Posted on May 22, 2013 by Mike Buchman
Here’s a breaking news update on the Senate Farm Bill and the latest message (from the Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition) to deliver to our Senators. Please pick up a phone to call Senators Cantwell and Murray.
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Farm Bill Process
The Senate began their debate of amendments to the Farm Bill yesterday morning. Unfortunately, they missed their biggest and best opportunity to help hungry families and seniors by rejecting the Gillibrand amendment that would have eliminated the $4.1 billion cut to SNAP. Sen. Murray co-sponsored the amendment and Sen. Cantwell voted for the amendment. But in the end, the amendment failed to get 50 votes on the Senate floor, ultimately defeated by a vote of 26 yeas to 70 nays.
If there’s a bright side to this, the Senate also defeated a number of even more damaging amendments proposed by Sen. Roberts that would have tried to instill many of the cuts proposed in the House Bill, including an amendment that would have greatly restricted Categorical Eligibility and eliminated Heat and Eat entirely. Additionally, Sen. Brown has introduced an amendment that will be debated on the floor that would add $10 million to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program as well as add funds to other programs that help farmers markets and increase access to nutritious, locally sourced produce. This is an effort that we support since the Senior FMNP helps low-income seniors have access to the fresh produce that they need to stay healthy in body and mind, but $10 million will be a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the cut to SNAP—our first line defense against hunger. Even if this amendment is added to the bill, the Senate will be voting on a final package as soon as tonight or possibly tomorrow morning, that will cut SNAP by over $4 billion—a cut that will take $90 per month out of the SNAP benefits for 232,000 households in Washington.
Tell Senators: Support the Brown Amendment but Vote NO on the Final Farm Bill
Call Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Murray now and ask them to support the Brown amendment. Let them know that we support adding funding to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program because if the cuts to SNAP proposed in this Farm Bill take effect, then we need to make sure that seniors have all the assistance they can get to have access to nutritious food that they can’t otherwise afford on a fixed income. We need this amendment to get the final Farm Bill package in the best shape in can be should it pass the rest of the Senate, but in the end, we still need our Senators to vote NO to the final Farm Bill package, because the proposed cuts to SNAP are unconscionable. No Farm Bill this year is better than living with the consequences of a Farm Bill that slashes SNAP and as a result, increases poverty for hungry families with children and seniors. The Senate can always go back to the drawing board and save their yes vote for a Farm Bill that does not make unconscionable cuts to SNAP.
• Vote YES on the Brown amendment to increase funding for Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
• Even if that amendment passes, vote NO on the final Farm Bill because of the unconscionable cut to SNAP—our first line of defense against hunger.
Filed under: Advocacy, Food | Tagged: Farm Bill, Food, food justice, gardening, grassroots politics, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm, sustainable agriculture | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 18, 2013 by Mike Buchman
Editor’s note: Thanks to Amanda Horvath for this report. She currently serves as Program Outreach & Development AmeriCorps Member for Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program.
The City of Seattle has developed a Climate Action Plan that addresses four sectors – transportation and land use, building energy, adaptation and building support for climate action. The Seattle Community Farm, a project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, was recently highlighted in the City’s plan because it “inspires, educates, and increases food security for residents of Southeast Seattle” (59).
We are honored to be recognized by the City for the way our local food production helps mitigate the impacts of climate change. According to the City, the mitigation of greenhouse gases is essential, as is our ability to adapt and be prepared, because we don’t know the extent to which we will be impacted by a changing climate.
The report highlights the significant role food systems planning plays in our ability to be prepared. It states that “the crops, livestock, and fisheries that supply our food as well as the global food distribution system could be significantly impacted by changes in temperature, amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather…” (58). In an effort to respond and be prepared for such events, the City hopes to develop a plan that ensures that “all Seattle residents should have enough to eat and access to affordable, local, healthy, sustainable, and culturally appropriate food” (58).
Lettuce Link, through its work at the Seattle Community Farm as well as Marra Farm in South Park, is doing just that – increasing access to affordable, local, healthy, sustainable and culturally appropriate food through its organic giving gardens, seed distributions, and garden and nutrition education. During the last harvest season alone, Lettuce Link was able to grow and distribute over 26,500 pounds of healthy food produce to hungry people locally, while also helping address climate change!
