Frontiers’ volunteers: Francesca Tettamanzi talks urban agriculture, pruning, and giving back through Légumes Perchés

We speak to Learning and Development specialist, Francesca Tettamanzi. One of the architects of Frontiers’ volunteering and philanthropy program, Francesca discusses her motivation for helping launch the initiative and her reasons for volunteering with Légumes Perchés earlier this year.

Learning and Development specialist, Francesca Tettamanzi

What’s your role at Frontiers?

“I have been at Frontiers for nearly three years and work in the Learning & Development (L&D) team. I have a long and colorful job description; from onboarding new starters during their first week at Frontiers to employee engagement, to helping to manage the professional development of our staff. Activities range from projects like our philanthropy program, to sport & social activities across all offices, to working in collaboration with different teams and departments in creating internal and external learning opportunities. I am involved in any activity that could contribute to making Frontiers an enjoyable and rewarding place to work.”

Can you tell us a bit about your experience and interests?

“I have an academic background in humanitarian development and a passion for giving back. I spent six years in East Africa where I worked on projects such as managing children’s’ homes, setting up fair trade businesses, building corporate social responsibility plans, and coordinating large groups of volunteers. My relocation to Switzerland and career change into Learning & Development was a natural transition from the field to an office environment where I could pull together my background, interests, and passions creating a culture where everyone is proactive about their learning and can drive their development.”

What does the organization you volunteered for do?

“I volunteered for two working days with Légumes Perchés, a Swiss-based urban agricultural organization aiming to revolutionize the consumption of fruits and vegetables by introducing a hyper-local production (within a radius of 3 km of the users’ place of residence). Légumes Perchés is currently managing some of Switzerland’s largest vegetable gardens, built on the roofs of three buildings (650m2) in Crissier, Lausanne.”

Why did you decide to take part in the volunteering program?

“Fresh air and gardening on a roof were two good reasons! But I found myself also fascinated by the organization’s mission to develop a model of urban farms based on technological, efficient, and self-sufficient structures.”

Describe what you did during your placement?

“Gardening all around!  Pruning of plants, potting, watering, vegetables picking among some of the fun tasks of the day.”

Were you able to draw on your professional experience to contribute?

“Following the lead of the Légumes Perchés experts, we divided the various tasks among us and we had to work as a team. In L&D, we work with a strong collaborative team spirit so gardening with a new team was a fruitful learning experience.  Having been involved in many sustainability-related projects before, I was really interested in taking part in urban gardening and learning more about how it has a positive impact on the community.”

What did you learn or take-away from the experience?

“Lots of tips on how to better grow my own tomatoes and the importance of strengthening the social and economic ties of local communities via urban gardening were my two main takeaways.”