Greetings friends, Villagers, and PICAns! As you might already know, I am your friendly neighborhood Compost Coordinator, and I have great news for you all–the Village Compost System has been a success this quarter (as always)! We’ve gathered several hundred pounds of food waste from our ecologically minded Village residents and successfully turned what would be trash in a landfill into nutrient rich compost to help sustain our A and B quad gardens in the village.
I’m happy to report that our workdays have been very productive with volunteers ready to turn, sift, and build these huge piles of organic waste. I am thankful for all of you who have come out to get your hands that special kind of dirty that only a good composting can offer you! For all of you who are interested in composting, please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or chat me up if you see me working. I’m happy to answer any and all of your composting questions. As for the new year, we are working on cooking up a special compost video art project and worm composting workshop in the Spring for Village residents. Thank you again for all of your interest and support, and keep up the great work! Be well and compost!
Working with a supportive leadership team this past year has allowed me to achieve certain goals that I do not think I would have been able to in another work environment. As an RA I work to support and build the PICA community by providing resources and activities for PICAns to enjoy. Fostering a bond within an intentional living space has been a rewarding experience, one that seems unfailable. This is because the students who live here are driven and willing to work to build community just as much as me. I have been inspired by many residents to host events such as tie dying, pot lucks, and a natural body products workshop. Being the PICA RA is really about listening to what the community wants and giving them the tools and materials to make it happen. I feel incredibly lucky to have held this potion and know too, that I am passing it off into good hands. Thank you PICA residents, leadership staff, and professional staff for providing for me and all of us to make PICA what we love.
As the Garden Liaison and part of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program, Chelsey conducted a year-long assessment of the PICA program by holding focus groups with PICA residents, PICA alumni, campus gardeners, and student leaders in order to determine areas of strengths/improvements, as well as potential avenues for future collaborations. This project created a synergy that aided in securing a staff position for PICA during the 2014 – 2015 school year. The assessment illustrated that PICA has been successful at teaching students professional skills, providing opportunities for residents to learn to cook for a crowd using plant-based ingredients, offering consistent skill-sharing through garden workday groups, and creating a sense of community that one may not find in the traditional dorm setting. In addition, PICA has a rich alumni legacy that encompasses communal houses with gardens off-campus, which includes the well-known “Food Not Lawns” house on Laurel Street.
Throughout her internship Chelsey aided with program outreach and communication through her participation in the Office of Physical Education, Recreation, and Sports’ (OPERS) Fall Festival, the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ (CASFS) Harvest Festival, Strawberry and Justice Festival, Stevenson College’s Healthy World Healthy You event, Practical Activism Conference, Campus Gardens’ Food Systems Learning Journey, Farm Fridays, Winter Inter-Organizational Sustainability Retreat planning committee, Meet the CUIPs, Earth Summit, and Earth Week. Chelsey also maintained social media sites, coordinated a website migration, collaborated on event planning with other campus organizations, managed list serves, hosted the Student Gardens Market Cart, coordinated grant writing proposals that raised $20,593 (Carbon Fund, Campus Sustainability Council, and Measure 43), facilitated groups during garden workdays, and advocated for campus gardens and sustainability via the Measure 57: Gardens, Resources, Opportunities, and Waste management (GROW) campaign.
This year I learned more about what it means to be a coordinator, planner, leader, and team member by taking on the role as PICA’s Events Coordinator. My position is through the Provost Sustainability Internship Program (PSI) through the Sustainability Office, where I learn leadership and professional development skills. Working for and with PICA has been a new learning experience for me, coming from a horticulture gardening background to a community focused on agricultural gardening. I am grateful to have worked in such an enjoyable environment, and with a leadership team that holds strong values for community and sustainability. I am extremely thankful for the mentorship and support I have received from Mira along the way.
Some of my favorite moments from this year were from the quarterly workshops. In winter I enjoyed Maiya Evan’s visit to talk about food justice and its affect on our health and well-being. Maiya’s presentation and our discussions helped to contextualize why systemic social justice is a crucial part of sustainability and sustainable food systems. The following workshop connected culture to food where we made delicious Puerto Rican food. Sally Neas’s visit for canning and making bread and cheese were both a great success. We successfully created and installed an insect hotel for pollinators and beneficial insects for the last workshop of the year. I also appreciated the workshops that included garden and compost skills like fruit tree pruning and worm composting since that information is also new to me. I learned a lot this quarter from coordinating workshops!
I really enjoyed working with campus sustainability events this year. Collaboration is so beneficial and often necessary for events and communities. I worked on the planning committee for the annual Earth Summit event, and participated in other campus events like the Annie Leonard lunch, Village Housing Food Justice Fair, Sustainability Spring Fest, Student Environmental Center general gatherings, and the Generation Waking Up training. It was a great experience to coordinate with other organizations, get to know other organizers and sustainability interns, represent PICA on campus, and be apart of a larger sustainability movement.
