A Little Thing Called Change

Today is a bittersweet day for me. This blog post will be the last one I write at my desk at The Nashville Food Project. For the past three months, I have sat at this desk every Friday catching up on my office work and writing posts for this little corner of the internet. As I sit here today, I have my cup of tea that I make every Friday morning alongside a sweet gift from my coworkers – a mason jar of flowers, a beautiful basket, and my first cookbook (signed by each person I worked with this summer). This gift is very representative of the experiences I have had and lessons I’ve learned here. The flowers remind me to find the beauty in the little things; the basket reminds me of the baskets I took to the farmers markets each week; the cookbook reminds me of all the lessons I have learned in (and out of) the kitchen. I just finished reading notes from my  coworkers in the cookbook, and I wrote my thank you notes in return. The fact that I am leaving really hit me this morning. I acknowledged my “last farmers market” and “last meal prep” earlier this week, but my departure did not really sink in until I arrived to the office and found this gift. But, I know that today is not the last day I will be at The Nashville Food Project. Today is just the last day of this specific adventure.

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The beautiful gift I found on my desk this morning

In the past few weeks, I have realized that I will not be a different person after my last day here. I was so worried about how I would define myself after my internship ended this summer. I would no longer be the farmers market gleaner or meals intern. I would no longer  be spending my days in meal prep or my Saturdays at the farmers market. I really  did not know how I would make the transition back to being a student at Vanderbilt, or if I really wanted to. Despite this, I feel at peace with this impending transition. I have come to realize that I will not be a different person tomorrow morning. I may not wake up at 7 to go to the farmers market, but I will still be passionate about the work I have done and will do in the future. I have come to peace with the fact that I am supposed to go back to school, finish my  degree, and gain new skills to continue pursuing my passions in the future.

During my quiet time last week, the scripture and devotional I read spoke to the range of emotions I feel about my summer internship ending. The devotional was titled “Fallen and Redeemed Work.” Like the author, my heart mirrored King Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

I hated the idea that my work this summer would not continue. I would not be at the farmers markets or working in the kitchen. My identity as the farmers market gleaner would cease to exist – who would I be this upcoming semester? Was all my work done in vain? But, I continued reading and I realized that  I had “worked heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23). I realized that the is devil taunting me – he makes me think that my work this summer was done in vain just because I can’t continue once school begins. But, that is wrong. “For it is God who is working in [me], enabling [me] both to desire and to work out his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).  I know that I did build relationships between farmers and The Nashville Food Project this summer, I spread awareness about their mission to build community through nourishing food, and I shared local produce with the entire Nashville community through the meals here. My work was not in vain, and I would not be a different person when it ended.

I also know that God is calling me to go back to Vanderbilt and finish my time there as a student. Since I was accepted at Vanderbilt, I have known that God’s hand has been on my entire experience. Things have always fallen into place, and I have felt him lead me to different things there. I am so grateful to be at an amazing university, apart of a competitive scholarship program, and a human and organizational development major. But, being a student at Vanderbilt is hard. God does not promise that the work he calls us to will be easy (Genesis 3:17). My work this summer was not easy, and my work this semester will not be easy. But, I know that God led me the The Nashville Food Project this summer just like he has led me to Vanderbilt.

So, in this bittersweet moment – the transition from The Nashville Food Project to Vanderbilt – I am choosing to listen to God. My place right now is at school. I’m choosing to listen to 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”  Just because I am leaving The Nashville Food Project does not mean my work was in vain or that my identity is changing. My work is for God’s glory, and my identity is (and has always been) in Christ. With this knowledge, I am leaving today to prepare to return to Vanderbilt and finish my last two years of college. But, that doesn’t mean I am leaving The Nashville Food Project forever! I plan to volunteer and be here when I can. I also plan to still go to farmers market (this girl has to have her veggies!). I am grateful that I have been blessed to have this experience. Now, I just have to be prepared for that little thing called change.

Thank you to The Nashville Food Project, the farmers markets, and anyone who has supported me on this journey. My internship may be ending, but I may still pop in from time to time here!

p.s. If you would like to read the She Reads Truth devotional, check it out here!

Coming Full Swing

Sorry things have been a little quiet on the blog lately! Life has been busy lately – getting ready for the upcoming school year, filling out applications, and taking a weekend trip to Asheville. But, I’m back! Today, I want to share an experience that I had a few weeks ago at the Vine Hill Apartments in Nashville. The Vine Hill Apartments are a low-income housing area in metropolitan Nashville. The Nashville Food Project serves 60 meals at this housing area every Friday.

