Tag Archives: food deserts

Notes from the Farm: Wrapping up Summer and Prepping for Fall

It’s hard to believe that August is here already. The summer sure has flown by this year!

It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!
It was a busy summer at the HON Urban Farm!

The summer months yielded an impressive amount of produce this year, and we’ve been busy harvesting bushels and bushels of peppers, tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers for the past few weeks. Of course, all of the produce we harvest at the Urban Farm will be donated to Hands On Nashville’s nonprofit partners throughout Middle Tennessee.

I hope that you and your families were able to enjoy a break from school and work at some point over the summer. As most of you probably know, children in the Metro Nashville Public School system returned to classes on August 1. Given the early start date this year, all of our summer programming finished up at the end of July.

Out at the Farm, we are beginning to focus on our plans for this fall. But before we jump into that, I want to take a moment to share some of our many successes from this summer with you!

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Crop City campers learning about nutrition and healthy eating.

As I have reported over the course of the last few updates, we hosted a five-week nutrition curriculum at the Farm this summer called Crop City. We had close to 900 children come out to participate in the Crop City program this year and it was a huge success, thanks in large part to our outstanding team of Urban Farm Apprentices. These 15 high school students did an amazing job leading Crop City participants this summer and we hope that some of them will come back next year.

In the meantime, we are very lucky to have three of those Apprentices participating in our 2013-2014 Fellowship Program! They will join seven other high school students to implement service projects at nonprofits across the city throughout the school year. All ten Fellows are introduced in our most recent Farm blogpost.

That pretty much covers it from here! Have a wonderful August and, as always, feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or concerns.

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Our wonderful Urban Farm 2013 team takes a break to pose for a group shot.

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Headshots 42 colorJosh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Volunteer Spotlight: Chung Chow

head shotChung Chow knows food. This 25 year old self-described “military brat” makes her living working as a restaurant manager at an upscale sports bar here in Nashville and spends most of her free time sampling the fare at the city’s many eateries.

It is that same strong passion for all things cooking and food that has driven much of her volunteer work here in Music City as well.

Born in North Carolina and raised in nearby Clarksville, Chung relocated to Nashville just last year. Like so many new arrivals and transplants, she was looking for ways to meet new people and get involved in community service. With some encouragement from her mother, an avid volunteer herself, Chung began researching volunteer opportunities through Hands On Nashville (HON).

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Chung and her students working on a new dish together.

It didn’t take long to find her first opportunity. Within a week, she was volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, where she was welcomed with open arms by Second Harvest’s staff and her fellow volunteers. That initial opportunity, which she considers her most memorable volunteer project to date, made Chung realize that volunteering in an area that she loves can make for a much more meaningful service experience.

So, with a minor in Culinary Arts from Austin Peay State University (where she also currently holds an adjunct professor position) and three years of experience as a pastry chef prior to the transition into restaurant management, Chung took her considerable talents and expertise and began serving as a skilled volunteer at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

There, she teaches a regular cooking course at the teen center that educates youth on the importance of healthy eating and portion control. Chung takes great pride in being able to pass along her food knowledge to young people, helping them make smart choices about what they eat.

“I take suggestions from the students on what foods they love most and make substitutions to make it healthier,” she says. “Teaching and seeing the kids enjoy the food they prepare is very rewarding.”

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Just one of the many meals Chung and her students put together at the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

With two jobs and a busy schedule, Chung admits that finding time to volunteer can sometimes be a challenge. But after gaining so much from volunteering through HON, she’s determined not to allow that to become a deterrent.

“Volunteering with HON has been a wonderful experience,” Chung notes. “It’s a great way to get involved with the community and meet people that you wouldn’t have (met) otherwise. After all, we live in the Volunteer State!”

>To find out how you can help your local YMCA, click here!

VolunTEEN: Not Simply a Chore

ferriss headshot1Guest Post by Ferriss Bailey
HON VolunTEEN Summer Youth Leader

Ferriss Bailey, a rising senior at Montgomery Bell Academy, is one of the four inaugural Summer Youth Leaders. During the four summer service weeks, Ferriss leads service learning opportunities that address the environment.

