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Learning and Connecting through Food 

  • Location: VYCC in Richmond
  • Year completed: 2021 and every year since!
  • Project areas: Food & Farm Project

The Farm at VYCC is far more than its signature Health Care Share project. Corps Members participate in the complete cycle of tending to soil health, growing food, preparing fresh meals, enjoying those meals, and composting the scraps to return to the soil.

In March 2021, one of the first things Shannon Borucke participated in was a discussion with her teammates about the words ‘nutrition’ and ‘nourishment.’

“Food comes first; it feeds your body. Nourishment goes beyond, to replenishing, and relates back to how the food you eat is grown. It incorporates the whole cycle.”

As Food and Nourishment Project Lead, Shannon’s work was mostly in the kitchen. She led Crew Members in preparing daily lunches for approximately 60 people working on the farm any given day, and led the preparation of sauces and meals for the Health Care Share.

Shannon talks about her VYCC experience and unique view of the farm from the kitchen:

“I was able to connect with a lot of people. Everyone came into the kitchen at some point. People would come from the office or the field when they needed a break from their work. I loved that. Team members joined me to make pesto and listen to my music.

“I’d have half our youth Members (15-17 year olds) in the kitchen at a time. The small groups meant I could do a good job of quality control. And our time together was more than learning to cut an onion well. I got to know each and every Member personally.

“I’ve worked in food service. It’s stressful and hard if you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you can learn the skills in a safe environment, it’s great to be able to make some extra money when you need to.

“One day, I was showing a Member how to use the commercial dishwasher. We were talking about jobs and I told her working as a dishwasher is a great way to make cash. I was showing her how to do it quickly and efficiently and as I walked away she said, ‘I love working here because you don’t treat me like a child.’ I said ‘you’re not a child.’ There were so many small moments like that every day.

“I loved being able to go into the fields and pick some veggies and make a salad with it. But food processing in the fall was my bread and butter. There were so many veggies, I was able to make my family’s recipe for marinara sauce. I told my Nana that I used her dad’s recipe, who is from southern Italy. That sauce went into the Health Care Share – and my family’s secret recipe went in the newsletter!

“From the kitchen, I’d see people passing by on their way to the fields. I loved when they came in to visit. VYCC’s kitchen is a place for people to catch their breath and get something done, and people found it enjoyable to spend time there.”