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A map with the community partners the Nashville Food Project works with and shares meals at each week

 

 

One of my goals this summer was joining a truck team to serve a meal at one of our community partners. The truck teams consist of 3-4 volunteers who commit to serve one of our meals once a month. The teams are on a monthly rotation to serve each of our community partners. The team I joined happened to solely consist of female clergy from around Nashville. When I found out I had the opportunity to join these teams, I was beyond excited!

When we arrived at the Vine Hill apartments, we parked the food truck and set up the table before residents began lining up for food. Once people came over to the truck, we began serving. That day, the meals team had prepared a beautiful meal for the residents. We used donated salmon pieces from a local restaurant to make homemade salmon patties with a lemon-caper sauce. On the side, there were roasted red potatoes with olive oil and herbs. Alongside that was a fresh garden salad with lettuce and toppings donated from the farmers market. We dressed the salad with a homemade basil-apricot dressing. For dessert, we shared 2 cookies donated from Christie’s Cookies. When I saw this meal, I immediately wanted to have my own plate (even though I had just eaten lunch!). At a restaurant, this meal would have easily cost $15 or more. Although I wasn’t surprised that we shared such a delicious, nutritious, and high quality meal, this was the first time I saw one of our meals plated and served.

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The Nashville Food Project food truck sharing a meal at the Vine Hill Apartments. Source: thenashvillefoodproject.org/the-food-trucks/

 

Seeing people come up to the table and receive that food made everything I do at The Nashville Food Project more meaningful. I actually saw the Nashville Food Project’s mission – bringing people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food with the aim of building community and alleviating hunger in Nashville, come to life. I saw the lettuce from our garden and potatoes gleaned from the farmers market. I saw the pounds of salmon that a volunteer cooked and skinned during a Wednesday night meal prep. I saw a truck team come together to serve a meal to the residents that they knew by name. It was such a “full circle” moment when I saw the fruits of my (and all of the staff and volunteers) labor on those plates. I wish I would have taken a picture of the meal we served and the food truck that day, but a picture could not have captured the moment. That moment solidified the reason why I am gleaning at the farmers market – creating access to nutritious food (that actually tastes good) with people who normally would not be able to enjoy that meal.

Being Present

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

I know “being present” is a buzz phrase right now. We are told to be present and mindful for our mental health, put down technology and be present with those around you, stop worrying about the future and be present in the current moment. You would think the idea of being present would be easier for me by now considering the popularity of that phrase. I practice yoga (a practice and discipline that emphasizes being present in your body and mind) and value my Christian faith. Only recently have I really understood what being present looks like in my daily life and my relationship with God. The recent police shootings, riots, and violence around the world have altered my perception of the world and people around me. I’m slowly learning to appreciate the little things – like a parents’ hug at night or a bouquet of flowers – and to live in the moment that I am in.

I’ve always struggled with worrying about my current situation and future. I love planning, and I frequently make grand plans in my mind that never truly come to fruition. I’m slowly learning to go with the flow more. Working at a non-profit this summer has taught me to expect the unexpected (i.e. receiving an unexpected 1,400 lb donation from Whole Foods one day)  and adapt when plans don’t work out. For instance, I planned to have a booth at each farmers market during the summer to market the Buy one, Give one portion of my project. Instead, I developed deeper relationships with the farmers and shared my passion and The Nashville Food Project’s mission with them. This process taught me to slow down, teach, and learn from the people at the farmers market who could make or break my project.

Learning to adapt to different situations has changed the way I plan things, but I still worry. Since I started practicing yoga, I’ve heard teachers talk about acknowledging emotions that come up and letting them pass. They emphasize being present in the moment instead of worrying what other think about you or what you have to get done at work/school/etc. At first, I dismissed this idea of forgetting all the things I had or wanted to do. It is so easy for me to get lost in my schedule or to worry about the next test I have. I’ve slowly learned how to acknowledge those worries but not let them take over my day. I still have so much to learn, but I can being present in yoga transferring to other aspects of my life too.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6 

