Sep 3, 2019

Within the Nelsonville Community Garden & Beyond!

Spread at the Nelsonville Thursday Night Dinner
Spread at the Nelsonville Thursday Night Dinner

We are having an amazing but busy summer here at CFI. Now that the Nelsonville Community Garden has been re-opened and is blooming with plants, we have been fortunate to explore a few new community partnerships. Please see some of our additional Nelsonville-based programming that we have completed:

  • CFI helped sponsor the Nelsonville Community Dinner, sharing an awesome meal featuring locally-grown food with over 150 people.  It was an awesome event, and inspiring to see several organizations work together to make it happen.

  • Donation Station was able to re-purpose a taste test chocolate cake with zuccini in it into a special treat for someone's birthday at The Hive. The Hive is an after-school drop-in program for youth ages kingdergarten through grade 6, which is a creative place offering activities, free wifi, and healthy snacks. It was a real treat to celebrate this special day with The Hive.

  • In partnership with Athens Creating Healthy Communities Coalition, CFI sponsored a taste test at Nelsonville Thursday Night Community Dinner, where anyone in the community could try local watermelon with lime zest. Children were able to design watermelon slices as well. Thanks so much to Athens CHC and also AmeriCorps COMCorps program for making the taste test a success.

 

As you can see, we have been busy in the Nelsonville Community Garden and within the Nelsonville community. We are happy to continue to work in partnership with local community organizations so that everyone has the opportunity to access local, fresh produce within the Nelsonville Community.

In ACEnet's Kitchen preparing food.
In ACEnet's Kitchen preparing food.
Getting ready for the supper at The Hive
Getting ready for the supper at The Hive
What did they think?
What did they think?
Watermelon with lime zest taste test!
Watermelon with lime zest taste test!
Children's watermelon art
Children's watermelon art
Aug 29, 2019

Sharing the Harvest

A bountiful carrot donation from Vest Berries!
A bountiful carrot donation from Vest Berries!

What a great summer it has been so far this year at Community Food Initiatives! We are in the heart of our busy season here at the end of August, and we are excited to share the updates on how we are building resilience in Athens County and Southeast Ohio.

Donation Station is having a great growing season so far! Donation Station has distributed over 31,000 pounds so far this year and has invested $5,800 in the local food economy by purchasing directly from farmers. Furthermore, we have received over $12,000 in in-kind produce donations from various sources, and we have had commitments from various organizations that will support buying fresh produce throughout the fall and winter seasons.

Our Gardens Program has been building resilience in many ways throughout this summer season. We have been leveraging our Donation Station plots in our Community Gardens in order to provide additional produce to local food pantries. Our Gardens Team has also created, published, and distributed a School Gardens Curriculum which supports teachers in incorporating gardens curriculum into their gardens. Finally, our Gardens Program Director Molly Gassaway visited Blooming View Montessori for a garden workshop with their preschool class. The kids tasted different veggies from the garden, learned about how things grow, and then they headed outside for some hands-on activities in their very own garden beds. 

Community Food Initiative’s Food Access Mapping project, also known as SEO Foodlink, is on an exciting journey forging a new partnership with West Virginia University Food Justice Jab and Ohio University Geography Department. We are excited about what this means for our food access map and what new additions this may bring to the project.

Learning about the garden in the classroom!
Learning about the garden in the classroom!
Watering the garden at Blooming View Montessori
Watering the garden at Blooming View Montessori
Our dedicated staff loading the trailer of produce
Our dedicated staff loading the trailer of produce
Look at this delicious produce!
Look at this delicious produce!
Learning to eat fresh local watermelon!
Learning to eat fresh local watermelon!
Jul 1, 2019

Follow the Produce with the Donation Station

Summer squash and other produce on the CPA floor
Summer squash and other produce on the CPA floor

The Donation Station at Community Food Initiatives in Athens, OH, is in the midst of yet another busy season! We’re at our local farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday, and at a local produce auction every Monday and Thursday, which means that we’re spending the majority of our time out gathering produce to distribute to people in need. Just last week we received nearly 2,000 pounds of produce at the produce auction alone, enabling us to distribute more than a ton of fresh, local, food to pantries and other organizations working to fight food insecurity in southeastern Ohio.

While we love to highlight our wonderful staff and volunteers, during the summer, we are especially grateful for the abundance of local produce that goes through our hands. During this time of peak produce we distribute twice weekly, and we have some special pickups during the week for programs like the Athens County Children Services (ACCS) PB&J Project, which helps provide meals to children in need when school is out of session. ACCS staff member Diane Stock comes to the Donation Station to add produce to the peanut butter and jelly supplies they already distribute: “To have fruit and vegetables to go with that [the PB&J] makes us feel like we’re providing more whole nutrition to children and families.”

Throughout the growing and harvest season, we provide a variety of produce based on what is seasonally available. But, if there is one crop that is a staple for us this time of the year, it’s summer squash. We often have plenty of this easy-to-use, familiar, and versatile yellow veggie to distribute each week. The produce we provide to ACCS and other partners most often starts at the stalls of the Athens Farmers Market or on the floor of the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA), like these summer squash.

We purchase bulk lots of produce at the Morgan County-based CPA every Monday and Thursday afternoon. After these squash were purchased last Monday, our staff weighed them in to track how much we distribute and transported them to a large cooler space at our offices in Athens. This squash was set aside for the special pickup by ACCS on Wednesday afternoon, so it was repacked in their coolers that afternoon before going out to families in need in our area!

This example of the Donation Station in action is just one small way your donations positively impact food access in our area. Providing healthy, local produce to supplement non-perishable items typically available in food pantries, we can build healthier communities! As Diane said, “Families get excited and line up because we have a limited supply of produce to go with what we are able to provide. The fact that we get this [the produce] at no cost is the only way we can provide this service to the community. We wouldn’t have the funding otherwise.”

You can help us increase our buying power at the CPA and be able to provide increasing amounts of produce to our community partners by making a donation today. We distribute around 1,000 pounds of produce each month just to the PB&J project. We are on our way to hitting our target of 100,000 pounds distributed in 2019, and your donations during this busy time of year will help ensure we get there!

Produce is stored in our cooler until distribution
Produce is stored in our cooler until distribution
Transferred to ACCS coolers & ready for families
Transferred to ACCS coolers & ready for families
 
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