Greetings from Johnson City! We’ve been super busy getting our programs set up and scheduling events for the coming spring season. But let’s just go ahead and get down to the fun stuff:
Johnson City, Tennessee is currently in the midst of an incredible blossoming of energy for food justice! Just last month we had a new café hold a “First Seed” fundraiser. Now, what’s so exciting about any old café? Well, let me tell you. This café, One Acre Café, is part of the “One World Everybody Eats Foundation” (http://www.oneworldeverybodyeatsfoundation.org/). Their mission statement is: “To nourish the body, replenish the spirit, and grow the community so that all might be fed.” In addition,
“It is the intent of One Acre Cafe to build a healthy community by providing the basic need of food in a respectful and dignified manner to anyone who walks through the door. One Acre Cafe will be unique in the lack of a set menu as well as set prices. Daily menus will be made using fresh ingredients and funded by the donations of patrons and community members. Everyone will be invited to pay what they felt their meal was worth or to leave a little more in order to help pay for someone else’s meal. If a diner does not have sufficient money to leave, they are encouraged to exchange one hour of service to the cafe for their meal.”
On Saturday, January 26, One Acre Café held its first fundraiser to introduce itself to the community. One of Build-It-Up-East-Tennessee’s steering committee members, Heidi Davis, wrote the following about this event:
“Saturday some of the ladies from Build It Up East TN had the extreme pleasure of attending the First Seed event for One Acre Cafe at the beautiful International Story Telling Center in Jonesborough, TN. As we walked in the building the excitement about this soiree was palpable and the event had drawn a rather large crowd. It seemed like many other silent auctions I have been to with excellent catering and vast networking opportunities, but this one quickly felt different when the board of directors took the floor. Three words: Community. Food. Dignity. People facing food insecurity need far more than just food. They need to be treated as humans again. They need to feel like they are not invisible and they are part of a community, this community- the one we could build by opening the One Acre Cafe. As I sat there listening to the presentation and looking at the crowd that had gathered to listen, I saw that our community had a hunger far beyond the physical hunger members of our community are facing, the people in this room had a hunger for change. Let us hope these first seeds are nourished by the love and support from our community because this organization will surely nourish our community with its delicious, healthy food and tireless work to address food insecurity in the Tri-Cities”
The house was packed—people were even on the floor—eager to hear what sort of new community-based food justice initiatives were brewing. The vibrancy and energy of the crowd attests to just how ready the people of East TN are to get to work solving local and regional hunger crises. You can find out more about One Acre Cafe at: http://www.facebook.com/oneacrecafe
Build-It-Up-East-Tennessee is very excited to announce that we have two excellent developments for our local gardening programs. First, we have been given a membership into the community-based Carver Peace Garden, located near downtown Johnson City. This garden is right in the heart of the community, and located on the land of the Carver Recreation Center, which hosts many youth and outreach programs throughout the year. In other words, we will be where the community is. We cannot wait to start plotting our space and getting the neighbors involved!
In addition, Build-It-Up-East-Tennessee has also been invited to work with a sustainable community and farm, known as the Rainbow Sustainable Farm. This farm is situated in north Johnson City on several acres of usable land. We have been asked to help the residents build up the farm, which will provide the perfect site to teach our interns about sustainable, organic gardening techniques, which they can later bring back to the community through our Carver Peace Garden program, workshops, and other opportunities. One of our fellow members, Kanwaldeep Singh, shares the following thoughts about the Rainbow Sustainable Farm program:
“Sustainable Farming. Communion with fellow humans, with the plants and trees, the birds and the bees, insects and worms – an intimate, conscious yoking with Divine Mother Earth. Why does this matter? Why am I excited? It’s a sign of the change in the collective consciousness. A manifestation on a gross level of the paradigm shift that we live, love, and dance in. I envision community. What is that? ‘Community’? “Sharing, participation, and fellowship”, one of the definitions I found in TheFreeDictionary, comes closest to the connotations I have with the word.”
Design, Build, and Maintain an Organic Sustainable Farm to provide food for the residents and visitors of the farm house, as well as to the community. Additionally providing the community hands-on-learning opportunities via on-site workshops and volunteer opportunities.
Thus, this exciting new opportunity presents us with some AMAZING chances for work and community engagement. Finally (as far as gardens go), I (Veronica) will be meeting with the organizer of the Tree Streets Community Garden at the end of this month. The Tree Streets Garden hosts a youth-gardening program and offers many opportunities to get kids in the dirt (which we’re very excited about).
However, food justice isn’t just about gardens. Heidi Davis has been busy planning for summer organizing with a low-income community that just recently became a classified food desert, due to the loss of a major grocery store in the region. I’ll have more details for you as we get more information and move closer to organizing, but keep your eyes out!
Finally, Build-It-Up-East-Tennessee is planning a big spring fundraiser, full of local foods, local farmers, community garden organizers, and more to get the community excited and engaged with work for food justice. Updates coming soon!
Love, peace, and solidarity
–Veronica of Build It Up East Tennessee