The Lord has been the best teacher for being present and letting go of my fears and worries. I believe that God puts things and people into our lives when we need them. He opened doors for me so I could become an Ingram Scholar at Vanderbilt and have an internship at The Nashville Food Project. My family has always emphasized serving others because of God’s love and blessings – not because we have to. After looking back on my path to Vanderbilt, my scholarship program, and this internship, I think God used that mindset to put me in an environment where he could teach me how to be present. I also believe God put the people I have met in the yoga community in my life to teach me how to use the idea of being present. In other parts of my life. Lastly, he has used scripture, the church, and the community I have at Vanderbilt to teach me why and how to trust him. I’ve always been a Martha – worrying about how things look and whether or not the dishes are done. He is teaching me to focus on things that are much more important than the small details we encounter here on Earth.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things” – Luke 10:41

Yesterday, I received news that a friend of mine lost a parent this week. That, in addition to the events happening around us, forced me to reflect on my world and how I want to live. I don’t want to live in fear because I know that God is my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me (Psalm 61:3). And, I know that we have this hope [God] as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). I also don’t want to live a life worrying about the what may happen in the future or even tomorrow. My study abroad process is a great example of living for the present. I’m currently deciding between a few places in Europe or New Zealand/Australia. New Zealand offers a (potentially safer) trip that I may never have the chance to experience again. Life is precious and best in the moment. But, I have always wanted to go to Europe. I’m still not 100 % on my choice, but I don’t want to think of what I “could” do later in life. I want to think about my life right now. I also don’t want to worry about what “may happen” in another country. I want to be present now.

Studying abroad is just a small example of how I want to chose to live my life – enjoy the present, the people around me, and the opportunities that arise. Many people have asked me why I chose to work at my internship all summer when my scholarship program only required 8 weeks. I’ve decided that I chose to work that long because I love what I am doing and I want to take advantage of this experience, the lessons I am learning, and the people I am meeting. I want to take advantage of what is here – in the present.  This has been a wordy post, but I felt like it was necessary to process the recent events and truly reflect on what is important to me – my faith, my family, and love. I want to embrace that buzz phrase, be present, in every part of my life (home, school, work, my internship, etc.) so I can enjoy these blessings while I have them.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?” – Matthew 6:25

 

Farmer Friday: Old School Farm

I can’t believe it is already July! I realized earlier this week that I have less than a month left at the Nashville Food Project – this summer has flown by way too fast. That means I only have a few weeks left to highlight the farmers I meet at the markets this year. The hardest part about writing these features is choosing which farmer to highlight. I have been blessed to meet some amazing individuals and families that are at the farmers markets here in Nashville. With that said, I decided to highlight Old School Farm this week. In addition to selling produce at the 12 South Farmers Market, Old School Farm is a non-profit dedicated to providing employment to individuals with intellectual disabilities. I love the concept of combining sustainable farming with sustainable employment to serve the entire community.

Located in the Bells Bend area, Old School Farm was founded in 2013. The farm is associated with another non-profit that serves individuals with disabilities, MillarRich. The founders wanted to create a sustainable farm to provide fresh food while employing adults with intellectual disabilities. Since then, the farm has grown from an empty field to a thriving non-profit. There is even an on-site farm-to-table restaurant called The Old School (on my list of many restaurants here in Nashville to try!). The farm has a CSA in addition to selling at the 12 South Farmers Market each Tuesday. At the market, I met the farm manager, Rachel. After talking to Rachel, I realized how passionate she was about farming and leading her team – individuals with and without disabilities. I realized that I had actually interacted with many of the people Old School Farm employs at the market. Everyone there has been kind and willing to support the food recovery efforts.

I love seeing a farm grow and operate like any other sustainable farm at the market while supporting a population that is typically misunderstood. At first, my few interactions with adults with disabilities skewed my perception of what they could and couldn’t do. After seeing these individuals working at the market and reading their stories online, I realized that I was wrong. Seeing a typically for-profit enterprise (the farm) also serve as a community organization motivates me to learn more about this type of non-profit. The fact that you don’t even realize that the farm is a non-profit until you ask is even better. 

Recognizing these preconceived notions I had about “adults with disabilities” reminded me of the idea that everyone is equal. I found this passage from the book of James where we are called to treat everyone the same – regardless of socioeconomic status, appearance, ability, etc.

My brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. So treat everyone the same. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes. And suppose a poor man in dirty old clothes also comes in.  Would you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes? Would you say, “Here’s a good seat for you”? Would you say to the poor man, “You stand there”? Or “Sit on the floor by my feet”?  If you would, aren’t you treating some people better than others? Aren’t you like judges who have evil thoughts? – James 2:2-4

It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that I am better than someone else because of x reason. But, we are called to treat everyone the same. Leviticus 19:18 calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is exactly what Old School Farm does daily. They treat and love every employ the same way. In my life, I have recognized that people have different gifts. Some may be good at writing while the other is good at drawing, etc. But, we are all equal, and we all need each other to thrive. I love this lesson from Old School Farm, and I hope that I can remember it as I finish my work this summer and back at Vanderbilt.

