Erica Berman graduated from the Newhouse School with a bachelor’s in magazine journalism in 1991. After 20 years in Paris running her vacation rental company, Haven In, Berman moved back to the states with her French husband, Alain, to dedicate her time to her community. She founded Veggies to Table, a nonprofit that donates fruits and vegetables to the food insecure in Maine. Additionally, she curates Hip Paris, a popular cultural blog about Paris. We sat down recently to ask about her work.
How did you get the idea for Veggies to Table?
The whole reason behind Veggies to Table was to donate food to the food insecure, because of the high level of food insecurity in Maine. The population of Maine is around 1.3 million and over 210,000 don’t have enough food to eat every day. About 43% of kids get their main meals from school. For us, it was heartbreaking. I can’t even imagine not having food to eat. The other parts of our mission are education around healthy food and sustainable living and creating lasting community connections through our volunteer program.
What advice would you give to those looking to start their own home garden or to switch to sustainable living?
You have to just start. That’s the biggest step to take—starting where you are. If you only have a little balcony and you live in the city, put some pots on your balcony. If you have a small yard, get rid of the grass and put in raised beds. If you have a lot of land, that’s a little bit easier. I didn’t know anything when I began gardening. I started reading, researching, asking farm and gardener friends and, in the end, just doing it.
What advice would you give to Newhouse students trying to figure out their career path?
You can use your major, like I did, in other ways [that aren’t directly related to] your major. I never actually worked as a magazine journalist, but I spend my life writing, editing and taking photos. So, I would say, follow your passion. That’s the most important thing to do. Do it young. Do it as soon as you know what that passion it. There is no time like the present.
If you could give a piece of advice to your college self, what would it be?
I would’ve appreciated being in college more. It’s such an incredible experience to be in this fantastic learning community. I think I would have applied myself more and taken advantage of opportunities I didn’t know were available. It’s the only time in your life when you’re in such a deep learning environment. Seize the day.