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Archive for December, 2009

This post is a reflection from a guest blogger, Josh Villanueva, on the time he and the University of Florida’s Alternative Break group spent volunteering at the Food Shuttle’s Farm and Community Gardens in mid December.

"My overall highlight of the trip is knowing that the work I, my co site leader, and participants did will have a direct impact on families in North Carolina. " Jerry Bruno

“Up until a few weeks ago the 13 members of our Florida Alternative Break (FAB) group were not sure how we would work to improve health and nutrition in Raleigh, North Carolina. We guessed that we might give presentations on healthy eating to community members.  Then, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle informed us that they really needed a hand with the building of a hoop house, an extension of the greenhouse, located on an organic farm of theirs. Excited to learn about this issue, our group took the trip full of enthusiasm to work and excitement for this new adventure.

Reporting to the farm the first day, we were unfortunately confronted with some of the coldest rainy weather that many of us Floridians have ever experienced. Sun Butler, our service director at the farm decided to postpone our first day of real work and instead to give us a tour of various community gardens set up in nearby areas.

I was so impressed by Sun’s intellect.  He explained how organic food is actually more nutritious than the mass-produced sort that we have become accustomed to eating today and supported all his claims with citing scientific data and experimental studies. His combination approach of tradition and science excited me. I never suspected that a farmer would have a minor in organic chemistry.

At the community garden site our group assisted by turning over compost, transplanting small shoots into flats located in the greenhouse, harvesting collard greens, and pulling nails out of reused wood planks. However, the most exciting work for me was definitely building the hoop house. A group of us guys followed Sun’s example and bent iron rebar into arcs that would form the hoop house’s skeleton using two wooden posts and the principles of torque. Who knew physics could have so much relevance in farm labor!

"I came to realize that community gardens and even feeding the hungry is applicable to nutrition in more ways than I imagined. We learned that hunger and nutrition are teaching people the right things to eat within reasonable means." Seeta Nath

Some days we worked tough and were physically exhausted at the end, others required more technical work and some imagination. Whatever the case was we could always count on our leaders at the community farm to show us the ropes. I thank Ron Hunter for being so patient in demonstrating the best techniques for using tools so that we didn’t overstrain ourselves. I even learned how to use a power saw and power screwdriver.

By far though, the most important lesson gained from Sun and Ron was that organic farming and community gardens are part of a holistic process. You connect with nature by working the ground and protect the environment through organic techniques; people in the community unite over the shared responsibility of sustaining a garden, and those eating the crops benefit from a much higher quality and nutritional content. In addition to the environmental and nutritional ones, there definitely exists a strong social component which we all experienced firsthand by working on the farm.  

However, my focus throughout the trip centered on nutrition and this trip certainly inculcate in me the importance of not only what you eat, but where it comes from and how it is produced. I truly hope that our few days of work helping on the farm will ensure that more hungry and malnourished people in the community have access to nutritious produce that much quicker.”

 

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Western Wake Farmers’ Market is no stranger to the Food Shuttle. Remember the Thanksgiving Food Drive they hosted earlier this year? Well, some great folks from Western Wake Farmers’ Market came out to the Food Shuttle more recently and wrote this excellent post on their website. Michele McKinley kindly let us re-post it here. Enjoy!

Partnering with the Food Shuttle to Fight Hunger Locally

by Michele McKinley

Last week, several members of the Western Wake Farmers’ Market team toured the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) in Raleigh to learn more about its programs and see how the farmers’ market and our community can do more to help feed those in need.

After spending just about an hour there, we had a very good sense of the amazing work the staff and about 1,000 volunteers are doing there, not to mention the tremendous need. The IFFS received –and distributed—6 million pounds of donated food last year, according to Katherine Andrew, MPH, RD, LDN, who serves as Director of Nutrition for IFFS. (Katherine is photographed with young tour particpants.) The Food Shuttle is one of seven food banks in our state, and it serves seven counties. In Wake County alone, more than 67,000 are living in poverty and unable to feed themselves healthy food.

Focus on Fresh, Healthy Foods
IFFS is different from other foods banks in that it specializes in perishable food items, such as fruits and vegetables, breads, baked goods and eggs. Katherine estimates that about 80 percent of its donations are perishables because the organization’s focus is on recovering nutritious foods and getting it to those who need it. With the annual value of lost food (food waste) estimated at some $31 billion, food “recovery” is a priority for the Food Shuttle. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 49 million people could be fed by those lost food resources.

The IFFS warehouse is fairly small compared to other food banks because many foods donated do not return to the warehouse. Rather, they are picked up and then distributed that same day to the agencies the Food Shuttle works with, such as shelters, food pantries, community centers and children’s after school programs. IFFS picks up and delivers foods 6 days a week, and has 11 refrigerated trucks to facilitate that work. Among those donating perishable foods are local grocery stores, restaurants and farmers’ markets like WWFM. Non-perishable foods are also donated through food drives, such as the one our market held in the fall.

