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Carrie Hargrove & Billy Polansky

Carrie Hargrove and Billy Polansky talk about how they met, their love of gardening, and more.

How did you meet?

Carrie: We met in 2008 at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. Heifer International is a great nonprofit with a mission to reduce hunger by investing in and supporting sustainable agriculture in communities all over the world. In 2008, Billy and I worked at Heifer’s educational center and led visitors through activities that ranged from ranch maintenance to team building activities to leading groups through the “Global Village,” an immersive experience designed to help people understand how wealth and resources are distributed globally. 

What was your first date? 

Billy: Living in a house full of 20-somethings in rural Arkansas, there weren’t many options for dating. Neither of us had a car, and we had lots of roommates, so alone time was sparse. I don’t know if we had an official first date. We would take walks by ourselves, but I can’t remember an actual “first date.”

What keeps you busy during the week?

C: Billy and I are very invested in the success of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, so we work hard alongside the rest of our team during the week. We have been foster parents for the last two and a half years, so when we have kids with us, making sure they have everything they need to be successful takes a lot of time.

What’s it like to work together? 

C: We’ve done it for so long that it’s normal for us. Many think it’s unusual, but I don’t. We are very effective communicators with one another, which makes it easy. CCUA is not just a “job” for us. It has been our passion for over a decade now. When you’re that passionate and committed to something, I think that it’s even more special to share it with your best friend.

What do you like to do in your free time?

C: We have a giant garden in our yard that I spend a lot of free time in. Billy likes to build things. We hang out with friends.

B: Home improvement projects around our house or at our rental properties. 

What is the key to a lasting and healthy relationship?

C: Being open, honest, and forthright with communication.

B: Being honest and apologizing.

What is the best quality of your partner?

C: Billy is very logical and rarely gets ruffled. I appreciate his cool-headed nature. Also, he always fixes things that are broken.

B: Carrie is a caring and nurturing person, but she is also a straightforward, no-nonsense person. You always know where you stand with Carrie. She has always been an incredible support for me. 

What is unique about your relationship?

C: Billy is my boss at work. Lots of people think that is weird, but I don’t. I communicate better with Billy than with anyone else. I think that comfortable communication makes working together easy. As we built CCUA over the years, it has been important that we give open and honest feedback to one another in a timely fashion. I think we are pretty good at that.

B: I hear a lot of people say that they couldn’t work with their spouse, but we’ve found a way to make it work and have gotten pretty good about not having it interfere with our personal life.

What are some of your favorite outdoor activities?

C&B: Gardening and going on walks.

What is your favorite restaurant in Columbia?

C: It’s hard to name just one. Right off the top of my head, we both really enjoy the falafel and fries at Beet Box.

B: I think our number one takeout place has been Peking Restaurant.

What has been your favorite project to work on together?

B: Building CCUA. It has been great to watch this organization grow from a wild idea into something that serves a wide range of people in our community. 

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