AmeriCorps Week

Happy #AmeriCorps Week!

This week’s post is dedicated to all the hard working AmeriCorps members who are #GettingThingsDone! AmeriCorps is the national version of the PeaceCorps, with a one-year commitment and three different programs including NCCC, State and National, and VISTA. I’m currently serving in Atlanta, GA as an AmeriCorps VISTA in for the nonprofit Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW). President JFK introduced the idea of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) to Congress in 1963 as a means to combat poverty. I decided to become a VISTA after graduating college because I wanted to give back to the community and gain experience in the non-profit field. I had an interest in food security and agriculture so TLW was the perfect fit!

I serve for TLW because fresh healthy food should be a RIGHT not a privilege for few. TLW is growing not just good food, but good people as well. Through urban agricultural training, gardening classes, and workshops we strive to teach anyone how to grow their own food.

Some of the accomplishments that my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA teammates and I have made this year include:

  1. Expanded the Yo! Boulevard food cooperative to 70 members with 3 cohorts in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. The food co-op is a community of members who meet twice a month to receive packaged goods from the Atlanta Community Food Bank and fresh produce from TLW. The co-op’s goal is to make healthy food, urban agriculture and nutrition education accessible to reduce hunger and improve health .
  2. Won the HERCULES Grant which will allow TLW to plant 15 fruit trees and host 4 community events/workshops.
  3. Community Outreach – engaged and spoke with community members about our markets and programs, gauged volunteer interest.
  4. Revamped our social media presence and e-newsletters.

TLW has been partnering with AmeriCorps VISTA for about five years now. This February, we welcomed four new VISTAs to our TLW family. With a total of 8 VISTAs we are sure to continue #GettingThingsDone!

AmeriCorps VISTA is a fantastic way to help make a difference in your community and gain experience in the non-profit field. I would highly suggest anyone who has the heart and dedication to give back to join AmeriCorps. There are several different programs across the county that you can apply for! Whether you’re interested in education, the environment, health, policy, etc. there is a program out there for you! For more information about AmeriCorps check out http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

If you’re an AmeriCorps member I’d love to hear your story!

Peace,

-Jenn

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AmeriCorps VISTA and TLW staff along with the Yo! Boulevard Food Co-op Members
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What’s In Season: March Produce

 

Hello everybody!

I can’t believe it’s March already! It’s been about 7 months since I started my AmeriCorps VISTA service year at Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. I’m more than half way done! Wooh! Time sure does fly by.

March is here which means that springtime is almost upon us. The groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did in fact promise us an early spring 🙂 The sun is rising earlier, birds are chirping, the weather is getting warmer (well, sort of), and soon spring vegetables will be ready to harvest!

So what vegetables are bountiful this time of year?  Well, what’s in season will vary depending on the time of month and where you live. It’ll also really depend on when the farmer planted his/her seeds, weather and soil conditions, etc. I’m writing from Georgia, so your state’s seasonal list might look different.

What’s in Season in March (typically):

March Produce Guide

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Garlic
  • Kale/other leafy greens
  • Lettuce/salad greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Turnips

 

 

Eating with the seasons has many benefits:

  • You may save money. Do you know how much it costs to transport produce overseas to your local grocery? A lot. When you eat fresh, local, and seasonal food, you don’t pay nearly as much for transportation costs.
  • Food tastes better. Fruits and vegetables picked at their peak usually taste much better. Compare the taste of a strawberry in May to a strawberry in January. Definitely not the same.
  • You get more nutrients from your food. Fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients after being picked. More nutrients are lost as they travel long distances.

Those are just a few of the reasons to eat seasonably. I could probably write a whole other blog post listing off the reasons, but I’ll save that for another day.

My favorite seasonal vegetables this time of year are sweet, crunchy carrots. They are amazing when roasted, added to soups, or just eaten plain raw.

Tell me, what is your favorite vegetable to cook with in March?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Peace,

-Jenn