My hope is that my experience working with PICA has helped to invite more people into the community and to provide resources, new perspectives, skills and empowerment to others. It was exciting to see more folks visiting and supporting PICA through events. I thank all those that helped me along the way. You all keep this community thriving, so shine on! I encourage everyone to find ways to be apart of the movement for a sustainable future. Together we can transform the world as it is, and learn from each other along the way.
As a second year PICAn and a first year PICA leadership team member, this school year brought many wonderful things into my experiences in an intentional community based on sustainability. I chose to apply for the Community Meals Coordinator position because I have always been extremely interested in community building, and I thought that this interest along with my love of food would make the Community Meals Coordinator the perfect position for me. My job responsibilities included: collecting money, bulk shopping, organizing meal sign-ups, keeping track of the F quad keys, clean up, and all the duties of being a PICA leadership team member. I really enjoyed every part of my job, but I especially enjoined being able to come together through food to have discussions and just relax over dinner. I felt like community meals were a time in which people were really able to spend time with each other in a more laid-back setting, and get to know each other on a deeper and more meaningful level.
There were so many wonderful things that happened regarding community meals this year. First and foremost, the food was delicious. There were so many great meals, it is impossible for me to pick just one meal that stood out more than the others. I was really impressed that the cooks were able to integrate both bulk food and harvest from the garden into mostly all of the meals, and make it into something amazing. One meal that was really important to me was the collaboration with the apprentices at the beginning of the school year. I thought that was a great way to bridge connections between PICA and CASFS, and it was really fun to be able to enjoy food and conversation with people who have similar interests in gardening and community building to ourselves. I also loved the collaboration that happened with the apprentices this spring quarter. It was fun to go to the CASFS site itself, and see the way that they facilitate their community meals at the farm, and the food there was bountiful and delicious (especially the vegan chocolate covered strawberries).
I want to thank everyone in this beautiful community for making the community meals program this school year a success. I am so happy I was able to hold this position and connect with all of you through food this school year.
I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year since I started working in the gardens! It looks similar to the end of last year, when the prime harvest season unfortunately begins near the beginning summer. We’ve had a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including cherry tomatoes until November and yummy greens from the Urban Garden and greenhouse. Sure, we shared some of our produce with our animal and insect neighbors; but as part of the growing cycle, we all benefit by sharing.
One of my favorite projects and accomplishments from this year are the beautiful display of tulips and daffodils behind B-1. It was the first display of springtime in the garden! Another thing that was fun to transform was the empty aquaponics system that we turned into a permaculture keyhole bed. I hope everyone has enjoyed some of the potatoes and nasturtiums that have grown from it. Garden workshops and lessons were probably my favorite, including fruit tree pruning, garlic planting, and mosaics! I can see all of the things that we have been involved in throughout the year, and the garden looks all the better for it. Thanks everyone for the great year!
Working in the kitchen this year has been super fun and exciting!!!
We have learned so much about growing and cooking organic food and most of all building community. Our time in the kitchen has certainly taught us a lot of things, for example making the most of what you have and using the pantry and gardens to their fullest potential. Some days we just rolled with the punches and made some of the best meals out of the simplest ingredients. Sometimes we washed too many dishes or stayed too late, and even cursed the one burner stove. However at the end of the day we ate in good company, which made it all worthwhile.
While strolling through the gardens and watching everything grow one of the best things about being in the kitchen was eating and cooking the apples in the fall and the lemons in the winter. Picking and eating the berries off the vine was also the best. I even started a love/hate relationship with the mustard greens in the B-quad, for they had showcased far too many times in our meals. I learned about picking different varieties of lettuce, watching the garlic grow, and I also became quite fond of the calendula petals that adorned our lovely organic salads. I even discovered new spices, herbs and the magic of Kaffir lime leaves for curry-based dishes. I learned new recipes, such as Greek Dolmas and Erica’s famous peanut butter dressing, though sadly I can never seem to get it to taste like hers. Other great uses in the garden were the green tomatoes from summer harvest that were cooked into a lovely plant-based chili. The solar oven was also a favorite cooking instrument in which we made various kinds of vegan cookies.
Learning about our food systems and where our food comes from has taught me to really appreciate the labor, time, and effort to plan out the PICA gardens. Events such as the Food Justice Fair and cooking for the Annie Leonard Luncheon were also both memorable highlights and honors which I will always treasure. Most of all, I have enjoyed working in the kitchen this year laughing with folks, meeting new people, and making lifelong friends who share the same interests of making and breaking bread together.
I am ever so thankful for working with Mira and the leadership crew this year, for they have taught me so much. I hope to continue to support PICA and make it the best sustainable intentional community for years to come.
May we all continue to share our knowledge and carry a little PICA with us wherever we go!
Saturday Community Meals Coordinator