Local Farms to Local Plates

Story by Rebekah Weber serving with the Franklin Watershed Committee

I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences over the past six months as an AmeriCorps member. As staff of the Franklin Watershed Committee and the Missisquoi River Basin Association, I’ve had the opportunity to take on a number of cool projects ranging from planting native trees and willow stakes to establishing riparian buffers to sitting in on a water quality meeting with Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears. I’ve worked with camp owners, farmers, community members, government employees, and sister organizations to improve water quality in Northwest Vermont.

Sometimes in the water quality world, farmers get a bad rap. Farmers do contribute a significant amount of nutrients to our waterways, but many farmers are also implementing practices to reduce erosion and runoff. So, for my independent service project, I wanted to work with farmers in a positive setting. Finally, I decided to volunteer at the Old North End Community Dinner in Burlington. Once a month, I joined fellow volunteers to transform fresh produce generously donated by local farms into a nutritious meal for the whole community.

As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I could feel the excitement and harmony of volunteers from all sections of society working side-by-side to feed their neighborhood. I felt connected to complete strangers, and I felt a sense of purpose. I had thought the four-hour shifts would inch by, but, to my astonishment, just as I finished slicing the blood oranges for the salad, it was time to sit down and enjoy the delicious meal. As I finished eating the last of the bread pudding, I was particularly thankful to the farmers who supplied our ingredients.

Photo provided by Rebekah Weber:The dinner tables at the Old North End Community Dinner.

VHCB AmeriCorps is a program of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

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