CFI Newsletter, June 2023  
Cultivating Healthy Gardens
We’re halfway through 2023!  Between unseasonable temperatures (both cool and warm) and a near-record dry spell, the growing season has called for adaptability once again, and we’re extra grateful to be in a community with so many experienced farmers and gardeners.  To all who are growing the food that we share, and to those who offer advice and volunteer their time to help out in our gardens -- thank you! 
Because this shared food and knowledge goes to neighbors in need, to youth in our community, and to beginning farmers, we’re working together to make an immediate difference, and simultaneously working for a healthier future.  Our deep gratitude goes out to the whole CFI community.
Even with weird weather and constant awareness of how much work remains to be done in order to be a community where everyone can thrive, there’s always much to celebrate in June!  The harvest we share and the many hands that grow it are beautiful, with produce spanning all colors of the rainbow: a daily reminder of the joy and critical importance of diversity in a food system.  All of us at CFI hope you found meaningful ways to celebrate Pride month in June.  We’re grateful you are on the journey with us as we strive to center equity, justice, and inclusion in our work, and in so doing, cultivate healthier gardens.

With seeds of hope,
The CFI team
Welcome to Drew Ogg, CFI AmeriCorps VISTA!
Welcome to Drew Ogg, CFI’s AmeriCorps Outreach VISTA for the 2023-2024 service year! We’re looking forward to the next 12 months, excited about the many projects Drew will be working on.  We invited him to answer a few questions to help you get to know him, and this is what he said: 
1) What drew you to a year of service with CFI?
The biggest reason was really seeing myself in the people that CFI aims to help. Growing up in Southeast Ohio, I witnessed food insecurity and its effects at an early age. Feeling the need to help those with similar experiences, I could tell that I would have the best opportunity to do so working with CFI. 
2) What is one of your favorite food related memories?
I spent a lot of time learning to cook by spending time with my grandmother in the kitchen. Something I especially looked forward to each year was Thanksgiving, when my grandma and I would spend 8+ hours hand-rolling the egg noodles. Of course, me being a child, my noodles were never the most lovely. Regardless, my grandmother always said mine tasted the best, and that made me feel special.
3) What is something you're looking forward to during your term of service? 
I am definitely most excited for the opportunity to meet and build relationships with farmers and other similar organizations in the area. Having recently moved back to Southeast Ohio, I feel as if a term of service with CFI is the best possible way to understand, and put my roots in this community that has given me so much already.
4) If you were a fruit or vegetable, what fruit/veggie would you be? 
I would have to go with a potato.* I really admire the versatility when cooking with them and the resiliency they have while growing.
Along with Drew, we have also welcomed three new Board members this spring.  See our updated staff and learn more about them on our website.  Be sure to say hello when you see them out and about in the community!
*Editor’s note: Two CFI team members have now said they’d be a potato were they a vegetable, and more have named potatoes as their favorite vegetable.  There might just be a “Twenty Perfect Ways to Prep a Potato” workshop in the future … stay tuned! 
Donation Station Developments
CFI is partnering with Rural Action and HAPCAP again this season to increase the amount of locally-grown food we’re purchasing and distributing.  In connection with this work, Donation Station will be periodically attending the River City Farmers Market in Marietta and the Meigs County farmers market to connect with farmers and community members there, and to continue the Donation Station cultivation work that has gained momentum over the past year with 2 conference presentations and a webinar with nationwide attendance. If you see Donation Station Program Director Reggie Morrow or CFI AmeriCorps VISTA Drew Ogg at the Athens Farmers Market, ask them about this exciting work!    
Planting Hope with Community Gardens
In a recent Op Ed piece about gardening as a balm for grief and an antidote for hopelessness, author Tess Taylor suggested that in a garden, as we tend the Earth, “we find delight in what’s still here, in what we can still share, together, now.” She also cites another gardener-author friend, Camille Dungy, who “says the act of tending plants might help us find some of the grace we need to care for one another and the planet writ large.”  
When is the last time you connected with someone over food or gardening?  What did that connection feel like?  At CFI we get to experience and witness, almost daily, the wellness that comes from connecting with each other, with a garden, and with food, and it's a beautiful thing.  
Between the collective garden space of all four community gardens, there are over 100 individuals sharing space for the cultivation of food, biodiversity, and joy, with support from organizations like Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, the Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Athens Parks and Rec Department, and the City of Athens itself.  Community Gardens provide nourishment in so many different ways, and we’re thrilled to be part of that work.  Here are some moments from the season so far. (Thank you to the community gardeners who shared photos!) 
Read the rest of the article by Tess Taylor here.
CFI Out and About in June
CFI had a busy June!  We participated in the celebration of Juneteenth at OU’s Juneteenth Festival, Veggie Van attended the Athens County Public Library Touch a Truck events in Nelsonville and Athens, Donation Station attended River City Market in Marietta (mentioned above), CFI joined Rural Action and many others at an excellent OEFFA advocacy training in Columbus, we’ve been busy with tons of summer garden camp activity (watch for summer garden camp photos next month), and we've been sharing recipes and recipe samples whenever we can -- check out a couple star recipes featuring beets below!  
What Else?
Donation Station is at the Athens Farmers Market  every Saturday, and we happily accept produce from your garden or purchased at market! See us at the NEW MARKET LOCATION at the Athens Community Center.   
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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