What does it mean to “volunteer”?

Volunteer –  a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service – Merriam Webster Dictionary

Through the Ingram Scholarship Program, I have the opportunity to participate in various volunteering activities – working at food banks, helping with children’s ministries, cooking at The Ronald McDonald House, etc. Volunteering is something I have always done. Whether it be volunteering at my church’s VBS or volunteering to organize my 4th grade teacher’s library by author’s last name (Yes, I was that kid), I’ve always chosen to “voluntarily undertake a service” in different capacities. As I got older, I began volunteering my time with non-profits in Nashville like Room at the Inn and The Nashville Food Project, as well as mission trips in other cities. Those volunteer experiences grew my love of service. Fast forward to today, and I am an Ingram Scholar, a service-oriented scholarship, the service chair for my sorority, running the social media for a non-profit, and interning at The Nashville Food Project. I’m not saying all of this to brag, but I wanted to use these experiences to explore what it means to me to volunteer. Now that I have been on both sides of volunteering – the volunteer and the organization – I feel like I have a better understanding (but not complete understanding!) of the importance of volunteering. Below, I break “volunteering” into the two perspectives that I have experienced as a volunteer at a non-profit.

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Part of my Ingram Scholarship community (family)

 

Perspective 1: The Volunteer

As a volunteer, I’ve always wanted to do the “fun” thing at the organization or do something that I would enjoy. It’s always more fun to volunteer with a friend or group. Volunteering can be glamorous, like going on a mission trip to another country or distributing food to a family in need. Volunteering can also be dirty work, like cleaning out a gutter, chopping sweet potatoes, or weeding. I’ve been apart of (and enjoyed) both types of volunteering. I’ve noticed that other volunteers at The Nashville Food Project prefer to do the “fun” work during meal prep. Instead of peeling potatoes or cleaning greens for two hours, people prefer to cook in the kitchen or prepare fruit salad. At first, it always seems more fulfilling to work on something that others will directly benefit from. But, once volunteer begin working on the not-so-glamorous jobs, they begin to enjoy themselves. Volunteering is a great way to build community and get to know the people you are working with. Some of my favorite experiences have not been “fun” service, but those times are always with others. The Nashville Food Project tries to build community through volunteers and their service to others.

Volunteering can also become just a way to fulfill mandatory service hours. I’ve felt like that sometimes when I have to complete 20 hours of service a month on top of school, work, and friends. It is hard to volunteer for the sake of volunteering when you have to fulfill service hours. The mandatory requirement for many students does force you to volunteer when you think you don’t have enough time (but actually you do). Many times, those mandatory hours produce apathy in volunteers. But, those mandatory hours can also produce a passion for service. In my sorority, girls must submit 15 service hours by the end of the school year. I have seen people volunteer at an organization to meet that requirement, but they find a reason to continue volunteering.

People also volunteer for different reasons. Like I said above, volunteering may just be a way to fulfill hours. But, it may be a way to fill the time. Many of the volunteers at The Nashville Food Project are retired or between jobs. It is inspiring to see older adults volunteer because they enjoy it!

Perspective 2: The Organization/Volunteer Manager

Now that I have been on the other side of volunteering, I have a new sense of appreciation for all types of volunteers. At The Nashville Food Project, volunteers are a necessity. Volunteers work in the garden, prep/cook meals, and share the meals in the community. After working a meal prep time with only a couple volunteers, it is evident that volunteers are imperative to this organization and others! There is also power in consistent volunteers. These are the people that know their way around our space. They know what to do, how to do it, and why we do it. We have consistent volunteers that come weekly to prep, cook, and share food. This allows staff members to make new partnerships in the community and handle tasks like meal planning.

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The meal prep space at The Nashville Food Project

New volunteers can also be great assets for an organization. I love teaching people how to chop a new vegetable and letting them taste something grown in our gardens. I also love sharing what The Nashville Food Project does daily. It is fun to see volunteers enjoy the work they are doing and chose to return and help. This organization uses volunteer times to continue their mission – building community by sharing nourishing food. These volunteers are not sitting down and sharing a meal together, but they are working together to share a nourishing meal with the community.

