A small group of us stood under a tent at Nelsonville’s Final Friday event a few weeks ago. We were selling produce from the Chesterhill Produce Auction and advertising ways to get fresh, local produce right in town. One family approached the table and after scanning the array of produce we were offering, turned to ask who I assume was mom if the kids had ever had a peach before. Have the kids ever had a peach before? I’ve eaten peaches my whole life whether they were local or not; it’s just normal summer snack.
I couldn’t believe I was about to hand these kids their first peach ever. Unfortunately maybe it was a texture thing, but they were not at all satisfied with this new snack. Regardless, I was happy to have had a part in their exploration of local produce.
Moments like these are what have made this job so satisfying and fun. I’m half way through my service term as ACEnet’s summer AmeriCorps VISTA, and I’m so happy I stuck around Athens a little longer after being given this opportunity. My position involves producing videos for ACEnet (a small business incubator organization) and some of its partners and initiatives, and I also get to play a small role in working toward a more successful local food system in Nelsonville.
I got to combine food access work with multimedia work while also staying in one of my favorite places, so I’m not sure what could be much better. Athens and the surrounding towns are full of awesome food initiatives, like CFI’s YEAH Kids program that provides a summer job for kids that involves growing their own produce, processing it in ACEnet’s kitchen and selling finished food products at the Athens Farmers Market. I just bought some of their kimchi last weekend, and it was spectacular!
I also got to experience the Chesterhill Produce Auction for the first time. Though it took me three visits to build up the courage to bid on something in fear of accidentally buying 20 quarts of blueberries, it’s a whole new way to buy produce in bulk from the grower.
I’ve spent early mornings and summer evenings on beautiful farms whose food products make their way through ACEnet’s facilities in one way or another before being sold to the community, I’ve watched kids get excited about harvesting and cooking their own food, I’ve gotten to meet even more people in my community working on the sustainability of our food system and I’ve gotten to use my creative skills for a job I’m so passionate about.
Here’s a few photos of the work I’ve been doing so far: