Megan Bell, Mountain West Area Director, expresses gratitude for the 7th Annual JVC Northwest Gathering in Seattle, WA this past weekend:
Thank you to all those who attended the Seattle Gathering on Earth Day this past Sunday and showed continued support for JVC Northwest. It was great to connect to the Seattle JVC Northwest community and to celebrate the work of JVs in the Northwest with everyone! JVC Northwest is grateful for all the donations and support that allow us to continue to plant the seeds for change and a better future.
At the event, current JV, Tara Murphy, shared the following reflection about her JVC Northwest experience at the Vinegar Flats Community Farms through St. Margaret’s Shelter in Spokane, WA.
“An unexpected event from my year as a JV has been the numerous names and ‘terms of endearment’ I’ve been characterized under including:
A crunchy woman of the dirt
The worm compost lady
A child of the corn
Jolly Green “not so Giant”
Gripster (which is a combination of granola and hipster)
And one of my personal favorites: What does JVC stand for…The Jesuit Vegetarian Corps?
Every time I chuckle recognizing that my education and work as a JV is a privilege. But the other day I was in the kitchen at St. Margaret’s Shelter for women and children chopping vegetables for a cooking class when three residents came in to help me. We began talking about malnourishment in the form of food related diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and the list goes on. All three of the young women admitted that they and/or their children have experience with health issues that are directly related to diet and environment.
The women confided that they see ‘eating healthy’ as an exclusive privilege for the wealthy and well educated. They told me they don’t have the time, energy, money, access or knowledge to avoid unhealthy food. However, they want to learn. They’re literally sick and tired of eating processed and fast foods.
Poverty, as defined as the lack of basic needs, includes the limited access to nourishing foods which directly correlates to environmental degradation, disease, high medical bills, decreased energy and shortened life span. Lack of access to safe and healthy food is a form of poverty. Almost every person in the shelters and neighborhoods where I serve has a decreased quality of life because of the food they’re forced to eat and the environment in which they live.
It’s hard to truly measure the work I do with Vinegar Flats Community Farm; we are planting seeds in the hopes of cultivating a fruitful future. When I walk into the shelter, kids actually ask me to eat fruit and veggies to create compost. Then we go feed the compost to our pet worms which the kids named ‘Justin Beiber, Beyonce, Jay Z’ and so on. The fertilizer that the St. Margaret’s worm composting bins produce is, in turn, used to grow their vegetables.
Our work includes growing produce, increasing accessibility to local, safe and sustainable food, teaching the women at the shelter to cook using healthy recipes and more. My team and I collaborate with other non- profit organizations and volunteers throughout Spokane to connect all people, especially the most vulnerable, to the land, their environment, their food and to one another.
Good food is the right of every single living creature. However, our current food system is severely broken, exclusive and is compromising the environment. Our work at Vinegar Flats Community Farm is to create a local solution to a big problem.
We work towards eliminating the need to identify anyone as crunchy, granola,
or one of those green hippies. We work towards making our population and environment a healthy and sustainable reality where eating safe food isn’t selective.
I want to thank each of you for investing your time and energy into making my work and the work of JV’s throughout the Northwest possible. Together we are planting seeds for a better future.”