Filed under: Art & Science, Food | Tagged: Climate change, global warming, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm, Seattle Climate Action Plan, Seattle Community Farm | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 1, 2012 by Liz Reed Hawk
Groundviews is Solid Ground’s quarterly newsletter for our friends and supporters. Below is our November 2012 lead story; visit our website to read the entire issue online.
November 2012 Groundviews cover
The impact of Solid Ground’s work is no more powerfully expressed than through the words of gratitude from the people who access our services. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we have collected here a tiny sampling of thank you notes passed on to program staff by people who have come to Solid Ground for a wide variety of reasons, and who were moved to let us know how their lives have positively changed through their experiences here.
To Family Shelter staff:
“I would like to start off by thanking you for always treating me with the utmost respect, for always returning my phone calls, for the advocacy you provided for me when my voice wasn’t that strong, for going above and beyond, for researching other resources and options when I felt like I had nothing left. I could only imagine if there were more individuals such as yourself how much greater it would be. You’ve helped me, so that I can be able to help my son in life. Thank you.”
~ Family Shelter mom
To Apple Corps ‘Eat Better, Feel Better’ nutritionists:
“My favorite food we cooked was the Frittata because it was very tasty and has a lot of veggies. I learned a lot about different foods in the world like tofu and sushi. At first I was nervous to taste it but when I did it was good. Don’t be afraid to try anything from another culture! Thanks ‘Eat Better, Feel Better’!”
~ Seattle Public Schools 5th grader
To Washington Reading Corps (WRC) staff:
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart. My year with WRC Solid Ground prepared me beautifully for what I would encounter later in my MIT program at Evergreen. We have been having beautiful discussions related to race and privilege and our role as teachers to be inclusive. I feel I would have not been prepared if I did not go through all the trainings and workshops you and the team leaders arranged for us. This is why I just wanted to thank you and Solid Ground for doing such a great job making people reflect on assumptions and biases related to race.”
~ Graduate student & former Washington Reading Corps Member
To JourneyHome staff:
“I am grateful to you for comforting me and my family during the unexpected domestic violence incident and the overall follow up. It was one of my luckiest days that I came to know and work with you. Running away from the threatening and hostile Ethiopian political scenario, [our] family has experienced several ups and downs. But, human beings could be tested in various scales, and it would be rewarding and educational to pass through challenges and be able to stand on both legs safely. I remember a note below a picture of a very big woody-stemmed plant with branches saying that, ‘Like a tree, we each must find a place to grow and branch out.’ Yes, in our case, it reads as we need freedom to use our maximum potential to educate our offsprings. All is to say ‘Thank you’ for your exceptional multitude of help.”
~ JourneyHome family from Ethiopia
Thank you art for Lettuce Link staff by kids at Concord Elementary School
To Lettuce Link staff:
“Thank you for helping me with my vegetables. Also giving me my own garden. Also help my mom save a few dollars. P.S. Thank you”
~ Concord Elementary School 3rd grader
To RSVP Knit-It-Alls volunteers:
“Two years ago I was homeless and living in a garage during the winter season, and gifts of socks and hats kept me warm and able to go on. It was not only the material goods but the thought behind the gift which was important. I was given a gift of an especially warm blanket to keep me warm and it not only warmed me but warmed my soul.”
~ DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center) shelter resident
To Housing Stabilization Services (HSS) staff:
“Thank you for all of your help along this journey. If it wasn’t for you and the help that Solid Ground has given me, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. Hell, I may have still been on the streets somewhere and that isn’t a good place to be. But you were able to give me the tools to move forward. Now I also know that it was a hard road getting here, and I had to put in a lot of the work myself. But the support that you gave me along the way is what really got me moving forward.
“When you look over the sound, there seems to be no way to the other side without taking some kind of boat. Well Solid Ground was able to give me the tools, and a lot of little stepping stones, to slowly move across the bay to get to where I will need to be in life. Thanks to all of you there, even the ones that don’t know me. For it is the ones in the background that really do the work to keep things moving so that you can do the job that is set before you every day.”
~ Housing Stabilization Services participant
To Community Voice Mail (CVM) staff:
“Community Voice Mail has literally been a life saver. I’m presently an outpatient cancer person. And the phone to contact with my pharmacy and with my doctor, as well as my primary doctor that referred me, was absolutely necessary. Without your phone assistance, I couldn’t have done it I don’t think. And also, a safe place to live – I found this place. So anyway, thanks a lot. I sure appreciate it.”
