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Welcome Fresh VISTAs!

16.03.2018 in Uncategorized

Rotary First Harvest is proud to introduce seven new Harvest Against Hunger VISTAs who are serving in communities across the country. Each has made sacrifices in order to serve as AmeriCorps VISTAs for the next twelve months. We are excited to support the diverse projects they will be working on in the coming year. Without further ado, here are the spring 2018-2019 Harvest Against cohort members:

 

Grace Plihal graduated from New York University in 2016, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Media, Culture and Communications. She was raised in the D.C. metro area and recently decided to return to the region to serve her community. Her goal is to ensure that every person in the Fairfax, VA area has access to healthy, fresh food this year and years to come.

 

Elise Tillema is a recent graduate from Northern Michigan University, double-majoring in Environmental Studies & Sustainability and English. A native Michigander, Elise grew up in the Grand Rapids suburb of Grandville before migrating south to Orlando, Florida to serve Harvest Against Hunger and the Society of Saint Andrew as an Americorps VISTA. Elise has spent the past 8 years serving multiple volunteer agencies and is thrilled to bring this experience with her passion for the environment to Florida.

 

Taylor Rotsted is an outdoor enthusiast from the Richmond, Virginia. She has brought her experience in marketing and project coordination down to Southern Georgia to serve the community as an AmeriCorps Vista. Alongside Harvest against Hunger and the Society of Saint Andrew, she will work towards building healthy futures and alleviating hunger as a gleaning specialist.

 

Andrew Frank is a recent graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in Government. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Andrew worked as a paralegal in a corporate immigration law firm. As an AmeriCorps VISTA with Society of St. Andrew in Jackson, Mississippi, Andrew hopes to learn more about food waste, gleaning and modern agricultural practices. Andrew was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and will be attending law school in the fall.

 

Allie Van Nostran was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington and graduated from the Evergreen State College in Olympia. Allie worked on organic and permaculture farms in Europe and Central America, supported student and labor organizing at Evergreen, and worked with a variety of environmental organizations in the Vancouver area before jumping on board with Urban Abundance. Allie wants to live in a community where great food literally grows on trees! They are excited to help promote local production and equitable access to food and green space in the form of public orchards.

 

Sharah Truett has lived on the Olympic Peninsula for 10 years,  working as a Park Ranger and a helper on several farms. She spent 3 years volunteering at the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market Board and has worked a few market booths as well.  As an AmeriCorps Vista with Harvest Against Hunger, she will help coordinate the gleaning program, which relies on volunteers to harvest extra fruits and vegetables from local farms and gardens to donate to organizations serving people in need.  Sharah hopes to see a healthier, more resilient Clallam County with fresh nutrient dense food available for all. She also wishes her garden kiwi plants would hurry up and start producing fruit, already.

 

Annie has lived in Washington all her life. Spokane has been her home since 2011, and she has since grown to love the people, the rich landscape, and the beautiful community that surrounds her. Inspired by the calling of giving back to this community, she started volunteering on small, organic farms in the area. Feeling a joy she had never felt before through volunteering her time, she was led to apply for an AmeriCorps Vista position with Harvest Against Hunger. Annie is passionate about community building, sustainable living, and local agriculture. Currently, she is studying Agriculture and Horticulture at Spokane Community College. More often than not, she can be found engrossed in projects, playing outside in the earth, or seeking truth in the simplicity of things.

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SQUASH OUT HUNGER IN CLALLAM COUNTY

09.11.2017 in Uncategorized

Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA member Juliann Finn is serving as the second year VISTA with the Washinton State University Extension of Clallam County. She describes a recent community project she supported in her community:

Community champion and retired farmer Don Johnson donated 4,000 lbs. of winter squash to the Peninsula Food Coalition (PFC) this October.  The hubbard and banana squash were then distributed to 13 of the PFC’s partners, from the Sequim Food Bank to the Hoh Tribal Food Bank on the west end of the county. A trunk full of squash was set aside for a processing event on October 30th.

 

The Port Angeles School District allowed the PFC to rent space in a newly vacant culinary teaching kitchen as a way to explore new uses for the facility. Coalition members and over a dozen community volunteers were able to process the squash into 19 gallons of frozen cubed squash and 36 quarts of pureed squash. The processed squash was delivered to the Port Angeles and Sequim Food Bank. Three representatives from the school district were able to attend and agreed that it was a great trial run of community-led processing.  

This event wouldn’t have been possible without a pilot processing event in 2016.  The first applesauce processing event was led by first year Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA, Dan Littlefield, where 50 gallons of applesauce was made for Meals on Wheels at the Elwha Heritage Center.  The clients enjoyed the product and volunteers enjoyed the process. “Squash out Hunger” was the last of 7 processing events held in 2017. In addition, in partnership with the Port Angeles Community Center and Forks Feeding 5,000, the PFC held 3 applesauce processing events with each organization.

These events are the manifestation of a united community: Don Johnson has offered to grow the same amount of squash for donation next year, the volunteers signed up to return next year, and the gleaning program continues to grow. Finally, WSU Clallam County Extension will be fostering this growth over the next two years with a NIFA grant aimed at creating community cooking classes with local produce.

 

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HAH National – Gleaning in Colorado

14.07.2017 in Uncategorized

Here is an excerpt from an article from the Daily Camera (Boulder, CO) highlighting the work of our Harvest VISTA Leigh Pond and her work with Community Food Share. Click here to read the full story and view additional photos.

Leigh Pond, CFS’s AmeriCorps VISTA Produce and Gleaning volunteer coordinator, a position created in November, is developing signs to identify what’s locally grown.

In addition to Farm to Food Bank, Pond coordinates CFS’s Garden Share and Gleaning programs. Garden Share encourages donations of fresh produce directly from home gardeners to CFS during business hours.

“A lot of people don’t know about this program, it just went to the wayside, essentially. So that’s where I’m coming in and trying to make it a more well-known program — so people know that you can donate to your local food bank and pantries,” Pond said. “Fresh produce is something that we love to accept. It’s one of the hardest things to come by, one of the most expensive things to get.”

Pond added, “The usual produce at food banks is seconds. For people to come in and receive a nice, fresh tomato that was picked that day, is completely rewarding for them.”

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HAH VISTA in Virginia Builds Inaugural Community Garden

03.07.2017 in Uncategorized

Harvest Against Hunger launched its National Pilot in November of 2016, and the projects, in Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi, are in full swing! Here is an update from Virginia:

Harvest Against Hunger VISTA Amy Reagan is placed with Food for Others in Fairfax, Virginia. Amy managed the planning, volunteer coordination, and construction of Food for Others’ inaugural food bank garden, which was built at Peace Lutheran Church and is located a few miles away from the warehouse. Volunteers constructed the garden, and the gate was constructed later by a youth group. All of the produce that will be grown is client requested, based on a survey Amy conducted at the beginning of her term. Crops include: salsa peppers, tomatoes, zucchini,  bell peppers, beans, and cucumbers.

Volunteers building the beds

Completed beds

Amy Reagan and Annie Turner of Food for Others

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