Humans of Compost: Meet Annie Pais

Humans of Compost is a series that will follow Gainesville Compost members who are playing an important role in sustainability in an effort to reduce their footprint on the world. Humans of Compost is produced by our Innovation Academy internship team, herbal Brad Pace, check Matt Gallagher and Nhama Azani.

Our first spotlight shines on Annie, and it was an absolute pleasure to spend time talking with her.

Growing up in a studio in the New England area, she learned about gardening and preserving homegrown food. Her upbringing strongly reflects the culture of sustainability and the importance of sharing it with others.

“My mom and dad were big advocates, they were really plugged in, really progressive. They always revered nature, took us out into nature, we always had gardens, canned things, pickled things,” she said.

She advocates strongly for Gainesville as an ideal location to experience the blessings of year-round fresh food, a city with a diverse ecosystem, and a passionate and growing young population that is becoming more environmentally-conscious every day.

“Slowly, we’re getting more and more aware. More restaurants are sourcing locally,” she said of the sustainability movement in North-Central Florida. “Awareness of the springs, awareness of water, awareness of alternative energy.”

Annie dedicates half of her home to function as an art studio, and has earned the majority of her life’s income through freelancing.

She is very active in the Gainesville community, regularly buying local, advocating for changes in city legislation to promote self-sustenance, contributing to Forage, Gainesville’s very own local seed library, and engaging the youth population to get involved in further propelling the city to be a shining example of eco-consciousness in our nation.

As for Annie’s backyard garden, it is a blooming oasis that contains everything from root vegetables to greens, herbs, and several fruit trees. It provides more than enough food for Annie to supplement her diet, share with close friends, and donate some food to people who are in need of a good meal.

Cooking is how she relaxes, and she finds it a fun and exciting game to lay her freshly-picked yield in front of her and decide what delicious combinations of dishes she can make from them.

Annie eats with the crop seasons, and is a self-proclaimed ‘95% vegetarian’, noting that she’ll occasionally indulge in other things as long as they are “made with love”!

Her favorite dishes to make are soups, as she says they are very versatile and can feed a lot of people. She enjoys zesting her meals with freshly-squeezed citrus juice and garnishing with herbs from her backyard garden.

If there’s one thing Annie wishes for the future, it’s that she hopes to see more children grow up with environmental education starting at home and in primary school.

Annie hopes that all the knowledge and education that is observed around us in nature can be harnessed and appreciated to a higher degree.

“We’re so lucky [in Gainesville]. Something’s always fruiting and blooming, starting and recycling, getting composted. It’s fabulous.”

To learn more about bike-powered food waste diversion in Gainesville, FL, click here.

Thanks for reading,
Gretchen Berisford

About the Author

Gretchen Berisford is a Philosophy and Sustainability senior at the University of Florida. She has cultivated a passion for growing food through studying Organic & Sustainable Crop Production and volunteering at Gainesville's Siembra Farm. Gretchen is Content Manager at Gainesville Compost.