Apparently, last year I said I couldn't see further extending my involvement with City Fresh and the Food Co-op as I would surely be gone by fall '09. Well, we're still here, Jon's still finishing his PhD, and I'm spiraling down the rabbit hole into full-fledged locavorous identity. As my friend Mati told me, though, anything done with compassion is not wasted, so it's not a terrible thing at all. Which is good, because if not, I might feel some conflict about my continued and increasing work and commitment to these two amazing organizations. No, of course I wouldn't. There's no conflict to be had. There is however, a great deal of frenzy.
The summer has seen countless meetings for the Co-op (where I serve on the board of directors) as its struggle to survive becomes more and more dire. I'm doing my best to organize people to come get involved, and to reinvigorate the community so as to bring us back from the brink, as well as ensure that local foods communities in our area continue to grow and sustain themselves. I've gone so far as to start tossing around ideas about building an umbrella organization to network the varying people and groups in the area working for similar, corresponding, or parallel goals that we might combine our strengths, minimize the risks of our individual weaknesses, and provide broader ongoing support toward our mutual aspirations.
I also became one of the co-managers of our City Fresh stop when our Coventry Fresh Stop manager had to move for her husband's job. So just when I thought I was in the clear, I became fully entrenched. I write pamphlets, organize paperwork, and help manage distribution, set-up, sign-in, tear down, and cash out - which equals about an 8 hour Tuesday every week. All with the kids in tow! Which, as an aside, Bastian turning 4 was a small miracle. Suddenly, he can stick around, not run off, be outside without disappearing the minute I have to run in for the phone or to pee! I can take both of my children with me to a volunteer gig where they play with other kids, talk to other adults, run wild, and avoid destroying things, disrupting people, or causing too much havoc. It's amazing.
So what is this City Fresh thing? It's one of the many area Community Supported Agriculture groups, but unlike other CSAs, we don't buy-in at the beginning of the season (or before). At City Fresh, the buy-in is week-to-week. You pay one price each week for the following week. So we can take weeks off and not lose money. Plus, there are two sizes of a share of the food: a family share supports 3-4 people and a single share 1-2. For each share size, there are two prices: one full price, one low-income. Which means that the goals of City Fresh are broader than simply supporting local farms and families. City Fresh is specifically designed to bring foods to an urban environment to help sustain the low-income communities that exist there. All of our leftover foods are donated to local shelters too, so we feed people across all socio-economic groups with sustainably grown, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables. It's an awesome organization to be involved with and I'm thrilled that my children are able to participate as well.
City Fresh is also single-handedly teaching all of Cleveland what the hell a scape is. If you're wondering, garlic scapes are the stalk of the hardneck garlic plant and can be used in the same way as garlic - chopped up in stirfries, minced and cooked on a pizza, or pulverized to add to pesto. I first heard of them three years ago when we joined City Fresh and got a bundle.City Fresh has also afforded me plenty of opportunity to take photos of vegetables...
There was also one unique opportunity to realize that I could paint much better than I thought. Sebastian took photos of me after helping me get started on the background for our new sign.For hours, my front yard was the site of much arting (though art in itself is not an unusual occurrence here at all).
Finally, while watching Frost/Nixon with Jon late that night, I finished up all my little vegetables.