~ Community Voice Mail participant
To Broadview Shelter staff:
“I still believe that there is power in gentleness, that there is more to us than flesh and bone, that life will bring more happiness if lived for peace and not possessions. I still believe people of gentleness and faith can change the world – one unseen, unsung, unrewarded kindness at a time – and nothing in this world can make me stop. Thank you for proving me right.”
~ Broadview Shelter mom
Financial Fitness staff:
“Thank you for getting the pay day loans off my back! I really am feeling blessed for finally reaching out for help. Thanks to your phone calls, the pressure is off and I have a manageable payment schedule.”
~ Financial Fitness Boot Camp participant
Housing Stability Program staff:
“Solid Ground, thank you so very much for helping me and my two autistic twin sons remain in our home. Were it not for your generosity we would be in a very dire situation. I am so thankful to everyone at Solid Ground who works so diligently to keep this project going. It was such a HUGE relief when I received that grant. I had not slept in days from worry which was making me ill and since I have Multiple Sclerosis and I work, I need to get sleep to remain healthy and mentally alert. You are my earthbound Angels – Thank You!”
~ Housing Stability participant
Filed under: Groundviews | Tagged: Apple Corps, Broadview, community building, Community Voice Mail, downtown circulator bus, Family Shelter, Financial Fitness, housing stability, Housing Stabilization Services, JourneyHome, Lettuce Link, RSVP, Seattle Community Farm, Thank You, Washington Reading Corps | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 29, 2012 by Liz Reed Hawk
Seattle Community Farm panorama (all photos by John Bolivar, jbphotography.com)
On one of the first cool, drizzly fall days following this year’s record-breaking dry Seattle summer, local photographer John Bolivar visited our Lettuce Link program’s Seattle Community Farm at Rainier Vista to help us document 2012′s lush harvest. Although Farm Coordinator Scott Behmer claimed the harvest was beginning to wane, we still witnessed as Scott, Lettuce Link VISTA Amanda Lee and a community volunteer gathered and washed scores of pounds of beets, squash, heirloom tomatoes, radishes and greens.
This is the Seattle Community Farm’s second growing season, and according to the Lettuce Link Blog, more than 7,000 pounds of produce had been harvested and donated to the Rainier Valley Food Bank as of early October 2012 (more than twice last year’s harvest, when the Farm was still getting established). Enjoy this slideshow of the bounty!
Filed under: Food, The Giving Gardener | Tagged: Food, food justice, gardening, John Bolivar Photography, Lettuce Link, Rainier Vista, Seattle Community Farm | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 15, 2012 by Mike Buchman
Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO
Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.
Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.
The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.
“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.
“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”
“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”
McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.
McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.
Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.
“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.
Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.
“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.
Filed under: Local Heroes, Soap Box | Tagged: advocacy, Bastyr University, Brettler Family Place, community building, Gordon McHenry Jr, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm, philanthropy, Rainer Scholars, Sand Point, Sandi Cutler, The Boeing Company, Washington Reading Corps | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 14, 2012 by Michelle Bates-Benetua
This post, written by Scott Behmer, Seattle Community Farm Coordinator, originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog.
Dance of the honey bees
We recently acquired a new addition to the Seattle Community Farm. Well, thousands of new additions actually. The Seattle Community Farm is now home to two colonies of honey bees!
Honey bees, along with birds and bats, pollinate over one-third of the food that humans eat. Without honey bees it wouldn’t be just honey that we would miss, but many fruits, nuts and vegetables.
To prepare for the bees’ arrival, we built a small enclosure for the hives so people can view the hives up close without having bees fly in their faces. The enclosure also prevents people from accidentally bumping the hives.
The bees came from an apiary in California, by way of the Beez Neez in Snohomish. They arrived in a wood and mesh package that contained:
- Three pounds of worker bees
- One queen bee
- Food for the bees during their travels
Blue bee hive
After we picked up the bee packages, we dumped them into their new hives, gave them some food to get started, and let them do their thing.
There are three types of honey bees:
- Drones are the male bees. Every day they fly around and look for a queen bee to mate with. Drones are only a small percentage of the bees in the hive.