Volunteers are also a great pair of hands for an organization. Most of the time, we need people to do those un-glamorous jobs I talked about earlier. We need people to take out the compost, sweep, clean bins, etc. It may not seem like an important task, but these tasks allow an organization to keep moving and working toward their goal.

So, what does this mean now?

Moving forward, I have a new appreciation for volunteers and more motivation to do the jobs nobody wants to do when volunteering. One thing we say at The Nashville Food Project often is “thank you.” Being gracious is such an important thing. Whether or not that volunteer came to fulfill a service hour to fill their time with something they are passionate about, that volunteer came to work at your organization. I have been trying to be thankful towards everyone – especially if they have been peeling potatoes for 2  hours straight. I am also thankful for the ability to help organizations in any way they need. After being on the organization side of volunteering, I know that every job an organization asks me to do is important (and there is always something to do at a non-profit!)

So, what does it mean to volunteer?

I think it means giving your time to help another individual or organization reach a collective goal. Volunteering at The Nashville Food Project helps share nourishing meals with our community. Volunteering at a local library helps a community provide access to books and knowledge. Volunteering at your kid’s school helps make that experience more meaningful for students. Volunteering can mean so many things. To me, the one thing that makes a good volunteer experience great is thankfulness and grace.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is thh will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Farmer Friday: Whites Creek Flower Farm

This week, I want to highlight a different kind of farmer. Whites Creek Flower Farm does not grow and sell food that I can take back to The Nashville Food Project. Instead, the farmer (Laura) sells “lovingly grown and organically managed” flowers at the East Nashville Farmers Market. I met Laura this year when I began gleaning there on Wednesday nights. Her booth is next to one of the farmers I visit each week. Quickly, she noticed what I was doing and began asking questions about my project and The Nashville Food Project. Since then, I have brought home a few of her bouquets to enjoy at my house. I never realized the power of flowers. They can truly change the entire atmosphere of a room and brighten a person’s day. Laura’s flowers do just that and more. Although she cannot donate food to The Nashville Food Project, Laura wants to give back to the community in some way. Because of this generosity and her presence at the farmers market, I decided that Whites Creek Flower Farm would be a perfect addition to “Farmer Friday.”

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So, a little more about Laura and her flower farm – Whites Creek Flower Farm opened on Earth Day, 2012. Since then, Laura has been growing flowers with an English country garden aesthetic. I always thought her flowers were “whimsical” and different than something you could buy at the grocery store. Her farm is located right outside of Nashville in a historically rural area called Whites Creek. Laura and her family owned the piece of land she farms, but were not taking advantage of it. So, one day Laura’s husband suggested that she should begin utilizing it. Whites Creek is close to the Bells Bend area, a historically agrarian area. Because of that, Laura did not want to compete with the farms growing produce. Her love of flowers inspired Laura to google “flower farmer.” From there, Whites Creek Flower Farm was born. After reading her website and blog, it is evident that Laura has always loved flowers. She describes her grandmothers’ and mothers’ garden, as well as, her distaste for the “perfect dome” bouquets you can find at commercial retailers. Laura is as passionate about growing flowers and respecting the Earth as the farmers I have highlighted on this blog so far. Growing flowers, or produce, in this sustainable way also goes back being good stewards of the Earth that God created for us to enjoy! After learning about the way commercial flowers are grown in South America for that “perfect” look that we have become accustomed to, Laura wanted to produce flowers that respect the Earth even if they are imperfect at times. Even then, I love the delicacy and uniqueness of her flowers. I think that is one thing that drew me to Whites Creek Farm – Laura’s passion for sharing these flowers and her love of gardening.

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I think another reason why I love locally grown, wild-flower like bouquets is because of my mom. She also loves gardening and having flowers in the house. I remember her telling me stories of taking walks just to pick wildflowers on the side of the road. I tried that once but it didn’t really work out like I envisioned it (like most things I try like that)! She is also notorious for pinching off a bit of a plant somewhere to regrow it at home or buying the dead flowers at the gardening store just to revive them. Stories like these make me feel connected to Whites Creek Farm’s flowers. This is the same connection I feel when I hear stories of my dad growing up on a farm and eating food out of his family garden. I’ve realized that it is not just pretty flowers or delicious strawberries that bring me back to the farmers market – it is the stories and passion behind the goods. That’s why I love  meeting the people who grow the food or flowers I bring home. You feel more connected and have the opportunity to build a community. Not only are the goods better, but they are also meaningful! This sense of meaning and community is something I want to continue building and sharing.

