Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday, A day of Goodbyes and Good memories - Colin Owens

 The day was a wonderful day, despite the hours upon hours of dirt digging. While it did not seem like we accomplished many tasks, I think we did accomplish the day feeling more together as a Catalyst group. As we said goodbye to Growing Power, I can't help but reflect on our time there this week: walking in as volunteers and then "growing" in service; becoming closer as friends, and as allies for Food Justice!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 6 --Cucumbers, Compost, and Coconuts Oh My! With Elise and McKenna

Today was another fun day of working at Growing Power in the morning and Concordia Gardens in the afternoon! We began the day with sorting old food brought in by farmers. The better produce went to the goats and the rotten food went to be composted. Later, we had the opportunity to feed the goats! Some of the goats were rather greedy and did not want to share with the others but otherall they enjoyed their little snack.

Due to rainy weather, some of us stayed inside and grated blocks made of compacted coconut shells. This powder will later be used as fertilizer in the soil for the plants. The job made us very dirty but listening to some music and singing and dancing along made the work go by quick and was a lot of fun. (Not to mention our faces were covered in coconut dust!)

In the afternoon we went to the Concordia Gardens where we had the pleasure to meet Dan, the leader of the community garden, and Yaa, the intern of Americorps. We learned more about smaller scale gardening and community cooperation. Here we helped move their compost pile to another location as well as dig new plots for the community to use. Some of us also weeded out some of the existing garden plots.While working we had a lot of people from the community stop to ask what we were doing and how they too could become involved. It was exciting to see the neighborhood interested in what we were doing.

After we returned to MU and got all cleaned up, we got ready for a night on the town! We went to dinner at The Safe House--a spy themed restaurant in downtown Milwaukee. In order to get into the restaurant, you need to know "The Password" or the door keeper will make the group do something funny/embarrassing in order to get inside through a secret spy entrance. Our group's duty was to do our best zombie impression in order for the door to be revealed. Once inside, our "mission" was waiting for us. We were given a list of things to look for throughout. Some of these things included a two way mirror, a moving wall puzzle, a piece of the Berlin Wall and much, much more! Dinner was AMAZING! Everyone loved the food and ate until we couldn't eat anymore! Leaving The Safe House was another adventure. In order to leave you needed to pay a quarter and go through yet another secret spy underground walkway. Everyone had a BLAST! It was a night we all will remember.
We returned to the apartments and relaxed by playing a bunch of detective group games (to keep with the spy theme of course!) It was great being able to relax after a very busy and work filled few days. We are excited for our last day at Growing Power tomorrow. After having a relaxing evening we will be sure to wake up with lots of energy to work hard!

Events of Wednesday discussed by Rachel H--Feeding America, Growing Power & Campus Kitchen

I'll fill you in a little but on what we did yesterday, Wednesday April 1st.

Yesterday was a rough day physically and mentally mostly because most of us were so sore  and worn out from our first day at Growing Power, we all really went hard on Tuesday! Wednesday morning we went back to Feeding America and our big task for the day was taking the cereal boxes off of boxes of Cheerios and then packing up boxes with 6 bags of Cheerios each. We had to do this since General Mills donated the boxes and didn't want the "Box Tops" on the boxes to be distributed with the actual cereal. It sounds like a simple task to just remove the all of boxes, but just by the sheer number of boxes that we packed up, it was a daunting task. We packed up a total of three big loads, each needing a fork lift to drop them off. It took us a while to get an efficient system down but once we did it felt good to be part of this bigger machine like being that was able to accomplish a big task that one person couldn't accomplish on their own.

What I like about working at Feeding America is the feeling of accomplishment with the amount of food that you get to prepare for shipment and for the people that need it but I would say it has a very different vibe than when we work outside at Growing Power. Both of which are places doing very positive things but in very different ways. After Feeding America we went to Growing for our second day, as I mentioned earlier, it was a little bit more rough doing a lot of physically demanding work but it was another good day to be working outside. I think it was interesting going from being in a warehouse setting working with boxes of processed food and going right to Growing Power where they meticulously created a system that is so sustainable and so based off of the earth's natural cycles to create high-quality fresh produce. I'm not saying that working at Feeding America was a bad experience by any means but I just find it so much more enjoyable to do work outside and with nature compared to an artificial environment, which is probably the more accurate depiction of food in America.

After Growing Power we went to the "Campus Kitchen" program that's organized by Marquette students and helped them prepare food for 4 families. I thought this was a really cool program because I've never heard of something like this, they use food from the cafeteria that otherwise would have been wasted and give it to people that really need it. I really like this idea and think it goes along with the other themes this week of sustainability and trying to get the most out of your resources. I think this could be something that we all could take back to Hamline and it wouldn't be too difficult to do since there is already the resource of good cafeteria food that is thrown out every day.

Yesterday was a long demanding day of service but it was fun that we were able to go to 3 different places that were all so different but similar in the way they were providing food for people in need. They all are extremely resourceful in where they get their from and all very conscious of how food it wasted.

Let's get some "whoo-hooos!" for Worm Wednesday!

Best part of the day this Wonderful Worm Wednesday was the task we had of separating worms and awesome compost at Growing Power. It was back breaking and our arms felt like they were going to come off at the end of the day (buns and thighs, yes!), but in the end it was totally worth it and we all felt muscle-heart-and-soul great. Sadly, I was too busy to take any photos, but hereare  some photos from Thursday! 

On a side note, here is a video comprised of dance moves from Mr. Colin Owens! Enjoy! Muahahaha.

Today was a much easier day compared to yesterday. After moving composts, and feeding food to the goats and worms at growing power, In the afternoon, we went to a new place called Concordia gardens that was established by Victory Gardens Initiative. Concordia gardens is an urban community garden that used to be an abandoned lot. There we also moved resting and active composts.The composts that we moved were pretty repulsive but it's amazing that something delicious and nutritious can come out of them.

The Compost Life

Today we worked at Growing Power in the morning and Concordia Gardens after lunch. We helped separate good fruit and veggies from bad, then fed the good to the goats and fed the bad to the worms. It was wonderful feeding the goats, they were so excited for the eggplant and cucumbers. They went to work munching away, and it was fun feeding them by hand. Four of us then went to grind blocks of coconut type things and grate it though a mesh screen; the powder is used as fertilizer for the plants. We were incredibly dirty afterwards, the powder went everywhere. After lunch we stopped at Collectivo, a coffee shop that grinds huge burlap bags of coffee right in the shop (at least at this location). At Concordia Gardens, we the man who runs it is employed by Victory Gardens, and the place is just in its second year. We helped move a compost containment area made from wood planks and pallets over, as well as the compost. I'm beginning to feel like we basically live and breathe compost at the moment--definitely positive since compost is so nourishing for the soil. The people there were also wonderful, and it was a positive experience.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Growing Power Day 1

Today was the first day we went to the Growing Power facility in Milwaukee. It was exciting to actually meet in person the man who started it all, Will Allen. It was very interesting to learn a little bit about him and Growing Power, through Karen Parker. The director of the facility and a close friend of Will Allen. Our tasks for today included, shoveling compost, moving plants and petting goats. It was a long and physically demanding day but it was super fun. Can't wait to go back tomorrow.