- Worker bees are underdeveloped female bees. They are the majority of the bees in the hive, and they do many different tasks. The worker bees gather nectar and pollen from flowers, raise the young bee larva, and defend the hive from intruders.
- Queen bees are fully developed female bees. A bee colony usually has only one queen bee, and she lays all of the eggs. A queen bee can lay 1,500 eggs in a single day!
Our new bees will pollinate flowers and crops in the surrounding area, provide a great learning tool, and (we hope) give us some sweet honey.
Interested in beekeeping? The Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, Urban Bee Project, and Seattle Tilth’s Backyard Beekeeping 101 class are great places to start!
A bazillion bees!
Filed under: Food, The Giving Gardener | Tagged: bees, Food, food security, gardening, honey bees, Lettuce Link, Seattle Community Farm | 2 Comments »
Posted on July 27, 2012 by Michelle Bates-Benetua
This post, written by Jessica Sherrow, a Harvest Against Hunger Summer VISTA with Lettuce Link, originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog. Lettuce Link is one of several partners stewarding original urban farmland at Marra Farm in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.
A handful of carrots!
Marra Farm is a place that defies stereotypes. The word ‘farm’ even takes on a new meaning when applied to our little agricultural oasis in South Park. The images associated with that word – solitary, quiet, pastoral – dissolve when you step onto our farm.
Truthfully, it can be a little chaotic. Kids from Concord International Elementary or the South Park Community Center running around; a few dozen of our 1,800 annual volunteers working and digging and planting; planes, trains and cars filling the air with that distinct urban din – it’s not at all what you would expect on a farm.
So, true to form, Marra Farm manages to do what many parents thought impossible: It makes kids love vegetables. It’s a bold statement, we know. But it’s a hard thing to deny when a 5-year-old, while pulling one carrot out of the ground and simultaneously munching on another exclaims,
I WANT TO EAT ONE MILLION CARROTS!!!!”
And when you think about everything these kids experience throughout the growing season, it makes perfect sense. They dig in the dirt and plant seeds. They water to their heart’s content, and then they watch their little plants grow.
They harvest the veggies themselves – chard, sweet peas, carrots, broccoli – and help prepare a snack especially for them. Today, it’s Chinese Veggies and Rice, and it’s a hit.
We can’t help but wonder, then, if all children are secretly veggie-lovers? It appears the only thing kids need is a little involvement in their food – planting a seed or chopping a leaf – anything to make it more fun, more exciting, and more delicious. After all, if we can get a 3rd grader to eat kale, the sky truly is the limit…
For more information on gardening and cooking with kids, check out these amazing projects: Lettuce Link’s Seattle Community Farm, GRuB: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, Seattle Youth Garden Works, Seattle Tilth, and The Edible Schoolyard Project.
Many hands, cleaning carrots
Filed under: Food, The Giving Gardener | Tagged: children, Food, gardening, hunger, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm, urban ag | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 22, 2012 by Mike Buchman
(Editor’s note: This post comes from Amelia Swinton of Solid Ground’s Hunger Action Center. Amelia has been working with the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group to lobby for policy changes to help make our food systems more sustainable and better able to meet the nutritional and health needs of all Americans.)
Solid Ground’s Seattle Community Farm, one of the local projects previously funded through the Farm Bill
After weeks of debate, the United States Senate has passed a Farm Bill – or “Food & Farm Bill,” as many believe it should be called. Conceived over 80 years ago as a New Deal program to aid struggling farmers and feed hungry Americans, the Farm Bill has since evolved into our nation’s most influential piece of food and farming legislation. It sets and enforces the rules on what we eat, how much it costs, and under what conditions it is grown. The Senate’s Bill, which passed yesterday, boasts $23 billion in deficit reduction as it blueprints our food system over the next five years. Let’s take a closer look.
There is much cause to celebrate. The legislation eliminates direct payments to commodity farmers, which have been a blunt tool that overfunds industrial, monocrop agriculture. Instead, there will be greater emphasis on need-based crop insurance, including better support for organic growers. Important to Washington growers is an increase in Specialty Crop Block Grants – industry jargon meaning more money for fruits and veggies. The Senate voted to double fund Community Food Project grants, which levy federal money for community-level food system development and currently support Solid Ground’s Seattle Community Farm.