Programs to Feed and Educate
IFFS runs a growing number of programs to meet the growing demand for food assistance. Among its many programs are:
1) Backpack Buddies: serving some 700 children, backpacks filled with 6 meals and 2 healthy snacks are sent home with kids on Friday so they will have food to eat over the weekend.
2) Culinary Job Training Program: an intensive 11-week program for the under- and unemployed to train them in basic cooking skills, as well as practicing for interviews and writing resumes.
3) Operation Frontline: in partnership with Share our Strength, 4- to 6-week cooking classes that emphasize preparing healthy meals.
4) Farm and Community Gardens: a garden on-site, a farm on Tryon Rd. and two community gardens are underway to provide local access to nutritious foods and education about the economic and health benefits of growing your own food.

Behind the Scenes
Western Wake Farmers’ Market organizers will work with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff over the winter to see how we can expand our market’s donations and increase our community’s involvement during the 2010 market season.

In the meantime, spend a few minutes exploring the Food Shuttle’s web site and its blogs, and become a fan on its Facebook page for updates and information about the many ways our community can help.

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Last Friday, a group of students from the University of Florida chose to forgo a normal winter break and spend some time up here at the Food Shuttle! The group of 13 students have been a major help out on the farm building a hoop house and harvesting collard greens. They’ve also been in the warehouse , helping out with this year’s Chicken 2 Go event, and driving trucks to rescue and distribute food.

We had a chance to catch up with Bryan and Jake in between jobs at the Farm and ask them a few questions about their experience working at the Food Shuttle this week. Bryan shared that he was looking for something more to do over the break other than just relaxing. He’s been interested in health and nutrition issues for a while since he is an exercise physiology major, so this trip was right up his alley. On the trip he’s learned more about getting the community involved through community gardens and looking at nutrition as a holistic way of life. Jake is a pre-med major who has spent a lot of hours working in a hospital, but has gained new knowledge on nutrition and organic farming through the trip to the Food Shuttle!

Check back after the holidays for more pictures, first hand experiences, and video footage of students from the University of Florida’s trip to the Food Shuttle!

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Take this holiday appetizer to your next festive event!

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Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Farm and Garden

THANKS for an AMAZING YEAR!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers, individuals and groups who helped make the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Farm & Garden program a raging success this year.  Truly, we have accomplished SO MUCH in less than a year!   We wanted to take a moment to review our accomplishments together…

  • March – Methodist Ministers Conference puts up the green house at Food Shuttle Farm.
  • April – Land is tilled at Food Shuttle Farm and volunteers pull Bermuda grass out by the wheel-barrow load.
  • May – Construction starts on Mayview Community Garden and first crops are planted at the Farm.  First Potluck dinners at the Farm and Mayview which continue well into fall.
  • June, July, August – Over 400 volunteers help out at the Farm and Mayview to weed, mulch, tie tomatoes and peppers and harvest bountiful crops.
  • September – Neighbor to Neighbor and Alliance Medical community gardens are installed. 
  • October – Thanks to a late Fall we are still harvesting tomatoes and peppers as Fall greens, broccoli and spinach mature.
  • November, December – Fall greens including swiss chard and some very tasty baby lettuce bring the total Farm Harvest to 8,126 lb

Great job everyone, we could not have done this without all of you! 

 We will have some garden days (see below) but the next Crew Call at Food Shuttle Farm will be Sat. Jan. 9th from 9 AM to 12 PM.  There will be no crew-calls during the holidays to give Farm & Garden staff and volunteers some well deserved time off with their families.  So have a great holiday, take some time to enjoy some great home-cooked slow-food and dream – about all the fresh green vegetables and fruit we are going to start planning for the Spring garden when we get back together next year.  Hoe! Hoe! Hoe!

And continue to come to the Farms and Gardens blog for great recipes and the latest news on our community gardens and farm plans for next season.

 HOLIDAY VOLUNTEER TIME:

Despite the absence of Crew Calls, our Nutrition Coordinator, Amanda, will be working with community members in our neighborhood gardens and would love your help if you’re looking for a way to get dirty over the holidays.  Below is her schedule for Mayview; please email Amanda at NutritionCoord@foodshuttle.org if you think you might join and for directions. 

  • Wed 12/16  3:45-5pm
  • Mon 12/21  3:45-5
  • Mon 12/28  3:45-5
  • Mon 1/4     3:45-5

 NEED ROOFING TIN!

We are still looking for a source of roofing tin.  We need 20 pieces, at least 10 ft. in length each, to repair the roof on the vermi-compost building and to build a potting shed off the greenhouse.  Please call or email Sun if you know of any that we can scavenge.

 ONGOING NEWS….

FARMS & GARDEN BLOG

Keep up with what’s going on with our Farms & Gardens and PAR programs through the IFFS blog farmsandgardens.wordpress.com.  Never miss the latest Food Shuttle news by subscribing to the blog on the top right of the page. Use the blog to check out weekly ripe recipes, find yourself in photos of weekly crew calls, hear from other volunteers, and stay up to date with activities at IFFS.  Let us know if you’re interested in contributing to the blog!

