I wish my younger self had a relationship with that inner voice and I had fought like hell to oblige.
If you could put anything on a billboard, what would you put?
We are animals and we need each other all the time.
If you could see any band or show, anywhere, dead or alive, who or what would you see and at what venue?
Pete Seeger is the only musician who I regret not hunting down while he was still alive to see perform.He has had a tremendous impact on me as a person, he spent his life playing music, maintaining integrity and enjoying the process of pushing and fighting and resisting. I would love if I was in his living room, and I knew how to play the banjo and we were playing together. I feel like he has taught me about American history better than anyone or any book has ever done. The second would be Dolly Parton. So, if Pete and Dolly were in a room together and we could just commune with music, I would love that.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I think that the thing that has been most interesting that most people don’t know is that I am very invested in my spiritual journey and it is very exciting, and important and curious and it occupies a lot of my mental space. Most people just see me in the context of my job.
What three words or phrases that come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
My husband and my son so, Kirin and Kylo and the true joy of my life. I think that the great joy of my life will be them. Then, hopefully children that will come after, but that they have been my great joy. Going through life with them is just the coolest thing I have ever, ever experienced. It is profoundly the most life-altering thing I have ever done.