A new local fruit and vegetable program called the Hunger-Free Community Incentive Grants offers $100 million over five years to increase purchases by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) customers at farmers markets and other healthy food retailers, while another program would introduce a five-state Farm-to-School pilot project. Summarily, the Senate’s smörgåsbord would support rural economies, improve urban eaters’ access to healthy food, and subsidize agriculture more equitably – all amidst a climate of funding cuts.
Volunteer Peter Zimmerman at the Seattle Community Farm
But there is also reason to grieve, as the Senate Bill made significant chops to the SNAP program. It is deeply troubling to see $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP at a time when 46 million Americans are enrolled in this program, which is one of the few federal safety nets that expands and contracts based on need. According to the Community Food Security Coalition, these cuts will reduce benefits to approximately half a million food insecure families by $90 a month. Also disappointing were the underfunding of the Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program, and the failure of an amendment that would have required labeling for genetically engineered foods.
In her statement on the Bill, WA Senator Patty Murray said, “This year’s Farm Bill is a victory for Washington State, our farmers, and our economy – and I was proud to support it. It makes important investments in jobs, provides meaningful support for our fruit and vegetable growers, and reforms many programs while continuing the critical safety net for farmers. I do not believe this legislation is perfect, and I am particularly concerned about the reduction in SNAP (food stamps).” Washington Senators Murray and Maria Cantwell have been champions of economically stimulating and socially just Farm Bill reforms, and we encourage constituents to send their thanks.
What’s next? Well, the food fight marches into the House of Representatives, where it must pass before Obama can sign it into law. The House had originally planned to mark-up the Bill next week, but this process has been delayed – and that is cause for concern.
“Whether there is a 2012 Farm Bill or not will largely rest in the hands of the top House Republican leadership,” says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. No Farm Bill in 2012 means that funding levels from the 2008 Farm Bill will continue, which are far less progressive than those proposed by the Senate yesterday.
America is hungry for a Food & Farm Bill that addresses the real challenges facing its eaters. While the Senate’s bill makes important strides towards a fairer food system, it continues to overfund commodity agriculture at the expense of struggling Americans. As an agency committed to eliminating injustice in all its forms, we must continue to demand a better Bill. Our friends at the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group are developing a legislative agenda for the House session – whenever it happens – and we encourage you to stay tuned to their website or their Facebook page.
In the meantime, you can Dine Out to support local efforts to organize for a healthier Farm Bill! This Monday, June 25 from 4-10pm, the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group invites you to Local 360 in Belltown. A percentage of all checks will go towards this Seattle-based group’s work to educate and advocate for good food.
Filed under: Food | Tagged: Farm Bill, Food and Farm Bill, food justice, food security, hunger, Lettuce Link, Local 360, Marra Farm, Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, Seattle Community Farm, SNAP, SNAP benefits | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2012 by Michelle Bates-Benetua
This post originally appeared on the Lettuce Link Blog and was written by AmeriCorps Member Amelia Swinton, Lettuce Link / Apple Corps’ Outreach & Education Coordinator.
At an Apple Corps “Market Night,” a student uses “dollars” to purchase rainbow chard.
Do you like federal food policies that:
- Create incentives for people to use SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) to purchase fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies?
- Encourage connections between preschools and small farms?
- Offer grants for the creation or expansion of community gardens?
- Amend laws to allow farmers of color, women, veterans, tribes and first-generation farmers increased access to USDA funds and other subsidies?
- Provide nutritious food on weekends and holidays for hungry schoolchildren?
So do we!!!
These fabulous progressive programs are just a few components of the Let’s Grow Act, recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The Let’s Grow Act recognizes the potential of community-based agriculture to address hunger and decrease obesity, especially among children, the elderly and low-income Americans.
We need your support to help move this Bill forward!
Please join Lettuce Link in fighting hunger and building local food economies by asking Seattle’s Rep. Jim McDermott to co-sponsor the Let’s Grow Act. Send an email or call 206.553.7170.
Here’s a sample letter to get you started:
Urban communities deserve access to healthy and affordable food, which can also expand local economies. I urge you to co-sponsor the Let’s Grow Act! H.R.4351 introduced by Rep. Fudge (D-OH). Everyone should have access to nutritious and affordable food, and I believe that the Let’s Grow Act will improve the lives of people in my community.