LOCAVORE LUNCH – Every Wednesday!

Every Wednesday at noon we are holding local agricultural discussion groups at Farmhouse Pizza, 3011 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. We will be serving a pizza made using some (hopefully soon to be all) local ingredients from NCSU’s Farmers’ Market. Please RSVP to Steve (steven.p.horton@gmail.com) so he knows many pizzas to have made.  If you can contribute, he is asking for a $5 donation… if you can’t afford the cost we’ll gladly cover you in return for good conversation!   A portion of the proceeds will go to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

We will not have another until the 2010 school year starts back up but please consider putting Wednesday’s at Farmhouse on your calendar.

GARDEN SUPPLIES:

We are still in need of hand-tool donations.  We gladly accept new and/or lightly used equipment. Thanks to all who have responded. 

 GROW VEGGIES AT HOME?

Our new Plant a Row (PAR) program has kicked off… We are hoping anyone with home grown vegetables will consider planting extra or just giving any excess harvest to our community members in need.   Check out the attachment, spread the word, and/or get in touch with Katherine if you are interested in finding out more. 

 New Volunteer?

If you have not filled out a volunteer form or have a friend who is interested in helping out please email Janet at RGSJRS@aol.com.

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About 15 folks from TCAR- Triangle Commercial Association of REALTORS® came out to the Farm on Friday to volunteer. Despite the cold weather, the group came bundled up and had enthusiastic attitudes about working on the farm! They started work on constructing a potting shed and helped with moving compost.

TCAR’s community service organizer, Baxter Walker, and Kim Brennen, Executive Officer at TCAR, took some time to make a video about their time on the Food Shuttle Farm and why they choose to work with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle this holiday season:

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Crew Call!

Come out Saturday before it gets any colder!  We will continue to work on building our vermin-composting program by preparing lumber and constructing bins. We’re also looking for roofing tin; please consider calling a friend in construction or anyone you know who is re-doing their home.  See below for more information.

 VOLUNTEER TIME:

  • Garden Crew will meet this Saturday December 12th from 9:00–12:00 PM at the Food Shuttle Farm (see map below).   We will be de-nailing donated lumber and constructing bins for the vermi-composting unit. 
  • Our Nutrition Coordinator, Amanda, and volunteer, Melissa, will be leading the charge at the Community Gardens this year and would love your help in the garden and working with community members.  Please email Amanda at NutritionCoord@foodshuttle.org if you want to join and for directions.  Schedule Below:
    • Tuesdays     4-5pm  –  Neighbor to Neighbor
    • Wednesdays & Fridays    4-5pm  –  Mayview
  • We can always use help during the week too!  Farm Manager Sun Butler can meet you on the Farm any day during the week from 8:30-12 PM and  3-6PMPlease call Sun ahead to let him know when you are coming or give him a heads up on your way out there (919.559.2391).  Sun’s number is also posted on the bulletin board at Food Shuttle Farm if you get there and cannot find him.

 KNOW OF SOMEONE IN CONSTRUCTION?

We are looking for donated roofing tin. We need 20 pieces, at least 10 ft. in length each, to repair the roof on the vermi-compost building and to build a potting shed off the greenhouse.

 FARMS & GARDEN BLOG

Keep up with what’s going on with our Farms & Gardens and PAR programs through the IFFS blog farmsandgardens.wordpress.com.  Never miss the latest Food Shuttle news by subscribing to the blog on the top right of the page. Use the blog to check out weekly ripe recipes, find yourself in photos of weekly crew calls, hear from other volunteers, and stay up to date with activities at IFFS.  Let us know if you’re interested in contributing to the blog!

 LOCAVORE LUNCH – Every Wednesday!

Every Wednesday at noon we are holding local agricultural discussion groups at Farmhouse Pizza, 3011 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. We will be serving a pizza made using some (hopefully soon to be all) local ingredients from NCSU’s Farmers’ Market. Please RSVP to Steve (steven.p.horton@gmail.com) so he knows many pizzas to have made.  If you can contribute, he is asking for a $5 donation… if you can’t afford the cost we’ll gladly cover you in return for good conversation!   A portion of the proceeds will go to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

We will be discussing the same topic as last week (resources available in NC for small sustainable farmers), but with a wrap up of the CFSA conference.

**This will be our last meeting until January when schools start their 2010 semesters**

 GARDEN SUPPLIES:

We are still in need of hand-tool donations.  We gladly accept new and/or lightly used equipment. Thanks to all who have responded. 

 GROW VEGGIES AT HOME?

Our new Plant a Row (PAR) program has kicked off… We are hoping anyone with home grown vegetables will consider planting extra or just giving any excess harvest to our community members in need.   Check out the attachment, spread the word, and/or get in touch with Katherine if you are interested in finding out more. 

 New Volunteer?

If you have not filled out a volunteer form or have a friend who is interested in helping out please email Janet at RGSJRS@aol.com.

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