Greetings City Fruit Supporters,
My name is Melanie Peters, the new AmeriCorps VISTA at City Fruit. I’m part of Rotary First Harvest’s “Harvest Against Hunger” program that has connected farmers, food banks, volunteers, and truckers to make sure no crop gets wasted, especially when food insecurity very much exists in our community. I’m thrilled to be starting this year of service to my country and community in Seattle with new challenges and rewards.
Growing up about twenty minutes outside of Chicago, some of my earliest memories were spent alongside my dad and sisters in our backyard, harvesting rhubarb to make fresh rhubarb pie. I’ve always had a connection to the land and to food, so it wasn’t a surprise when I picked up sustainability as a minor in college and began to work with the local food movement in Northern Indiana. I interned at Rise Up Farms during the terribly dry summer of 2012 where I learned the basics of permaculture, how to operate a CSA, and how grow bountiful vegetables without using caustic sprays or chemicals.
After graduating from Indiana University, I moved to Indianapolis to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Indy Hunger Network. I worked alongside wonderful people and organizations that cared deeply about making fresh food a reality for all, regardless of income. One of Indy Hunger Network’s proudest accomplishments occurred last year after receiving a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the USDA to fund a double-up incentive program at six Indianapolis farmers’ markets. This program provides up to a $20 match to any SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) recipient at any of the participating farmers’ markets.
At Indy Hunger Network, I also developed a gleaning program with Butler University’s Sustainable Foods Fellow that has since been taken on by a new AmeriCorps VISTA. In the two months that we operated what we called “The Glean Team,” we harvested over 15,000 pounds of produce (including 2,000lbs of apples!) with over 35 volunteers that would have otherwise been tilled under the ground. All of the produce was delivered free of charge by volunteers at neighborhood food pantries.
While most of my work in the food movement has been with vegetables, I’m ready and excited to learn and work with urban fruit and nut-bearing trees. This year at City Fruit, I plan to vamp up the volunteer opportunities that City Fruit has to offer, increase member benefits, and coordinate harvest teams. I so look forward to meeting and working with each of you throughout this year.
Melanie A. Peters