The BELL Garden at Bellevue Middle School is a large, educational garden that is run by Liz Meeks and sustained with volunteer help. The garden contains more plants than most people even know exist, and it is a wonderful educational tool for students. However, it takes a substantial amount of work to keep it lush and thriving.

In my time as a Summer Youth Leader, I have been fortunate enough to lead four projects at BELL with volunteers of all different ages and backgrounds. Together, the volunteers and I enjoyed weeding, harvesting, and sometimes, even eating in the different beds.

One project particularly stands out in my mind when I think of my time at Bell. I was leading four volunteers, all of whom were around my age. We worked extremely hard, but it seemed like nothing! While we worked, we talked about our different schools and told funny stories, and by the end we had become great friends.

Certain projects like BELL can be extremely hard, especially when you are working in the hot sun. However, BELL and the other challenging projects are not simply a means to an end, but a great way to meet amazing people while doing important and impactful work.

Learn more about HON’s youth leader programs here!

Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.
Liz Meeks teaches volunteers how to properly water plants at the BELL Garden.

Crop City: Local Chefs Visit the Farm!

With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!

Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.

Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you.  Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!

Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.
Chef Tony Galzin puts the finishing touches on his summer squash salad.

Summer Squash Salad

2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 lime
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cayenne pepper

–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.

Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip

Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.
Chef Jo Ellen Brown slices apples for her yogurt almond dip.

1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.

Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!

Notes from the Farm: Summer Camp Feeds Hungry Young Minds

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

Sunflowers last summer were beautiful – about to flower again!

For the past few weeks, the Urban Farm has been thriving with activity. The mild spring weather and mix of sun and rain has made the fields so happy — the garlic is ready to harvest, the tomatoes and peppers are beginning to set fruit, and the sunflowers should be opening their heads in just a few weeks. With our second full growing (and teaching!) season underway, we can’t believe how much has been accomplished in the last year thanks to the community’s support!

Along with all of the anticipation around growth and renewal on the Farm comes the excitement of our second year of Hands On Nashville’s summer youth development program called Crop City. This farm-to-table, curriculum-based camp engages 400 young people in fun learning activities around healthy eating, nutrition, and connecting them to where food comes from — the ground! Most of the participating children are from neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. Through Crop City, the youth get a chance to learn from one another, play a role in growing the vegetables at the Farm, and learn about making healthy food choices. During the final week of the program, chefs from local Nashville restaurants will visit the youth on the Farm and show them how to prepare simple recipes using the healthy produce they’ve helped to grow. (Special thanks to Chef Tony Galzin of Flyte World Dining and Wine, and Caroline Galzin of Rumours Wine Bar, for their support in this effort!)

Crop City participants playing an ice breaker game, Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!
Crop City campers this week playing an ice breaker game – Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!

We were inspired by the results of last summer’s program at the Urban Farm: participants were able to recognize more vegetables than they had at the start of the program, and more than 75% said they were trying to make healthier food choices as a result of their experience. We are working toward even bigger and better outcomes in 2013, and can’t wait to share them with you!

Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.
Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.

 

One of the coolest aspects of Crop City is that the curriculum is lead by the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices. Selected through a competitive application and interview process, these amazing teenagers are leading all of the Crop City activities under our guidance. We’ll be introducing the 15 Apprentices via this blog soon, so stay tuned! (They are one incredibly talented group of high school students.)

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Last summer, Chef Tony Galzin (Flyte World Dining & Wine) demonstrated how to make a tasty, healthy salad using the veggies the campers helped grow. We are excited to have Chef Galzin back again this year for the cooking workshop in July!

The community continues to be very supportive of our efforts at the Farm. We have enjoyed working with several corporate volunteer groups over the past few weeks on infrastructure improvement projects at the Farm. Special thanks to Starbucks, Ford, Cummins, and Deloitte for their hard work and support.

If you’re looking to get involved with the Urban Farm, there are two ways to support our efforts:

1) Volunteer! During the summer, our public volunteer opportunities are a little more limited, since we have so many young helping hands. But we do have weekly early-morning composting projects, and we’d love to have you join us (a perfect way to make an impact but beat the heat!).
> Click here to sign up. 

