Cultivate Charlottesville Newsletters
Another academic year has come to an end, but it’s just the beginning of a busy summer for Cultivate. With the newest youth food justices interns cooking up veggies straight from the garden, many different groups volunteering in the school gardens and farm plots, and Community Market Days in full swing—June is anything but a vacation!
We’ve been busy at Cultivate this spring! At the end of April we practiced Healing in the Garden with The Women’s Initiative, watched the Building Trades students complete raised beds at the CATEC farm plot, installed the Charlottesville Twelve sundial at Clark Elementary, hosted a BINGO fundraiser, and celebrated the volunteers, partners, & sponsors that support our work. That was all in one week.
March came in like a lamb with sunny skies heralding spring weather, but it went out like a lion with a tornado warning and wild winds. That’s not the only weather folklore The Farmers’ Almanac highlights related to the third month of the year. “So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be” and “As it rains in March, so it rains in June,” will have us waiting for another few months to find out how the weather affects our 2022 harvests.
Cultivate is over-the-moon thrilled to be a new CORE MEMBER of HEAL Food Alliance! City Schoolyard Garden, Food Justice Network, and Urban Agriculture Collective came together to form Cultivate Charlottesville with a mission of integrating the approach each of those programs had to building a healthy and just food system. HEAL Food Alliance shares that vision saying, “No single individual, organization, or sector can transform systems in isolation. We believe that true transformation requires diverse skills, roles, and resources— and, it requires organizing together for real change.” Cultivate is proud to be one of the HEAL member organizations “building collective power to transform our food and farm systems.”
It’s a new year! We’re certainly excited to welcome new Cultivate team member Shamera Banks as Farm to School Coordinator with our City Schoolyard Garden program. We’re also pretty fired up about two urban farm spaces that will see us planting and harvesting again in 2022. This will be our first full season at Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC), where we have already laid roots of collaboration with the students and faculty. In addition, we will be working the land again on West Street (behind the Region Ten building) that has been stewarded by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) New Roots farmers for the last number of years.
If you’re anything like me, you start thinking of sweet potato pie the moment your Halloween costume comes off each year! Well, our coworkers on the UAC team and our new friends at CATEC have got us beat this year—they didn’t wait for Thanksgiving to break out the goodies. UAC planted these humongous “sweet taters” as Farmer Rich calls them, long ago in anticipation of Community Market Days. Community members who live in any public or subsidized housing neighborhood in the city can find the UAC team at the weekly location (rotating between Friendship Court, Midway Manor, Crescent Halls, Westhaven, South 1st Street, and CATEC) with pounds of fresh produce. Neighbors can pick out the produce they need for the week ahead at no cost. So, many of our neighbors have already the extreme pleasure of tasting these taters.
The Cultivate Charlottesville Board is excited about the new Co-Executive Director leadership structure that was implemented this spring. As we continue to move forward with our organizational mission and what we aspire to per our Uprooting Racism Action Plan (developed after staff and board training from SoulFire Farm) the tenets of Decision-Making, Power and Authority were highlighted, and actionable steps were taken to remain true to this mission.
Happy autumn food justice friends!
Please mark your attendance for the bi-monthly Cultivate Charlottesville Food Justice Network large group meeting! Our next gathering is being moved to October 20 from 10:30am-12:30pm on Zoom. We will be preparing for our Food Equity Initiative presentation to City Council coming up November 1st and are excited for your to engage and advocate!
School is back! Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, or neighbor. If you’re associated with Charlottesville City Schools, UVA, any of the private schools, or Albemarle County Schools. SCHOOL IS BACK! While we are excited for the return of in-person learning, we also acknowledge that the ferocity of COVID-19 is back as well. And we are wishing all school folks a safe and healthy beginning of the new academic year!
Cultivate will mirror the COVID-19 policy adopted by local education institutions and supported by the Blue Ridge Health District regarding vaccinations, testing, masks, and social distancing. We love working alongside so many of you and are committed to healthy and safe interactions with students, volunteers, colleagues, and community members.
It’s been hot. Extremely hot. The CSG garden coordinators & food justice interns have experienced it the school gardens, and the UAC farm team has felt it at 6th Street and the new CATEC location. FJN advocates & residents who live in public and subsidized housing know all too well that the heat of summer, which is increasing at an alarming rate due to climate change, brings with it the dangerous heat island effect.
As much as our team plans to take advantage of the cooler temperatures of early morning and late evening for garden work, people who live in neighborhoods without green space and tree canopy are not able to escape increased energy consumption, elevated emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, compromised human health & comfort, and impaired water quality.
Is anyone else feeling busy? Are we *checks notes* already approaching the half-way point of 2021? After two months of non-stop action, we’re catching our breath and catching you up on what we’ve been doing.
April and May were marked by many Cultivate events. We spread our thanks to our volunteers and partners at the virtual ROOT! celebration, spread information about the ways we work with the City to build a healthy and just food system at our ZOOM roundtable, and spread plants across the town through another successful annual seedling giveaway and sale. Catch up with us here!
Leading up to our launch as Cultivate Charlottesville almost a year ago, we picked the words GROW | SHARE | ADVOCATE as shorthand for our mission work toward a healthy and just food system in our city. On the surface, the word “share” represents our urban agriculture work of sharing food grown in and for community. But we also recognize the integrated work of each of our programs—City Schoolyard Garden, Urban Agriculture Collective, and Food Justice Network—for a common goal, and sharing can be seen as central to all of our work. Read more here!
In January & February Food Justice Network advocates, youth food justice interns, parents and nonprofit leaders showed up to express their support for the Food Equity Initiative Policy Platform. Congratulations! We heard emphasis on: Food as a human right, a desire for fresher school meals, a challenge to center food equity in school nutrition departments and take away the burden of functioning like a business, support for the intersection of food equity and affordable housing, an interest in a cooperative grocery owned by community members of color and more!
Working together to cultivate a healthy and just food system requires complex, integrated efforts and partners with multiple forms of activism. During the Uprooting Racism training with SoulFire Farm this past fall, Leah Penniman shared their butterfly model that articulates four powerful strategies for transformation: Resist, Build, Heal, Reform. Each strategy has played a part in the long history of action toward liberation. At Cultivate, we also aim to engage across strategies in our programs, initiatives, values, and action. Is it possible, however, to Resist an institution with whom you are partnering to Reform? To take time to Heal the harm of racism while working diligently to Build new systems? Read more about our commitment to Uprooting Racism.