Seattle community leaders have stated their commitment to equitable access to healthy food and a health-centered food system with the Seattle Farm Bill Principles. I believe the Let’s Grow Act builds on these principles and I urge you to show your support by becoming a co-sponsor. Thank you for your time and commitment to representing the voices of Washington’s 7th district.
Not a constituent in Washington’s 7th district? Enter your zipcode to find your Representative. After you call or email, let us know how it went! Leave a comment below or on Lettuce Link’s Facebook page.
Filed under: Advocacy, Food, The Giving Gardener | Tagged: advocacy, Food, food justice, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 29, 2012 by Michelle Bates-Benetua
This post, written by Lettuce Link/Apple Corps AmeriCorps Member Amelia Swinton, originally appeared on the Lettuce Link Blog. Visit Lettuce Link’s webpage for more information about the program.
This month, Lettuce Link is featuring a particularly special first-time donor. Meet 8-year-old Cole Pawlitschek. Don’t be fooled by his small stature – his generosity and insight into giving knocked our socks off.
Cole Pawlitschek: a small but mighty Lettuce Link donor!
For two years, Cole reserved a portion of his allowance, chore and birthday money into a “save” jar. The nickels and dimes grew steadily, and last month Cole decided he had saved enough money to make a difference. Cole came into our office with his mom, Maya, to hand over $62 in cash and $11.87 in loose change.
Cole says he chose Lettuce Link “because I wanted to help kids that don’t have food to get some. Marra Farm grows vegetables and gives them to people for free.”
When it comes to vegetables, Cole is especially fond of steamed edamame with salt sprinkled on top. Though we don’t grow edamame (immature soybeans) at Marra Farm, we do grow several items that could be adapted into one of Cole’s favorite recipes – Mr. Egg Face Sandwiches! Radish eyeballs, asparagus mouths, frizzy lettuce hair … sounds like we’ve got a tasty treat to prepare with our garden classes this spring.
Aside from noshing on edamame, Cole can be found playing video games, doing math and reading, and participating in basketball, soccer and karate. He also makes sure to spend time with his kitten, Pluma. Cole says that his mom, dad and family are the important communities in his life, as well as Solid Ground’s Statewide Poverty Action Network and all his friends.
When asked about why he donates part of his money, Cole reminds us, “Some people in tons of places all over the world don’t have enough money to buy food or houses or beds or toys.”
These days, Lettuce Link relies more and more on the generosity of individual donors like Cole to sustain our work. His advice for adults who want to make a difference: “Grown ups can give money so Marra Farm can grow more stuff and give to people. They can also volunteer at places to help raise money and help them do their work.”
As Cole notes, there is no single way to support our work. We need all types – those who give time, money, in-kind donations, expertise and more. Alongside our diverse community of supporters, we’ll keep working to make fresh food a right for everyone! Thank you to Cole and all those who support us growing forth into 2012!
MR. EGG FACE SANDWICH
(from Lunch Boxes and Snacks by Annabel Karmel, adapted by Maya Pawlitschek, mother of Cole)
Ingredients (for 4 sandwiches)
- 7 eggs
- ¼ cup mayonnaise or hummus – add more if needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 8 slices of bread
- 1 can tuna and/or 1 cup shredded cheese (optional – for extra protein)
- Face decorations such as: sliced radishes or bell pepper, grated carrot, edamame, olives, salami, gherkins, chives, basil, peas, celery or grape tomatoes
- Hard boil eggs, let cool and peel.
- Cut two eggs into four slices each for the eyes.
- With a fork, mash the remaining eggs in bowl; add the tuna, shredded cheese and mayonnaise.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread egg mixture on four slices of bread.
- Have kids make faces on bread, using the sliced egg eyes and decoration ideas above.
- Cover with piece of plain bread and enjoy!
Filed under: Food | Tagged: Food, Lettuce Link, Mr. Egg Face, recipes, Statewide Poverty Action Network, youth philanthropy | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 6, 2012 by Mike Buchman
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog.
Welcome to 2012! On these gloomy January days (when we are rather glad to be warm and dry indoors instead of out in the garden), it’s a good time to pause and take stock of where Lettuce Link has been and where we’re going.
So, without further ado, here are a few of our accomplishments in 2011, made possible by the help of our generous volunteers (over 9,329 volunteer hours!) and financial supporters:
- Provided seeds, plant starts and gardening information for 3,695 food bank clients at 23 different locations.
