Thank you COMCorps!
Thank you COMCorps!
CFI Newsletter, July 2022  
Sharing the Harvest: Summer Greetings from Maribeth
As we move into the fullness of the summer in Southeast Ohio, we at CFI, along with the partners we work with and the neighbors we serve, are feeling the impacts of rising food prices, high fuel costs, and ongoing public health concerns. Many in our communities are struggling. Access to fresh, healthy, nourishing food is as critical and important as ever.
At the same time, surrounded by gorgeous vegetables, smiling faces, and blue skies--one can still feel the sense of abundance in our communities. We see the power of  CFI's commitment to “grow and share” as we’re harvesting cherry tomatoes by the handful, helping kids make garden decorations out of aluminum cans, or taking the CFI wagon around at the end of the Athens Farmers Market to gather donations from generous vendors.
We all live in the reality of supply and demand sometimes; we are responsible stewards of our resources, and do the most we can with what we have. But the theory of supply and demand doesn’t account for generosity. CFI is built on a deep conviction that sharing our community resources doesn’t diminish what’s available, but instead increases abundance for all. The challenges that people face in filling their cupboards and their gas tanks are real, daily, and difficult. The impact of growing and sharing is just as real, daily, and powerful. 
As you read through this month’s newsletter, I hope that you are as inspired as I am by the amazing things that happen when people take a leap of faith and commit to investing their time, trust, and resources in each other. 

With gratitude,
Maribeth Saleem-Tanner
Executive Director, Community Food Initiatives

Summer Garden Clubs
We’ve had such a blast with Garden Clubs the past couple months!  Our phenomenal Gardens team coordinated a 6 week Summer Garden Club at the Hope Drive Community Garden again this year, as well as an 11 week inaugural Garden Club for the HIVE in Nelsonville. 
This year the Hope Drive Garden Club doubled its participants! Community Gardens Coordinator Raya Abner met with Garden Club participants to brainstorm ideas for the camp, then facilitated fun garden-related projects each week, such as crafting wind chimes from repurposed items, making refrigerator pickles, painting birdhouses, planting marigolds, and enjoying seasonal snacks like salsa.  Raya has been doing such an impressive job coordinating our Community Gardens program that our gardens are FULL for the first time ever, and we are thrilled that she will be staying with CFI for a THIRD year as our COMCorps Community Gardens Coordinator. Thank you, Raya, for your generous heart, nurturing spirit, endless willingness to listen, and dedication. Check out this excellent story by Theo Suzuki-Peck for WOUB/Report for America on the Hope Drive Community Garden! 
Similarly inspiring, our Garden Education Coordinator Abby Hearne did so well facilitating garden-related activities for the HIVE in Nelsonville this summer that the club has turned into a hit with the kids, and their garden space is thriving! Activities included prepping and planting the HIVE’s on site garden, creating beautiful garden signs, planting herbs in the Nelsonville Community Garden, making sun prints with wildflowers, making pickles, and more.  Shout out to the HIVE staff, HIVE kids, our stellar volunteers, and the Youth Resiliency Funding Partnership of Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville for making this kids’ Garden Club a great success. And thank you, Abby, for your boundless energy, fierce advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion, constant sincerity, and compassionate and inquisitive spirit.   
Veggie Van Summer Tour and Discovery Kitchen
Veggie Van is in the midst of an exciting summer season thanks to widespread interest, community partners like Hocking Valley Bank and Rural Action, and the amazing efforts of Food Access Coordinator Ravi Harley and Veggie Van Manager Ivan Orquera.  Here’s how the Veggie Van Summer Tour 2022 is shaping up so far: 
  • Week of July 25: Veggie Van welcomed special guests from the University of Buffalo. The UB team has been amazingly supportive since we applied for the funding that helped us launch in 2020, and it was a ton of fun to have them here in person to check out how things have developed.
  • August 4, 9AM-3PM, Nelsonville: We'll be attending Job and Family Services’ Back to School Bash which serves about 1000 students.
  • August 10, 3:30-5:30PM, Coolville: We’ll partner with Hocking Valley Bank for a Coolville Community Celebration Part II.
  • August 18, 2PM-4PM, Nelsonville: We'll attend the OhioHealth Heritage Health Fair at Parade of the Hills in the Nelsonville Library parking lot. 
  • August 28,1PM-4PM, Marietta: We'll attend a Washington County Community Resource Fair on Sunday at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta hosted by GoPacks, in conjunction with the Family & Children First Council of Washington County.
  • August 27, time TBD, Athens: We'll attend Athens’ annual Skate Jam event. The folks organizing this awesome event are looking for volunteers, so reach out if you’re available! 

