Heather here.

We are busy here about to turn in our 2014 proposal, simultaneously carrying out the 2013 season.

One ear to the ground always to hear the rootlets creeping towards the future; the mycelium filtering through the cracks.

Thursday October 17th marked the date of our fall cooking class. In honor of breast cancer awareness month we read an article on healthy choices that highlighted the great American native, winter squash, as a big help in cancer prevention.

Squash sweet and savory–namely a low-fat/herb-jammed spaghetti squash casserole & a “healthy” butternut spice cake. Our sweet component really jumped past your typical fall/winter spice cake with a double-helping of ginger, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest. The savory status of the spaghetti squash really went over and out when we combined 5 different minced-up herbs from the garden, plus a head of garlic, upping the nutrients, taste, and creativity. It was fun doing smell tests on the lesser-known/lesser-grown herbs such as tarragon and marjoram.

garlic is as good as ten mothers

garlic is as good as ten mothers

The wonderful Megan

The wonderful Megan

In attendance was a new friend I have mentioned before, Megan Pintus. Megan is the Americorps VISTA at food bank Feeding America Southwest Virginia (FASWVA). A food bank is a warehouse of sort that helps supply food pantries, of which Ecumenical Faith in Action Stone Soup food pantry is one.

Through her VISTAship Megan supports FASWVA in a variety of ways: volunteer coordination, food procurement, strengthening partnerships with other organizations, and managing Feeding America’s new garden project. 

Megan Pintus 2013 FA garden project

Letting no grass grow under her feet, Megan already has 8 raised beds in place. Megan recruited Home Depot and other corporations for supplies and labor. All materials are being donated!

Megan Pintus 2013 FA garden partnership

Megan and I have planted lettuce in one of her beds. Home Depot will be covering three of the beds with plastic, turning them into mini-hoop houses for season extension.

Megan’s (and FASWVA) overarching goal from a partnership with ASD is to strengthen both organizations; Instead of doubling efforts, perhaps we can assess and meet the changing needs of the communities we serve with more efficiency, and help each other by sharing resources.  We are both entities striving to improve food access, health, nutrition awareness, and positive life choices for low-income people of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

For example, ASD starts gardens all over town–community gardens, school gardens, and with EFIA as a flagship, we are marching into food pantry garden territory with our first one about to enter a third season. BUT we do not have a solid volunteer base during all parts of the year and we could really increase the capacity of our program.

FASWVA has wonderful community connections and volunteer groups on lockdown. BUT they’ve never had a garden before, or used a garden to increase the amount of healthy produce they can donate to their mobile food pantries, and soup kitchen. Feeding America’s soup kitchen at the warehouse serves three times a week; 1000 meals a week! What if those meals were not full of processed foods, and included produce grown on-site?

We look forward for this partnership during the wind-down of 2013, preparing together for a strong 2014 with growth and health for both organizations and the populations we aim to help live better.

Go well!