- Supported gardeners at 49 P-Patches to grow and share over 17,000 pounds of organic produce for food banks and meal programs (with only half of the gardens reporting).
- Distributed seeds, starts and resources to 13 community gardens at schools, low-income apartments, food banks and churches.
- Despite a chilly spring and summer, grew 18,594 pounds of organic produce in the Lettuce Link Giving Garden at Marra Farm to donate to the Providence Regina House and Beacon Avenue food banks.
- Helped develop and provided seasonal vegetables for South Park’s first Community Kitchen.
- Held community meetings and garden classes (in five languages); built a shed, fences and tables; and planted, tended and grew 3,023 pounds of vegetables for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and community work-trade participants in our inaugural season at the Seattle Community Farm!
- Taught nutrition, organic gardening and ecology at the Seattle Community Farm and Marra Farm, reaching over 170 children.
- Harvested 4,605 pounds of local fresh fruit for food banks and meal programs across the city, food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
- Held events to raise $20,000 in needed funds. Thank you Friends of Lettuce Link!
- Partnered with Clean Greens, Delridge Neighborhood Development Association, Just Garden Project, Seattle Tilth, UW Department of Urban Design and Planning, Seattle Works, King County Food and Fitness Initiative, the Community Alliance for Global Justice and many others on projects that will increase access to healthy foods for everyone.
And yet, as we catch our breath this winter after a busy year, we’ve found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Fewer grants, budget cuts and belt-tightening measures provide an opportunity to reassess our work: What are our program’s strengths? What do we do that’s unique? How can we continue to grow and change our program to meet community needs, provide wrap-around services for Solid Ground participants, and further our anti-racism work?
These are not easy questions, but we’re committed to working through them with your support. Here are a few exciting projects to keep an eye out for in 2012:
- Building an overhead structure at the Seattle Community Farm, which will allow protection from the elements and make the space more conducive to community gatherings.
- Expanding our CSA project at Marra Farm, to both raise funds for our program and offer a sliding-scale subscription to our neighbors.
- Advocating for just food policies on the city, state and federal levels. Watch the Lettuce Link blog for details in the next few days!
Thank you for your time, resources and support both this past year and as we boldly stride into 2012 – pushing a wheelbarrow and wearing our rainboots!
The Lettuce Link team – Michelle, Sue, Scott, Robin, Amelia, Mariah and Blair (with much gratitude to Molly, Kate, Andrea, Sophie and Alice – our staff, AmeriCorps volunteers and interns who have moved on to new adventures).
Filed under: Food | Tagged: community building, community fruit tree harvest, community gardening, Food, food bank, gardening, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm, P-Patch, sustainable agriculture | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 20, 2011 by Rose Marcotte
Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program invites you and yours to Marra Farm in South Park to celebrate national Food Day on Monday, October 24. We will explore the crops in our Giving Garden, learn about the rich traditions of farming and community in South Park, and discuss Lettuce Link and Solid Ground’s broader mission to end hunger, poverty and oppression in Seattle. We also will press apples into fresh cider, save seeds for next year, and lead a tour of this community-powered sustainable urban farm. In addition, students from Concord International Elementary will harvest the pumpkins they planted in the Giving Garden last spring. Please dress for the weather, as there is little covered space at the Farm.
Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life — parents, teachers and students; health professionals, community organizers and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers and eaters of all stripes — to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Visit the Food Day website for more events and information.
What: Food Day
Date: Monday, October 24
Time: 10 am – noon
Location: Marra Farm, 9026 4th Ave S Seattle, WA 98108
RSVP: RSVPs appreciated — sign up on the Food Day registration page
Getting there: Bus routes and driving directions to Marra Farm
Filed under: Events, Food, The Giving Gardener | Tagged: Food, food justice, gardening, Lettuce Link, Marra Farm | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 19, 2011 by Liz Reed Hawk
(Editor’s note: This is the main story reprinted from our July 2011 Groundviews newsletter. To read the complete newsletter or past issues of Groundviews, please visit our Publications webpage.)