Going forward, I don’t think I could enjoy commercially grown flowers in the same way. Just like buying produce out-of-season at the grocery store, sometimes I do it because I really want an apple in February or a strawberry in December. But, I know it won’t taste as good as one from a farmer. And, I know that it may not have been grown with as much care and passion. Even the Bible recognizes the beauty of flowers:

 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” (Luke 12:27-28)

Flowers are just another thing that I enjoy buying at the market and sharing with family and friends. You can learn more about Whites Creek Flower Farm and the CSA at their website or on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/whitescreekflowerfarm/

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A Day in the Life of a Gleaner

So, I really enjoy reading blogs. Instead of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, I love reading the different blogs that I follow. Some make weekly posts like “What I Ate Wednesday” or “Weekend Favorites.” One that I always find interesting is the “Day in My Life” blog post. Since I did not have time to interview a farmer this week, I decided that I could share with you what my Saturday’s look like. Be warned – this is one of my busiest days! I also want to note that every day is different at The Nashville Food Project. For instance, a huge thunderstorm came through on Wednesday night. The farmers market I was going to glean at was cancelled, and we lost electricity at The Nashville Food Project. So, instead of running a meal prep that night, we set everything up for meal prep the next day. Without access to electricity, we couldn’t open the walk-in refrigerator, cook, email volunteers, or really do anything (its scary how dependent on electricity we are!). We decided to just get dinner together instead! Obviously that was not a “normal” day at work! With all that said, here is a look into a day in the life of a gleaner!

5:30 – Wake up and make breakfast! (I’ve always been a morning person, and I’m always hungry when i wake up)

5:50ish – Eat breakfast while having my quiet time

P.s. this is one of the favorite parts of my day!

6:30 – Clean up breakfast and get ready for my day

7:00 – Leave for the Nashville Food Project (I do not enjoy this commute from Hendersonville to Green Hills everyday)

7:30 – Arrive at TNFP, pick up Ruth (one of the cars), and drive to Whole Foods in Franklin*

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Meet Ruth!

8:00 – Arrive at Whole Foods, pick up donations, and take them back the Nashville Food Project

These donations usually consist of bakery items, pantry items, fresh produce, and deli items. We have been getting anywhere from 200 – 400 lbs of donations each Saturday

8:30 – Bring donations in, weigh them, and begin processing the fresh produce

Side note – I have sorted more donated berries (while eating them) then I ever thought I would. We get donations from the produce section, but the fruit is usually about to go bad, or it has already molded. Thankfully, we are able to compost anything that is molded.

8:45 – Leave The Nashville Food Project and take my Farmers Market BOGO baskets to the Nashville Farmers Market and the Richland Park Farmers Market. (I usually eat my 2nd breakfast around this time).

9:30 – Arrive back at The Nashville Food Project to help set up for the meal prep and continue  processing the Whole Foods donations

10:00 – Volunteers arrive for the meal prep! We start volunteers on the different tasks and prep for the upcoming meals

12:00 – Leave to glean at the Richland Park Farmers Market and The Nashville Farmers Market (Usually eating lunch in transport)

12:30 – Glean at Richland Park

1:15- Glean at The Nashville Farmers Market

1:45 – Arrive back at The Nashville Food Projet, weigh produce from the farmers market, and sort it in our walk in fridge

2:30 – Leave work! (usually ready for another snack by this time)

At this point, I go pick up anything I need at the grocery story, go home, and crash!

*We have a rotation for going to Whole Foods on Saturdays, so I am not going each week! If I don’t go, I leave my house later and go straight to the farmers markets.

As you can see, my days are usually packed with transporting produce, weighing produce, and processing/prepping produce. Last Saturday, I got to make enchilda sauce during meal prep which was a nice change of pace over sorting moldy Whole Foods berries! I love these days though. I get a good mix of seeing my coworkers (who really make work better), working with volunteers, cooking, and going to the farmers markets! I start my day early, but I’m a morning person. Plus, I get home by mid-afternoon on Saturdays.

Whew! I’m tired just writing that! I used to beg my mom to take me to the farmers market in high school every Saturday morning. I would wake her up and try to get out of the door by 9. Now, I have the opportunity to go every Saturday! I miss those lazier Saturday mornings, but I love that I get to combine my work and service with something that I have always loved doing. If you every see me at a farmers market on Saturdays, just come say hi! I always have time to stop, chat, and spending time at the market!