2) Support our Urban Agriculture Program with a monetary gift.
> You can make a donation here. 
Be sure to type “Urban Agriculture Program” in the “description” field.

Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with beautiful purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they're ready!)
Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they’re ready!)

If you have questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

 

 

 

 

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Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm.
Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm this spring.

Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

Turtles, Picnic Tables, & Summer Camp at the HON Urban Farm

By Josh Corlew, HON Urban Agriculture Program Manager –

We have a lot of visitors on the Farm, each one bringing their own special gifts. Volunteers bring their willing spirit and hard work, donors bring the resources needed to keep our program going, our apprentices bring leadership and education, and our campers bring a youthful enthusiasm and curiosity. But there are also several non-human visitors on the Farm. Here’s a picture of one of the more unique visitors that our apprentices found last week:

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Hi, momma Shelly.

We named him Sheldon initially, welcomed him to our space, and went about our day. Later that afternoon we came back to find Sheldon is actually Shelly… she had dug a nest in our tomato row! We’re not sure if she’ll be back to lay eggs or raise some tiny turtles, but we’ll keep an eye out for her.

Another favorite visitor to the Farm is Sally the salamander, and she helps keep the pests at bay:

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Isn’t he cute?!

Last Friday one of our corporate partners, Deloitte, joined us for a day of impact. They built five new compost bins and two beautiful picnic tables for us. Here’s one of the cedar picnic tables:

Cedar picnic table
These picnic tables will provide a much-needed place to relax and take a breather for our Farm volunteers. Thank you, Deloitte!

This week was our first week of Summer Camp at the Farm. Every day we’ll have teens from area nonprofits coming out to learn and work on the Farm. Led by our apprentices, the campers learn about the food system, how to grow food, why it’s important to eat healthy food, and how to cook some simple recipes using farm fresh produce. Our schedules are booked from Mondays through Thursdays, but on Fridays we have room for other teens to come participate. If you’re 11 through 18 and would like to join us on the Farm on a Friday, just sign up here by clicking on one of the VolunTEEN opportunities. Learn more about the HON Urban Farm here.

JoshJosh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.


Introducing the Urban Farm Summer Apprentices

By Josh Corlew, HON Urban Agriculture Program Manager –

This week brings a very exciting new addition to the farm: our apprentices! I’m so excited about the team of eight youth apprentices that we have training with us right now. They went through a rigorous application and interview process and I’m convinced that every one of them is up to the challenging and fun season that we have ahead of us.

This summer HON Urban Farm apprentices will lead groups of up to 60 of their peers through a curriculum around agriculture, the food system, and healthy eating. They will be the leaders of our Youth Summer Camp held at the Urban Farm. I want to dedicate the rest of this post to introducing our awesome new team.

Meet the HON Urban Farm Apprentices (in alphabetical order):

Photo of Ashley
Meet Ashley! She loves dance.

Ashley attends Glencliff High Schooland helps tutor math. She’s very active in dance classes and enjoys a wide variety of dance styles including tap, jazz, and ballet.

Photo of Chloe
Chloe is captain of her varsity softball team.

Chloe attends MLK Academic Magnet High Schoolwhere she is active in Beta Club. A softball player, Chloe is on the varsity team where she also serves as captain.

Photo of Evie
Evie has been in several plays at her school and The Nashville Children’s Theater.

Evie attends Hume Fogg High School. She’s very interested in drama and has participated in many plays at her school as well as productions at The Nashville Children’s Theater. An active member of her church’s youth group, Evie also has helped to organize the CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) walk for the past several years.

Photo of Jazmin
Jazmin aspires to be a professional chef.

Jazmin attends Glencliff High School and is all about the extracurriculars. Her resume is chocked full of participation in service and cultural groups including Latinas Unidas, Rise Above Hate, Jump Study Foundation, and United Nations, just to name a few. She offers her bilingual talents as a translator for after-school tutoring programs, and aspires to be a professional chef!

Photo of Maria
Maria is an active member of the Glencliff High garden club.

Maria attends Glencliff High school where she is very active in many clubs including the Garden Club (yay!), ITOP, Beta Club, Teens United, and United Nations. Maria has also worked with the Oasis Center and hopes to continue to grow in her leadership abilities this summer.