    *Watch social media for updates, announcements, and additional events.
While we’re tooting the Veggie Van horn we have to give a huge shout out to Food Access Coordinator Ravi Harley.  Ravi tirelessly stepped up to lend a hand with any program or project at CFI during his term of service, and was an essential part of making this past Veggie Van season a success.  The whole team has been inspired by his sincere and compassionate interactions with Veggie Van customers and Donation Station partners, his level-headed approach to any situation, and his absolute dependability.  

On top of all this, Ravi also made enormous contributions to our Discovery Kitchen programming this year, bringing samples back to both Donation Station and Veggie Van after tasting tables had largely been put on pause during 2020, and coordinating community-wide testing of Discovery Kitchen recipes in preparation for an exciting upcoming project (stay tuned).  From developing recipes to creating educational materials about food waste reduction, we’re grateful for all of the inspiration Ravi brought to Discovery Kitchen this year.  Thank you, Ravi!

Sharing Donation Station Nationwide

Thank you to the Wallace Center’s Food Systems Leadership Network for hosting a webinar featuring CFI on July 28, and congratulations to our team for sharing the Donation Station model with a national audience for the first time!  91 people from 32 different states registered to attend Donation Station Cultivation 101, a virtual learning session during which our team walked through the Donation Station model, answered questions, and scheduled follow-up calls with organizations interested in small-group consultation to work on tailoring the DS model for their own community.  The Donation Station Cultivation project is funded by an Activation Grant from the FSLN, which means we’re developing a Donation Station Cultivation “seed kit” which will be available at no cost to organizations that participated in this call, as well as being available through our website.  This is a very exciting opportunity for our team, fully putting our “sharing” philosophy into practice. 
Do you know of an organization that might be interested in exploring the Donation Station model?  We'd love to chat!  Please feel free to share our contact info.    
Central Appalachian Network Fair Food System Summit
Thank you to the Central Appalachian Network for their recent kickoff of an exciting six-part summit series titled A Fair Food System, discussing “scalable solutions to creating community food systems.”  CFI had the honor of participating in a panel discussion with Appalachian Accessible Food Network partners Rural Action and ACEnet on day one of the summit, which focused on “Local Food Value Chains: Creating Health and Wealth.”  
The summit series will “include educational presentations, panel discussions, networking events, and breakout sessions to address community food system issues within Central Appalachia,” and will address the following topics: Local Food Value Chains, Climate Resiliency, Healthcare, SNAP Incentive Programs, and Food Policy. 
There are five remaining summit sessions, one per month through December, all of which are being offered virtually and are free to attend.  Find more information and register for this exciting opportunity HERE. 
The summit is presented by Central Appalachian Network in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture.
Over 5,100 Hours
Amazing, inspiring, energizing, nourishing, uplifting, compassionate, funny, insightful --- What do you get when you take all those things and multiply them by 5,100 hours and add in teaching kids, working in gardens, hauling produce, and preparing delicious food?  It's nearly impossible to calculate the full impact our COMCorps crew during their terms of service.  They are an indispensable part of our team and thinking about their collective impact over the past year leaves us bursting at the seams with joy and gratitude.  And, we are always amazed by how quickly a COMCorps term passes.  Please help us thank Raya, Ravi, and Abby if you see them out and about!  Here are some of our favorite photos of our stellar 2021-2022 crew. 
What Else?
VOLUNTEERS WANTED IN AUGUST!  August is filled with events and is also the month when our COMCorps have a very well-deserved break.  We'd love extra hands at the farmers market, Chesterhill Produce Auction, or Veggie Van.  Email us if you're interested! 
Donation Station is at the Athens Farmers Market  every Wednesday and Saturday, and we happily accept produce from your home garden or produce purchased at market! 
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. 
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