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Some flowers from our gardens to brighten your day!

 

 

 

 

Being Proud of your Humility

Have you ever been proud of how humble you are or how “good” you are? I know I fall into that trap a lot. In my student ministry on campus, The Navigators, my small group and I have talked about pride a lot. We recently brought up the discussion of pride and humility in the context of fellowship in my summer Bible Study group. I feel like the topic of “pride” has been on my mind since then.

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My summer Bible Study – I promise we read the Bible too!

A few weeks ago, I read scripture in Proverbs about pride and humility. Those verses and the devotional from one of my favorite ministries (She Reads Truth) began revealing to my the ways that pride works in my life. This morning, I read the passage in Judges about Gideon defeating the Midianite army with simple trumpets and jars. The only way he could accomplish this feat was through God’s strength. The study I am following asked about times in my life where success led to pride. These past few weeks have shown me that being prideful is easy for me, but it leads to other sin. I love this quote from C.S. Lewis –

“the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” 

I have come to the conclusion that pride really does lead to other vices. Like we talked about at my Bible study, you can’t be in true fellowship and offer forgiveness when you are prideful. It takes humility to forgive someone because forgiveness requires giving up something (material, emotional, etc). Humility allows you to truly serve others and treat others with respect – it puts you on the same level. Pride also affects me personally. When I am successful at school or work, I know the work that I did to achieve that success. I often forget that God gave me the physical, emotional, and material resources to achieve that success. Like the Israelites and Gideon, I could not fight an enemy or achieve a victory with the tools I have alone. I need God’s power and strength to claim victory.

Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day may bring. Let another praise you, not your own mouth. – Proverbs 27:1-2

After checking out the concordance in my Bible for verses on pride and humility, I found a few that I wanted to share today.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall – Proverbs 16:18

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom – Proverbs 11:2

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of other – Philippians 2:3

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12

From all of this, I drew out a “cycle of pride” (this is the theory/model-based part of my degree coming out) that describes my personal experience with pride and humility. It starts with God giving me the strength/resources to accomplish something. If that turns into what I deem a success, I begin to attribute that success to my own strength. My pride grows, I stumble, and I turn to God in humility again. I’ve realized that pride, in my life, contributes to other sins.

So, you may be asking what all this has to do with gleaning. I’m still trying to figure that out. At times, I feel so humbled when I am doing my work because I don’t know everything and I’m not always successful. But then, I get caught up in being busy and working hard. I think, “look at all I have done today and all the good work I’m doing.” I forget why I love serving others and working at the farmers market. The title of this blog – Gleaning with Grace – is more than just a catchy title to me. I strive to serve humbly and put my pride aside in all aspects of my life. But, that is hard. It is so easy to think that I am better, smarter, more righteous, etc. I think humility comes when I remember the grace that God has extended for me though. Believing the gospel, and the fact that it applies to me, is the first step away from pride and towards humility.

Instead of trumpets and jars, my tools include the resources through my scholarship program and the organization I’m working with, my physical strength, and the relationships I am building at the farmers markets. Those things come from God though, and only through his strength and grace can I truly be successful (whatever that “success” even looks like!).

Thank you for reading this until the end and letting me ramble! Let me know if you have any experience or advice about humility!

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She Reads Truth

 

 

Farmer Friday: Lost Weekend Farm

Meet Paul and Elizabeth Lassiter from Lost Weekend Farm! I met Paul and Elizabeth for the first time at the East Nashville Farmers Market this year. You can also find them at ther farmers market at Amqui Station and Visitors Center, North Nashville Farmers Market, and the Davidson County Co-op!

So why was I drawn to the Lost Weekend Farm both at the market? First off, their produce is gorgeous. I’ve seen sugar snap peas, kale, green onions, radishes, carrots, herbs, and more every week. The couple running the booth have also been a delight to talk to each week. They have asked questions about my project and The Nashville Food Project (not everybody cares) and shared their beliefs and love of farming with me. Since Fridays are a time to highlight different farmers, I thought Lost Weekend Farm would be a perfect farm to learn more about and share!

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The Farmers

 

This past Wednesday, I asked Paul and Elizabeth if I could share their farm on this little space of the internet. I did not realize the amount of respect I have for their farm and work until I began asking questions. When I asked how the farm began, the two described a long (but wonderful!) story of how the farm grew from a weekend hobby – hence the name “lost weekend farm” – to a full-time job. Paul and Elizabeth started a small garden for their family and neighborhood to provide more nutritious and sustainable food for those that they loved. That turned into a lot of time spent on a farm in the Neely’s Bend area- traditionally an agricultural community. Then, their small operation began growing organically to what it is today – a farm and orchard that is committed to natural growing practices and growing good food the “old-fashioned way.”