On a cool, drizzly June day, Sudi convinced his 7-year-old brother to join him at a work party at the new farm nestled within their housing complex. They helped move the last load of dirt into neat rows, soon to be planted. Scott Behmer, Seattle Community Farm Coordinator, says that when he started in the fall of 2010, the Farm was little more than “a grass field and a parking lot” near Rainier Vista (a mixed-income housing community just off MLK Way in South Seattle). Today, after two+ years of planning, community meetings and “a lot of physical work moving in 200 cubic yards of soil and tens of thousands of pounds of other materials,” the 1/3-acre Farm is fully planted and celebrated its official Grand Opening on June 25.
Seattle Community Farm is the newest project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, which works with and in communities to grow and share fresh, nourishing food, and envisions a city where people have equal access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. Scott says, “Our goal is to get vegetables to folks who struggle to afford them.”
Cross-cultural community building
Getting the new Farm to where it is today has been a true organizing effort: Lettuce Link worked with many partners, including Seattle’s P-Patch Program, landscape designer Eric Higbee (who donated his services) and Seattle Housing Authority.
Lettuce Link Program Manager, Michelle Bates-Benetua, says, “Together, we crafted and carried out a culturally relevant engagement process so the community could tell us what they wanted. It may take longer and it is more expensive to provide food, childcare and interpretation, but our intent is to work together with the neighborhood so that in a few years, they run the Farm and we’ve worked ourselves out of a job.
“The grand vision is that the community is able to produce food together across cultures and language, share that food among themselves and with the Rainier Valley Food Bank, and utilize the gathering space as one community instead of several distinct groups living in one neighborhood.”
Mariah Pepper, an AmeriCorps*VISTA serving this year as Seattle Community Farm’s Outreach Coordinator, says, “It’s an interesting neighborhood; Rainier Vista is a mixed-income housing development, so there’s every kind of person you can imagine.” Residents run the gamut from Seattle Housing Authority seniors and people living on very low incomes, to Habitat for Humanity homeowners, to renters and homeowners affording full-market rates.
Seattle Community Farm is built on a Work Trade model Scott describes as “one way to try to make the volunteer model work for people where time might mean a lot more because they’re lower income and might work more jobs. Basically, if you work two hours, you get a bag of vegetables,” worth about $30/bag. “So you’re not just volunteering, you’re coming and working in exchange for vegetables.”
Michelle says, “The goal is to make sure our volunteer opportunities are accessible and meaningful for the community” – and yet this poses challenges. The Rainier Vista area is extremely culturally diverse: Residents speak approximately 50 different languages. Mariah says, “With so many languages and so many cultures, it makes outreach a bit difficult, because there are so many different ways that people interact with each other – and a sea of information. And that’s the thing we’ve all learned: We have to have multiple ways of getting information out there.”
When possible, staff use interpreters and have outreach materials translated into multiple languages. Scott says Rainier Vista has “a lot of community events. So we’re going to those, and going door to door, leaving flyers and talking to people.”
Sudi, a Seattle Community Farm volunteer and Rainier Vista resident
Sudi is one young resident who both volunteers regularly and is helping get the word out to other residents. Originally from Ethiopia, his family has lived at Rainier Vista for six years. Having just finished his third year studying chemistry at St. Martin’s College, he says his dad asked him to come out to volunteer one day, and they happened to be doing a class on composting. “We talked about fertilizers and nitrogen, and so I get interested when I hear that!” Sudi says, “I think it is wonderful. Aside from just doing the work, you actually learn how to grow plants. We have fun talking about different kinds of plants, and it’s just a learning experience.
“I try to get people involved here in the neighborhood. Scott gave me flyers, and one day I took it down and gave it to some people – trying to explain the reason behind it. The reason why this is here, from my understanding, is this is a (mostly) vegetable garden – and trying to get more nutritions from vegetables into this community, who either don’t know much about the importance of it – or since vegetables are expensive, they don’t get much of it. Having it here, and them working on it and harvesting it themselves, is a big thing.”
Scott says, “It’s always great to get volunteers from the community to come out and work, and hear a little about them, and see them enjoy it.” Mariah adds: “Food is so connected to culture – so it’s a way to talk about how we grow things, how we cook things and eat things, and have a conversation across these differences. I would like to see the Farm be able to bridge that.”
For more information about the Seattle Community Farm, please contact 206.694.6828 or email@example.com, or visit www.solid-ground.org/Programs/Nutrition/CommunityFarm.
Filed under: Art & Science, Food, Groundviews | Tagged: Food, food justice, gardening, Lettuce Link, sustainable agriculture | Leave a Comment »