• Cultivating
  • Culture
  • Community
  • Commensality
  • Circularity

Becoming Brittany Lemon

More than 20 years ago, Brittany Lemon had a taste of her calling.

Before the uptrend of farmer’s markets, she was in general terms a middleman (more fitting middle-girl [and now middlewoman]) who provided locally grown fruits and vegetables to Atlantans and passersby in the mid-1990s.

Her parents envisioned a family dynamic that spewed out good to the community and ingrained interpersonal skills in their children. An outlet that not only enhanced family time as well as individual growth but also reminded her dad of his agricultural upbringing. Thus, they acquired stalls at the Atlanta State Farmers Market where the dynamic four featuring dad, mom, brother and Brittany made an impact on many customers who sought out fresh food and good conversation. (Brittany, personally thanks any customer who influenced her aspirations of becoming a food enthusiast and an even better human especially the family that purchased a watermelon at a staggering price of USD 20 during her debut as a junior salesperson.)

Over time, Brittany brought her acquired skills from the farmer’s market to school. She was heavily involved in youth development organizations including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) in high school where she served as President for two consecutive years, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Barbizon Modeling, Duke University 7th Grade Talent Search and others that revealed her innate abilities and hardcoded her personal agency to exemplify good character. Once she graduated high school and began her collegiate journey at Florida A & M University (FAMU), she sought out a discipline that aligned with her passions: agriculture and entrepreneurship. Brittany did not have to look far considering the “A” in FAMU was indeed a reflection of her promising pursuits. Housed at FAMU’s College of Engineering, Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) was a field of study that was very fitting – “Agribusiness”.

Outside of studies, Brittany led approximately sixty FAMU Campus Girl Scouts (FAMU-CGS) to “Impact Lives Daily”. In retrospect, she was introduced to Florida State University Campus Girl Scouts (FSU-CGS) during Club Week and fond memories as a Girl Scout influenced her decision to join. Shortly after, Brittany realized it’d be even more impactful if FAMU had its very own Campus Girl Scouts. After a couple of sleepless nights, Brittany submitted an application and handwritten by-laws to the Office of Student Activities to make her vision official on campus. She was certain that “anything is possible” on the day it was approved. Beautification projects, charity fundraisers, cookie stands and troop developments were pivotal to FAMU, the city of Tallahassee and even a country that’s still on her travel list, Haiti. She can recall her mom driving from Atlanta to Tallahassee collecting non-perishable donations from the FAMU-CGS Helping Haiti Donation Drive which was an effort to support victims of the 7.0 Mw earthquake in 2010. That very evening, her mom would return to Atlanta to ensure the donations were on-board a direct flight to Haiti the next morning. The foregoing was Brittany’s most cherishable moments at FAMU. On December 10, 2010, she left the “Highest of Seven Hills” with personal enlightenment and academic achievements enclosed as a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness and minor in Economics.

Brittany would move on to work for industry-leading organizations including International Paper, Sysco, Feeding America and Olam International. Time spent and positions held at these organizations freshened and sharpened her skills to problem-solve effectively and over-deliver efficiently. Highlighting her rewarding journey of career diversification, she once acted as a procurement forester, sourced fresh produce globally, analyzed data for a massive network of food banks and sold raw cocoa to well-known chocolate manufacturers. On unofficial corporate sabbaticals, she wore an educator’s hat at public schools located in the northeastern and southeastern United States. Despite the fact that nearly 1,300 miles distanced her pedagogical experiences, the structural makeup of each urban school district that Brittany encountered was similar in nature, inherently exposing the systemic limitations in resources and accommodations for students’ success. Observing these alarming occurrences stimulated a call to action within her nonprofit organization, Ripe Mind Project Inc.

Growing beyond its infancy stage, Ripe Mind Project Inc is a purpose-driven platform influencing environmental justice and community resilience on its terms. Motioned by interrelated responsibilities including a full-time job, graduate school and volunteer commitments which all circled sustainability, Brittany felt inclined to reveal its existence that laid restless in her mind.

What sparked the fruition of Ripe Mind Project Inc. was a failed service project during her volunteer leadership under the Chicago Conservation Corps. The service project, unsurprisingly named Ripe Mind Project, was viewed as a revitalization plan for a neighborhood located on Chicago’s South Side. Lucklessly, prolonged planning with local leaders made it impossible to meet the time-sensitive deadline. However, Brittany retracted the project’s status from failure to nonprofit incorporation. She was determined to impact on a greater scale.

Moreover, Brittany felt empowered to pursue another entrepreneurial endeavor – jumpstart a sustainability consultancy. An eco-changer that services to all businesses, small or large, that need direction to a greener path. Graduating with a Master’s degree in Sustainability & Environmental Management, and obtaining professional certifications in Corporate Sustainability & Innovation and Environmental Policy & International Development at Harvard University prepared her for this undertaking.

Today, she goes by “Founder & Executive Director of Ripe Mind Project” “Circular Food Systems Consultant” and “Sustainable Design Consultant”. Above the titles is a desire to live selflessly, purposefully and so many other adverbs that align with her motto “Cultivating Culture, Community, Commensality and Circularity”.