A Day in the Life of an Upstart Community Builder

Posted by Amy Storey on September 17, 2015

As more small farmers and educators around the world start using ZipGrow products, the need for connections between those growers increase. Building that community is a difficult task. Luckily, we have people like Halle on it.

Who is Halle?

DIL Halle-5292


Name: Halle Brake

Role: Facilitates community between Upstart Farmers and between Soil-less Science Educators.

Coffee Count: Zero.

"None…I’ve weaned myself off for the summer and just drink a lot of flavored water. Once winter comes, I’ll probably switch back to my coffee and tea addiction though."

Kryptonite: False sense of hilarity.

"My jokes aren’t funny. But I think they are."

halle calendar


Superpower: Other team members described her as "cheerful (except when you talk about spiders) and efficient," focused, and enthusiastic. One description of Halle's work was "beyond expectations," a phrase that sums up her superpower pretty well.

Hand Halle a task, any task, and send her off to do it. She’ll come back with more that you imagined, every time. I think it’s safe to say that Halle is an over-achiever (in the best way possible). Because she pairs her optimism with execution, Halle can be counted on. This allows her to engage with and help our Upstart Farmers and educators in personal and valuable ways.

A Day in the Life of Halle

halle scrum meeting At 8:30 we have our morning "Scrum" meeting.

8:00 - My morning begins with the usual round of good mornings, and often times me telling Amy a story about whatever bizarre dream I had the night before while my laptop boots up. Once it’s up and running, I get my long list of internet tabs loaded, among which are TweetDeck, Google Calendar, and Trello. I like to get settled into my morning with some peace and quiet, so my usual music channel is not open yet.

9:00 - I'm walking to my Marketing Ethics class where we will be discussing several of the most highly regarded ethical theories and traditions in both United States and international marketing practices.

alle walking laramie sidewalk


11:00 - In class we got into a discussion about an ethical case in which a company violated the principles of virtue ethics by blatantly/hypocritically acting in a manner exactly opposite of their published statement of values. It made me thankful that at Bright, we're a company that actually holds true to and embodies its values.

12:00 - I just finished helping Reese with an Upstart Farmers Branding Package. Now, I'm working on verifying account subscriptions for Upstart University and getting caught up on email. In a few minutes, I'll be meeting with Chris to further discuss my short term and long term plans for the Upstart Farmers community and Upstart University.

1:00 - I'm meeting with Chris about plans for redesigning upstartfarmers.com, improving community engagement on the community site, refining our list of courses and course timelines on USU, and setting overall scorecard goals for the various facets of the Upstart Farmers community.


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2:00 - I just switched to the standing desk to settle in for a nice solid focus session. I'm listening to Josh Turner Radio on Pandora and am diving into a whole checklist of community management implementation tasks. I'm also simultaneously coaching Emma, our new (and very capable) marketing intern through some community building on social media while she works remotely.


halle standing desk amy working


3:00 - It's snacktime! Pretty much every day around 3pm I get the munchies. I have an entire snack drawer because I like to keep it interesting. Today it's half a banana and some honey roasted peanuts. A sliced up raw avocado with a sprinkling of salt has been a recent favorite though.

DIL Halle Candy Jar (1) Halle keeps a candy jar on her desk, which is regularly pilfered by the rest of the team. (cough, Nate.)

4:00 - I just researched and found what I think will be an awesome new platform for the Upstart Farmers community website. I think it's an option that will be much more user-friendly, fun to use, and good for engagement.

5:00 - Taking a break while I do a follow up with an educator who is interested in joining the soil-less science educators community and putting a ZipGrow classroom garden in their school.

6:00 - I just finished up a portion of the new upstartfarmers.com home page draft and am putting it to rest for the night so I can come back at it with some fresh, creative thoughts in the morning.

I'm finishing up my night checking off a few items of a checklist I have going in Trello and updating my boards so they are ready to go for our morning scrum tomorrow. My stomach is rumbling and my contacts feel a bit scratchy now, so I think it's time to head out for the night. Looking forward to another exciting and productive day at Bright tomorrow!


halle leaving office


Halle's Hacks, Tricks and Tools for Productivity

Halle, like all of the team here, is constantly looking for ways to be more efficient. That means things like standing desks and taking breaks. But even the best working habits don't mean that you'll be working at your best. There's another thing that helps Halle crush it on a regular basis:

She does something that she believes in.

"My freshman year of college, I toured the Bright Agrotech farm and fell in love with the technology and the concepts behind vertical hydroponic growing. Then, over the years as I learned more about Bright Agrotech, I realized that Bright embodies the perfect combination of who I am and my passions. I.e. - city born girl with a passion for agriculture. I knew that Bright was making waves in the CEA industry and empowering people like myself, who always wanted to be a farmer but being from a city, never had the means to make it happen."

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"My favorite part of working at Bright Agrotech is the company culture and atmosphere. There’s always something new and exciting going on! The reason I love it so much is that it jives so naturally with how I function as a person. I get bored easily and work at a pretty fast rate (but not in a careless way). So being in a fast, exciting, evolving atmosphere keeps me focused, working intently, driven, and creative. The one thing it does change though, is that it encourages me to take a brain break every once and a while and refresh my thoughts, which I don't always do on my own."


halle desk


Halle is just one team member in this group of highly motivated creatives here at Bright Agrotech. If you need support for your small farm or your classroom garden, she's your girl.

Every member of our team is dedicated to making vertical growing easy and profitable for our farmers. If you have questions about vertical farming, check out ZipGrow.com or contact us today.


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