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What stands out to me about these farmers is their passion for sustainable growing practices. The farm is pursuing the certified organic label, but they are committed to the process of growing good food. They are motivated by statistics such as 70% of the U.S. diet is processed foods, 138 million pounds of garlic were imported from China, and our food travels 1500 miles sometimes to get from farm to plate. That is why the farm starts with dirt farming to produce quality, local produce for our community to enjoy.

After learning all this about Lost Weekend Farm, I knew that I wanted to share what they do and why they do it. Farms like this are the reason why I am doing this project. Like Paul and Elizabeth, I believe that you can build community through fresh, local produce. I also believe that produce grown the good “old-fashioned” way is best. I’ve had a running joke in my family since I tried my first farmers market strawberry. Farmers market strawberries (and all produce) is “superior.” Its taste, appearance, sustainability, and nutrition are all better. Even though you have to be patient for the harvest, the product is always “superior.” So, join me in supporting farms like Lost Weekend and sharing “superior” fruits and veggies!

1 Month Down

Wow! I can’t believe I had my 1 month “anniversary” working at The Nashville Food Project for my Ingram Scholarship summer project. May flew by. I can’t believe that we are already at the beginning of June. I know people talk about how time always flies faster the older you get, but that really is true. It seems like my days are long, but the weeks are flying by. I thought I could take some time to reflect over these past 4 weeks.

I started at TNFP on Tuesday, May 2nd. Ask anybody at the office, and they will tell you that Tuesday’s are crazy. In the morning, we glean from Whole Foods and run a 2 hour meal prep time. Then, we continue meal prep from 1-3 that afternoon, have a meals team meeting, and glean from the 12 South Market. That first day and week were filled with “orientation” things, introductions, and questions.

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First haul from the farmers markets!

 

 

During that first week, I also introduced myself and the BOGO program to farmers at the markets. There, I started to figure out my routine for gleaning at farmers markets. I’ve made friends at the market over the past few weeks. Now, I have farmers who will save first picks (strawberries, purple cauliflower, asparagus, fresh flowers) until I have a change to come buy goodies for myself! Everyone at the markets have started identifying me as the “basket girl.” I bring these baskets that I have decorated (to the best of my non-artistic abilities) to collect produce during the market hours. If you have seen my car lately, you may have noticed these baskets in my back seat. I typically cart these baskets with me… everywhere. So, I’ve decided to run with that label, “basket girl”.

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One of the many strawberries I have enjoyed

 

Back at TNFP, I’ve begun developing relationships with my coworkers. I’ve gone out to drinks after work (don’t worry mom, I just had water), attended a dinner party one Friday night, eaten waaay to many berries, and almost broke Ruth (the office SUV) in the parking lot at Whole Foods. By the way – If you ever have a chance to go to a potluck dinner party where everybody cooks for a living, go. That was the best potluck I had ever been too. I may have gotten way to stressed about what I was bringing, but it was worth it. That was much different than a college-student potluck! The volunteers during meal prep are also fun to interact with. I’m finally learning the names of the regulars. I’ve also met Vandy alum, high schoolers who have never cut an apple, and previous restaurant owners.

 

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12 South Farmers Market Booth

 

My project at the farmers markets is also picking up. I began gleaning the first week at TNFP, and the project has gotten better each week. I was bringing back about 30 lbs from each market the first week. This past Saturday, I brought back over 100 lbs of produce from the Nashville Farmers Market and Richland Park Farmers Market! The gleaning part of my project is great. Farmers are excited to give, and they are supportive of the BOGO program. But, donations from shoppers are not picking up. I had originally wanted to have a booth at each farmers market. There, I could talk to shoppers and explain the idea instead of leaving baskets and signs. When I had a booth at the 12 South Market, everybody loved the idea. Because people typically come to the market, get their goods, and leave, it is hard to sell this idea without having a space to interact. So, that’s my challenge. How can I sell this idea without putting pressure on farmers to sell it for me or without annoying shoppers. So many people support the idea of supporting farmers by buying produce and supporting TNFP by giving produce, but so many people don’t know about it! Going forward, I am going to rework some of my marketing materials and try to get a booth/physical space at the market to hang out. Hopefully I can report back next month with success!