Season Recap of Food & Farm Program
December 15, 2020 | AmeriCorps, Community Crews, Farm, Health Care Share, Volunteers
The Food and Farm Program at VYCC is a place to work, a place to learn and grow, and a place to gather. Neither rain nor snow nor pandemic will prevent this community of caring and passionate people from growing food to share. Here are highlights of the amazing people who have come together this season.
For more details on what Members gained from their experience, you can read about Karli’s experience.
Four young adults returned for another season with VYCC as AmeriCorps Members, and four joined us for the first time. Jill Brooks, a Vermonter new to VYCC, has welcomed volunteers to the farm and safely engaged them in helping to grow and pack vegetables for the Health Care Share. She has helped lead our partnership with the Abenaki Land Link project, growing Abenaki varieties of corn, beans and squash to go back to the Abenaki community.
Jill also created this beautiful summary of what she and the entire Food & Farm community accomplished in 2020:
ShiftMeals Grow Teams
ShiftMeals provided jobs for eight people in early summer, and led a volunteer crew of eight. (Remember this exciting news about alumna Sammy Levine?)
One of the volunteers Jill Brooks welcomed to the farm is Will Cottiss. Jill knows Will from working together in a couple of Burlington cafés. Will had lost his job and put school on hold as a result of the pandemic.
Within two days of learning about VYCC from Jill, Will had joined as a volunteer. He says, “When the time is right I’ll finish my formal education. Now is not the time to do that. Being at VYCC helped me access the larger scope of the education I want for myself.”
Will applied for a fall position after a meaningful experience volunteering. The AmeriCorps position provided wages, an education award, and food from the farm. Will used this opportunity to try a plant-based vegan diet in hopes it would help him overcome health challenges he’s been struggling with for about two years. He sourced most of his food from the farm.
Will reports feeling better than he has felt in a long time! Now he’s focused on figuring out how to best finish his formal education – he’s nearly completed his undergraduate studies at UVM.
Will and his fellow ShiftMeals volunteers are among about 300 inspiring community members who joined us in the fields, greenhouses, and wash station this season. Under masks and across six-foot gaps, volunteers connected with one another, the land, and a broad community of people working to make sure our neighbors can access this year’s harvest. Volunteers, you are all amazing. Did you know that, with your help, we harvested over 65,000 pounds of produce this season?
Health Care Share Members
Across five counties, 415 households participated in accessing locally grown produce and chicken, trying new recipes, and utilizing nutrition as a tool to address health challenges. The newsletter that accompanies shares connects Corps Members with HCS Members and helps inspire a healthy diet. A HCS Member recently shared: “In the first newsletter there was a recipe for garlic scape pesto. I made it and it was SO delicious. I made a couple of the other recipes. I’ve dried chard leaves and beet slices in my dehydrator. I’ve made relish. I’ve made pickled hot peppers with onions – yum!”
Medical Center Partners
Three new partners joined us this year. The Health Care Share now reaches families through 17 partnering medical centers. To all of you who work within these terrific institutions, thank you! It took an amazing effort to redesign delivery with COVID-19 protocols while delivering essential health care services.
We would like to thank these incredible partners, listed here in the order in which they joined the Health Care Share initiative:
Central Vermont Medical Center, including Berlin Campus, Green Mountain Family Practice, Montpelier Integrative Family Medicine, Waterbury Medical Center, SASH sites in Barre, and Primary Care Barre;
UVM Medical Center, including Family Medicine in Colchester, Milton, and Hinesburg, and Winooski Family Health;
Richmond Family Medicine; North Country Hospital; Northeastern Vermont Medical Center; VA clinic in Newport; Plainfield Health Center; and Gifford Medical Center
Adding partners means we can connect more people with VYCC and the Health Care Share.