An AmeriCorps program connecting service members and under-resourced communities throughout Washington state
My name is Connor and I am an AmeriCorps Farming and Gleaning Coordinator with the Clark County Food Bank. At the Food Bank, my role is to coordinate volunteers, crop propagations, plantings and harvests as well as glean food from farmer’s markets. By doing these things, I aim to help address food insecurity in Clark County and also help identify and relieve its root causes.
One of the best aspects of the Food Bank is its role as a network for the community to come together and build a better place to live. We have so many partner agencies who connect and resource with us, thousands of volunteers and numerous organizations who partner with us and support the mission.
This winter, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Bobbi and Barbara from the Hazel Dell Community Gardens. They are two spirited and experienced women who have run a community garden after retiring and have been meeting with me to discuss transitioning the garden into a volunteer garden that will donate to the nearby school. This spring the Clark County Food Bank is supplying a few volunteers monthly to help plant and weed, as is one of our partner agencies. This will increase the garden space’s potential to produce healthy and fresh vegetables for the school. Anything grown outside of the school year will be distributed through the community via our Food Stream.
On a more personal level, before AmeriCorps I graduated with a Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree from Ohio University. So I’ve had a great chance to geek out with another partnership I’ve made with Ash Tree Farms: a local mushroom-growing operation. They are donating their mycelium blocks used to produce mushrooms and I’m experimenting with ways to propagate new harvests from them at our farm property– breathing new life out of the mushroom blocks that Ash Tree Farms would normally be throwing away.
Besides these two larger partnerships, I’ve been lucky to present at the local Master Composter Recycler class about how the Food Bank combats food waste in the community and am meeting with the head of their program to discuss how we can divert our food waste to their composting program!
Besides these three, I’ve also partnered with at least two local schools to host plant starts, the Clark County Historical Society to develop an educational history walk at the farm, and Clark County Green Neighbors to host a big event at the Food Bank for their WasteBusters program. That’s a total of seven new partnerships I’ve helped foster this winter!
Finding ways to bring the community together hasn’t only helped build a better place to live for people, it’s also helped me start to feel at home here in Vancouver, Washington—a faraway land from where I was born in Ohio.