CFI Newsletter, November 2023  
Gifts & Gratitude 
As winter blankets our gardens and the Veggie Van takes a well-deserved break, we reflect on a year of growth, shared stories, and impactful programs at Community Food Initiatives. Sprouts classes are moving indoors and Donation Station’s weekly produce boxes weigh about half as much these days as compared to peak season! The season's chill may have slowed the pace, but CFI’s work continues to nourish the communities we serve.
In 2023, we achieved remarkable milestones together. Over 65,000 pounds of food were shared with 50 pantries and partners, while 647 young gardeners thrived in Sprouts and educational programs. The Veggie Van made a difference with 73 events, welcoming 1,400 customers. Discovery Kitchen events and workshops shared the bounty, with over 1,670 samples sparking culinary inspiration. And when I say “we,” I truly mean it. CFI staff, interns, and service members are amazing, but there is literally no way this work could happen without the hundreds of partners, volunteers, farmers, advocates and supporters who make CFI’s programs possible.  
CFI has a 30-year history as a membership organization because we knew from the beginning that this work needs--and benefits--all of us. In this season of gratitude, I truly thank each and every one of you for being part of this organization and believing in CFI’s mission and vision for a healthy, sustainable, thriving future for our farms, kids, and communities. CFI’s story is all of our story, and I hope that as you read this month’s newsletter you feel the joy, and pride, and hope of being part of something big, and true, and good--you truly are the Community in Community Food Initiatives. In the spirit of unity, I invite you to consider a year-end donation, ensuring CFI thrives in 2024 and beyond.
We wish you a holiday season of joy and plenty. 

With Gratitude,


P.S. We've been sharing short interviews with community members on social media to help us tell the story of our work, and linked a few below in case you've missed them.  We hope you find them as inspiring as we do! 
Donate on Giving Tuesday!
CFI in Washington County
Since 2022, CFI has enjoyed expanding our work in Washington County!  Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:
  • CFI Donation Station purchased food at the Beverly Waterford Farmers Market throughout the 2023 season. We also had a monthly booth at the River City Farmers Market from June through October run by CFI staff and supported by student volunteers from Marietta College.
  • CFI partnered with the Washington County Creating Healthy Communities project through the Health Department and the Marietta Community Foundation to train CHC Director Sherry Ellem as a Nourishing Networks facilitator in 2022 and then organize two Nourishing Network events in Washington County in 2023, engaging 43 community members. 
  • In 2022, CFI partnered with Make a Difference Day at Marietta College, the Boys and Girls Club, and Go Packs to bring our Veggie Van donation-based mobile produce market to Washington County locations for two "Pop-Up Market" events featuring local produce and Discovery Kitchen recipes and tasting tables. In 2023, CFI participated in the Go Packs Community Resource fair to share recipes, resources, and samples of fresh local cucumbers with attendees, interacting with 59 Washington county adults and kids.
Farm to School Photo Exhibit!
Over the past year, non-profit partners Rural Action, Community Food Initiatives (CFI) and the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) have worked with local school districts to capture local children participating in the farm-to-school programs throughout the seasons. The resulting public photo exhibit Planting the Seed: Engaging Students in Food and Agriculture features the photography of ACEnet and Rural Action staff: Avery Snyder, Delia Palmisano, Molly Sowash, and Amy Nicolai. The photos were printed on high-quality 20” x 30” canvases. Many wonderful farm-to-school programs in the Athens area offer elementary school students a space to engage in regular hands-on lessons in their school gardens, in their classrooms, and on field trips. Live Healthy Kids and School Days at Chesterhill Produce Auction are programs led by Rural Action. Sprouts is a school garden program led by CFI. As outdoor learning labs, school gardens offer a unique, multi-sensory, inquiry-based education. Most importantly, the photo exhibit captures the creative, and often playful aspects of gardening and being outdoors which boosts confidence and enthusiasm for life-long learning. Gardening is an investment in sustaining and growing the harvest here in Appalachian Ohio. Funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant, the exhibit highlights the results of the agriculturally-focused experiential learning activities at school and community gardens and field trips hosted by area farmers. The curriculum meets NIFA’s goals to enhance school learning standards by increasing students’ knowledge of where their food comes from and our local food economy. The partners would like to thank all the students, parents, volunteers, and local farmers from Morrison-Gordon Elementary, East Elementary, Amesville Elementary, COMcorps, Blackberry Sage Farm, Solid Ground Farm, and Chesterhill Produce Auction that made the exhibit possible.
What Else?
Donation Station is at the Athens Farmers Market  every Saturday, and we happily accept produce purchased at market! See us at the NEW MARKET LOCATION at the Athens Community Center.  Note that the market includes a space inside the Community Center during winter months.    
There's always more happening at CFI than we have room to share here.  Be sure to follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Looking for different ways to help the CFI garden grow? Visit our website for information about our programming and to see how you can get involved. 
Discovery Kitchen cookbook coming soon!
Stay tuned for details!
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