Photo of Maynan
Maynan’s name means “shining moon.”

Maynan attends McGavock High School and has been in the U.S. for about seven years. She enjoys helping out with a Bantu summer camp in her free time. In her native country, Kenya, her name means “shining of the moon”.

Photo of Saida
Saida enjoys tutoring kids in Nashville’s Bantu community.

Saida is a student at McGavock High School. She likes to tutor kids in the Bantu community in after-school programs and is also actively involved with Catholic Charities. Saida has experience growing food from her days in Africa, and we’re excited to learn from her this summer!

Photo of TJ
TJ has experience in designing and building garden beds out of cob.

TJ has just graduated from Glencliff High School. While he was there he was a part ofthe Garden Club and an Engineering class in which he helped design and build garden beds out of cob. While TJ has many talents, one of his favorite activities is parkour.

It has been a pleasure getting to know these remarkable young people over the past week, and we are really looking forward to a rich summer of learning, growing, and teaching.

A New Urban Garden for Nashville

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager –

[This Saturday, Hands On Nashville will officially launch its new Urban Farm as part of Global Youth Service Day Presented by Starbucks. Join us and volunteer. Read more about the Urban Farm here.]

The first time I saw the property along Mill Creek in Southeast Nashville, I felt a rush of anticipation. It seemed to be almost bursting with raw, untapped potential. Soon my head was swimming with possibilities: gardens with perfect sets of companion plants; fruit and nut trees surrounded by veggies; beautiful flowers providing a place for good bugs to live; rain gardens to keep the ground from flooding; composting systems; a worm farm; a little cove filled with mushrooms; walking paths and gathering areas for neighbors, volunteers, and young people.

Hands On Nashville volunteers working hard to create the first of two 70' x 70' row gardens that will grow tasty things like tomatoes, squash, and salad greens. All produce will be given to local nonprofits that serve low-income communities.

And then I started to feel a little overwhelmed by how much work needed to happen to get the HON Urban Farm off the ground. But soon I remembered the past year, working with volunteers to put in a new urban garden in partnership with Trevecca University. There were a lot of good lessons learned: double digging is hard work but worth the effort; cover the garden paths because the weeds creep in fastest from there; basil and tomatoes love growing close to each other. But the most important lesson that the garden taught me was that plants are designed to grow and survive.

This lesson is a huge relief. It makes my job so much easier to know that all plants that I want to grow are trying just as hard to stay alive as I am trying to keep them alive. In fact, they’re probably trying even harder, and they certainly have more experience at it than I do. My job is simply to provide an environment that gives each plant what it needs to thrive. While this can be a big job, it’s comforting to know that the plants I put into the ground are designed to live and produce food.

A happy, tired group of volunteers after a recent hard day of work at the Urban Farm.

It’s much like what we’ve been doing at HON for over 20 years now. Instead of working ourselves into a frenzy about meeting all the needs in our community, we know volunteers are out there every day doing that work; many of them not even through Hands On Nashville. It’s like the way that flowers, fruits, and vegetables don’t require a formal garden to grow. Wild flowers, onions, and asparagus can be readily found all over an empty field. Apples, figs, cherries, and mullberries are all over the streets and parks of Nashville. But like the gardener creating a healthy space for plants to grow, HON simply tries to make volunteering as accessible as possible by using the organization’s infrastructure and network to capitalize on existing community resources.

 

So when I look at HON’s new Urban Farm that is just budding, it’s re-energizing for me. I’m challenged to be the best steward possible of the ground, working with volunteers to create a place that can produce as much healthy food as possible in a sustainable way. At the same time, I’m relieved that I’m not working at this alone and am reminded that I’m a part of a network that includes tens of thousands of volunteers working to make Nashville a better place to live, work, and play. With that kind of momentum, I know we’re going to succeed at whatever we set our minds to. [Interested in volunteering at the Urban Farm this summer? Check out upcoming opportunities.]

Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. In 2011, Josh developed and implemented an urban garden program at PERK Urban Farm, in partnership with Trevecca University, that engaged 1,000+ volunteers and produced 700+ pounds of food on a 2.5-acre plot of land. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.